GeGeGe no Kitarō
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 50 of
GeGeGe no Kitarō (TV 2018) ?
How would you rate episode 51 of
GeGeGe no Kitarō (TV 2018) ?
I can't even begin to say how sad I am that this will be my last GeGeGe no Kitarō episode review. Not only have I enjoyed the show (and I'll definitely keep watching it), but it has also consistently been a joy to write about. Sometimes with single-and-double episode reviews, it's difficult to find enough to talk about, but that's never been the case here. Not only has this show demonstrated what can be done with children's animation when you trust your audience to be able to handle larger issues than are typically seen in kids' shows, but it's also never hesitated to delve into the more obscure areas of mythology and folklore along the way. Yes, there's the added bonus that children's literature and folklore are my two areas of study as an academic, but even without that, this is a phenomenal series that I've looked forward to writing about every week.
It's also sad to end here where a new overarching plot is starting, but them's the breaks. At least we finally know what was behind Cat Girl's lackluster return from the dead two weeks ago – Kitaro made a dangerous bargain with Enma-Daio, the Lord of the Underworld. While we see the implication that Kitaro's father was the one who established a semi-working relationship with Enma-Daio, allowing Kitaro to make his bold request in the first place, it's more important to note that the Lord of the Dead isn't a fool; he knows what Kitaro can do and he's more than willing to take advantage of that. He tells Kitaro that he watched the fight against Nanashi and was impressed before quickly (and perhaps too casually) noting that it's not enough to merit the return of Cat Girl's soul. Perhaps this is attributing too many sly motivations to him, but it seems likely that he was banking on Kitaro making the offer to find the escaped Four Treasonous Generals in exchange for Cat Girl, because Enma-Daio was certainly ready to say that if Kitaro failed, he would be required to work for him in Hell.
In folklore, these kinds of bargains have a checkered history. For every girl who wins her freedom by tricking an evil wizard, there's a man whose attempts to fool Death end badly, and Kitaro may be walking the same path as Death's godson in this respect. I say this because it's likely that Enma-Daio is fully aware of what Rei, the human Kitaro encountered last week, plans to do – after all, he's got that mirror that allows him to see what's going on in the human world. Rei's plans are all about revenge; as we learn this week, his village was wiped out in a yokai attack that appears to be its own act of revenge for what his ancestors did one thousand years ago. Now that the Treasonous Generals have escaped from Enma-Daio's domain, they've begun to carry out their vengeance on humanity, and Rei has inherited the skills to put a stop to that. Unfortunately for Kitaro, his plans do not include returning them to the underworld – instead he's going to absorb their powers into his arms. While his general hatred of all yokai is certainly bad news, this particular act has even worse implications; if he absorbs the Generals, that means Kitaro can't send them back to Enma-Daio to fulfill his end of the bargain.
Apart from the fact that this would be bad for Kitaro personally, it would also turn the root of his plans to ash. Kitaro admits to his friends that he wanted Cat Girl back not just for himself, but because he didn't want Mana to be sad. We can see in last week's episode that the two of them have moved up to a more comfortable level in their friendship, and he knows how much she and Cat Girl mean to each other. While Cat Girl coming back as a child may have been another roadblock thrown in his path by Enma-Daio (without her powers, she's definitely more of an adorable hindrance than a help), it also reconfirmed that she's a vital part of Kitaro's group, not just for him, but also for his human friend. While she does get her powers and bigger body back this week, and her reunion with Mana is heartwarming, if Kitaro can't send the Generals back, it'll all be for naught – because Mana will lose both Cat Girl and Kitaro at once.
Rei's level of threat as an opponent may mean that Mana needs to play a bigger role once again. As she said when saving Nanashi, the opposite of love is indifference, not hate (words originally spoken by Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel), and that means there's hope for her to reach him through his blanket of anger and hatred. I'm sorry I won't be able to track it in writing week by week, but I do hope to write the whole cour up when it ends this summer. I hope you'll also keep watching Kitaro's adventures and listening in the dark for the clip-clop of wooden geta marking his way forward.
GeGeGe no Kitarō is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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