GeGeGe no Kitarō
Episode 46

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 46 of
GeGeGe no Kitarō (TV 2018) ?

Caveat emptor, people of GeGeGe no Kitaro, especially if the seller happens to be Rat Man. Once again he's the catalyst for the mayhem this week, this time selling an unsuspecting man a “special” set of hina dolls (for the Hina Matsuri holiday) that are purportedly so super popular that Rat Man can only actually hand the buyer the Emperor and Empress dolls – the rest, he says, will turn up one at a time. That's shady at the best of times, but since this is Rat Man we're talking about, it's even worse – the dolls are actually mayuge, or enchanted “eyebrow” yokai (just hairs, really), and they function as energy vampires. The reason the rest of the dolls in the set will show up later is because the mayuge first have to pick unsuspecting victims, drain their energy, and trap them in doll bodies. Since the customer in this case is a teacher at Mana's school, that means that she and her friends are now in immediate danger.

Unlike most of the other humans in the show, however, Mana is very good at learning from what she's experienced. The minute her three school friends go missing, she's on the phone to Cat Girl. As she tells Kitaro when the two show up, she's not sure it's a yokai issue, but she's learned to take precautions. What she doesn't know, however, is that she has acquired the power to take care of herself over the course of the series, courtesy of none other than Nanashi. While the Nameless One has been very cagey about why he's been imprinting characters (seals? spells?) on Mana's body, one thing we now know for sure is that when her life is threatened by a yokai, she can, unconsciously, activate them, destroying the yokai and saving her own life. It's worth noting, however, that her “destroy” is much more thorough than Kitaro's; as we learned back in the Western Yokai arc, Kitaro simply does away with the physical bodies of those he defeats, leaving their souls intact. Mana, using Nanashi's power, does what Backbeard's cronies did: completely obliterates the yokai in question, leaving not even their souls behind.

That's a very serious power, especially considering that Mana has little-to-no control over its activation; in fact, she doesn't even seem to be aware that she's the one who destroyed the mayuge. That would may imply that Nanashi is going to control Mana somehow so that Kitaro will have to “attack” her and trigger the spell, thereby forcing Mana to kill her friend(s) and fall into the despair he so desires because of it. It's far more sinister a plan than even Backbeard's or the Tanuki, and it all hinges on the emotional strength of a thirteen-year-old girl…and having been one and sister to another two, I can say with some certainty that thirteen-year-old girls aren't exactly a bastion of emotional strength.

On the subject of strength, the way this week's whole mess really starts is when Rat Man once again blunders in where he shouldn't. That's unsurprising, but what's significant is the way he does so. In earlier episodes of the show, we repeatedly saw humans removing old seals or in other ways messing with religious or spiritual items and thereby triggering a terrible event. Well, this time it's the same play but with a different lead actor – Rat Man eats a shrine offering and tears off a seal purifying dolls in a roadside shrine. This is a clear indicator that Rat Man's human half may be what keeps getting him into trouble – he behaves like a human at the worst possible time. Since he has a yokai's supernatural powers alongside of that human self-destructive curiosity, it means that he's able to largely survive whatever he starts; it's others who pay the price for his human-like behaviors.

Given that we now know Mana to have been given some powers of her own, this doesn't seem like a great parallel to discover. We'll just have to hope that her brand of humanity is less foolish and destructive than Rat Man's, which, now that I've written it out, seems like a pretty safe bet.

Rating: B+

GeGeGe no Kitarō is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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