Monthly Archives: June 2011

Filling the Monster Shaped Void in my Heart

I absolutely adore GeGeGe no Kitaro.

For those who don’t know, GeGeGe no Kitaro is a long running media franchise about  creepy-cute Yokai having adventures while  helping out humans and trying to fit into modern Japan.  It’s  a cultural institution at this point, with creator Shigeru Mizuki’s hometown even  dubbed “City of fish and  Kitaro.”  For the past year or so, I’ve sought out as much of it as I could find, but given the deadly combination of it being super long (5 series of ~100 episodes each, several movies,  2 live action movies, tons of manga ), an actual kid’s series, and super Japanese, the amount of subbed material available is next to nil.

So what’s a cartoon monster fan to do?

The most obvious option is to check out Hakaba Kitaro, a 13-episode series frin 2008 based on the original series of Kitaro comics .  It aired in the Noitamina slot and has a sweet OP, which are good indicators of its quality.   It’s a lot different from GeGeGe — the atmosphere’s more gruesome and dark, Kitaro’s  a creepy weirdo who doesn’t particularly care for humans,  Neko Musume’s sexy, etc — but it’s a lot of fun in that sort of cheesy, old school-horror manga way.  There’s even a meta-episode about Mizuki finding out his creations are real, for God’s sake!  The only real problem I have with the series is that it had to end so quickly.  As Hakaba Kitaro’s recent, there’s no problem finding it online, so getting your fix is quick and easy.

Want more of a challenge?   Then try your hand at tracking down episodes of Vampiyan Kids, a more light-hearted series about a vegetarian vampire trying his damnedest  to scare kids and failing horribly.  The 20 minute pilot directed by Masaaki Yuasa (!) is fairly easy to find.  The animation is great and really cartoony (a character escapes by the power of farts, how could you not want to watch that?),  and the character designs ooze cuteness and fun.  The 2001 TV series is less dark, in both color palette and sense of humor, but the sheer fun of the pilot is still there.   It’s unfortunate that I’ve only been able to find the first four episodes subbed, and even though it looks like more were subbed, those downloads have long dried up.  It seems the entire series is available in Italian (I have no idea why), but I don’t think I’m hardcore enough to watch it like that.

So far those are the only monster anime I’ve been able to find, but I really hope I’m missing something.  I’ve tried my hand at western monster cartoons as well, but those are exploits for another post…