GeGeGe no Kitarō
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 39 of
GeGeGe no Kitarō (TV 2018) ?
We need to get this very important question out of the way first: does Yuki's mother have a cabinet full of the cremains of her husbands? It would make sense if she did. Not only does Yuki start to ask about her dad when her mother reprimands her for dating Shun, a human, but the tales of the snow women all deal with them either killing human men or marrying them and living together. Since, as Yuki's mother points out, humans and yokai have very different life spans, this means that a single yuki-onna could have many human husbands over the course of a long life. Perhaps that's why her mother tries to warn Yuki away from Shun – she doesn't want her daughter to suffer the same heartbreak she has so many times over the centuries.
On the other hand, if she loved all of those husbands, why keep them in a cupboard instead of an altar? That's just a tiny bit suspicious.
At any rate, the romance between Yuki and Shun is the plot for this week's episode of Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, and it gets a lot more humor out of it than you might have been expecting. Apart from the fact that Mana spends most of the episode half-buried in her scarf so that she looks like a concerned turtle, poor Kitaro is also introduced to the wonderful world of dating sims and is rendered utterly unable to take out Numa-Gozen because he's three-quarters asleep. Instead he thinks he's still playing the game in a gag that I always find funny, and instead of driving the snake woman off with barbs, he wins her fickle heart instead, much to Cat Girl's consternation. Even without adding in that he was egged on in playing the game all night by his dad (who feels Kitaro is insufficiently interested in romance), the whole sequence is pretty funny, especially when Kitaro just gives up trying to say the name of his attack and just lets out a half-awake “bang.” This show has made me react in a lot of ways, but this is the first time I laughed out loud while watching it.
The actual romance plot between intense young man Shun and Yuki isn't anything special, although the fact that yuki-onna in folklore do often marry human men gives it a nice bit of grounding. The two are definitely operating on different wavelengths, as Yuki's home-cooked meal of sno-cone topped with strawberry milk and smelts indicates (more power to Shun for eating that thing), but Shun's unwavering devotion to a woman who isn't even sure she understands what she's feeling is impressive, if not sweet. That Rat Man feels like he wants in on the whole thing isn't surprising at all, although definitely more harmless than the shenanigans that he usually gets up to. Or maybe not – after all, he did agree to human/yokai matchmake for Numa-Gozen, who had every intention of using the service to find lunch itself rather than a date for it. Really it's the side plots that make this episode fun: Cat Girl and Mana listening to Yuki's struggles, Kitaro and the game, and Daddy Eyeball's insistence that Kitaro play it in the first place.
Numa-Gozen, it's worth mentioning, seems likely to be an alternate name or related yokai to the nure-onna, a vampiric snake woman who enjoys chowing down on humans. They prefer to catch their prey via trickery, such as asking passersby to hold a “baby” that becomes a weight that holds them down, so it would make a lot of sense if she decided to use dating services to update her bag of tricks. Snakes have also been known to eat rats, so Rat Man's predicament in the end is a nice nod to that aspect of the yokai as well.
This may not have been the most profound episode of the show, but it definitely was fun. It makes for a good break in a largely serious series, even without the special treat of having three different Cat Girl voice actors in it. Next week's story about a song may be another in this vein, but if it's not, we'll have had a bit of a breather to break up the horror.
GeGeGe no Kitarō is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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