So today I spent watching three kinds of GeGeGe no Kitarou, and it was quite interesting to see the difference between the series. GeGeGe no Kitarou's original series aired in 1968 and it eventually spawned four remakes in 1971, 1985, 1996 and 2007 - I was able to get a hold of a handful of episodes from 1968, 1985 and 2007 and here are my few opinions on what I've seen in a comparative sense.
Well the plot is pretty simple in all three series. Humans are generally in some form of peril at the hands of a malevolent youkai. Each decade puts its own spin on the various tales and since each series after the original is a remake it's no surprise to see some of the same stories in the few episodes I've seen. In particular the story of the Yasha from episode two of the '68 series was re-hashed for episode three of the '07 series, in the same way that episode three's Ghost Castle tale from '68 is reinvented for the '85 season premiere.
I noticed that the original '68 version had a quicker form of pacing that is quite reminiscent of a Scooby Doo episode; it's a little faster with fewer pauses. The dialogue is also a little more stilted, but again, it just feels like a typical sixties show. When we get to the '85 series you see a little more action and it feels a bit less like a kid's cartoon - oh, and we see more in the way of a 'team' that help Kitarou. The various stories have a little more punch, which I'm not entirely sure whether this is a good thing or not. Sometimes simplicity is quite nice, and like a typical '80s animation, it does feel rather cheesy. By the time you get to '07 there's more action and everything is a little more polished. The dialogue flows a little more and Kitarou's 'team' is more developed. Also the '07 series on initial impression seems to have more various youkai and shows more of the youkai city - which is great for 'Spirit spotting'. If I were to rank the three in my personal preference, I would say that my favourites go as follows:
1. 2007 - I do love spotting youkai that I recognise, plus I personally found the plot the most entertaining of the three.
2. 1968 - I was impressed with the simplicity and almost, innocent nature of this series.
3. 1985 - Typical cheesy '80s. Not bad, but had me clock watching at times.
Well the biggest difference between the three is that the '68 series is in black and white. However, for an anime that's now over 40 years old, the visuals are pretty good. Not spectacular, but good for the time. The character designs are a little more basic, than latter anime, but it's to be expected. I find it very difficult however to fully judge the '85 series, since the video quality of the files I had was pretty abysmal. Generally it seemed reasonable, but again not outstanding. The '07 series had some nice clean designs and decent movement - again, not too shabby really. My preference:
1. 2007 - I can't help it, it is a nicer series to look at, prettier and cleaner.
2. 1968 - Impressive animation for the time.
3. 1985 - I'm afraid the video quality really affected this one for me.
In general the sound for each of the series is neither spectacular nor awful for each series; they're about what you'd expect to hear from their time. One of the biggest comparisons sound wise is in the opening theme. All three have the same song as their opener, but as with everything else, each decade has put its own spin on the tune. The '68 version is pretty simple, whereas the '85 gives it an eighties spin with more of a rocky/poppy beat to it. Finally the '07 version gives a more stylised edge to it, and sounds like something you'd hear someone singing in a cabaret lounge, like jazz with a hint of elevator music. Unfortunately, both the '85 and '07 lose most of the eerie vibe that the original had with their bouncy beats. Going purely by the opening, my favourites would be:
1. 1968 - The simplicity of this song makes it sound so much more eerie. It's brilliant.
2. 2007 - Easy listening, but nothing spectacular.
3. 1985 - Too Inspector Gadget and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for my liking. XD
The characters are generally much of a muchness, but there seems to be little less depth to the cast in the '68 version. The secondary cast tend to get more developed as they go along and by the time you get to the 2007 series the likes of Nezumi Otoko and Konaki Jiji have much more personality and tend to interact more.
1. 2007 - Better characterisation, and the team has much more personality.
2. 1985 - Kitarou's team plays more of a role, which is nice to see.
3. 1968 - The supporting cast seems a little thin in comparison.
1. 2007 - I generally found this the most entertaining of the three series, which sadly I think is a product of being spoiled by modern anime; I've become used to a certain standard and a certain style of storytelling that this series pandered to. Plus, way more youkai, and the spirit spotting is just too irresistible for me. XD
2. 1968 - I was really impressed with this series, possibly because I was expecting something a bit more rough, but it is pretty good all around, especially for a 42 year old anime.
3. 1985 - No surprise that this comes last judging by my previous scores. It wasn't bad, but just felt very much like '80s cheese, which while fun in its own right, just isn't quite as enjoyable as the other two series.