Joka (lost animated fan film based on anime series; 1989)

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Joka.jpg

A poster for the film.

Status: Lost

Gegege no Kitaro (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎) is a multimedia franchise created by author Shigeru Mizuki. Although relatively unknown in the West, Gegege no Kitaro is extremely popular in Japan, warranting video games, feature films, and anime based on the property. In 1989, an unofficial fan film based on the third anime series, titled (女禍, Joka, also known as Jo-Ka) was screened to a private audience. Produced and distributed by La Moon (ら・むうん), this small company specialized in making fan made manga (known as doujin) based on Shigeru Mizuki’s work. The film had limited animation, however the quality was phenomenal for a fan-made project. Some animators who worked on the third and fourth Gegege no Kitaro anime also contributed to the film, although many went under pseudonyms. Although rumors of a home video release have circulated online, the film remains lost.

Plot

A pamphlet given out during a private screening. Some characters, such as Neko-Musume, were given a slight redesign for the film.

The film takes place after the events of the third Gegege no Kitaro anime series. Characters from the third anime are featured, although the female protagonist of the series "Yumeko" is no longer present.[1] Lost Media Wiki user "Robotkat" has graciously translated the plot of the film from La Moon’s official website, which has been provided in the External Links section. A basic plot summary is as follows:

Jigoku-Doji returns to visit Kitaro, telling him of a human who has the ability to remove souls from the afterlife and put them through eternal suffering. This human is named Yasuda. Yasuda, who was once an archaeologist, was confused as to why there was little information about the God Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto (月読尊) that he could find in his research. He soon discovers a piece of literature, stating that Tsukuyomi was the God who was responsible for creating Youkai. Yasuda stole five ancient orbs from the tomb of Tsukuyomi, using their powers to absorb souls in an attempt to resurrect the powerful God.

One more sacrifice is needed to summon Tsukuyomi. Kitaro and his friends don’t believe Yasuda’s words, but are taken aback when one of the orbs lights up, absorbing Yasuda in a pillar of fire.

Suddenly, the Earth begins to crack and shake, and a powerful snake-like monster erupts from the ground. Medama-Oyami, Kitaro's father, immediately recognizes the creature as "Joka", a God of Chinese mythology. Tsukuyomi, as it turns out, was the Chinese God known as Joka.

Joka needs the energy of all of the Youkai they’ve created to completely wake up. The creature starts absorbing Kitaro’s father, who can only look on helplessly as he is seriously injured. It’s up to Kitaro, Neko-Musume, and Jigoku-Doji to put a stop to Joka, and save not only their Youkai friends, but all of Japan.[2]

Background

The film was animated using a technique known as Dynavision, in which cels were projected in a slide-show manner, with sound effects and light projections used to give the illusion of movement.[3] Despite the limited animation, it was said that the quality of the film was phenomenal for a fan made project. The film was screened privately, although the number of times it was screened is unknown. Sources such as Wikipedia claim that the film was only screened once, but with no proper citation for their claim, it’s unknown how factual this information is.

Mizuki gave permission for the artists and crew involved to use his characters, and it is said that he was present to witness a screening of the film. Isamu Tanonaka also returned to voice Kitaro's father, Medama Oyaji. [3]

Images taken from the film.

Staff Members

Thanks to a pamphlet given out during a screening of the film, we have insight as to who some of the staff and crew members were. Due to the film’s unofficial nature, some staff members used pseudonyms, leaving their real identity a mystery. Their names are as follows:

  • Nemu Mukudori (夢来鳥ねむ) Co-Founder of La Moon, Voice of Neko Musume for the film.[3]
  • Akara Arisato (有里紅良) Co-Founder of La Moon
  • Isamu Tanonaka (田の中勇) Voice of Medama-Oyaji
  • Kazumi Shimura (possible pseudonym)
  • Mitsuru Gojitsu (pseudonym)
  • Himura You (pseudonym)
  • Satoru Iriyoshi (入好さとる) Animator on the Third Gegege no Kitaro Anime *rumored*[4]
  • Yoshihiro Takeda (たけだ欣弘) Key Animator for the Fourth Gegege no Kitaro Anime [5]

Availability

As of the time of writing, the film remains lost. There are claims that some who were present at the private screening of the film were able to obtain VHS copies.[6] However, none have surfaced. Due to the film’s unofficial nature, it is unlikely it will get an official release in any capacity.

External Links

References