GeGeGe no Kitaro (2018) Episode 4: The Wrath of Yama-Jijii

Episode four of the 2018 GeGeGe no Kitaro series features the young boy Yuta, who discovers GeGeGe Forest after traveling through a small tunnel; a human stumbling upon said forest is a rare occasion, as indicated by Sunakake-Babaa (who notes that the previous visitor, Torakichi, encountered the yōkai world centuries before). The fact that centuries have passed between Torakichi and Yuta’s respective visits illustrates that yōkai realm has kept itself fairly isolated from the human world – although yōkai can seemingly move freely between their realm and that of humans, human travel to the yōkai world is extremely rare. Kitaro tells Yuta to avoid traveling to the forest freely – this shows his reticence towards accepting humans into his world, echoing his statement to Mana about how humans and yōkai should not interact. Yuta exhibits a fascination with yōkai, having learning about them from his grandmother, which alleviates some of that concern Kitaro shows about letting humans interact with yōkai; people do not always display fear and confusion towards the supernatural, as shown with Yuta, who is genuinely interested in learning about yōkai and their realm. Yuta considers beings like Kitaro cool, rather than scary – even though he does initially show fright upon meeting the swamp monster, Yuta shows respect towards those beings he encounters in the forest and wants to learn about them. One scene in the episode shows him allowing Betobeto-san, a ghostly entity named for the sound they make while walking, to move ahead of him; he may have been scared initially upon hearing Betobeto-san’s footsteps, but upon learning who they are, he takes an effort to show deference to them rather than fear (which Betobeto-san appreciates).

Yuta’s careless taking of a small fruit from Yama-Jijii angers the yōkai, who demands Yuta return the fruit; this shows the more dangerous side of yōkai, with Yama-Jijii going on a rampage to recover something taken from him. Yama-Jijii displays a willingness to forgive Yuta for his transgression, however – this contrasts with the the more violent yōkai shown in episode three, who took the extreme step of abducting children as a means of punishing humanity. After forgiving Yuta, Yama-Jijii places a red X on the boy’s palm as a reminder to not repeat his mistake; there are rules to the universe, he states, that should not be violated. As long as Yuta observes these rules, he should be fine; Yama-Jijii’s mention of rules shows that the world comes with it a set of expectations that much be followed, at the penalty of punishment. Kitaro’s strict prohibition of allowing humans and yōkai could be one such rule, a rule that seems rather unnecessary as humans and yōkai can potentially coexist peacefully; Yuta demonstrated a love of yōkai, rather than fear, showing that humans can interact peacefully with supernatural beings. Individual humans and yōkai might be frightening (such as the yōkai shown in episode three), but that doesn’t mean they are all like that, and nor does that mean the two worlds have to be antagonistic towards each other; they can live together without a problem, and Yuta shows that humans can be kind towards yōkai.

The world can occasionally be a scary place – the swamp monster in this episode shows how yōkai can be dangerous to humans, as they eat human children, and Yama-Jijii displays the frightening power that yōkai can possess. However, yōkai and humans can still coexist peacefully; the main yōkai seen in this series (from Kitaro to Neko-Musume to Ittan-Momen) are all nice beings who do not wish to exhibit violence. Kitaro is even willing to defend humans when needed – he defeated the antagonistic yōkai in episode three, recognizing them as a threat that needed to be defeated before they threatened humans further. As mentioned, Yuta exhibits a fascination with yōkai, showing that humans are not unilaterally dangerous; he shows respect towards the yōkai he meets, rather than fear or anger. Kitaro’s hesitance over letting humans and yōkai interact may have some justification, but Yuta illustrates that Kitaro may not have to worry too much – humans and yōkai can get along rather well, and there may be no reason to overly worry about what might happen if the two societies meet.

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