Posted 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.

Posted on with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

Like expected, this episode feels nothing like a standard final episode. There’s no aftermath, or anything that hints at a closure of the series (heck, Caroline and her father are completely gone now), and instead this episode brings us back to the essence of this series: Kitarou and Nezumi Otoko trying to make money, other people dying because of it, and Kitarou’s father cleaning up the mess a bit.

It wasn’t the best episode of the series, but most definitely not the worst. Nezumi Otoko makes some kind of youth-serum out of his whiskers, while Kitarou sells the manga-artist of last week and others some kind of special holidays to the underworld (of course, with one-way tickets). I’m still surprised at the ease at which this series is able to kill off its characters, with as little melodrama as possible. In the first case, an old mafia-boss gets rescued by the medicine, and grows younger again (with whiskers added). He then gets greedy and starts searching after Nezumi Otoko. When he tries to capture him (in a locked safe, of all things), Nezumi Otoko releases his usual gasses and takes back his whiskers, killing off the guy.

In the case of the manga-artist, he gets brought to the underworld, where he sees the remaining scenes that were in the OP. As he tries to get back, he realizes that another guy has taken his place, and he’s turned into a ghost. What I really liked about this episode is that things aren’t as they seemed. The guy or ghost who took over the mangaka’s place suddenly finds out what kind of a busy life his counterpart was leading, and he wasn’t used to the pressure at all. His wife then drags him and orders him to work until his death. Nice wife, isn’t it? Meanwhile, in the underworld, the real mangaka is quietly enjoying the local wonders, along with all a bunch of other people who were tricked by Kitarou. In the meantime, Kitarou as usua notes how hard it is to work and gain money in the human world.

So it’s finally over. This series really has served its purpose in making me appreciate Noitamina even more. That timeslot is really perfect for showcasing all kinds of short series with original ideas and premises. And the fact that it’s been the most popular late-night timeslot for years only makes this better. There’s going to be a good chance that I’ll be blogging the upcoming Library wars, that’ll be taking over this timeslot, but I’ll leave that final decision to when the series actually airs.

Posted on 14 March 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

Quite an interesting set-up for the finale. Mostly because I have no idea what’s going to happen. This episode was basically another story on its own, yet it did leave various threads open (for example what happened to Kitarou his father, a newly introduced girl named Caroline and her father?). On one hand these threads will most likely be resolved in the next episode, but on the other hand that these threads alone are by far not enough to fill one episode, so the creators still must have some trump cards left.

In any case, this episode was definitely a Hakaba Kitarou-style build-up episode, simply because like the other two, it wasn’t as exciting as the other episodes. It basically tells the tale of a powerful Youkai who has settled into the house of a manga-artist so that he and his henchmen can take the first steps to conquer the world or something similar. He also has a daughter, whom Kitarou has fallen in love with. The entire thing eventually gets solved when Kitarou’s father gets eaten by this Youkai, and Kitarou’s father in his turn wrecks the brains of the guy like he did with many before. It was really too straightforward to be a regular Kitarou-episode.

The great thing about this episode was that I had no idea what it was building up to. One great point about this series is its unpredictability. You will have no idea what’s going to happen next, apart from Kitarou surviving and the “bad guys” losing. Everything in between, you’ll be completely in the dark. Because of this, I’m really glad that Noitamina has continued its tradition of staying away from the very overused high-school girls, and focused on creative series instead. Not to say that all series with high-school girls are bad (there are quite a few very good series that feature high-school girls), but I’d much rather see series experiment and try out new things than to stay with the “tried and true”-formula.

Posted on 7 March 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

This episode was about the smiling guy that we saw in the OP. He turned out to be a vampire who can hypnotize his victims by playing the guitar. He has put a local politician on his possible-victims-list, and he recruits Nezumi Otoko for this, while the politician hires Kitarou to get rid of said vampire. Yet again it’s an episode where Kitarou hardly does anything, as quite quickly the Vampire injects him with a strange drug that liquefies the guy’s flesh and separates it from his bones.

It was another very solid episode for this show, with lots of twists, as Kitarou’s father tried to get his son back together. It’s especially interesting when we say him hiding in Kitarou’s skull, being an eye on legs and all. For the first time, Nezumi Otoko also plays the role of good guy, as he too gets scared of the things that the vampire can do. The best thing about this episode, though, was the same refreshing scriptwriting of this series. It’s hard to explain what’s different, but I think it’s how the creators manage to keep a semi-serious tone throughout the entire episode.

It’s a shame that there are only two episodes left, and I’m quite curious as to how the creators were planning to end this series. Kitarou is still in liquid-form at the end of this episode, so his father will probably spend the next episode to try and get him back on his bones. According to the OP, we still miss the scenes with the three-eyed priest, the scene with the armed generals that shows up very briefly in the OP, the scene with the strange guy in the middle of a field of rocks, and the strange flashlight creature. It’s not really the things you’d expect for a big climax, but then again this series has never really listened to the general guidelines of anime. :P

Posted on 29 February 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

Now this is what I call a good horror-story! Twisted, full of plot twists, and most of all: creative. This definitely was one of the best episodes of this series along with episode one. You just have to think of Kitarou’s hand getting cut off and taking on a mind of its own. :P

Basically, two men set out to check out the rumours on a haunted building where an acquaintance of them is about to live. Obviously, any ghosts or people pretending to be ghosts have to be removed from this house, but unfortunately this “ghost” turned out to be Kitarou. What follows is a really interesting battle, where both parties try to get each other out of the house. You’ve got to love how Kitarou likes to play with his victims.

One thing I also liked about this episode is how the first half perfectly builds up the mood for the second half, by already hinting at how strange the house is that the two guys have settled in. Especially with the creature with four legs, no head and five arms who suddenly appeared from out of nowhere. Actually, Kitarou works best as a character when he doesn’t play the role of the main character, and only appears once in a while in his usual, mysterious form. But I can understand the need for episode four and six, as they’ve really served their purpose in fleshing out his character, and giving it a bit of development.

Posted on 22 February 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

I must say, this series is a master of surprises and twists. It really feels refreshing from the usual anime. If you’re looking for something different then Hakaba Kitarou is definitely recommended, because there are very few series that combine mystery and horror with comedy. :P

I originally believed that this entire episode would be devoted to getting rid of the water-spirit. Well, turns out it didn’t. The only thing that was really needed for the story of this episode is that Nezumi Otoko captured Kitarou’s father and put him in a jar. The water-spirit story gets wrapped up nicely after only five minutes, it first swallows up Kiterou’s clone, after which a newly introduced character drenches it in gasoline and ignites it.

I think this also means that two recurring characters have now been killed off for good, because we don’t see any signs of bad Kitarou and Mizuki returning. In fact, Kitarou doesn’t even seem to remember that the one who took care of him for years is gone now. All he seems to care about is his father, apparently.

In any case, this newly introduced character turns out to live two doors next to Nezumi Otoko. In between, there lives a “beautiful”(*ahem*) woman who both of them fall in love with. Ever since last episode Nezumi Otoko has been blackmailing Kitarou with his father. Because of this, he ends up delivering a love-letter for both Nezumi Otoko and this character (who turns out to be a werewolf, by the way). Then it turns out that the woman is going to be moving out, and Kitarou throws away the love-letters while Nezumi Otoko and the werewolf know nothing about this.

When they find out, they decide to take revenge for this by putting Kitarou in a coffin and dumping this coffin into sea. At least, that was their plan. Instead, Kitarou’s father escapes and enters Nezumi Otoko’s body to confuse him, while Kitarou escapes. The empty coffin then gets dumped into the sea, and then it’s time for Kitarou to play a prank on them. He uses his connection from the underworld to deliver the coffin back to Nezumi Otoko and the werewolf. When they decide to take a trip to the underworld, to check out what went wrong, they instead are taken into a hallucination into an old train that went out of service decades ago.

This part actually drew an interesting parallel to Mononoke, or the Bake Neko arc, to be exact. There we see the mayor jump out of the train and get devoured by the Mononoke. So when the werewolf jumped out of the train as well, I thought he was gone as well, especially when a loud bump followed. Instead, he just landed on a very unfortunate rock outside and got knocked unconscious.

I really must say that the dialogue for Hakaba Kitarou feels refreshing. The bad guys all have a personality and don’t feel stereotyped, and in the meantime the good guys can be considered the bad guys as well, depending on how you look at it. This is one of the reason why I like experimental anime so much. It just feels delightfully different from usual. One of the others is Mahou Shoujotai, of course. :P

Posted on 15 February 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

It seems that the final stories of Hakaba Kitarou will consist out of two episodes, as this episode yet again ended with a cliff-hanger. This episode was mostly unspectacular, and al it did was set the tables right for the second episode. I’ve got no worries, as episode five showed that this series can turn the entire tables with its second episode.

And there is a lot of potential in this story. Basically, in order to earn some money, Kitarou ends up collecting money from a water-spirit who hasn’t paid back its loan for fifteen years. Kitarou, as mischievous as he is, starts messing around with the spirit after paralyzing it with a special powder. The water-spirit in exchange escapes, and engulfs the entire world with water in order to take revenge on Kitarou. He then gets saved by Nezumi Otoko on a hot-air balloon, for the price of his father.

One thing that I did realize with this episode is that Kitarou’s character simply is boring if he isn’t sadistic. But I guess it does have a certain charm. Kitarou is a nice example of an anti-hero, and it’s a bit different from all those noble heroes who want to save the world and stuff. In any case, I’m curious for the next episode. We’re already past the halfway-point of this series, so it’d better have an excellent second half in store!

Posted on 8 February 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

How awesome. I now fully understand why the previous episode felt so bad and weird. The entire fifth episode was dedicated to explaining the things that happened there, and it provided a wonderful conclusion to a story that started off so horrible. After watching this episode, I completely forgive this series for the disappointments of the previous episode. I’ve said before that I’m a huge mystery-fan, and Hakaba Kitarou knows exactly how to handle it!

The best thing of the episode would of course be the fact that this episode shows a totally new side of the bad Kitarou. It seems that he too was used by Nezumi Otoko. If I understood this correctly, all Nezumi Otoko was after was the part of his head that Neko Musume bit off, but you can only get your hands on it if she’s in hell. However, because of this, bad Kitarou would need a way to return from hell, and that’s why he needed Kitarou’s jacket, which basically was his link to the spirit-world. He got it in the ruckus that he caused when he set off that mouse on Neko Musume during her performance.

In the process, something went wrong, though. I couldn’t pick up exactly what happened, but bad Kitarou ended up on one of the side-paths on his way to hell, and got separated from Neko Musume. Only because of the real Kitarou’s father, he managed to get out of there, into the real hell. Unfortunately, my Japanese isn’t good enough to pick up why Nezumi Otoko ended up on television this episode either, however it was clear that Nezumi Otoko manipulated bad Kitarou to everything, and he betrayed him at one point.

Thankfully, Neko Musume also remains in Hell, even though she did have the option to return. Kitarou may have also been a bit too emo in his lovesickness, but the climax of this episode worked out pretty well because of this, when Neko Musume refused to meet him. Also, it was pretty hilarious to see how Bad Kitarou shaved his head in the end when he turned good. It’s quite impressive that the creators made him go through so much development in just one episode, and actually got away with it. ^^;

Posted on 1 February 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

Well, that was disappointing. This most definitely was the worst episode of Hakaba Kitarou yet when it half-degrades into a dating-sim series between Kitarou and Neko. What the heck were the creators thinking, turning this series into a cheesy love-drama? When Kitarou fell in love, he totally ruined his own evil anti-hero that I liked so much in the first three episodes.

Thankfully, the cat’s dead now, so thankfully she won’t ruin the series much further, though the preview for the next episode shows Kitarou being angsty and love-sick. And now I realize how this series has one major problem: it doesn’t build up carefully. It does have the shock-value, though this episode showed that building-up is not its strongest point, and that’s really needed to make a love-relationship interesting. Right now, it feels like we’ve temporarily gone down a cheap romantic comedy.

I should have known to be careful with this series when the director only did Kamisama Kazoku before. That series to had some interesting twists, but the romance really felt horribly annoying at times. And the romance is one thing, but I also spotted numerous Deus ex Machinas and badly explained plot-holes during the climax. Writers: what happened?!

Please, Kitarou, go back to horror!

Posted on 25 January 2008 with categories: Hakaba Kitarou

The story for this week was rather bizarre… Remember the little plant that grew from Dracula’s dead body in the previous episode? Well, Nezumi Otoko uses his breath to knock a famous singer unconscious and plants this plant into his right arm. After a while, the plant starts to grow and it consumes its host. In the meantime, the famous singer met Mizuki. Yeah, who else would believe that there’s a demonic plant, growing on your arm?

In any case, the singer turns into a rather strange kind of tree-stump, and soon even loses the ability to speak. Nezumi Otoko then kidnaps the stump and moves into a secluded house, somewhere far away, using the money he stole from Kitarou in the previous episode. ^^; The stump then grows into a tree, and one very large fruit appears. Nezumi Otoko hoped that this would be the reincarnation of his late master, but instead it hatched a small version of said singer. The episode ends with Nezumi Otoko fleeing, the tree burning, and Kitarou, the small singer and a third youkai who just showed up having tea…

Still, I would be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy these kinds of stories. This series manages to combine a quirky feeling with horror-stories, and the result works out pretty well, and this series is really fun to watch.

I think we also saw the beginning of Catgirl in this episode (or Neko Musume, as Gegege no Kitarou named her). She’s just a normal girl right now, but I doubt that remain the same. Especially since Kitarou has fallen in love with the girl because she can sing so well. I doubt that he’d leave her alone. He was really cute in this episode as well. :P What’s also interesting is how Mizuki returned back from hell, to keep an eye on Kitarou. Indeed it would be the best for someone to keep an eye on such a demonic child as Kitarou.

Another thing I like about this series is how all the victims so far have been grown-up men. Usually, an anime would portray some kind of really cute girl in peril at this point, but the fact that Kitarou uses businessmen gives a nice twist to things, especially since they’re portrayed so much away from stereotypes as in this series.


Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 08:15 PM)
    It’s specially hard to like something that was somewhat made out of spite over the fan criticism of 2.0 becoming ‘too cliche and positive’, even psgels was irked by the overall tone that he thought didn’t fit the series. So Anno went and did a 180; for better or worse. I personally liked it and believe that you can’t have a Eva redo without mindfucks, but I think it all hinges on what the last movie accomplishes to do.
  • jerkocaust
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 08:14 PM)
    Isnt ninjarealist the one writer who disappeared for months after he got into an argument in the comments lol
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 08:09 PM)
    @Aidan: you don’t say? I thought we all agreed on everything and just circle-jerked? learn something new every day.
    I wouldn’t expect anything else, since there are a very few positive reviews of 3.0 that are beyond fanboy level of criticism.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 07:40 PM)
    And by that I mean the bluray release by funimation is coming out and you can finally own it =P
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 07:33 PM)
    Wait… 3.33…I misread.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 07:27 PM)
    @Bam: The dvd release for Eva 3.0 is February 2 next year.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 07:27 PM)
    @bam, if I wrote a review of rebuild 3.0 it would be pretty harsh.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 07:23 PM)
    I am somewhat disgruntled that there isn’t a review for the last two Berserk movies tho; psgels seemed quite the Berserk fan. He was also warming up to the Evangelion rebuilds but went on permanent hiatus right before the third film came out. I don’t wish a review of 3.0 on anybody tho, since most’ll be pretty hard-pressed to write more than two paragraphs about it.
  • bundleofsticks
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 06:48 PM)
    Also would people really be interested in a blog that only reviews old anime not many people watch anymore? Its better to review new shows
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 01:48 AM)
    @Kevin, you sure seem fond of that word. Anyway still see you that you keep coming back and playing the same old tune.
    Blah blah blah circlejerk, blah blah blah get lives, blah blah blah

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gangsta. – 12

Normally one expects a final episode to be well…final. Right from the start you could tell Gangsta wasn’t going to make an effort to form some kind of ending with it wasting far too much time on things that don’t really matter at this point. By episode’s end I was actually questioning whether this truly […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 12

The ending to Gakkou leaves me with a feeling similar to that I felt after watching Madoka’s final two episodes. The ending isn’t inherently bad but I can’t help but feel like I have been cheated. When you tease darkness and provide instead light its hard to appreciate. Contract to popular belief, not everyone loves […]

Gangsta. – 11

Gangsta has a serious problem on its hands. So far the past 11 episodes have been building up something and it’s clear that this buildup will not be utilised in the remaining episode. We got a setting, characters(though aside from the main trio a number of them need development) and an antagonist but we don’t […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 12

  It’s a good thing a second season of Gate was announced as it ending on this episode would be a poor round up to the series indeed. The biggest hanging thread is the Dark elf and her dilemma of returning to the village to tell them that help is not coming or resorting to […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 11

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Things are looking grimmer and grimmer for our four heroines as Yuuri can’t bring herself to kill Kurumi, Miki is trapped on the lower floors and zombies have subsequently knocked out the power and overrun the school. Leaving a surprisingly stable Yuki to save everyone’s hides. The zombies […]

Gangsta. – 10

So our girl Erica turns out to be the twin of Delio and I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t remember who Delio is. He’s the white haired guy who’s a weak twilight that works as a bodyguard for Monroe. It’s revealed that she was abducted when she was a kid and this is the […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 11

If it’s one thing this episode has taught us it’s that you should never cockblock a Goth-loita demi-gods plans for the night. Anime truly is the greatest teacher one could have, even more so than a yellow squid creature that moves at mach speed but not quite on the level of a gangster leader with […]

Latest Reviews

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]


Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]


Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]


Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]


Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]