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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  • k-off
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 10:15 AM)
    Hell, my favorite game of all time is far superior to Dark Souls in every possible way, yet the only thing that keeps me playing is the atmosphere and charm the game has in its combat.
  • k-off
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 10:10 AM)
    @Bam I’ll argue that the gameplay in Dark Souls was the best. Dark Souls II was the worst in terms of gameplay (within the series, so still better than most in its genre) which ended up pissing me off. As for story and writing, who the hell plays this series for the story??
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 09:31 AM)
    That I don’t like FMPs humour probably explains alot why I couldn’t laugh at amagi, same author.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 09:30 AM)
    Moreso that the episodic stories were more miss than hit and the pacing needed alot of work.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 09:29 AM)
    it wasn’t well balanced out with the main storyline and aside from Yin I can’t remember the characters having much to them. The ideas behind the contractors was creative and it was well produced, second season had that off the wall awful ending and also focused too much on that teenage girland “character death for Hei”.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 09:28 AM)
    @Realist: Dark comedy would be more my thing so school rumble and FMP didn’t cut it and I particularly went against FMP for focusing too much of the school over action stuff. Darker than black felt like a waste of potential, wasted as an episodic thing,
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 09:12 AM)
    @Emma I could never get into Darker Than Black either. School Rumble had some moments but mostly just bored me to tears. I did like Full Metal Panic though but it’s super generic. I could see that being one of those shows that I like less after rewatching it.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 09:07 AM)
    @Realist: And theres things I’ve watched a few times and could never get into such as school rumble, full metal panic, darker than black.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 09:02 AM)
    @Emma Rewatching is the real acid test for anime. Shows that I loved the first time around seemed terrible on the second and third viewings. On the other hand, there are some shows I didn’t appreciate fully until I watched them multiple times.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 08:59 AM)
    I think I am in a re-reading/re-watch phase perhaps now, which is good because all that old stuff will feel new again in my head when I go back, can live it all over again.

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