Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sherlock Hound

It may have been premature to call The Castle of Cagliostro the end of an era for Miyazaki. Before going ahead with Nausicaa, he returned, under a pseudonym, to TV and to Lupin in 1980, directing two episodes, including the finale, of the Lupin III Part II series. His next TV anime after that was Sherlock Hound in 1981.

Miyazaki directed six episodes of Sherlock Hound, before the project was shelved over a dispute with the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was not until 1984, when Miyazaki edited together two episodes to serve as the opening cartoon to Nausicaa, that the material resurfaced. It was a hit with audiences, and, with the earlier dispute since resolved, Tokyo Movie Shinsha decided to expand it into a full 26-episode series, although, by this point, Miyazaki was working on his movies and no longer involved with the show.

The entire series can now be found on TMS's YouTube channel. Most viewers today would probably only be interested in Miyazaki's episodes, and the YouTube channel features them as the first six (beyond that, I don't know if they're in any particular order, but I don't get the sense it much matters). FYI, the two episodes that aired with Nausicaa were "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" (episode 2 on the YouTube) and "Treasure Under the Sea" (episode 3).

I only watched those two episodes, and I'm not really interested in seeing more, because, to be honest, I didn't find it all that captivating. But it's definitely a Miyazaki work, particularly resembling Castle of Cagliostro. Although more clearly aimed at children, Sherlock Hound is similarly a fast-paced and lighthearted slapstick action program, full of car chases and aviation sequences, as highlighted right in the opening credits sequence. Other Miyazaki-isms include the Victorian ambiance and a number of steampunk contraptions.

For me, the most amusing bit was a scene in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," where Sherlock Hound, driving a primitive automobile with no mirrors, shifts into reverse in pursuit of some bad guys. The episode ends with another thrilling chase sequence. Otherwise, the show is interesting mainly because, even as it bears many of his hallmarks, it's hard to imagine Miyazaki making anything so outright playful and wide-eyed idealistic today.

On the whole, the show seems well-crafted. An unmistakably 80s cartoon, it's kind of cute, kind of charming, but also a little juvenile and a little boring for me. Probably best enjoyed watching with kids.

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