Written by Jonathan Wojcik and Revereche

Kitaro Manga Review: Kitaro vs. Akaname

I think I mentioned in the Kitaro post that I was going to be reviewing some of the original manga stories, didn't I? Married to someone who can read and understand quite a bit of Japanese, we can basically bring you a look at some stories you can't even find translated anywhere right now, even with them being decades old and adapted time and again to different iterations of the anime.

This isn't the kind of website that can get away with bootlegging and translating entire manga itself, of course, but what we can do is share some artwork and select moments from some of Kitaro's adventures, and perhaps the first, most site-appropriate story is Kitaro's run-in with the Akaname.

You may know the Akaname already, the "filth licking" youkai typically depicted as a small, clawed goblin with a very long tongue. At night, the Akaname is said to enter bathrooms and lick every surface clean, slurping up all that dirt and mold and even human waste that might stain an unkempt restroom but leaving behind a thin, sticky layer of saliva.

Youkai, however, are often capable of changing forms, and the Akaname in our first story differs from any other portrayal in Japanese pop culture.

It all starts, however, with Nezumiotoko, good old "Rat Man," pissing in public (his preferred manner of pissing) when a tiny fly, attracted to Ratman's trademark stench, starts speaking in perfect Japanese.

That fly's design is adorable, too. I'm glad to know how one of my favorite artists draws one of my favorite creatures. This is the kind of design I'd have wanted for a Pokemon housefly.

Ratman is fairly impressed that the little insect has learned to talk, and it takes a name that basically translates to "Buzzbert." In gratitude of Ratman's exceptional friendliness towards a much-maligned insect, Buzzbert warns him of what is about to go down....

Buzzbert's fellow insects, rodents and other garbage-eaters have achieved not only sentience, but numbers far too vast to be contained anymore by the landfill alone, and if humankind is just going to trash the world anyway, they figure it's about time humankind step aside and hand it over to them proper.

The leader of this scavenger's rebellion soon reveals itself as a gigantic humanoid whose body is comprised primarily of garbage and the same seething creatures it has rallied into an army, essentially the landfill itself come to life to punish humanity.

It's Medama Oyaji, Kitaro's eyeball dad, who identifies this being as a gigantic manifestation of Akaname, born from a greater and more putrid concentration of grime than any Akaname before it.

Unfortunately, some of Buzzbert's less scrupulous cousins steal Kitaro's dad away from him and add him to the collective, while Kitaro is overwhelmed by rats that are hilariously aiming straight for his mouth.

After witnessing Kitaro and Medama Oyaji both absorbed and dissolved into Akaname's garbage body, dearest Rat Man realizes he can use the monster to his advantage and get rid of some other "annoyances" in his life, such as Cat Girl, by tricking her into thinking she can defeat the monster by planting a seed in its body.

...Which does turn out to be true, since this Akaname is nothing but one massive concentration of high-density, supernaturally potent fertilizer. I'm not clear on whether Rat Man really knew this would work, or he only meant to do away with Cat Girl.

Erupting with all manner of plant life from that single first seed, Akaname collapses, and the garbage and waste of Japan's biggest dump is transformed into a beautiful new forest.

Rat Man, naturally, takes credit as the genius hero who brought down the threat and solved the pollution crises, which is technically correct, actually, even if he did so while attempting to murder Cat Girl.

What he doesn't count on are all absorbed Youkai quickly reincarnating from giant fruit pods.

Rat Man saved the city, but he did so by also being an asshole, so everybody agrees that it's hilarious to see him get mauled.

At least Buzzbert sticks by him...though we never see the poor little fly again, so I guess he had a fairly ordinary housefly life span.

We'll never forget you, Buzzbert.

This was a fairly short and simple Kitaro story, but I have at least two more planned to talk about if you happened to enjoy this, and each is exponentially more outrageous then the previous!