Fairy Florence
(US: A Journey Through Fairyland)

10/26/1985 Movie 92 minutes Sanrio Eiga
Executive Producer/Original Work: Tsuji Shintarô
Music Director: Yamamoto Naozumi
Producer: Tomioka Atsushi, Hatano Tsunemasa
Music Producer: Saitô Akira
Screenplay & Music Producer: Takabatake Kyû
Character Animation: Yamamoto Shigeru
Effect Animation: Akabori Mikiharu
Art Director: Abe Yukio
Photography Director: Yamaki Iwao
Editing: Yoshioka Satoshi
Editing Supervisor: Uraoka Keiichi
Audio Director: Iwata Hirokazu
Music Director: Masaki Rei
Music Mixer: Ôno Teruhiko
Sound Effects: Itô Katsumi, Imano Yasuyuki
Image Boards: Azuma Itsuko, Tsukasa Osamu, Miyamoto Sadao, Sabea Noma, Nakamura Yasutoshi, Hayakawa Keiji
Assistant Directors: Hirokawa Kazuyuki, Endô Seiji
Assistant Animation Directors: Ônishi Tomoko, Kubokawa Miaki
Director's Helper: Noguchi Yoshiaki
Arrangement "Brain": Yosue Machiko
Key Animation: Matsuyama Maya, Furuse Noboru, Notani Ritsuko, Gomura Takeshi, Kogawa Satoko, Nanke Kôji, Momose Yoshiyuki, Handa Teruo, Horiguchi Tadahiko, Hattori Michiko, Yasue Dan, Satô Yûzô, Senda Yukinari
Inbetweeners: Katayama Yûichi, Inoue Osamu, Wada Hisashi, Haga Hitoshii, Omura Masami, Nishibori Hiromi, Hattori Keiichirô, Ozawa Masashi, Kobayashi Kenji, Azuma Masako, Sakano Fusako, Shimura Yaeko, Fujii Takashi, Nakamura Ryûtarô, Kikuchi Jun, Gotô Yumi, Waratani Shinobu, Ôtani Miki, Kaneumi Yumiko, Hamano Kuniko, Narikawa Yôko
This film recounts the story of the impossible love of a human boy and a flower fairy against a backdrop of famous classical pieces. The so-called 'leica reel' system was used in this movie; ie, the completed storyboard was filmed and then screened with music to give an idea of the shape and flow of the film prior to beginning production. Various artists including illustrator Itsuko Azuma, manga-ka Noma Sabea and ex-Mushi Pro animator Sadao Miyamoto were hired to draw image boards prior to production to give the fairy world its form, and a famous music producer, Naozumi Yamamoto, was hired to oversee the selection of classical pieces and conduct the Tokyo Philharmonic. Note a surprising face among the inbetweeners: Ryûtarô Nakamura.

This is a delicate, gentle film aglow with emotion and filled with moments of sheer perfection unsurpassed in anime, the story flows along intelligently with the music, and the directing by Hata is excellent. All the elements combine to form something greater than the sum of its parts -- and I could go on about this extremely endearing and never boring movie -- but ultimately, executive producer and writer Shintarô Tsuji's story is blatantly derivative of Disney's Fantasia and Kenji Miyazawa's Gauche the Cellist (and probably other things), and unfortunately that takes away considerably from Florence's merit as a film.

Nevertheless, the sheer beauty of the images and animation in Florence are more than enough to make the film amply enjoyable in terms of visuals alone. Florence has a secure place in anime history as a tour-de-force of full animation. All the cels in the film where hand-painted and hand-traced, a practice which, if not already abandoned by the time the film was completed, was shortly supplanted for automated methods of carrying out this time-consuming task. The number of man-hours which must have been spent on that aspect of the animation alone is mind-boggling. It goes to reason that the film was 4 years in the making. In short, it appears that, with about all the long-term budgetary planning of a kamikaze attack, Sanrio Films shoveled all their remaining money into Florence and went out with a bang.

In his afterword to the film comic, Sanrio Executive Producer Shintarô Tsuji comes across as oddly embittered about the whole Sanrio Eiga experience, noting how every one of Sanrio Eiga's films had only put Sanrio further into the red. He relates how he was motivated to begin producing films at Sanrio 15 years before as a result of having seen and been amazed by Disney's Fantasia 20 years earlier as a child, and having wanted to make a Japanese version of the film which would not only convey the wonder of full animation to children but also of classical music, Florence being the result of that long-held dream and the ultimate purpose of the founding of Sanrio Eiga.

Cel Count: ?
Production Length: 4 years

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