Wonderful World of Puss in Boots, The (US - DVD R1)
No, it's not an animated porno, Gabe reviews the classic children's anime...
Loosely based on the beloved fairy tale classic, Puss in Boots tells the story of Pero (an incredibly ironic name if you add an 'R'), an adventurous kitty with boots, a sword, and a warrant on his head (he freed some mice, a bad move in the cat world). Our hero happens upon a young boy, Pierre, whose father has recently passed, and whose brothers are unwilling to share their inheritance with.
The rascally brothers kick Pero and Pierre out in the rain, but before anyone can wallow in too much self-pity, the cat suggests that Pierre is destined for greatness, and talks him into vying for the hand of Princess Rosa, whose father has just put her up on the auction block. But efforts seem futile when the evil Lord Lucifer decides to take the young Princess as his own using his dark, magical powers.
I knew immediately, without knowing a thing about Puss in Boots or its director Kimio Yabuki, that this film was brought to me by the same people that made the 1970s anime version of the Tchaikovsky based Swan Lake. As far as tone and look are concerned, the two films are almost identical. This is really saying something when you take into account, one, that the majority of child based anime from the era all looked pretty much the same, and two, that I'm no expert in the field.
Though not quite as good as Swan Lake, Puss in Boots is an affectingly charming little film, complete with the humour, action, and memorable songs of its follow up. It's obvious that Japanese mega-studio Toei was trying to capitalize on the winning Disney formula of the era, but there's also a healthy dose of Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng in the film's action set pieces and slapstick moments. These American influences do not deter the piece from being undeniably Japanese however. Though the character's eyes are gigantic, they still maintain that anime edge.
I'm never been shy to admit my affinity for children's entertainment, but unfortunately Puss in Boots lacks that special something that makes its entertainment value transcend age. This film is released and aimed squarely at anime collectors and kids. Unlike some films that may have trouble entertaining today's youth (like previous Discotek Media release Taro: The Dragon Boy), Puss in Boots is brisk and avoids cultural barriers. It also includes the well produced English dubbing from when the film showed on American television as The Wonderful World of Puss in Boots (the full title, which takes up a lot of room on my page), insuring that the little ones won't have to struggle with subtitles. But fret not, collectors; this classic also retains the original Japanese track.
As neither a fan nor child, I found the two tracks interesting in that the American studio actually put effort into writing song lyrics to go with the Japanese produced music, an effort not made by most over the Pacific transfers for children. The English translation was directed by one Fred Ladd, and a quick glance at his IMDb profile seems to indicate he was an expert in the field.
For a nearly forty-year-old animated feature, Puss in Boots looks pretty great. There are issues with minor artefacts and some grain, but Discotek seems to have really gone out of their way with this release. I noticed only minimal compression issues or noise. The only complaint I have is with the transfer's interlacing. This is not very obvious when the film is running, but you can see by my screen caps that the effect runs rampant throughout the film.
As stated in my film review, this disc contains both the original Japanese and English dubs. Both tracks are presented in Mono. The Japanese track has the edge, as it has a higher fidelity and general volume level, but it also has a tendency to become harsh and somewhat distorted during louder moments. The English track must be turned up to be audible, and is muffled. Both tracks are digital quality, and neither had any noticeable pops or crackles.
The disc's extras are sparse, and include a small collection of Discotek Media animation trailers, a still gallery, and two short text essays from the film's creators. The box states that the still gallery contains rare black and white stills, but the stills are straight from the film. It's not that I don't believe that the producers had some trouble acquiring these stills, but what was stopping them from simply turning screen caps black and white in Photoshop?
Fans of anime may be intrigued to know that none other than Hiayo Myazaki himself was responsible for some of the animation in this film. I'm probably not going to be watching this one again any time soon, but it was a fine viewing the first time, and may actually appeal to kids today. The disc itself is dry as far as extras, but the film looks and sounds better than it probably has in decades.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 30th May 2006
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese, Dolby Digital Mono English
Extras: Music and Effects Track, Photo Gallery of Rare Black and White Stills, Text Interviews with Creators, Theatrical Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Kimio Yabuki
Cast: Susumu Ishikawa, Toshiko Fujita, Rumi Sakakibara
Length: 80 minutes
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