As most of my readers are probably aware, August 6th marks the arrival of Kitaro from Drawn & Quarterly. Kitaro—known as Gegege no Kitaro in Japan—is THE yokai manga, created and written by Japan’s most eminent yokai scholar, Mizuki Shigeru. It is thanks to Mizuki Shigeru that yokai are still known and loved in Japan, and it is thanks to Gegege no Kitaro that this website even exits.
This is the first official English-language translation of one of Japan’s most popular and enduring comic books. Previously Kodansha published 3 Japanese/English bilingual volumes of Kitaro, but they were aimed primarily for a Japanese audience studying English and the translation was notoriously terrible.
Needless to say I am pretty excited about this. And you should be too!
What’s in it?
Kitaro collects the first two volumes of Gegege no Kitaro into a single book. There are lots of classic Kitaro tales; like the Great Yokai War where Kitaro and company take on the Western yokai like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Werewolf, all lead by the bizarre Bacbeard; or the late night game of Yokai Baseball; Or possibly one of the first Giant Monster vs. Giant Robot battles where Zeuglodon dukes it out with Mecha Zeuglodon.
I didn’t translate Kitaro (for my translation you have to pick up Mizuki Shigeru’s next release Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan) but I wrote all of the Yokai Files included in the volume. Matt Alt (Yokai Attack!) wrote the introduction talking about Mizuki Shigeru’s legacy and place in Japanese culture.
I think it is safe to say that this is the most important Japanese comic release of this year.
To read more about it, check out this blog posting from Kitaro-publisher Drawn & Quarterly:
Will There be any More Kitaro?
My most asked question about Kitaro is: “Will there be more?” And the only answer is—that’s up to you!
Here comes my pitch …
Whether there will be more Kitaro—or even any more English-language releases of Mizuki Shigeru’s excellent work at all—depends almost entirely on how well Kitaro does. If we can show that there is an English-speaking audience for Kitaro and Mizuki Shigeru—if this first volume is successful—then odds are good you will get more. If not, well … it’s just like a movie; the first one has to do well in order to justify the sequel.
So I highly encourage you (beg? plead?) to pre-order a copy of Kitaro if you can. You still have a couple of weeks to get your orders in and ensure you get a copy right away. I guarantee you will love it. If you’re a fan of hyakumonogatari.com, you’re a fan of Japanese folklore and yokai. And that means you’re a fan of Kitaro, even if you haven’t discovered it yet.
You can pre-order on Amazon.com:
Whew! Pitch ended …
And Another Thing – Vote Mizuki Shigeru for Cool Japan!!
One last thing I encourage you to do (beg? plead?). And this one is totally free and easy. Just click a link and click “Like” and that’s all there is to it.
As you may have read in the news, Japan is currently sponsoring a “Cool Japan” tourism campaign showing off some of Japan’s cooler aspects, as well as being an appreciation of Japanese culture and creativity. In partner with this, the airline company ANA has started their own “Is Japan Cool?” website, where you can vote on what is cool in Japan.
Mizuki Shigeru and his Tottori Yokai Road is a candidate on the “Is Japan Cool?” website. To vote, all you have to do is go to the website and click “Like.” When I wrote this post, Mizuki was in the #1 spot. Let’s keep him there!
If you don’t know about Tottori Yokai Road, the “Is Japan Cool?” website has a great collection of images and a video talking about Mizuki’s famous yokai. It’s a cool website just on its own, and it’s even better because you get to show your love for Mizuki Shigeru by throwing a Like his way.
That’s all folks! Now get crackin! Kitaro is waiting for you.