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Monday, October 18, 2021


                                    Medama Oyaji searches the internet in the yokai library.

Yokai hero Kitaro (Eiji Weitz) and his yokai friends and family return in this immediate sequel to  their previous outing, and I have to be honest and say up front that results, while not bad, are rather tepid.

                                                                      Kitaro investigates.

The plot has to do with a 1000-year-old yokai's spirit being unsealed after she was captured and exorcised via a ritual involving five sacred musical instruments, and once unleashed she goes on a rampage of soul-collecting. Her activities catch the attention of Kitaro and friends, and their investigation brings them into contact with a human teenager whom they befriend. The girl turns out to be part of the bloodline of those who sealed the angry yokai a millennia ago and she is the last of the reincarnated line, so the clock is running out for her. Kitaro and his yokai gang must collect the five sacred instruments and perform the sealing ritual before things get further out of hand, but there's more going on than just a vengeful spirit running around, and does spirit really deserve the fate that was handed to her?

Kitaro in warrior mode.

This installment veers into the franchise's darker side, but its darkness is a lot lighter than its marketing would have us believe. Yes, the Kitaro franchise is noted more for its Japanese take on the macabre realm of humor in which mythical creatures encounter human beings as a part of everyday normality, and the stories featuring those elements work fine, but the franchise also often drops the wacky flavor and veers into scary weirdness. Those who study world mythology and legends know and understand the yokai as manifestations of aspects of nature and other things that affect the Japanese way of life, and to western eyes and minds they can seem more absurd than terrifying, but if one lets go of western thinking and learns to absorb the distinctly Japanese flavor of tales of the yokai, the two sides of Kitaro stories are more easily digested. Personally, speaking as a lifelong freak for world mythology and legends, Kitaro has always been up my alley, so I will always check out any kitaro manga, anime, or whatever that I can get my hands on. KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE is just kind of "meh," which is shame, but considering how much Kitaro is out there — the franchise has been going strong for just over sixty hears, with its most recent anime series airing in 2018 — it was bound to produce a mediocre effort every now and then. That said, don't let this weak tea of a movie stop you from further exploration of the world of GEGEGE NO KITARO. It's a wondrous, creepy landscape with many, many stories to enjoy.

Poster for the theatrical release.

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