A Japanese cartoonist, born in 1924, who lost
his left arm in World War II. He is largely
responsible for keeping the yōkai tradition
alive in Japan, with his distinctive drawings,
whimsical comic stories, and general enthusiasm.
Yōkai, or youkai, also known as obake or bakemono,
are the folk monsters of Japan. They constitute a
hundreds-strong menagerie of bizarre and varied
creatures. They are magical, nebulous beings that
exist in some strange state halfway between spirit and
flesh, and are often the physical manifestations of
extreme mental states, or the monstrous alteration of
some ordinary object, animal, or person. They are just
as varied in temperament as they are in form, and range
from strange but personable goblins, to harmless
pranksters that love scaring people, to dangerous ghouls
that feast on human flesh. You can find out more about
them at The Obakemono Project.
Mizuki's most famous work, about a yōkai boy with a missing left eye and a large number of
strange powers, who fights to keep peace between monsters and humans. His father, though dead,
reanimated himself as an anthropomorphic version of his own remaining eyeball, and often
guides Kitaro by riding around in his hair or empty eye socket. Kitarō's friends include:
Nezumi-Otoko (Ratman), a scheming, smelly, welt-covered half-yōkai wearing a filthy cowl,
with an pear-shaped head, buckteeth, and enormous animal-like whiskers. He often gets himself into
trouble by siding with the bad guys.
Neko-Musume (Catgirl), a yōkai girl with a very bad haircut and a frightening, sharp-toothed
feline aspect that surfaces in the presence of fish, rodents, and especially Ratman. Appears only once
in the comic, but is an important character in the cartoon series.
Sunakake-Baba (Sandwitch), a cranky old yōkai woman who throws stinging sand.
Konakijijii (Old Man Crybaby), an absent-minded, cheerful yōkai fellow dressed in an infant's smock,
who can turn into heavy stone and crush anyone who picks him up.
Nurikabe, a wall who is often invisible.
Ittan-Momen, a flying strip of ghost-cloth who Kitarō and friends often ride on.