Written by: Ron Cotton on November 10th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: March 20, 1971 Japan
Director: Hiroshi Ikeda
Writer: Kei Iijima & Hiroshi Ikeda
Japanese Voice Cast: Minori Matsushima, Asao Koike, Hitoshi Takagi, Soko Tenchi, Kousei Tomita, Nishikibito Tamura
DVD Released: November 15th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Discotek
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest–Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!” – Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
Jim Hawkins is a young lad who dreams of setting sail for adventure on the high seas. Jim keeps his thoughts at bay, working as an innkeep with his friend, a mouse named Gran. Suddenly, Jim’s Inn is besieged as a mysterious figure entrusts the youth with a treasure map while he flees his would-be captors. Jim seizes the opportunity for the adventure he craves, challenging both Captain Silver and Kathy; struggling over the possession of the map to Treasure Island. Let the adventure begin!
Based on an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel Treasure Island whose internationally famed classics include The Black Arrow and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not being the first cinematic rendition of Treasure Island, Animal Treasure Island is a tongue and cheek version made up with a cast of animals. This is a non-stop slapstick action-gag anime with a pure hearted child protagonist with a love interest. It’s not unlike other anime films of it’s type, but the character’s interaction with the swashbuckling world is interesting to say the least. It struck a vein so strong that the recent reinvention of the look and design of Zelda: The Wind Waker directly from this film.
The Japanese Audio is robust in depth as well crisp and clear throughout. In comparison, the English audio which sounded aged and muffled like decades-old mono track. As with most anime titles, the English Subtitles offered a faithful Japanese translation, while English Audio contained more colloquialisms found in other pirate films. Liberties were made with the musicals sections, as language barriers needed yet the basic gist of the song remained the same. The English Audio contained audio drop off that’s quite noticeable in a scene, yet isn’t crucial to the film. Note that the mouse in the English Audio is named Rex, while the Subtitles call the mouse Gran.
This release is sourced from cleaned up transfer that’s both widescreen and anamorphic transfer. Very few print flaws are evident in this new transfer however edges at times have the appearance of being sharpened with filters. This sharpening effect is quite minimal and isn’t aparent in the trailers. Animal Treasure Island’s animation uses an old yet very common trick of animating every other frame reducing the animator’s otherwise heavy drawing workload. Hayao Miyazaki is both the Key Animator and Story Consultant for Animal Treasure Island and his involvement into anime continued with such acclaimed titles as Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, The Castle of Cagliostro, and Spirited Away. Hayao elevates the interest of what others might otherwise term as a “childish” anime.
More and more DVD releases are graced with clear keepcases and Animal Treasure Island is no different. Lacking inserts, Animal Treasure Island has a map of Pirate Island with a chapter selection printed on the insides. It’s a wonder how DVD collectors have went so long without clear casings. The extras include three trailers, the first two being for Animal Treasure Island. The first trailer displays long clips of the film while the second has a very original premise, a clever draw to the film. The Trailer for Taro The Dragon Boy is yet another anime classic in the same vein as Animal Treasure Island. Otherwise, no bonus features to speak of. Toei originally presented Animal Treasure Island to commemorate its 20th Anniversary.
Animal Treasure Island is a lighthearted tale that unfolds unpredictably, making this film a enjoyable watch. This film also represents the early roots of anime. Made specifically for a younger audience, yet quite watchable by older audiences. The audio and video transfer is quite brilliant considering the age of this film. Expect no great frills or extras on Animal Treasure Island. It’s exceptional that a release as old as this has as many english options as this.