Otaku News Features The Trial of Kitaro

“The Trial of Kitaro” / Otaku News / Joe Curzon / February 11, 2020

Drawn & Quarterly have been lovingly releasing the classic Kitaro manga stories. They follow the adventures of manga author Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro. A young yokai (Japanese monster of folk law) who battles with other yokai and monsters to save the day.

While they haven't been releasing every single Kitaro story (as that would be a huge undertaking), they've been publishing a selection of best of Kitaro stories. The stories in each volume are pretty much standalone, so you can dip in and out.

Not only are the stories entertaining, the world Mizuki's presents forms a great window into understanding the world of yokai and Japanese folk tales. You may have seen similar things in other anime and manga too.

As well as the translation, Zack Davisson has provided an intro to the History of Kitaro, which fills in the behind the scenes story of Kitaro's publication. At the end of the book are 'The Yokai Files' which explain the monsters encountered and their abilities. I see this as another great extra as many readers would not be familiar with all the creatures in Japanese folk law.

Kitaro: The Trial of Kitaro is the final volume in the selection. The title of book comes from an adventure where Kitaro is put on trial after being falsely accused of breaking yokai law as a result of one of Nezumi Otoko's money making schemes. With Kitaro in peril, who can save him?!

At first glance the artwork is simple, but if you look again you'll start to see extra details. Different characters have different kinds of screen tone or patterns applied to their costumes. Buildings are drawn in detail, with each brick and beam being drawn. The woodland and forest scenes are especially lush. The panel layout and framing is excellent too.

Kitaro is very much a product of its era. Kitaro is a straight forward hero who doesn't like taking money for his services and fights to save the day from the more evil side of the spirit world. The stories are very action and event driven. There is a problem, Kitaro comes along and gets into scrapes. Sometimes his friends have to save Kitaro too, after all, even a hero needs help! For the target audience of children and the young at heart, it's a great story. No wonder it's a classic.

Rating: 8/10

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