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Gegege no Kitarō 4 (Toei, 1996-98)

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Neko Mesume transforming into her yokai self
Source: TV
Layers: 1
Sketches: 3
Cel Number: B3, B4
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Added 7/11/2011
Updated 5/8/2017
Kitarō 4: Episode 79 [Invasion of the Chinese Ghost (Part 1)], cut 16-17. This was the most interesting sketch set that I got in this lot. Neko Mesume or “Cat Girl” appears most of the time in the early Kitarō series as a rather plain-looking little girl with a bowl haircut topped with a prominent hairbow that suggests cat ears. (She was made over as a prettier and more stylish teenaged girl in the recent Kitarō 5.)

However, when irritated, she begins to transform into her bake-neko self, a terrifying and yōkaicidal cat demon. In the sketch featured, you can see this change beginning, especially in her fingernails, which turn into cats’ claws, and her pupils, which start to go from oval to slits.

Visit the thumbs for an interesting shuusei that shows the next stage, in which her eyes go feline completely and her mouth is lined with typical yōkai sharp teeth. The second thumb is a vivid genga from earlier, showing Neko-mesume brusquely shoving the furry creature on the right aside. Or go ahead to the next item, which reanimates all the sketches in the series in a simple way.

The set also included an A-tome layer (not imaged) showing Konaki-jiji, Ittan Momen, Medama Oyaji, and a little creature [which a handwritten legend names as Maruge or "Round Fur"] watching the action passively.

Obakemono Project has more on the folklore on which Mizuki based this rather intimidating creation.


Thanks to Brendan of The Obakemono Forums, I can now identify the furry creature to Neko Mesume's right as Satori, one of the Chinese yōkai featured in this two-part series.

Depicted in Toriyama Sekien's 1781 encyclopedia of yōkai, Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki, Satori is described as an ape-like creature that can read people's minds. According to traditional Japanese legends, the Sasquatch-like creature confronts travelers on lonely mountain paths and drives them to distraction by repeating out loud everything that they are thinking in their heads.

As "Satori" (覚) properly means "consciousness," it seems likely that this yōkai legend has its origin in Buddhist religious practice, in which one tries to silence the internal voice during meditation in order to center oneself and experience inner peace.

One suspects that Neko Mesume could use a little inner peace at this particular moment.

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Curator: 60something-sensei
Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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