Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Wonderful World of Puss 'N Boots|
Actors: Susumu Ishikawa, Toshiko Fujita, Rumi Sakakibara, Asao Koike, Kinya Aikawa
Director: Kimio Yabuki
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
Region 1 — Original Japanese Language — Optional English Subtitles — Original English dub — Original mono soundtrack — Music and effects soundtrack — Completely restored and remastered video — 16 x 9 Anamorphic Widescreen — Origin... more »
Dated, but PURR-fectly entertaining!
Jonathon Turner | Highland Park, NJ USA | 09/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PUSS 'N BOOTS was theatrically released in today's era, it probably wouldn't hold a candle to any of America's other animated features and disappear without a trace. But this is a Japanese Anime, and, in its native land, it was a huge box office success. Titled as "Nagagutsu o Haita Neko", the production was released in 1969, and the title character, Puss 'N Boots himself, named Perro (or Perrault), became a mascot character for the animation studio, Toei. An interesting fact about this film is that Anime pioneer Hayao Miyazaki is credited as one of the animators -- in fact, he was responsible for the key animation of the climactic, hang-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat finale. Fans of Miyazaki's work will notice how similar it is to the climax of THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO. Compared to today's standards, the animation is poor, but at the same time interesting to look at. The entire story is expanded, altered, and spiced up similar to a Disney treatment of a classic fairy tale, but its artistic style is somewhere between a Hanna-Barbera or a Warner Bros. cartoon. This almost sounds like a drawback, but it provides for some silly, funny, and occasionally slapstick moments. It also feels perfect for this kind of movie, even if at times it screams Disney. (Not that I think of it as a bad thing; I'm rather fond of Disney movies even to this day. ^_^) Don't expect a faithful retelling of the classic fairy tale PUSS 'N BOOTS -- this adaptation adds -- and sometimes embellishes -- a lot of cute, funny elements which make it a lot of fun. The hero, Perro, a cat musketeer pursued by three chief-of-police felines (he committed the ultimate "crime" of saving a mouse's life), befriends a young miller, Pierre; soon the two are off to seek their fortune. With clever scheming (and a lot of tall "tail"-telling) the cat manages to help Pierre pose as the Prince of Carabas in order to woo the lovely Princess Rosa. But the wicked ogre, Lucifer, also wants Rosa, and kidnaps her on the night of the full moon. Perro and Pierre set off to Lucifer's creepy, macabre castle to save her and outsmart her captor. Given that this is a fairy-tale, the ending is very predictable -- yet watching it unfold is only half the fun. Instead of just simply killing Lucifer off by having Perro pull the "trick him into changing into something edible" trick, the script (written by Hisashi Inoue and Morihisa Yamamoto) extends the climax into a series of chases, slapstick gags, and, as mentioned, a final confrontation scene which is breathtaking to watch, even if the artwork is dated. (Incidentally, director Kimio Yabuki was also responsible for another fairy-tale Anime, the little-known SWAN LAKE.) I understand that there are Disney haters in the world, and will probably look for things to complain about this loose retelling; particularly the comic mice sidekicks and four incidental musical numbers. But there are others (like me) who won't mind at all -- especially if they're fans of Disney and their adaptations of fairy tales. The mice provide a lot of humor, and, although the lyrics in the English version sound awkward and uninspired, the songs never feel intrusive and are fun to bounce to. (The only exception is Princess Rosa's number, which is as slow and as lovely [but not sappy] as any romantic ballad.) THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PUSS 'N BOOTS was given a limited U.S. release to the Saturday-morning kids' market, along with other productions Toei produced, including JACK AND THE WITCH and TREASURE ISLAND. The English dubbing was produced by Titan Productions, Inc., with direction by Fred Ladd. Available from HI-TOPS VIDEO (where I first saw the movie) as well as MEDIA VIDEO and VESTRON VIDEO, the voice acting is very lively, but there are problems. For one thing, the voices, with the exception of Princess Rosa, all sound like they're being acted by one actor. (And Perro sounds, oddly, like Al Jolson.) In other words, it's not very high quality. The words don't always fit the mouth movements well, and some lines occasionally come off as stilted and a little too fast. Such flaws are probably best to be expected, since this is an early dub -- recent English track productions have far outclassed past efforts. Still, considering that this is probably the only dub of the film available in English (and that the Japanese language track has not been around in the U.S.), it's not so bad -- unless you count the occasionally sloppy lyrics in the songs and Perro's sometimes grating voice. Unfortunately, the movie may be hard to find -- since its 1988 issue, the video has fallen badly out of print and I have heard no news of any new U.S. company planning to give it a second release. Let's hope it does happen someday. THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PUSS 'N BOOTS may be a dated Anime when compared to more recent efforts (and U.S. folks probably may consider it too "cartoony" for their tastes). Nevertheless, it is 80 minutes of fun, laughs, and action, and a must-see for longtime history buffs, especially if they're interested in seeing traces of Miyazaki's earlier years as an animator before he became a big name. It is a great "cat's meow", indeed."
Not So Long Lost Classic
fredtownward | Palatine, Illinois United States | 06/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"American fans of this TOEI animated classic have been waiting a long time to see this early example of Hayao Miyazaki's work on DVD, even longer if they missed its several (at least 3) now long gone VHS releases. What's more, for those of us who remember Fred Ladd's well-done English dubbing that was first shown on American TV so long ago and later released on VHS, Discotek Media has wisely included it as the second audio track. The English audio is a little the worse for wear (though in better shape than the Vestron Video release), and the English credits are unfortunately missing, but unless and until someone wants to pony up the money for a modern re-dubbing, it is better to include it than not because purists can always choose the Japanese audio track with English subtitles.
(Parental note: the presumably more recent optional English subtitles, which vary considerably from Fred Ladd's English dub, contain a couple of frequently used exclamations some parents might find a little questionable; suffice it to say that somebody may have forgotten he was subtitling a children's movie.)
Miyazaki is listed as a key animator on this extremely loose adaptation of Charles Perrault's "Le Maître Chat Ou Le Chat Botté", but as usual with Miyazaki his contributions undoubtedly exceeded even his listed credits. A text interview with the director suggests that he did his damnedest to influence character design to the extent that "his" version of the title character is said to be noticeably different ("wilder") in the action scenes he drew, even in the released version. Then there is the reappearance of so much of Puss 'N Boots in Miyazaki's later work. The wedding in Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro and the climactic struggles over the possession of Clarice's ring in Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro and Sheeta's necklace in Castle in the Sky look to be clearly based on more comical scenes in Puss 'N Boots, and both the design of Cagliostro's Castle and the pattern of partial collapse of the floating city of Laputa look to be too similar to Lucifer's castle for coincidence. Now there is no question that the animation will seem a little primitive and dated compared to Studio Ghibli's work, but it holds up rather nicely for its age.
I hesitate to say too much about the plot because no matter how many versions of Puss 'N Boots you've seen, you've never seen anything like this. It has only marginally more connection to Perrault's Puss 'N Boots than Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky does to Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and given how heavily that highway has been traveled, that's a blessing IMHO. Let's just say that this version set in a partly talking animal world includes a back story that reveals Pero, the puss in boots, to be a fugitive from justice from a kingdom of cats under sentence of death for saving a mouse's life; 3 cat assassins on his trail under orders to see Pero dead or "reformed" (killing mice again) or forfeit their own lives, who make up in persistence and resilience what they lack in intelligence; a gang of clever mice thieves; 2 scheming brothers; a beautiful princess being forced to marry an all-powerful, magic-wielding devil-king, who is hilariously infatuated with her; a not-the-sharpest-knife-in-the-drawer pauper of a miller's son who becomes increasingly uncomfortable with lying to a princess he is falling in love with; and after the traditional "ending" of tricking the bad guy into magically transforming himself into something small and edible fails, a hilarious and deadly game of "Button, button, who's got the button?" up, down, and all around Lucifer's crumbling wreck of a castle.
Note: This first ever wide screen release restores at least two sight gags spoiled by the pan and scan video releases. This DVD also includes a "fast play" feature that plays and replays the movie continuously after just one iteration of the main menu animation; however, as noted above, it defaults to the Japanese version. At least all subsequent replays will be with the language you select if any. Miyazaki fans will find it interesting to compare and contrast "Puss 'N Boots" with the later Animal Treasure Island (1971), another long lost (until recently) TOEI classic that Miyazaki worked on and Fred Ladd dubbed into English. TOEI produced at least two sequels though Miyazaki had nothing to do with them: "Ringo Rides West" and Puss 'N Boots Travels Around The World. Both were released on VHS in the mid-80's, and both are long gone now. Though IMHO inferior to Puss 'N Boots, both are worth a look by fans of classic children's anime, especially the downright surprising Ringo."