Long Lost Classic
fredtownward | Palatine, Illinois United States | 12/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"American fans of this never before released-on-video TOEI animated classic have been waiting more than THIRTY years to see this early example Hayao Miyazaki's work, even longer if they missed its occasional showings on TV, which apparently ended a generation ago. What's more, for those of us who remember Fred Ladd's well-done English dubbing that was shown on American TV so long ago, Discotek Media has wisely included it as the second audio track. The English audio is a little the worse for wear, 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.
Miyazaki is listed both as a key animator and the writer responsible for this extremely loose adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, but as usual with Miyazaki his contributions undoubtedly exceeded even his listed credits. For example it seems certain that he had a big hand in character design. Then there is the reappearance of so much of Animal Treasure Island in Miyazaki's later work. The spunky, blue-clad heroine is almost a Miyazaki trademark, and Castle in the Sky looks like Miyazaki's later attempt to do this kind of story better. Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro also owes a lot to Animal Treasure Island. 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 Treasure Island you've seen, you've never seen anything like this. It has about as much connection to RLS's Treasure Island as 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 mostly talking animal world includes one motorized, fore-and-aft rigged, one-gun, sea-going barrel; one tagalong baby brother; one pirate's granddaughter; lots and lots of semi-serious swordfights; a whole bunch of things that don't really belong in tempura; one pirates' collective; a couple of rousing choruses; the Iron Boar; one soft-hearted walrus; one treacherous fox; and possibly the meanest Silver ever.
Note: Miyazaki fans will find it interesting to compare and contrast "Animal Treasure Island" with the earlier The Wonderful World of Puss 'N Boots (1969), another long lost (until recently) TOEI classic that Miyazaki worked on and Fred Ladd dubbed into English."
Classic Japanese animated film
Film fanatic | 01/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fun for kids and adults of all ages, Animal Treasure Island is loosely based on the original Treasure Island novel by Robert L. Stevenson. This has never before been available on Video or DVD. Jim and Cathy are the only humans in the film, the pirates are all animals and even Jims best friend is a mouse. This interesting and particular twist on the original tale makes it stand out as an incomparable motion picture.
Featuring story consultation and key animation by the master of Japanese anime films and founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki. This is a very rare look into the origins of Miyazaki and glimpses of some of his future characters. Kathy looks strikingly similar to many of Miyazakis future heroines including Princess Nausicaa of "Nausicaa Valley of the Wind" and Lady Clarisse of "Castle of Cagliostro."
The film is presented as originally shown in theaters in widescreen format. Discotek has also managed to include the very rare English language version. So fans of the Japanese language with subtitles version, and fans of English dubbed versions can both enjoy the film. Very recommended and a must have for fans of classic Japanese animation. Kudos to Discotek for releasing this very rare gem on DVD. Hopefully if these titles do well they will release some more classic animation including some of the extremely rare titles that have never been seen in the US."
GREAT ANIME FROM THE PAST
tongor | usa | 03/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a must for any anime fan. It highlights miyazaki's early work before he became famous for his movies(Spirited Away, Princes mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle). The DVD quality is outstanding for a movie that has not been on TV for over 20 years!!!"
Early showcase for Miyazaki and still a lot of fun!
H-man | 11/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For anime and Miyazaki fans, "Animal Treasure Island" may be nothing put an interesting footnote in the animation master's career. Serving as key story consultant and animator, this early effort is nevertheless a showcase of Miyazaki-san's soon to be signature moments - especially in (of course I'm only making a conjecture here) the wonderfully staged and frantic action set pieces that make up most of this fun movie and may remind fans of similar moments in "Sherlock Hound", "Porco Rosso" and "Castle in the Sky". In fact, it probably wouldn't be quite a stretch to presume that the young Jim as depicted in this version was an early precursor to Miyazaki's "boy heroes" like Future Boy Conan and Pazu while the character Cathy has moments reminiscent of Nausicaa, Princess Clarisse (from "The Castle of Cagliostro") and Princess Mononoke.
First and foremost, this is a family film and the cartoon violence never escalates beyond the Looney Tunes variety. Even after all these years, I'm still greatly entertained by the slapstick humor and the fast pacing and action. It's a "Terry and the Pirates" type of adventure moreso than a faithful adaptation of the classic novel. The video quality of the DVD looks fine for a film of this age (the colors are crisp and the old style animation still holds up nicely and looks beautiful widescreen). The Japanese language track (with English subtitles) is available but special kudos to Discotek Media for bringing back the original English language dub (including the English version of the movie's songs!) from the rarely seen American International Pictures(?) release.
I definitely have a soft spot for the classic anime features from the 60's and early 70's and look forward to more being brought over Stateside!