GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 19: Return of the Already Defeated Bad Guys

I’m going to stop weekly coverage of this one, but I’ll probably watch for a bit longer before deciding whether to completely drop this or not. Basically, we finally got back to the ongoing story in this, but it was hidden under the tired trope of defeated bad guys return.

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This issue with that trope is simple: we already know how to defeat these bad guys. They weren’t interesting enough the first time to really hold my interest and the second time around just makes them look even sillier given they clearly learned nothing from their last defeat. If we throw in Kitaro’s sunglasses disguise it makes for a wholly unsatisfying plot really.

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Though, there was just enough in here indicating that maybe the larger narrative we saw a few times in the first cour was going to get moving again. Just enough that I probably will watch some more, but I’m not going to keep this on my episode review line up for the simple reason that I feel my reviews of this show are getting repetitive.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 18: Cat-Chick Is Always Fun

Despite a pretty ordinary story, I had enough fun watching Cat-Chick this week. Though, that said, this is yet another pretty basic episode following on from quite a few pretty uninteresting stories. I really think next week is going to have to pull off something pretty good to keep this on my watch list any longer.

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This show has really become fairly flat since the end of the last anime season when we had quite an epic fight. But even before that, the individual episodes all had something about them. There was a clear message, a bit of energy or polish, and occasionally a sense of childish danger. Now we just have yokai of the week shows up and characters meandering about until the problem is solved.

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To make it clear, this episode spent more time with Cat-Chick worrying about her outfit and Kitaro finding out than it did on dealing with the yokai. And really nothing happened. No danger, no perils, nothing for Kitaro to do. His turning up merely propelled Cat-Chick into enough of a rage that she chased the other yokai around until we realised he wasn’t all bad after all. And that’s all she wrote for this episode.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 17: Yokai and Riddles

Still on vacation, Kitaro and the gang stumble upon a problem when the people in town are being turned into bronze. What follows is a pretty ordinary kind of story but it works for the most part.

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I will admit this episode struggled to hold my attention. Even with Kitaro being taken out of the action early on, the villain this time around never even felt vaguely threatening or like someone I was supposed to care about. Mana’s uncle getting turned to bronze equally had little impact because with so many people turned it was obvious they were going to reverse it and the situation wasn’t going to be permanent. With little reason to worry about the outcome the actions themselves needed to carry the show and they just couldn’t.

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Even a visit to a mountain tengu clan didn’t shake things up enough to really get me engaged and by the time the villain was vanquished (or self-destructed) it was all a matter of wondering if that meant the episode was over. I hate to say it but this one might have started to suffer from the repetitive nature that plagues a lot of episodic shows. There just isn’t enough carrying over from week to week to make it feel like there’s a purpose here.

That said, I’ll give it a few more episodes given we’ve had weaker stories before and then this has bounced back.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 16: A Ladle Seems Like A Slow Way To Sink A Ship

Mana takes a vacation in this episode of GeGeGe no Kitaro but wouldn’t you know it, Rat-Man is also on a ‘vacation’ and soon we’re going to have yokai trouble again.

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It’s probably a testament to how light-hearted this show is that even an episode that focuses on a yokai dragging sailors under water isn’t enough to make me flinch when normally any potential drowning has me on edge and reaching for the mouse to skip a scene. I actually had no emotional response at all to this episode which concerns me a little for the future of watching it. Previously I’ve had a lot of fun with this show, but I will admit to feeling very detached during the more recent episodes.

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Still, there’s nothing actually wrong with this episode. Mana visits family and one of them doesn’t return home from his fishing work. When seeking to rescue him, they realise that there’s a yokai that is claiming sailor’s and using them as yokai to bring up his treasure (though no one ever seems to really pin the blame on Rat-Man which is where it belongs given earlier in the episode he’s the one who opened the pot letting the yokai out).

I think where the episode may have dropped the ball a bit was in the town’s response. It is obvious they were using the yokai threat as a reason to unify a town that was being torn apart by opposing ideals on how to run a festival, but other than a bit of exposition early on the audience didn’t really have any connection to the plot about the festival so it didn’t really have much impact when they all came together to play tug-of-war with the ghosts.

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Ultimately, this episode works but for me it was kind of functional without being particularly interesting.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episodes 14 + 15: Dreams and Faces

Monsters of the week abound with episode 14 giving us a dreamland that you can’t escape from and episode 15 asking what price you would pay to be pretty.

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This pair of episodes are both pretty cute and both pretty pointless as anything more than just another encounter with yokai. There isn’t even any real character building within the main cast, save for a small moment of cool from Daddy Eyeball in the dreamland where he imagines himself in a body so that he can save Kitaro. That said, both episodes work well enough as they introduce our human victims of the week and then overcome the problem.

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Interestingly enough both episodes very much seemed to point the blame for misery at the human world rather than the yokai with the fired salary man escaping to dreams because he couldn’t overcome his daily challenges and the school girl changing her face because of mercilessly being ostracised due to her appearance. This isn’t a new theme for GeGeGe no Kitaro, but it has been awhile since that theme has been the only focus of a story.

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Perhaps the most disappointing thing from these episodes is Mana. She used to be quite an interesting character and in episode 12 she definitely stepped up only now the show seems to be determined to simply have her as a hanger-on. It would be nice to see her returning to being something more than an intermediary between whoever the victim of the week is and Kitaro.

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Still, if episodic yokai stories work for you, GeGeGe no Kitaro isn’t doing too much wrong on that front and remains pleasant viewing even while it isn’t exceptional.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 13: And We’Re Back To How Things Were

And after the nation changing events of episode 12, we’re back to exactly how things were before as if someone hit the reset. That was disappointing.

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Last week:

I wonder if the fact that everyone now knows about yokai will remain a thing or if people will go back to their ordinary lives after this episode?

While I get that episodic shows are prone to resets, it seemed like episode 11 and 12 introduced what could have been a very interesting element into future events by having the ordinary lives of people seriously and publicly disrupted by yokai. And yet,  GeGeGe no Kitaro chooses to abandon dealing with that plot line and instead we’re back to Ratman scheming and Kitaro doing his hero thing with everyone else just back to their ordinary, oblivious lives.

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While this episode was still pretty solid for this series, the let-down of what might have been a really fascinating story path being ignored weighed heavily on me and I found myself just a little less engaged. It didn’t help that the moral this week was about as subtle as a brick to the face. That said though, the episode isn’t any worse than any of the earlier ones and taken by itself, quite enjoyable.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 12: Grand Scale Fight

I wonder if the fact that everyone now knows about yokai will remain a thing or if people will go back to their ordinary lives after this episode?

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After setting up a fairly large scale fight between the Tanuki and everyone at the end of the previous episode, episode 12 of GeGeGe no Kitaro delivers a conclusion worthy of a to be continued. The first half of the episode is suitably bleak in painting a picture of life for humans under Tanuki rule and then the troops begin rallying in order to mount a rescue for Kitaro and finding a way to beat the Tanuki back.

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I kind of loved the arrangement of the OP being used during this scene. It was perfect. Recognisable as the OP but suited perfectly to the scene playing out.

It is Mana who steps up big time in this episode and it costs her a lot already having to endure being cursed during the episode, but there are some definite ongoing ramifications for having drawn some unwanted yokai attention through her actions this episode. It will be interesting to see how that develops in future episodes. Meanwhile, it continues to cement her as a pretty solid character in this series.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 11: An Exciting Cliff-Hanger; Just Don’t Watch The Next Episode Preview

I’ve never quite understood why anime feel the need to shoot their own tension in the foot with their episode previews, but hey, after setting up a curse that takes out the protagonist this week, surely the audience needs to know he’ll be fine, right?

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This was actually quite a well constructed episode. We get a clear villain who is doing the typical b-grade villain move of announcing their plans and using flashy moves to intimidate the general population into compliance but they are also sufficient a threat compared to what we’ve faced previously with the heroes to actually feel a sense of danger for our heroes. The biggest downfall is probably that I can’t take Tanuki seriously because while I have seen them in villainous roles in other anime, my most commonly associated image of a Tanuki comes from Watanuki in Inu x Boku SS (and he was adorable) or the family in The Eccentric Family (and they aren’t exactly terrifying given they just want a bit of fun).

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Outside of that, I don’t really have any complaints about the episode. It carries the threat over to the next week, which given the scale of the threat seemed logical, and it managed to engage most of the usual cast or at least get them moving for next week. Of course, it does paint politicians in a fairly negative and defeatist light, and also frames them as egocentrics, though it would be hard to argue that this is an unfair depiction really. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how this one concludes.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 10: School Mysteries

It may be a common setting for ghost stories, but this episode makes it work with Mana, Cat-chick and the gang.

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Mana and Cat-Chick are my favourite two characters from this show, so an episode where the two team up for almost the whole run-time as Kitaro is conveniently away was always going to make for an entertaining watch. Throw in the school mysteries and a stalker ghost and you have the makings of great fun.

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And yet, it isn’t Mana and Cat-Chick that really nail the tone of this episode, even though they are great as always. The support cast and the antagonist really step up this week with almost all of the cast hitting the right notes for this episode to be that fun, family friendly style horror story that the first few episodes of this series kind of gave us. A lot of fun.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 9: A Fairly Dry Episode

Corporate life is bad… blah, blah… I was happier before…

This is probably the first week I haven’t had fun watching GeGeGe No Kitaro even though this episode continues to blend traditional yokai stories with the modern world.

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This week we get a focus on Kappas and while these guys are usually pretty fun in yokai stories, I found this whole episode and story pretty lacking. Part of this is probably because Rat-Man is back as a focus and he’s probably my least favourite of the reoccurring characters. The bigger issue though is that the blunt message of this episode was pretty underwhelming in the way it was delivered.

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When you couple the weak story with a character I don’t much like and then throw in a conclusion that really lacks punch (that fight sequence was perhaps the worst yet for this anime) and the whole thing just ends up less than satisfying. Kitaro himself didn’t really get to do much of anything and Mana was a no show. Cat-Chick was mostly comic relief and the only other character of note was the Sand Witch and again she was pretty underutilised.

While this series remains fairly solid for episodic story telling, episode nine was a miss for me.

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Karandi James

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