Mizuki is awoken late one night from a woman’s voice calling to him from outside but when he opens the front door he sees no one around and finds a pair of wet eyeballs in a box. Still unnerved by what he believed to be a prank, Mizuki is startled when the following morning his boss asks him if he believes in ghosts. His boss shows him a patient at the hospital who has seemed to have turned into a ghost, in both appearance and behavior, and informs him that there is another ghost patient. Mizuki is given a list of possible suspects to investigate. One of the addresses belongs to the old temple next to his mother’s home. He goes to the old temple to investigate and discovers that the woman’s voice from the night before belonged to his neighbor and that she also lives there with her husband. Apparently the eyeballs were the new neighbor’s idea of a welcoming gift, since Mizuki discovers that the lovely couple are the last two remaining members of the ancient “Ghost Tribe.” Their tribe flourished thousands of years ago, but as humans gained control of the world their struggle for existence became increasingly difficult. As it is, the man has fallen gravely ill but they have hope since the woman is pregnant. They beg Mizuki to not tell anyone about them because they fear execution as well as for the life of the woman’s unborn child. During his visit with the couple, Mizuki discovers that that the woman is the cause of the mysterious “ghost patients” and feels that he must tell his boss, but struggles with this. The next day he finds their decomposing bodies and strangely only buries the woman. Then in the middle of the graveyard, he hears the cries of a newborn, then runs back to find the baby helpless and all alone. As he runs away and struggles with his conscience, Mizuki has a change of heart and goes back for the baby, who has slipped, fallen and damaged his left eye. He gives the baby a bed in his home and decides to raise the orphan as his own.
The story skips ahead a few years and shows the child, named Kitaro, growing up as an outcast. But with the help of his natural father, who lives on in reduced and quite bizarre form, he is able to live as a ghost in the human world. While Mizuki cares for Kitaro, Mizuki’s mother cannot stand him. After his mother informs him that Kitaro disappears in the middle of each night, Mizuki decides to follow him. Against, Kitaro’s warning, Mizuki enters a world where he may never be able to escape. Now, Kitaro is the only one who can help Mizuki back to the human world, but so far its hard to tell if he will.
This anime is based on a manga series created in 1959 and has been adapted as a live-action movie, video games and most recently this anime. The animation is drawn in a comic book style with lots of shadings which compliments the creepiness factor of the storyline, yet at times there are some vibrant colors added to the scenes. For a 22-minute first episode, the writers manage to pack in plenty more storyline than I managed to place in here. This show has potential and hopefully Kitaro will become a more sympathetic character.