DVD Review: Hakaba Kitaro (2008)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Tuesday, September 24, 2013 0 comments

Hakaba Kitaro is an animated show about a creepy little boy named Kitaro who just happens to be the last of his kind called The Ghost Tribe and they have to keep him alive otherwise they will become extinct.  The show starts off with an investigator hired to find the cause of why the elderly are turning into the undead at the hospital.  He also has some new neighbors that have moved in next door that are a bit creepy not to say the least.  He gives them a visit and finds out that the creepy woman was responsible for turning the old people into the undead as they were just fulfilling the elderly's wish of wanting to live forever.  The investigator freaks out and tries to run out but is grabbed by her giant Egyptian mummy husband who is only trying to calm him down.  The married couple don't mean the humans any harm as they only want to live a life in a peaceful town free of prejudice.  We also find out that the wife is pregnant but the investigator has no choice but to report them in anyway and then leaves with the married couple in tears. 

The investigator returns later only to find them both dead (not from suicide if that's what you're all thinking).  He goes to give them a proper burial and witnesses a miracle as once he buries the mummie's wife  he hears some crying and sees a creepy demon baby crawl from out of his mothers grave, baby Kitaro is born (Yes I have Born In A Casket by Cannibal Corpse in my head also).  The investigator freaks out and kicks the kid away and gets the heck out of there.  Back at the monster couples house we see that the mummy (the kids father) is surprisingly still alive but just barely and we see his eye-ball crawl right out of his skull and runs to the cry of his baby boy who is freezing in the rain.  He manages to get to his son and is very happy to see that he is okay and tries to find a house to where he can leave his baby to be raised as he is in no condition to raise him being a walking eye-ball and all.  He takes baby Kitaro to the investigators house and the investigator mans up and raises him.  Several years have passed with Kitaro in school and we see the eye-ball return very happy and grateful that his son is alive and healthy.  The family is back together but that's only the beginning of the story.  (Click "Read More" for full review).

The story is full of crazy random stuff that you can switch your brain off to but it doesn't come off as daft and tedious but rather quite the opposite with it being very brilliantly done.  It also has a certain nostalgic aura from the fun it produces that takes me back to watching cartoons as a kid.  The show is also pretty dark with its theme of demons, monsters and constant death that can be just plain grizzly to witness.  There is also a weird shot of innocence mixed within all this madness and not only does it add some sanity to the show but it also adds some extra charm and depth overall.  Characters are really well done and they will become some of your most loved characters you will see in animation although when you first see them they might appear as (language warning) assholes but you will grow to love them very quickly.  There is also no clear line between good and evil between them as they are neither good or bad but neutral or chaotic neutral if I had to be more specific (yes I just used Dungeons and Dragons terms but it works very well for describing characters).

The art style looks like it was taken straight from the pages of a manga and colorized like how they do to some black and white films like Casablanca (1942).  I do quite like how the art looks intentionally grainy and it helps complements the bizarre nature of the show and it also adds to the comic book look.  Character designs are very awesome with a mixture of beauty and creepy and will make you a fan of the characters even more.  Scenery is very dark and twisted and it helps with the show's atmosphere and it also adds a layer of psychedelic that can make the show very trippy to watch.  They scenery also looks really good with some nice details although I wouldn't say it's very detailed but I wouldn't say it's basic either.  Japanese dub is very brilliant in this show with voices that go really well with the characters and it helps make the characters very memorable.  Soundtrack contains a mixture of creepy tunes and techno that sounds like it came from the late-nineties to the early-two-thousands and it made for a very fun listen.

There's a decent amount of special features that include: Text-less opening credits, promotional trailers and Japanese television ads, storyboards and an interview with Shigeru Mizuki (the creator of the series).  All these special features were pretty fun to watch but I wouldn't watch them more than once.  Overall this was a very brilliant and fun show full of great characters, art and writing.  A must watch.

Title: Hakaba Kitaro
Animation Studio: Toei
Genre: Animation/Anime, Supernatural/Horror, Drama, Black Comedy
Running Time: 238 Minutes (11 Episodes)
Distributor: Siren Visual (http://www.sirenvisual.com.au/)
Rating: M15+ (Supernatural themes, Animated violence)
Price: $49.95
Recommended: Yes


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