GeGeGe no Kitaro is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Shigeru Mizuki that was released in 1960. The manga is best known for its interpretations of several legendary yokai, demons from Japanese folklore.
Many of the main characters that appear humanoid are in fact yokai. The original story was an early 20th Century Japanese folktale performed on kamishibai – a form of Japanese street theater and storytelling where a narrator sets up a tiny stage and changes the illustrated boards as he narrates the tale.
GeGeGe no Kitaro has had many adaptations: anime series, two live-action films, and video games. The word GeGeGe in the title is the Japanese sound symbolism for someone doing an evil cackle or maniacal laughter. Buwhahaha! The English manga versions and some of the English live-action film versions have been released under the shorter name of Kitaro.
The latest anime adaptation premiered in April 2018 and continued its run with 97 episodes until October 2019. The 2018 anime replaced Dragon Ball Super in the same timeslot and Crunchyroll streamed the series as it aired with English subtitles under the title GeGeGe no Kitaro. GeGeGe no Kitaro’s newest adaptation is as a stay play!
Cast of GeGeGe no Kitaro impresses with anime character transformations
A new visual featuring the cast in full costume has been released on the stage play’s official website. If you look at the actors and actresses side by side with their anime counterparts you can see just how accurate their costumes are!
The cast for the stage play as seen above from left to right includes:
- Taro Yabe as Konaki-jijii
- Yuko Asano as Sunakake Baba
- Takashi Fujii as Nezumi Otoko
- Yoshihiko Aramaki as Gegege no Kitaro
- Sumire Uesaka as Neko Musume
- Hiroki Nanami as Amanojaku Rin
- Yuta Tachibana as Takeru
4 projects commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Mizuki’s birth
Takahiro Tamura is writing the script for the play and will also be directing it. From July 29 through August 15, 2022 the play will run at Tokyo’s Meijiza Theater.
The play will also be a homage to its creator who passed away in 2015 at 93 years old. This year, 2022, will mark the 100th anniversary of Mizuki’s birth. There will be four big projects commemorating this anniversary, including an anime film based on the latest 2018 series, titled Kitaro Tanjo: Gegege no Nazo (Kintaro Birth: The Mystery of Gegege) that will be released fall 2023.
A short teaser trailer for the upcoming play has been released:
A story inspired by the legendary yokai found in Japanese folklore
GeGeGe no Kitaro’s story centers on a young otherworldly boy named Kitaro, who is the last survivor of the Ghost Tribe, and his adventures as he encounters other ghouls and yokai. As Kitaro strives toward uniting the worlds of the humans and yokai in peace he gathers a strange group of allies to aid him in this task: Medama-Oyaji (a mummified Ghost tribesman reincarnated to inhabit Kitaro’s father’s eyeball), Nezumi-Otoko (rat-man), Neko-Musume (cat-girl) and others.
Many of Kitaro’s adventures have him facing off against monsters from other countries such as the Chinese vampire Yasha, the Transylvanian Dracula IV, and more. Kitaro also ends up battling evil yokai, who seek to destroy the balance between yokai and humans.
One storyline titled “The Great Yokai War” was inspired by the Japanese folktale of Momotaro and centers around Kitaro having to defend a Japanese island from a group of Western ghouls with the help of his yokai friends. Momotaro had to defend a Japanese territory with the help of the local animals.
Although Kitaro in GeGeGe no Kitaro is portrayed as a friendly boy who genuinely wants peace between humans and yokai, apparently Kitaro has an “evil twin”. In Kitaro’s earlier incarnation in the story Hakaba Kitaro, he is portrayed as being greedy and lacking empathy towards humans. In some instances, he leads humans into nightmarish situations or even into the dangerous yokai realm where their chances of survival are slim.
If you haven’t gotten to watch the 2018 anime adaptation yet, you should watch the trailer for it here: