Treasure Island on
November 16, 2005 - 7:00am
this week is the American DVD for Animal Treasure Island (Dobutsu
Takarajima), the Toei Doga animation classic from 1971. This
is one of the final gems from Toei's golden age, following swiftly
after Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968) and Puss in Boots (1969).
you're wondering why a Japanese animated cartoon is being released
in the US in 2005, I have a simple answer: Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki
not only served as a key animator in Animal Treasure Island,
he also worked under the improvised title of "idea man," thanks
to his many creative inputs. By this time, what we would call "the
Miyazaki style" was fully emerged and on display, and his
presence dominates this picture.
movie is a triumph, full of rollicking fun and adventure, and
demonstrates the creative talents of this dedicated group of
artists and animators. Many of them stayed together for years
or decades, migrating first to A Pro, then to Nippon Animation,
Telecom, and then Studio Ghibli. Yasuji Mori and Yoichi Kotabe
- part of the core creative group behind Horus, alongside Yasuo
Otsuka, Isao Takahata, and Miyazaki - worked their brilliance
on this picture, and if you can read the credits, you'll spot
another key animator named Akemi Ota, aka Miyazaki's wife (she
also worked on Horus).
yourself and your families a favor this holiday season. Skip
Madagascar (sighh) and Cinderella (yecch) and all the noisy CGI-laden
multiplex blockbusters (booo), and get the Animal Treasure Island
November 16, 2005 - 7:00am
nighttime photo from a couple weeks ago. For this I used the
underwater filter (which I often use on daytime shots to bring
out more color). With a digital camera, you often don't need
external lighting to take pictures.
the Clouds, Like
November 12, 2005 - 2:00am
finally had a chance to sit down and watch a thouroughly enjoyable,
but overlooked, anime called Like the Clouds, Like the
Wind (Kumo no You Ni, Kaze no You Ni). The story is
set in China, and centers around a teenage girl who, almost on
a whim, decides to compete for the chance to become the new Emperor's
first wife. Ginga has a salty tongue and an independant disposition,
much like the Miyazaki heroines; she ruffles feathers and makes
impressions with everyone she encounters.
film is often mistaken in the West for a lost Ghibli production,
thanks largely to the character designs (which remind me a lot
of Yoshifumi Kondo's drawing style, as well as Miyazaki's) and
strong feminist bent. If that's your guess, I'll give you half-credit. Kumo
Kaze (as it's also known) was the work of Studio Pierre,
but the Animation Director and Character Designer was Katsuya
Kondo (no relation), who's been a leading animator at Ghibli
ever since its inception.
think the 80-minbute running time is a little short, as there
are so many characters, and so many different episodes; halfway
through, a pair of comic theives decide to start a rebellion
(again, almost on a whim), and wind up leading a successful revolution
that overthrows the Chinese Emperor. It tends to clash with the
first half, and the final act becomes needlessly rushed.
perhaps I'm being picky. Kumo Kaze tries to tie together multiple
anime genres - comedy, historical drama, shojo romance, coming-of-age
- and for the most part, it's successful. And it still manages
to stand apart in its own little space after all these years.
That's not a bad achievement.
the only DVD available is the Japanese Region 2, and I'm unaware
of any efforts to bring it Stateside. So for the time being,
your options are to import the DVD, or track down the fansub
copy on the internet.
November 11, 2005 - 11:30pm
much all the leaves are now gone. By all rights, it should be
snowing in Minnesota; thanks to global warming, the winter season
has been considerably shortened. Of course, folks are always
happy with more warmer weather, and whine endlessly whenever
it's cold (which makes you wonder why they choose to live in
Minnesota in the first place). Sigh. Our grandchildren will curse
the day we were born for doing nothing about this crisis when
on that happy note, a picture of trees. Just pretend that there's