I can’t remember where I read about Kitaro, except that it was something that, as a fan of manga, I should read. Which meant that by the time I got the book (through ILL) and finally sat down to read it, I didn’t remember anything about it. That turned out to be a great thing. The book begins with a fantastic and informative introduction by Matt Alt (explaining about the author, the character sin the book, etc). He also shares that the book we have is actually a collection of Kitaro stories and not one long story. The only overarching theme is Kitaro himself and how he solves problems and saves people/the world.
Kitaro is what’s called a yokai (which Matt Alt explains) who is basically a supernatural being from Japanese folklore (you can read more on wikipedia). There are two types of yokai, good ones and bad ones. Kitaro, and his friends (though sometimes they cause mischief) are the good kind. And, of course, the yokai that Kitaro fight are the ones. One of the things I especially enjoyed about Kitaro was that at the end of the book there were two appendices. The first explains and translated different parts of some of the stories that weren’t translated within the comics themselves. The second was a glossary of the yokai that appear throughout the stories. Each part that needed to be defined was marked with an asterisk and a page number, making it easy to flip back and forth.
All of the stories were enjoyable and often humorous. Kitaro almost always comes to the aide of humans who have gotten themselves into trouble with the evil yokai — sometimes it’s the fault of the humans and other times it’s through no fault of their own (some of the yokai are sneaky). And Kitaro himself sometimes finds himself in trouble, he has friends who rescue him, but sometimes he depends on humans as well (in one of my favorite stories from the collection, Kitaro must be rescued, at least in part, by two humans).
The stories are easy to read and the book can be appreciated by readers of all ages (although there’s a tiny bit of nudity whenever Kitaro loses his vest). I really enjoyed this collection and the drawings that helped tell the stories of the yokai and Kitaro’s adventures.