Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Eiji Wentz, Mao Inoue, Rena Tanaka and Yo Oizumi
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: PG
Available 28 September 2009

When Kenta Miura’s apartment is overrun with ghosts he summons the half human, half yokai (monster) Kitaro to help out, little thinking that he will stay and befriend Miura, worse still Kitaro is attracted to Miura’s sister Mika. But there are greater things afoot when Kitaro’s friend Ratman steals the Evil Stone from some fox shape shifters, now the foxes and the police are after the stone and only Kitaro and his friends stand in the way...

Kitaro (2007 - 1 hr, 39 min, 07 sec) is a live action film of the successful manga, which began life in the '60s, and anime. Although this is the first full length film made for the cinema, Kitaro had already appeared in two previous ‘made for television’ films as well as the successful animated series and manga, and lest we forget the large selection of toys that the story spawned. The film was directed by Katsuhide Motoki from a script by Daisuke Habara.

As an anime/manga translation into film this resides firmly in the realms of young adult entertainment. I’ll be honest the film doesn’t do itself any favours. The first major character introduced is that of Ratman, who turns out to be a guy dressed in a rain coat with some whiskers stuck to his face. Not a very auspicious beginning, but things improve when the CGI characters kick in. When that does happen the real magic of the film is revealed with a cast of really strange Yokai, which are both imaginative and entertaining.

What is less entertaining about the film is the casting of Eiji Wentz as the main character. Okay, I’ll admit he is pretty and apparently he is some form of teen idol in Japan, but in reality my cat can act better than Eiji. This is the equivalent of watching David Cassidy trying to play Hamlet, it really does not work. I presume his millions of teenage female fans really couldn't care less what a middle aged bloke thinks of their hero, but this one thinks he’s seen more movement and emotion in your average a bit of wood.

But then, the lead aside, the real stars of the film are the CGI and full costumed Yokai. Here the film scores well, apart from the guy in the rain coat. At its heart this is a children's film, although there are elements of fan service in there, it’s not enough to cause awkward question for parents. The story is a fairly basic quest film, but these are beloved of children who love a bit of adventure. The film throws in a side quest, where the children want to travel to the afterlife to see their recently deceased father, which will tug a few heartstrings. Of course the good guys win, just in time to finish the film with a bizarre dance sequence. Personally I thought the sixties had come back to bite me and I’m not even old enough to remember them.

Although the disc only has a single extra it’s a pretty impressive one. You Tube featurette (1 hr, 04 sec) subtitled Monsters in the City; it has a bunch of characters from the manga wandering around Tokyo. They seem to be shorts, which were created to publicise the film, strung together.

Loud, bright, colourful and silly, what more could you want from a kids film? The movie is presented in Japanese with optional English subtitles.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£10.98 (
£10.99 (
£10.99 (
£12.97 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.