Kitaro and the Millennium Curse Review

The Film

There is one spectacularly "off" moment during Kitaro and the Millennium Curse that caused me to howl with laughter. It's very rare for a piece of entertainment aimed at youngsters to cause such a positive reaction in me and I was left wondering whether this was due to greater permissiveness or invention in such films in Japan or whether it was just darned funny. I don't wish to spoil it for you but I will say it involves a reference to an old woman's nipples that I just couldn't imagine happening in a western context.
This moment was not the sole time I found myself laughing or charmed by this tale of demons, goblins and a possible apocalypse. The movie has an undeniable charm and a warmth that caused me to forgive occasionally undercooked effects in order to celebrate a story of growth and learning that in a western context might have seemed passee. Some of this is due to a pantomime ethic where lowest common denominator humour and shambolic set ups are not avoided for their ropeyness or home-made quality, but most of the fun is infectious in a story celebrating what kids like rather than apologising for it.

Kitaro, for those of you who don't know, is a special kind of adventurous Goblin who protects the human race from all manner of evil threats from the netherworld. He is supported by Cat Girl, Ratman and his father who is basically a walking eyeball - Lord knows how the mechanics of procreation worked, perhaps his mother receive a penetrating stare. Kitaro is drawn into an intrigue which is seeing young women disappear courtesy of an unhappy spirit and embarks on a mission to either exorcise or becalm this miserable fantasm.
Shot on rather cheap looking HD video, Kitaro and the Millennium Curse is not a blockbuster or riddled with amazing effects but it does have a rather joyous bonhomie and splendid scatological sweep. Fart jokes, men dressed up in bad drag and some pretty unsophisticated slapstick pepper this adventure, which carries a smidgen of romance and a heart-warming and inclusive message. This message is basically be happy and make the world a better place and this simple moral endeared it to me greatly.

It's hardly revolutionary but it is served up well as a jolly pantomime. Think Rentaghost with wire-fu and you won't be far off. It's definitely aimed for the kid in you and I think western parents may have some difficulty explaining the off humour and the significance of dry fruit, but this is very much worth the effort for an offbeat adventure.

Technical Specs

Offered on a dual layer and region two encoded disc, the transfer given to Kitaro is quite murky. It looks very like it was shot on video and I am not certain that it has been converted properly to PAL with a degree of motion shake and muted contrast pretty evident. It's not over-sharp but the amateurish pantomime feel of the feature may make you less concerned at getting stunning picture quality. This is a weak transfer overall - dark and lacking colour.
Sound only comes via a stereo Japanese mix which is not exactly dynamic or crystal clear but adequately performs in terms of discernible dialogue and effective effects. The English subtitles are optional, possess clean clear type and the odd mis-type.

Special Features

Outside of a trailer, The only extra feature offered here is that of production notes courtesy of popping your disc into a computer. The menu presentation is very basic with static art and few frills. The production notes are provided as a 48MB pdf file spread over 9 pages with photos to accompany the text. The text fills in background over the history of the Kitaro manga and how the character has developed, as well as providing cast, character and crew bios.

Summary

This was fun. It's a weak transfer but available very cheap so it might be worth a punt for fans of the comic or those wanting a bit of a childish romp

Film
7 out of 10
Video
5 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
4 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10

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