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Gegege no Kitarō 3 (Toei, 1985-88)

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Yōkai Odoro-Odoro: A1
Source: TV
Layers: 1
Sketches: 2
Cel Number: A1
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Added 2/25/2010
Updated 4/14/2017
This scary shuusei genga comes from Kitaro 3, the 1985 avatar of this perennial favorite. The seller identified the episode: No. 37: Yōkai Odoro-odoro [妖怪 おどろおどろ]

This spooky character seems to consist mostly of hair, with a huge set of eyes and tusks and a pair of clawed feet with which it slides along the ground. Here it opens its mouth to suck a victim into its bottomless maw, which is lined with teeth. The long lock of hair in the front also seems to act as a kind of tentacle that can grab and incapacitate those whom it wants to devour.

The mangaka Shigeru Mizuki had a fascination with the hypothetical anatomical make-up of Yōkai creatures like this, and so the Odoro-odoro creature gained a series of smaller tentacles that came out of its mouth, which attach themselves to prey and help drag them into its mouth.

A set of B-level gengas that came with these images (not imaged) show them shooting out and twining around ominously. In the screen grab below you can see these tentacles starting to drag Kitaro’s mortal friend Yumeko-chan into its mouth.

The episode seems to have become one of the most celebrated from this version of the series, judging from the number and variety of fan-art images and Odoro-odoro figurines available online. Here is one of these, showing the creature trying to get hold of Kitarō himself.

One Japanese blog (whose author admitted choosing not to rewatch the episode when it was reissued on DVD as it was too scary) added the information that the episode’s animation director was Katsuji Matsumoto [松本 勝次]. This artist worked on a variety of 1980s projects, including Sailor Moon and Captain Tsubasa, and has remained active in animation work up through Death Note and Full Metal Alchemist.

Matsumoto, then, is probably the artist who executed the image featured, the A1 shuusei. It makes interesting use of marker pen to create a chiaroscuro effect that heightens the relief of the character’s face and makes the teeth seem even more ominous. The gengaman’s effort, included in the first thumbnail, seems fussy and just a bit overdone, with the teeth unnecessarily dripping with blood. As you can see from the screen cap above, the studio went with Matsumoto’s idea of keeping the character design spare and scary, and its innards mostly left to the viewer’s imagination.


The Odoro-odoro was not created by Mizuki, as it appears as one of the uncanny creatures in the famous 18th-century Bakemono zukushi scroll, an Edo-period encyclopedia of Japanese legendary characters. A reproduction of this image from the scroll appears in the second thumbnail. From what I can make out of online commentary on this figure, scholars are unsure whether the name means “Muddy-muddy” or “Hairy-hairy” or simply “Scary-scary.” It is also known as Otoroshi (or “The Fright”), and you can learn more about the folklore of this creature at The Obakemono Project.

Judging from the creature’s association with mud and water, it’s likely to be based on a bogey creature found throughout the world, who haunts swampy places and waits to entangle children in its hair and drag them into the water to their deaths. These legends are often used to make kids stay away from dangerous spots without adult supervision, but have generated an active folklore of their own.

One of the most celebrated of these is the British Jenny (or Jinny) Greenteeth, a swamp bogey with long hair and sharp teeth similar to the Odoro-odoro, who likewise entangles and drags small children underwater to devour them. Similar monsters are known in other areas under many other names, such as Nellie Longarms and Meg Mucklebones.

The image of a hairy, wet, malevolent creature also clearly influenced the famous scene in which the revenant Sadako crawls out of the television screen at the end of the famous horror film Ringu (1998).

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