Wildstar's Anime Review

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Dog of Flanders

Movie Rating: A
Pioneer Rating: F

But lets talk about the good stuff first. The story of The Dog of Flanders is based on the 19th Century novel by Ouida. Its animation style is, however, based completely on the the World Masterpiece Theater television series by the same name. Such a release has been long awaited by those hungering for a taste of classics like Heidi Girl of the Alps and 3,000 Leagues in Search of Mother. It was great to see that this modern version so faithfully adheres to the style of its' forbearers. Devotees of Masterpiece Theater and Studio Ghibli will immediately note the similar animation techniques, artwork, and character designs. In fact, this film is hardly distinguishable in style from any of the aforementioned television series and is equally enjoyable (if left untouched by studio execs who have never and will never direct anything in their lives).

The background artwork, depicting the changing European seasons, is often breathtakingly beautiful. Animation fans will thrill at the exquisitely detailed "Dickensian" churches, bridges, windmills, and buildings, depicted throughout. For Otakus who care, even the workings of inner mechanical gears and struts of a windmill are faithfully animated! The character designs are also charming and emotional in an "Oliver Twist" kind of way. Basically, this is just what one would expect from a high budget movie retelling a World Masterpiece Theater series. I did not recognize the directors' names, but doubtlessly, research should show that they are somehow linked with Studio Ghibli. In any case, the makers of this film seem to be sincere artists, uninhibited in their sentimentality and love of art.

The overwhelming negatives in this disc, however, have nothing to do with the contents, but with Pioneer itself: They have chosen to edit this film to appease us "dumb" Americans with mournfully short attention spans. Unfortunately, reducing the length of the movie has had an obvious detrimental impact on the character development and plotting of the film. I had naively thought that with DVD, we would never again see catastrophes like the edited versions of "Robotech" and "Warriors of the Wind". But apparently, these studio "higher ups" will revert to their heinous practices if it means a quick buck. Our only hope is that commercial failure will force them to stop mutilating our anime.

Although the English dub is above average, I cannot recommend this DVD release, due to the lack of subtitles and the heartbreaking scene cuts. I hope someone starts a petition very soon. These unpleasant developments do not bode well for the future of anime fandom in the United States. It means that we will most likely never see subtitled and unmolested work when anime reaches mass popularity. With its similar lack of subtitles, I believe Pokemon is a good example of what commercial success will bring. So keep your VCRs and media players warm, you may need them for those "special" fan productions.

My Review at Mania.com


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