KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a recent movie.
A mystery of missing women, triggered by by a forbidden romance between a man and a yokai, concealed in a cursed song…
Shigeru Mizuki‘s ever-popular manga series GeGeGe no Kitaro was first adapted into a big-budget live action fantasy movie in the spring of 2007. KITARO was a smash hit in Japan, reaching 2.3 billion yen ($25 million US) at the box office. Last year, the main cast and crew reunited for the sequel KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE (Gegege no Kitaro Sennen Noroi Uta)… but this time the story was aimed not only at children, but for older audiences as well.
The new movie deals with a 1,000 year-old forbidden romance between a yokai— those strange, mystical beings of Japanese legend— and a mortal man. This tragedy reflects the loneliness of being a yokai and the arrogance and weakness of mankind. Morally trapped between these two worlds is the half yokai/half human hero Kitaro and the human heroine Kaede. Their struggle to reach mutual understanding eventually leads them to an awareness beyond their differences. The trust and the friendship of Kitaro and his yokai partners proves the key to overcoming the morbid destiny that awaits them.
KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE tackles these philosophical themes in epic proportions. Like the first KITARO film, the sequel emphasizes the inherent humor of Mizuki’s yokai characters. Added is the sinister side of the original GeGeGe no Kitaro stories, exploring new territory. Thematically deeper, more realistic, and more dramatic, KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE is an exciting rollercoaster ride. Top CGI effects creators, including Centro Digital Pictures, Ltd (KILL BILL), have teamed up once again to create the world of yokai adventures.
KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE opened in Japan on July 12, 2008 and was released on Region 2 DVD on January 9, 2009. The first US screenings took place last November at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, CA. No word yet on when the film will be given a wider release in America.
Young women begin to disappear, one after another, in the drizzling rain. Each of them hear the cursed melody of the “Cage Song” before they vanish into thin air.
Kitaro (Eiji Wentz) and his yokai friends investigate these bizarre cases when they meet Kaede Hiramoto (Kie Kitano), a high school girl who finds herself involved in this mystery. With help from the librarian of the Yokai Library, they find out that the curse was caused by an “evil” yokai that was released from 1,000 years of imprisonment. To save Kaede, they must gather five ancient musical instruments and perform the ritual to seal the evil yokai once again… and this has to be done within 48 hours!
In their search for the ancient instruments, Kitaro and his buddies depart for three different points that where indicated on an ancient map. Kitaro and Kaede travel to “sky”, the sacred mountain in Hakone; Cat-girl (Lena Tanaka) and Ratman (Yo Oizumi) go to “land”, Mt. Takao; and Sand Witch (Shigeru Muroi) and Old Cry Baby (Kanpei Hazama) head to the “ocean” off the coast of Miura Peninsula.
When Kaede learns of her fate as a target of the Millennium Curse, she becomes lost in despair. She begins to doubt Kitaro even though he is on her side.
Meanwhile, Sand Witch meets the Water Well Hermit (Takashi Sasano), a wise old yokai, who reveals the curse began a millennium ago when the mermaid called Watery Witch (Shinobu Terajima) fell in love and married a human named Umihito (Masato Hagiwara). The star-crossed lovers were captured by villagers who disapproved of their non-traditional marriage. The villagers summoned a group of demon-slaying monks called the Black Sorcerers, who used their magic to entrap Watery Witch and separate the couple forever.
Upon learning the truth, Kitaro and Kaede suffer over the gulf between mankind and yokai. Kaede had initially blamed the yokai for the curse that threatens her life, but in fact the evil began with humans… including her own ancestor, one of the Black Sorcerers.
As Kitaro and Kaede struggle over their plight, they are attacked by Yasha (So Ji-sub), a yokai assassin from a foreign land. And observing from the shadows is Nurari (the late Ken Ogata), the powerful and sinister ringleader of an evil yokai group consisting of Yasha, Serpent Witch (Shiro Sano), and Watery Witch. These yokai plan to exterminate all of mankind.
Nurari screams, “All the sins that mortals have committed have caused so much sorrow, so much hatred, so many grudges. Kitaro, can’t you hear the deafening silence of their grief? The world is on the edge of perishing forever if we let humans continue to rule! Join us, Kitaro!”
As Kitaro fights against these enemies, he also wages an internal conflict over his identity as both human and yokai. Syly, Nurari further emotionally torments his foe by revealing a secret about Kitaro and his lost tribe. The dark blade of Yasha strikes again, and again…
Will Kitaro be able to overcome his destiny and shatter the vicious cycle between humans and yokai, free Watery Witch from her curse, protect Kaede and mankind from the evil yokai, and finally bring love and peace to the world?
Important New Yokai Characters
Skeltron: A gigantic monster incarnated from thousands of dead souls. Currently it rests in peace under the woods of Mt. Fuji.
Yasha: A foreign assassin engaged by Nurari to deal with Kitaro and his friends. Originally from somewhere in East Asia, Yasha is a cold-blooded, merciless and indifferent creature who kills with no remorse. He carries around a guitar that shoots sharp arrows, and also has musical talent for playing music from each Asian country.
Watery Witch: A kind of mermaid, Watery Witch is a beautiful enchantress. She once lived in the seas off Miura Peninsula. She has a special ability to take a living creature’s soul without hurting the body. A fateful encounter with a fisherman 1,000 years ago changed her life for eternity.
Nurari: Leader of all the ill-intentioned yokai creatures of Japan. He has strong psychic powers that he can release through his 1,000 year-old cedar cane. After dwelling underground for a long time, he returns to act out a horrifying plan.
KITARO AND THE MILLENNIUM CURSE (Gegege no Kitaro Sennen Noroi Uta)
Running Time: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Production: KITARO Film Patners
Japanese Theatrical Release: July 12, 2008
Domestic Distribution: Shochiku Co., Ltd.
International Sales: Shochiku Co., Ltd.
First US Screenings: American Film Market 2008– November 7, 7:00pm at LeMerigot 2, Saturday, November 8, 7:00pm at Fairmont 1
Kitaro: Eiji Wentz (KITARO, MASKED RIDER THE FIRST, BRAVE STORY)
Kaede Hiramoto: Kie Kitano (SPEED MASTER, LIFE)
Cat-girl/Neko Musume: Lena Tanaka (KITARO, 10 PROMISES TO MY DOG, THE TASTE OF FISH, GTO, SUMMER OF UBUME)
Ratman/Nezumi Otoko: Yo Oizumi (KITARO, GAMERA 2, SPIRITED AWAY, THE CAT RETURNS, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE)
Old Crybaby/Konaki Jiji: Kanpei Hazama (KITARO, GOZU)
Sand Witch/Sunakake Baba: Shigeru Muroi (KITARO, WHISPER OF THE HEART)
Daddy Eyeball/Medama Oyaji: Isamu ‘Yu’ Tanonaka (KITARO, GEGEGE NO KITARO anime)
Nurari/Nurarihyon: Ken Ogata (VIRUS, LOVE AND HONOR, IZO, THE PILLOW BOOK)
Watery Witch/Nure Onna: Shinobu Terajima (RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES, YAMATO)
Yasha: So Ji-sub (SORRY I LOVE YOU, MEMORIES OF BALI)
Serpent Witch/Jakotsu Babaa: Shiro Sano (GODZILLA 2000, GMK, THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, 20th CENTURY BOYS)
Water Well Hermit/Ido Sennin: Takashi Sasano (KABEI- OUR MOTHER, LOVE AND HONOR, GOD’S PUZZLE, DEPARTURES)
Umihito: Masato Hagiwara (CAFE LUMIERE, ONMYOJI: THE YIN YANG MASTER, CURE, CHAMELEON)
Fuguruma Youbi: Shoko Nakagawa (THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, X-CROSS, HAKABA KITARO)
Junichi Komoto (OBACHAN CHIPS, DORAEMON THE MOVIE: NOBITA’S NEW GREAT ADVENTURE IN THE UNDERWORLD)
Brother Tom Koyanagi (SHINING BOY AND LITTLE RANDY, WHITE MEXICO)
Aki Hoshino (SPACE TRAVELERS, DEATH ROW GIRLS)
Yusuke Kamiji (CROWS ZERO)
Director: Katsuhide Motoki (KITARO, DRUGSTORE GIRL, 10 PROMISES TO MY DOG)
Screenplay: Mitsuhiko Sawamura (THE GREAT YOKAI WAR)
Based on the manga by: Shigeru Mizuki (KITARO)
Chief Executive Producers: Teruki Matsumoto, Chihiro Kameyama
Planning: Junichi Kitagawa, Kenji Shimizu
Executive Producer: Nozomu Enoki
Producers: Yoshitaka Ishizuka, Juichi Uehara
Cinematography: Masato Kaneko
Lighting: Masao Kanazawa
Art Director: Hisao Inagaki
Music: Yasushi Takanashi
Sound: Kazumi Kishida
Editor: Isao Kawase
Character Supervisor: Isao Tsuge
VFX Supervisor: Yasushi Hasegawa
Special Make-up: Etsuko Egawa
Costume Design: Kodue Hibino
Action Coordinator: Yuta Morokaji
Music Producer: Shin Yasui
Theme Song: “Kaze Tachino” by Ataru Nakamura
Casting: Kei Kawamura
Assistant Director: Masanori Inoue
Production Managers: Akihisa Yamada, Toshiyuki Okuma
Line Producer: Jiro Komatsu
Festivals and Awards: Locarno 2008- Official Selection
For more information on KITARO and other yokai, please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan:
- KITARO on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray
- New Book Yokai Attack!: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide
- Yokai Attack! Interview: Authors Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt
- THE GREAT YOKAI WAR