Posted by psgels on 21 March 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hakaba Kitarou


The original Hakaba Kitarou (later renamed to Gegege no Kitarou) was one of the original pioneers in anime and manga, even before the legacy of Osamu Tezuka. Ever since it was serialized in 1959, it’s spawned five lengthy television-series, eight movies and one live-action movie. The problem is that all of these reduced the Kitarou-franchise to a kiddie-series. Enter Hakaba Kitarou, in its Noitamina time-slot as it attempts to remove all of the “kiddie”-roots from the franchise. And believe it or not, but it succeeds pretty well.

The result is a very rare combination between horror and comedy. But this series mostly stands out because it’s so refreshingly different from usual anime. The art really tries to go its own way, with character-designs in an original style, and a continuous filter, reminiscent of Mononoke. There are lots of interesting camera-angles and monster-designs, which make sure that this series turns into a visual feast that doesn’t rely on moe whatsoever.

This is also one series that completely shatters the boundaries between good and evil. It may seem like that Kitarou is the main character, and therefore the good guy, and yet he likes to play cat-and-mouse games with his victims, and he doesn’t even seem to care whether these victims end up dead or not. Nezumi Otoko, on the other hand, may be the series’ villain (he acts mostly out of greed and for money), and yet he stands so far away from the stereotypical anime villain. This guy is often rational and he doesn’t try to look as cool or evil as possible. He’s also often friendly, although he’s ready to betray any friend in favour of his well-being.

The same goes for all other side-characters that appear in one the different stories that have been put into the eleven episodes that this series consists of. Everyone is somewhere in the grey spectrum between good and evil. And all of the major side-characters have multiple sides and hardly have any chance to get boring. I’d also like to mention the ease at which this series seems to be able to kill off its characters. Seriously, some deaths really come from nowhere.

And that brings me to another good point of this series. Not every episode may have one, but the plot-twists will leave you guessing, and some will come as a huge shock, exactly what a horror-series should be. You can see that the writers have a lot of fun while writing this series, and building it up. Hakaba Kitarou has a delightful air of unpredictability that you hardly ever see in anime.

Overall, if you’re looking for something different, then Hakaba Kitarou is the way to go. Don’t get fooled into thinking that this is a series for kids. Simplistic character-designs don’t automatically make a series a kiddie-one. At eleven episodes, there’s hardly any chance to get bored. This is one reason why I like winter-seasons. Because not many popular series air, it’s the perfect chance for the less popular and under-looked anime that try to be different to get a chance. 2007 had Master of Epic, and 2008 continues this tradition with Hakaba Kitarou.

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  • SuperMario
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:15 PM)
    @Bam: yeah, heard about the Project Itoh, from what I heard they’re not that good thou, with only Empire of Corpses has a slightly favorable reviews. I believe Kaiser watched Harmony alrready and he gave a very negative rating.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 03:55 PM)
    For those who have somehow managed to miss the hype for Harmony:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC-6U8HCF8c
    The visuals are intriguing, the palette very sharp, and the CGI relatively well integrated. The early reviews been scathing tho, and given my experience with Empire of Corpses I can guess why.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 03:49 PM)
    Each piece of the trilogy is handled by a different cast and company. Empire of Corpses was done by Wit Studio, Harmony by Studio 4°C, and Genocidal Organ by Manglobe (or Geno Studio as they are called now).
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 03:43 PM)
    Anybody seen Empie of Corpses? I watched it to get primed for that Harmony feature film anime, which is part of Project Itoh trilogy. Studio Wit went all out here. The animation is great, and the premise has potential, but the delivery was just botched.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 01:07 PM)
    @Mario, you were worried that you would be covering too much slice of life style anime this season, at least with this I will likely be taking one off your hands. I don’t want to cover it but hey if the public says so…guess I will have to suffer.
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 07:15 AM)
    Also it’s nice to see there was heated arguments on EVA even before I start to do any post review. The way I see it thou certain films/ series are classic/ influential for a reason, if they are brilliant I certainly can still see its sparks. Like I can still amazed of Potemkin Battleship on its montahe editing, or It Happens one night fot its influential on romantic comedy. So I really look forward to see how I feel about EVA hahaa
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 06:52 AM)
    Jezz, I was almost certain that I would cover Orange, mainly because I never have thought it would be on top of the polls. Anw, it’s good to see how Aidan cover it as it appears I’m a much more easy-marker than Aidan
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:40 AM)
    There is a hipster movement of contrarianism, that they just like to hate on whatever’s popular and deemed kinda mainstream. I get defensive when they shit on classics like Akira, Berserk and Ghost in The Shell. I see that wasn’t the case here. Anybody can sincerely dislike Anything; that’s fine.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:31 AM)
    I see your point too. We can certainly take the stance of judging a thing by its own merit, unobstructed by social influences and constrains of time. Yet even at that Evangelion is a fairly slick piece of science fiction, and an interesting watch. At worst it’s boring and contrived, but that’s harmless. Never really fair to call it shit.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:20 AM)
    @Aidan: looking back soberly I did come back a little too heated. That’s uncalled for and I’m sorry for that. I usually don’t lash out of unrelated daily stress, but there are mistakes here and there.

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