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Bake-Kujira (化け鯨 Bake-Kujira, lit. Monster Whale or Ghost Whale) , previously called either Hone-Kujira (骨鯨, lit. Bone Whale) or Gaikotsu-Kyogei (がいこつ巨鯨, lit. Skeleton Giant Whale), is a whale skeleton yōkai.
Bake-Kujira is a gigantic yōkai, resembling a whale skeleton however, their structure does not correspond to any real-life cetacean skeletons. Their skull is rounded with empty eye sockets and a mouth that has a row of sharp teeth on their upper jaw, overall their facial structure gives them the impression of a permanent scowl. They have a simple spine with a long set of ribs that reaches their flukes and are more compact. Their flippers and flukes appear to be made of black flesh and are somewhat glossy and tattered. From an outer view the space between their bones is black but from within Bake-Kujira's body is actual flesh.
Medama-Oyaji noted that little is known about Bake-Kujira, and hypothesized that Bake-Kujira is an "entity, like a formation of whale spirits". Bake-Kujira in the series has been noted as powerful but kind-natured, protecting the graveyard of whales, spirits of whales, and the ocean and its wildlife, hence being called the "Sea's Guardian Yōkai" (海の守護妖怪 Umi-no-Shugo-Yōkai) in Yokai Sen Monogatari. Bake-Kujira is also generous to let the soul of Shizuko's Father, a whale biologist who died trying to find the graveyard of the whales and Bake-Kujria to reside within the graveyard of whales, knowing the biologist loved and adored whales. After the battle in Tokyo Bay, Bake-Kujira quietly swam to let Kitaro and others sleep on the back on the way to send them back.
Although Bake-Kujira attacked notorious humans, it was to call Kitarō and others including Shizuko the daughter of the biologist, to reunite the father and the daughter, and to warn humanity not to disturb the sanctuary and the environment.
Later, he saved and helped Kitarō and the others on several occasions, even to travel long distances and to battle against foes.
They are unable to speak the human language, instead, they communicate through whale songs similar to that of baleen whales.
Bake-Kujira later appeared in Series 4 Episode 98 and Series 4 Episode 99 and Series 4 Episode 104 to help Kitarō and others. In episode 98, Bake-Kujira saved Kitarō and the others from Viy and attacked it.
Yōkai Sen Monogatari
Powers and Abilities
Cetacean Physiology: Aside from Enma-Daiō in the movie of the fifth anime and Dai-Kaijū, Bake-Kujira is the largest and physically the most powerful of Kitarō's allies in the series. Despite the size, Bake-Kujira is a very fast swimmer and can completely breach out of the water, and is extremely powerful to overwhelm Viy in close combat and can shoot a large amount of water from the blowhole and cause a large wave by lashing tail. Bake-Kujira can also withstand Viy's blizzard.
Sequestration: Bake-Kujira can also keep smaller beings within their body, where they exit through the whale yōkai's blowhole. Bake-Kujira can also recover frozen allies by the same method.
Immense Spiritual Energy: Bake-Kujira is noted to possess a large amount of spiritual energy by Kitarō. Bake-Kujira can glow with a green aura.
Although there have been many ghost stories involving whales in Japan, Mizuki's Bake-Kujira was based on a specific story from his home region; once long ago, an enormous skeletal whale appeared off the coast of Shimane Prefecture, accompanied by a host of strange fish and ominous birds. A fisherman tried throwing his harpoon at it, but it had no effect, and the ghost whale continued out to sea with its eerie multitude. While majority of ghost stories involving whales in Japan feature whale spirits and sea gods to curse and punish on humanity and leave severe damages on societies, the story of Bake-Kujira is a rare case without such happenings.
Mizuki noted that his "experience" with Bake-Kujira. It was when he started working on a kamishibai titled Bake-Kujira, telling a story of a man who kept eating whale meat gradually turns into a whale. However, as he nearly finished the work, he suddenly had a fever with unknown causes and even a doctor couldn't detect the factor. Mizuki then stopped working on the kamishibai, and the fever suddenly cured. Mizuki referred this event as a curse of Bake-Kujira. When Bake-Kujira was featured on the fourth series, one or more staff(s) worked on the episode(s) are said to became ill. Hiroshi Hashimato, one of storywriters revealed that he was worrying about the curse.
- In Mizuki's original illustrations, Bake-Kujira has multiple ridges on the fluke.
- Mizuki noted that his Bake-Kujira's design was based on old paintings from Europe that depicted whales with imaginary characteristics. His original illustration of Bake-Kujira could have been inspired by the artwork La Baleine et le Fretin by Rodolphe Bresdin in 1868.
- In the 1996 anime, Bake-Kujira's blowhole's position differs between their appearances, being located within their spine near their skull or by the skull itself. Bake-Kujira's blow is "V" or fountain-shaped, more akin to that of baleen whales.
- GeGeGe no Kitarō (1996): Episode 18
- GeGeGe no Kitarō: Yōkai Sen Monogatari: Surprise! The Yōkai of Sea Han-Gyojin
- GeGeGe no Kitarō (1996): Episode 98
- GeGeGe no Kitarō (1996): Episode 99
- GeGeGe no Kitarō (1996): Episode 104
- Kodansha, 1998, 水木しげるvs.京極夏彦 ゲゲゲの鬼太郎解体新書, pp.76-77, ISBN 4-06-330048-X
- 「別冊新評 水木しげるの世界」