Kitarou began as a very popular slideshow story way back in 1933 known as “Hagaki Kitarou”. Basically a show where the audience listens as someone tells a story with a collection of illustrated cards in their hands or canvas. Then in 1954 Mizuki Shigeru took this story and created his own original set of four slideshow stories beginning his Kitarou series of works.
The four stories were “Jajin”, “Karate Kitarou”, “Garou” and “Yuurei no Te”. However, his works did not gain much popularity thus, was discontinued until he was back as a Manga artist to start a new story, announcing “The Yuurei Family” that was to be published in Manga form in 1959.
As time went by and the series began to grow, a decision was made to change the character design so that it was tailored towards Manga aimed at young boys. This is the more normal looking version of Kitarou that you see in the remake and was used since 1965. Following the character design change, the story itself was also shifted towards the whole “Kitarou of justice will defeat all bad Youkai” idea which actually helped increase the series’ popularity.
Then in 1968 when the Manga series had settled down and turned into an Anime show, they decided to change the title too because “Hakaba” sounded too dark so they made it “Gegege“.
Hakaba Kirarou is another version of the show that just started on FujiTV on 2008, GeGeGe no Kitarou is still on the air. Unlike many animes, this one has undergone several tranformations,
Unlike the previous remake, Hakaba Kitarou took elements from his slideshow works. Specifically, Kitarou being born in a graveyard and being left with one eye came from “Jajin” and the appearance of his eyeball father came from “Karate Kitarou”. At this point of the story, Kitaro had not sided with humans yet and was considered a young man who brought ill fortune which explains his behaviour in the show.
Kitarou is a youkai boy born in a cemetery, and aside from his mostly-decayed father, the last living member of the Ghost tribe . He is missing his left eye, but his hair usually covers the empty socket. He fights for peace between humans and youkai, which generally involves protecting the former from the wiles of the latter. Kitarou has an assortment of strange weapons at his disposal, including: remote-controlled geta sandals, a detachable hand, a magic chanchanko vest which can protect its wearer from danger and spiny hairs which can be shot like arrows.
Medama Oyaji is Kitarou’s father. Once a fully-formed adult, he perished of a disease, only to be reborn out of his decayed body as an anthropomorphic version of his own eyeball. He looks small and fragile, but has a strong spirit and a great love for his son. He is also extremely knowledgeable about ghosts and monsters. He enjoys staying clean, and is often seen bathing in a small bowl.
Nezumi Otoko is a rodent-like youkai-human halfbreed. He has been alive for three hundred years, and in that time has almost never taken a bath, rendering him filthy, foul-smelling, and covered in welts and sores. While he is usually Kitarou’s friend, Nezumi Otoko will waste no time cooking up vile schemes or betraying his companions if he thinks there’s money to be had or a powerful enemy to side with. He claims to be a college graduate of the University of the Bizarre or Kaiki Daigaku.
Neko Musume is a normally-quiet youkai girl, who transforms into a frightening cat monster with fangs and feline eyes when she is angry or hungry for fish. Predictably, she does not get along well with Nezumi Otoko. She seems to harbor a slight crush on Kitarou, who sees her only as a friend. She bears some resemblance to the bakeneko of Japanese folklore.
Sunakake Babaa is an old youkai woman who carries sand which she throws into the eyes of enemies to blind them. She serves as an advisor to Kitarou and his companions, and manages a youkai apartment building. The original sunakake-baba is an invisible sand-throwing spirit from the folklore of Nara Prefecture.
Konaki Jijii is a comic, absent-minded old youkai man who attacks enemies by clinging to them and turning himself to stone, increasing his weight immensely and pinning them down. He and Sunakake Babaa often work as a team. The original konaki jijii is a ghost which is said to appear in the woods of Tokushima Prefecture in the form of a crying infant. When it is picked up by some hapless traveller, it increases its weight until it crushes him.
Ittan Momen is a flying youkai resembling a strip of white cloth. Kitarou and friends often ride on him when traveling. The original ittan-momen is a spirit from Kagoshima Prefecture myth which wraps itself around the faces of humans in an attempt to smother them.
Nurikabe is a large, sleepy-eyed wall-shaped youkai, who uses his massive size to protect Kitarou and his friends. The original Nurikabe is a spirit which blocks the passage of people walking at night.