Spooky Ooky

Danger comes to the forest where kindly spirits have made their home, when a construction company begins evicting tenants from a nearby housing estate. Local child Kenta Miura seeks the help of the 350-year-old ghost-‘boy’ Kitaro after the human residents are plagued by evil spirits. These hauntings turn out to be the work of Kitaro’s fair-weather friend Nezumi Otoko (‘Ratman’), a mischievous spirit who has been hired by the Chaya Construction Company to scare the residents out.

On the run after being discovered by Kitaro, Nezumi Otoko stumbles across a precious stone that he sells to pawnbroker. It is a Spirit Stone, possessed by the evil in the hearts of both men and ghosts, and it soon exerts its evil influence on Kenta’s father. Meanwhile, the town is infested with creatures from the Clan of the Earthly Foxes, determined to steal the stone back for their own purposes…

The Kitaro series has been a feature of Japanese comics, cartoons, films, games and books for the last fifty years. Production began on these new, rebooted Kitaro movies in 2002. With a subtle relationship between Kitaro and a human girl in the foreground, it was decided to base the main plot on three episodes from the original manga by Shigeru Mizuki: ‘Amagitsune’ (Sky Fox), ‘Yokai Daisaiban’ (Great Spirit Trial) and ‘Yokai Ressha’ (‘The Haunted Train’). The human love interest, Kenta’s sister, would be played by Mao Inoue, a teen idol best known in Japan for appearing in the live-action version of the anime series Hana Yori Dango.

A sequel entered production in the same month that the first film opened in Japanese theatres. With an appreciably higher budget and a few stylistic tweaks to make it closer to the original manga, Kitaro and the Millennium Curse was filmed between December 2007 and March 2008. Unlike the previous movie, it featured an all-new plot unrelated to any anime or manga incarnations, with the story of a cursed song that brings death to anyone that hears it. When Kaede Hiramoto (played by a new teen idol, Kii Kitano) hears the Song of Kagome, she has 48 hours to live unless Kitaro can somehow perform a ritual of exorcism. To break the spell, he must find five magical musical instruments, and use them to perform a counter-spell before time runs out. But as he searches desperately for the necessary pieces of the puzzle, he runs into interference from the scheming old spirit Nurari, who has an altogether more apocalyptic plan that will affect the whole human race. Continue reading