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.

An image from an unknown publication. The run-time for the film is listed at roughly 30 minutes.

Background[edit | edit source]

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.[1] 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. The film's run time was approximately 30 minutes.

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. [1]

Plot[edit | edit source]

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 "Yumeko" is no longer present.[2] 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 Yokai. 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 Yokai 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 Yokai friends, but all of Japan.[3]

An article from the fanzine 水木伝説 VOL 3, containing information and images from the film.

Staff Members[edit | edit source]

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.[1]
  • 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[edit | edit source]

Due to the film's unofficial nature, the film has never received an official release of any kind. There are claims that some who were present at a private screening of the film were able to obtain VHS copies,[6] though this wouldn't be confirmed until 2021.

The title card of Joka, posted by an anonymous user on Twitter.

In 2021, renewed interest in the film began circulating among Japanese Kitaro fans, when it was revealed that an anonymous user on Twitter owned a VHS copy of Joka. When contacted, they apologized, stating that they were not granted permission to upload the film online. As of the time of writing, Joka still remains lost.

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]