GeGeGe no Kitarō
Episode 40

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 40 of
GeGeGe no Kitarō (TV 2018) ?

This week gives us a level of scariness from Kitaro we haven't really seen since episode seven (“Ghost Train”), and you know that can't be a good sign for the human he meets. Scary Kitaro seems to come out to play when he thinks that there's little hope for a human to truly learn their lesson, as with the abusive boss in episode seven and now with a struggling comedian in this one. Twelve years ago the comedian won second place in the Comedy Grand-Prix, but since then his one-note comedies have fallen out of favor, and the man is getting desperate to feel relevant and successful again. To that end, when he hears a yokai called Sara-Kozo singing a catchy little tune as he washes dishes, the comedian steals the song and uses it to fuel his rise back into the spotlight.

If I were to assign a real-world lesson to this episode, it would be “intellectual theft is bad,” but there's more to it than that. It's not just that he steals Sara-Kozo's song, it's that he persists in using it even when told to stop – and even when it's made clear to him that continuing to sing it will only result in his own death. When Cat Girl initially shows Kitaro a video of the comedian singing it, Kitaro and his dad immediately know that there's going to be trouble, and go to warn him. Rat Man, on the other hand, thinks he can make a quick buck off of this, which perhaps would be par for the Rat Man course except that Sara-Kozo really doesn't share well, and both Rat Man and the comedian end up almost dead at the yokai's hands.

The interesting piece here is that Kitaro is clearly ready to wash his hands of this mess. He's done his duty in giving out his initial warning; that the man ignored him is now his own fault. But when the comedian's family writes to him asking for help, his better nature wins out, and he does make another attempt at giving his cease-and-desist order. This is worth noting because it shows that Kitaro really does care – he could easily have turned the wife and daughter down, saying that he's already tried to take care of the issue and it's now up to the man himself to fix things. That he doesn't indicates that he truly doesn't like to give things up for lost; he wants the situation to be solved.

It's just that human nature doesn't always allow for that, and some people can't be saved.

That Kitaro will ultimately fail is foreshadowed not only by the return of his scarier persona, but also by the fact that Rat Man, of all people, tries to tell the comedian to knock it off. Rat Man is probably the worst judge of what's a good idea in the entire show (possibly in any show I'm currently reviewing, and Natsu from Fairy Tail is hardly a bastion of good judgement), and when he points out what you're doing wrong, that means you've seriously screwed up. Rat Man points out that it's not that the comedian wants to feed his family, it's that he wants to be back in the spotlight, reliving his glory days on stage. “Family” is a convenient lie he tells himself to justify doing not what is best for them, but what he wants. The minute the crowd falls silent during his joke, we know what's to come.

Did the Sara-Kozo destroy the man onstage on national television in front of his family? We'll have to hope not, but as a species, kappa can be pretty nasty. That's what makes the cut-off point for this episode very well done – our own imaginations can fill in what happens after the screen goes briefly dark much better than anything could have been animated. I could wish they'd left us a little blank time before the ending theme kicked in, because that would have increased the effectiveness in the same way that the excellent sound design with the change in the sound of rain changing throughout the episode did, but all in all this was an interesting take on the idea that stealing is bad.

Rating: B

GeGeGe no Kitarō is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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