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volume 3 issue 6

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Sherlock Hound: Case File II DVD
Bilingudal DVD
Episodes 6-10
125 Minutes
The Adventures of Sherlock Hound is charming in an understated way and we see visions of Miyazaki's later flicks.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Sherlock Hound: Case File II DVD
By Ridwan Khan

I remember seeing Sherlock Hound in Bangladesh when I was eight. Considering that was over 11 years ago, it says something about the age of this particular series. In fact this is one of Hayao Miyazaki's earliest jobs.

However, calling Famous Detective Sherlock Holmes (the Japanese title) one of Miyazaki's works is a bit disingenuous - Miyazaki only worked on six episodes of the series. After the first six episodes, the production ran into legal trouble with the estate of Arthur Conan-Doyle. After two episodes were released as a theatrical feature (that, according to the release's disclaimer, had nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes) the legal issues were ironed out and the series met with a good deal of fan interest. More episodes were created, but without Miyazaki and other members of the staff. It's hard to tell the differences between the first batch of episodes (which are spread out on the first two DVDs) and the next twenty, but the earlier episodes tend to be more exciting and sharper. On the second DVD release, Sherlock Hound only "Treasure Under the Sea" and "The White Cliffs of Dover" are from the original six.

The story of Sherlock Hound follows, of course follows the London detective Sherlock and his dumpy sidekick Watson; however, in this incarnation all of London are dogs. The anthropomorphic mutts don't look half bad - the color of the program is vibrant and the character design is pretty good. The animation has a tendency to show its age, however. Of course, doesn't mirror Conan Doyle's original stories (how could they when Holmes was a crack-head?) but the series makes a valiant attempt to keep the spirit of the series (as much as possible when writing for eight year olds, of course). Overall, it's a charming series; it's not spectacular in the sense of Mononoke Hime or even in the subtle style of Tonari no Totoro, but taken on its value, it's not bad.

The series is episodic in nature. On this disc, Hound and Watson travel to lighthouses, help recover a golden angel statue, help save an American heiress, and travel the high seas, while battling the nefarious Moriarty. It's standard kiddy fare, but done in a more respectful, less kinetic way than, say DigiMon. It's a respect for children that comes up again in Totoro and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi. The London streets recall European locales in other Miyazaki films, especially Castle of Cagliostro (Cagliostro's version of Zenigata bears more than a passing resemblance to Hound's Lestrade) and Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

Overall, the DVD is set up is pretty standard; the menu system is simple, but good looking, and the packaging looks okay, though I do have a problem with the back cover blurb; it's been a long since I read such a bland, formulaic description of a series. The DVD completely lacks extras - all there are the episodes in English and Japanese. However, the number of episodes does make up for this. This particular disc has five episodes; not usually normal for releases like this. Because of space requirements, the DVD is on a dual layered disc (both sides of the disc contain information). One side is the English language dub, the other the Japanese dub. Perhaps the niche status of Sherlock Hound prompted Pioneer to release it in this style.

If you, like me, fondly remember this series (it become popular in Britain and made it to South Asia from there) or want to watch something with your children, Sherlock Hound is a charming little series.

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