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A lot of rare anime oldies have been released on DVD over the last few years. One slated for release next month is Andersen Monogatari, the 1971 Mushi Pro TV series directed by Masami Hata the year after he worked as an animator alongside Gisaburo Sugii on the 2nd Animerama film, Cleopatra. Another unique western fairy tale anime adaptation from around that time is the 1974 movie Jack and the Beanstalk, Gisaburo Sugii's feature directing debut, made after he left Mushi Pro in 1973 following the third Animerama (or "Anime Romanesque") film, Belladonna, to co-found Group Tac with Atsumi Tashiro. The Animerama films have been re-released, but Jack and the Beanstalk has yet to turn up on DVD. Apparently it's going to be released over here before it is over there, as Tsuka points out. It deserves to be counted among the most unique films in anime history for the way it used the genre of the animated musical as a springboard to create a uniquely Japanese hybrid awash in moody directing, witty dialogue, and psychedelic animation. The makeup scene is high on the list of most erotic scenes in an animated children's film. Perhaps not too surprisingly, it's acheived mild cult status over here due to an old TV broadcast. Kids know good stuff when they see it. I hope the DVD release will include the great director's commentary that was included on the old Japanese LD release, which would offer a good chance for people to get to hear the voice of the real Gisaburo Sugii discussing one of his best films. The Japanese DVD re-issues of the Animerama films included the commentaries that were on the original LD releases of those films, and Gisaburo was one of the people on the voice-track for the third in the series, his Belladonna. Now if only some company would tackle that one, we'd finally have all of Gisaburo's best films available.
That’s great news about Jack(…)! Certainly one to add on my shopping list (continually leaving me at the brink of bankrupcy…).
I am a proud owner of the japanese Animerama set (it had been a sort of Holy Grail for me having read nothing but fantastic things about it online and mainly on this site) and when it came out roughly a year ago, I picked it up unhesitatingly even though I knew it wouldn’t have english subs to help me through them.
Needless to say, I enjoyed them regardless and I was especially captivated by the third entry of course - Belladonna of Sadness - and how! Fantastic film and groundbreaking animation that we can still see influences of in today’s films.
Ben, do you have the set? How does it compare with the laserdiscs in terms of A/V quality? I only ask this because my eyes (being spoiles by recent film to DVD releases) have noticed that more work could have been done in order for them to have that all-important pristine look to the image that we’re all accostumed to by now.
I mailed Hen’s Tooth Video for details about the DVD but they can’t give definitive informations now. They will publish DVD details on their website in a few weeks.
Now I would like so much to see a release of Jack & The Beanstalk by Morimoto & Fukushima ^_^; !
Belladonna is indeed a wonderful movie, always interesting even when it’s static.
Thanks, Leo! It’s great to hear that. I’m glad you managed to enjoy the films nonetheless. It was indeed really nice to hear they’d released that set on DVD.
I’m afraid I haven’t seen that re-release, so I don’t know how the quality compares with the LDs. It wouldn’t surprise me if they hadn’t done any sort of restorative work on the films considering how little known they are, so they may be very similar. My LDs have acquired a slight noise, so at least there would be that much improvement. Perhaps if the films are released here eventually…? Although that seems unlikely.
I still think Belladonna in particular really deserves to be seen by more people. I can’t think of an animated film anywhere that has the unique power and beauty of that film.
It’s curious how well served Jack and the Beanstalk has been in Japan: Gisaburo, Fukushima, Morimoto…
Completely off-topic, RE Mindgame. I was wondering if there were any further rumors about the US release. Moreover, where did the rumors about Joel Silver being involved spring from? Or am I just totally making this up?
I’ve seen and adored the film, but am nevertheless looking forward to the prospect of a dub. Normally I hate them, but I really think that Mindgame, from a US perspective, would really benefit from a dub. The humor, I feel, does not come across in subtitles but could really fly with some good voice actors. e.g. the line about sexy lingerie/ero- jiji. hilarious out loud, flat on the page.
For once that wasn’t a rumour. It’s actually been written right on the Japanese Mind Game web site (here) since before the film opened last year that Joel Silver had already offered to act as producer for the “foreign distribution” of the film. I haven’t really heard any further news about the progress of the English dubbed version. Further, it was rumored around the same time that one of the things that was going to be done in the dub is to replace the faces of the Japanese voice-actors with the faces of the English voice-actors, and this was mentioned in an interview with Masaaki Yuasa by Mark Schilling (here), though there’s no confirmation of this, since there are absolutely no details about the dub available as of yet.
I tend to agree with you, with a reservation. The reservation is that the dub has to be really good, obvious as that may sound. The translation of that sub was really good (with a few exceptions), so if even with a great translation a lot of the very delivery-dependent humor didn’t come through, imagine what even a slightly unnatural dub would do to it. As I recall, Animatrix was one of the few anime that sounded comparatively good in English, so I think there’s room for hope. There are still a lot of obstacles to surmount, though, as much of the unique flavor of the film lies in the dialogue.
Looked at the site, you are right. Can’t wait to hear some news, hope it doesn’t take forever.
Right now I’m trying to decide if I should auction my special box and get the perfect box. I really want the manga and the remix/co-mix…
I remember this movie FREAKING ME OUT when I was a kid, and having watched it last night, I can see why. It’s a truly bizarre film, with weird Freudian undertones and a lot of psychedelic sequences. I highly recommend it, not so much for kids as adults into obscure anime and, of course, stoners looking for a weird thrill.