GeGeGe no Kitarō
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 42 of
GeGeGe no Kitarō (TV 2018) ?
There's always been a feeling that some of Kitaro's work on behalf of humans may not be all that beloved by his yokai brethren. In a few cases, we've seen that directly, but this week's episode takes it farther than ever before, when Kitaro is put on trial for supposedly obliterating Hitotsume-kozo, a completely harmless yokai whose biggest trick is surprising people by suddenly showing up on dark streets. The evidence certainly seems to be against him – prosecutor Momon-jii has hair needles and a geta print to prove his guilt, along with an eye-witness who saw Kitaro destroy the harmless yokai. With five hundred years in a pot of liquefying solution hanging over Kitaro's head, things are not looking good – especially when Mana is brought in as a witness and she has to admit that she's seen Kitaro obliterate yokai before.
The real tension, however, comes from the fact that we know Rat Man is somehow behind everything. It doesn't take much of a leap of logic to figure out from his first appearance lounging in Kitaro's doorway that he's guilty of something to do with this case, and him offering Old Man Crybaby a drink before the trial certainly backs that assumption up. But when Rat Man blatantly lies on the stand with what gives the impression of being a smirk on his face (kudos to Toshio Furukawa for conveying that fully through his delivery of Rat Man's testimony), we know precisely what must be going on: Rat Man has sold out his purported “best friend” for financial gain.
It's totally within Rat Man's character, really. He's loyal only to himself and his pocket book, possibly as a result of never truly fitting in as a human or a yokai. His mixed heritage has been brought up more than once over the course of the series, and with a key point in the trial being that Kitaro (a yokai) hurts yokai for the sake of humans, it's difficult not to see at least a partial racism message in the episode. It's conveniently overlooked that in most (if not all) cases Kitaro is removing someone who is a problem for both humans and yokai rather than just happily obliterating yokai to make humans happy, because the prosecution's central claim is that Kitaro has somehow turned against “his own.” That this isn't something that many of the yokai we've gotten to know want to think about is evident not just from Cat Girl's staunch defense of her friend, but also Kojiro's reaction when he sees Mana brought in as a witness for the prosecution. If Kitaro is guilty of essentially liking humans too much, where does that put Kojiro as a yokai who is actively in love with a human girl? Does that also cast him as a traitor to the yokai? We don't get much more than a few stricken glances on his part, but that we even get that many – and that he's a player in this episode at all – seems to indicate that his feelings for Mana could land him in just as precarious a position should someone offer Rat Man enough cash.
Of course, the true culprit is neither Rat Man nor Momon-jii: it's Nanashi. He's really upping his game now, bringing it into the realm of almost complete, and Kitaro figures out who must be behind the trial as soon as Rat Man is made to confess to his perjury. Whether Nanashi is aware of Kitaro's thoughts almost isn't important – although he clearly knows that Kitaro will be a long-term threat to his plans (hence the trial), he also saw the trial as just a good way to get some more negative energy, enough to allow him to mark Mana with another character. Kitaro doesn't seem aware that Nanashi has been doing that, which means that he's alarmingly powerful, but his hubris at using the one human Kitaro truly is attached to as his vessel may prove to be his ultimate undoing – and it won't be long before we find out.
GeGeGe no Kitarō is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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