Gegege no Kitaro (2018) – First Impression

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To the many reasons we have to be grateful, 2018 has added another – a new Gegege no Kitaro series. Not only have we lived to see Devilman get a new anime adaptation, but now Kitaro has clop-clopped into our lives again. I’m not an expert on Gegege no Kitaro, but I watched the first episode, and I think it’s not too soon to set down some early impressions of the new show.

It’s funny how changes in trends in anime have this horseshoe effect on the show. From what I remember, they definitely used to have moments of exaggerated surprise or melodrama in the old days. But in the era after Devilman Crybaby, a crowd screaming makes me want to laugh, because it’s like they tried to make it as edgy and gritty as possible. This might just be thanks to the art style, or the animation in general. It’s nothing radical, given current trends, but Toei doesn’t seem to have taken any chances by trying to replicate an older style. Nostalgia-touched viewers such as myself might feel that this subtracts, even slightly, from the overall quality, but it’s important to keep in mind that Gegege no Kitaro always had a huge amount of simplicity at heart. Older viewers need to look for that through what are essentially external changes, however major.

So here he is, our boy Kitaro with his one-eyed dad Medama-Oyaji (the subtitles dubbed him ‘Daddy Eyeball’). He shoots his geta (wooden shoes) at his enemies  and his classic hair attack still works. To be perfectly honest, I forgot he could do that. It’s the 21st century now, and we have smartphones, irresponsible YouTubers, and, ahem, ‘Geegle’. Kitaro still prefers an Ai Enma-esque postbox, though (don’t Geegle Jigoku Shoujo / Hell Girl kids!). My first impression is that the change isn’t bad. As I already said, Gegege no Kitaro was always a simple show with simple ideas, and at its best it touched on darker themes (like Hell and judgement) without getting too heavy for younger audiences. The new series is, more than anything, a show for children, and that’s why I think it might succeed. The action in the climax is a little gratuitous, and the overall plot might feel a little empty for some us, but maybe that’s how a children’s show in 2018 ought to look like.

So far as homage goes, the yokai in the first episode seems to have been featured multiple times, as the Wikia tells me, starting as far back as 1968. This time, of course, it’s neatly tied up with modern technology. The preview and the opening shows many beloved characters, and one may or may not make an appearance (blink and you’ll miss it). Lastly, and to our great delight, the opening sings again:

Oh, and we might have an important human character this time, so it might be a good idea to keep watching.

Sucheto Nath

Sucheto is a literature student with a great writing ability and a love for original (salty) content creation on Facebook. His work is literary and in-depth, and will make anyone totally absorbed in the topic he's discussing. He blogs at The Whisperer in Kolkata, and loves writing in general.