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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

New D+Q: Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon

Out today: Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon! It's the second volume in a series of seven, so make some space on your book shelf. If you're not familiar with Mizuki's classic yokai (Japanese folkloric monster) stories, it's a perfect time to get caught up starting with The Birth of Kitaro which came out earlier this year and explains Kitaro's mysterious origins. In this volume, our hero returns along with his his father, the eyeball Medama-oyaji, and perpetually broke frenemy Nezumi Otoko. The trio battle evil yokai, pal around with friendly ones, and generally fight to keep peace between the supernatural realm and humans. Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon also continues translator Zack Davisson's ongoing history of Kitaro, and builds on the "who's who" of yokai from the first volume in the end pages.

Just in time for Halloween, there are plenty of creepy yokai tales here to give you the willies...in a good way, of course!  In the title story, Kitaro and crew tangle with Nurarihyon, a treacherous yokai who disguises himself as a rich old man roaming the markets and pachinko parlors.You can imagine how Nezumi Otoko, with his perpetually empty pockets and stomach, easily falls prey to a bit of bribery from this shady character...

...but not to worry, he redeems himself from these occasional bouts of disloyalty by defending Kitaro when he needs it most. One whiff of the putrid breeze wafting from Nezumi Otoko's filthy robe sends enemies reeling. Stink as a secret weapon - genius!

Mizuki's art is always such a treat. Check out this full-page panel of Sara Kozo, a 350 year-old, many-toothed, yokai with a knack for songwriting, and a penchant for sweets and amusement park rides. Careful though, he's also got a nasty temper, and an especially foul special attack, as Kitaro finds out the hard way.

Another particularly creepy yokai is Odoro Odoro, a formerly human scientist whose research on baldness leads to his transformation into a demon with long, tendril-like hairs for sucking blood from his victims. Speaking of blood-suckers, Kitaro also has a run in with the most famous vampire of all: Dracula himself makes his way from Transylvania to Osaka, giving Odoro Odoro some competition.

 The stories taken as a complete narrative are full of fun and adventure, as well as some genuinely scary encounters, but what makes them really shine are the details. There are so many great panels, it's worth slowing down for multiple readings to catch all of the hilarious moments and beautiful drawings. For example, you'll notice that Medama-oyaji has a special fondness for taking leisurely soaks in cups of tea. How can a disembodied eyeball be so cute and charming? Mizuki makes the magic happen with masterful storytelling skill. Get to know Kitaro, and you're sure to fall under the spell of the one-eyed yokai boy as generations of manga fans have done.

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