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Kitaro (DVD Review)

3 Aug, 2008 By: Matt Miller


Street 8/12/08
$19.98 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Wentz Eiji, Mao Inoue, Rena Tanaka.
In Japanese with English subtitles.

A tribe of super foxes, a Rat Man, a Cat Woman and a walking, talking eyeball are all part of the colorful cast of characters that bring the classic, family friendly “Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro” manga series to life.

The live-action, CGI-rich film, simply titled Kitaro, is set in modern-day Japan as the worlds of the humans and the Yokai (spirit monsters) struggle to coexist. The lone peacekeeper is Kitaro (Wentz Eiji), a half-human, half-Yokai, who serves as an ambassador between the two groups, spending most of his time coming to the aid of humans who are being tormented by the pesky monsters.

But Kitaro's powers are put to the test when he's tasked with recovering an evil stone, which is filled with 1,000 years of monsters' grudges, from falling into the wrong hands and destroying both worlds. The only one who knows of the stone's whereabouts is a young boy named Kento, who was given the stone by his father for safekeeping before being arrested for its theft.

Kitaro is compelled to protect Kento and his older sister from the Yokai, specifically the fox spirits, who will do anything to get the magical stone back. This leaves the fate of the world in the capable hands of Kitaro, who relies on all of his Yokai friends to help save the day, while trying to reunite Kento's family.

Directed by Japanese filmmaker Katsuhide Motoki (Drugstore Girl) and featuring imaginative CGI work from Centro Digital Pictures (the company responsible for the special effects in Kill Bill and Kung Fu Hustle), Kitaro is a highly entertaining adaptation that harnesses all the creativity from the original manga storyline to deliver a whimsical, action-packed journey that kids and adults of all ages can enjoy.

The anime series has remained popular for more than 40 years in different forms — having been made into TV shows and movies since the 1960s, and into a number of related video games since the late '80s. Another of the film's big draws is its casting of popular Japanese performers, including Wentz Eiji, half of the Japanese pop duo WaT.

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