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volume 3 issue 8

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14 home / august 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Sherlock Hound: Case File III DVD
Bilingual DVD
4 episodes
100 minutes
A charming series that was better in the previous two discs.
Overall Rating:

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

Pioneer has brought us another disc chock full of Sherlock Hound (or as it is known in its Japanese incarnation, Famous Detective Sherlock Holmes). Unlike previous Sherlock Hound DVDs, the third disc in the series contains only four episodes (Case File II had five episodes on the disc). For a niche series of this nature, this is a real let down. If the recent release of the first Ping Pong Club DVD has proven anything, it is that more is better.

Before examining the technical side of the disc, let us first dive into the concept behind Sherlock Hound and the episodes contained on this release.

As one might surmise from the title, Sherlock Hound is a retelling of Arthur Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, with dogs taking the place of human characters (which begs the question: "How do they deal with the "Hounds of the Baskervilles"?). Despite these changes, Sherlock Hound is able to capture some of the spirit of Doyle's archetype, albeit substantially more comic and lighthearted (and of course, canine-ized). It is a form of Holmes that is digestible by even the youngest viewers. Previous discs have contained episodes that are based on Doyle's tales - however, this disc lacks any such episodes.

Case File III starts off with episode eleven, "The Sovereign Gold Coins," which finds Holmes and the trusty Watson helping a wealthy client find twenty gold coins that had gone missing from his personal bank. The mystery deepens when Holmes finds out the local citizens dislike their client. In true Holmes fashion, Sherlock ties together the mystery in a neat little package in the end.

Episode twelve stands out by looking far more colorful and bright than episode eleven. Unlike previous episodes in the series, "The Stormy Getaway" relies more heavily on comic hijinks - with both Holmes' arch nemesis Moriarty and his bumbling competition, police chief Lestrade, planting their face into walls, windows, and the like. In this episode, Holmes and Watson agree to help the daughter of a banker by secretly tracking her father on an important trip. As usual, Moriarty and his cronies interfere, in a bid to steal the money the banker was carrying. Holmes' prototype Benz pulls some stunts reminiscent of Lupin III.

"The Runaway Freight Car" comes next. In another case of monkeyshines that will appeal to the younger set, Moriarty steals a freight car filled with gold bullion. Unfortunately for him, Holmes and Watson are passengers on the train. The episode follows Holmes, Watson, and the London police, lead by Lestrade, as they catch up with Moriarty and the stolen train car.

Episode fourteen, "The Coral Lobsters," has Holmes and Watson helping a friend of Mrs. Hudson, a marine biologist with a love for jewels. Moriarty, with his brain working at its best, thanks to the input of brain food (i.e., lobster) decides to steal the crown jewel of the biologist - lobsters made of rubies and diamonds. However, Holmes' discerning eye sees through Moriarty's smarter-than-normal plan, to its ruin. If nothing else, it leads to one of the show's funniest quotes; Moriarty demands lobster and one of his cronies quips back "I want higher pay and more interesting work."

Sherlock Hound is a charming little series for a number of reasons. Unlike the headache-inducing hyperactivity of children's shows of today, Hound remains exciting and interesting, without being "in-your-face." However, this holds less true for the episodes on this disc when compared with the episodes on previous DVDs. For a Japanese production, the show also does a good job of keeping Holmes English - the only glaring cultural misstep I noticed on this disc was Holmes turning pages in a book in the opposite direction, Japanese style.

As mentioned before, the show is suitable for even the youngest viewers, without being patronizing. And unlike many cartoons today, it's not mind numbing for older viewers. Both the opening and ending Japanese themes for the show are cute, catchy little numbers that will ring in your head for days.

However, for all its charms, Sherlock Hound is not without its problems. The show is very formulaic, especially on this disc. Holmes finds a client, Moriarty tries to steal from the client, Holmes sees through the Professor's plans, chases him and recovers the goods. It is highly dependent on Moriarty as a villain - of the nine episodes I've seen, all have Moriarty and his Team Rocket-esque cronies as the bad guys. If anything, the show is almost like a prototype of later anthropomorphic cartoons (Ducktales and Chip'N'Dale comes to mind). Additionally, the show clearly shows it's age with the character design and animation. The design simply looks old and is quite limited - the various dogs tend to similar and one can begin to categorize the supporting class - typical old man, typical young woman.

Worth special mention is the English dub. It's awful. Watson sounds the best with a deep voice (and a poor British accent). Hound sounds like your stereotypical Sherlock, but too high pitched, almost like Tony Blair had sucked some helium. And Moriarty sounds suspiciously like the Hanna Barbara character Snidely Whiplash. Also worth noting are the other changes made to the English dub; obviously, the show has a title change, from Famous Detective Sherlock Holmes to Sherlock Hound. Accordingly, the protagonist is called Holmes in the Japanese track, while he's named Hound on the English one. The English track lacks vocals in the theme songs and in the title introduction and completely lacks episode previews.

However, the biggest let down on the disc is the lack of a fifth episode on this disc. Like previous discs, Case File III is presented on a dual layer disc. The English language track is one side, the Japanese on the other. I don't see the purpose of this, especially when the disc only contains four episodes - other shows put four episodes on a disc, with both language tracks. Additionally, unlike previous discs, this one has an "extra" - a clean opening and closing. Frankly, this should have been on every disc, not as a make-up for missing an episode. Having said that, the complete lack of any other extras on the disc makes the loss of an extra episode especially acute.

Finally, though the packaging lists Hayao Miyazaki as a scriptwriter and chief director, Miyazaki only worked on six episodes of the show, none of which are on the disc.

Overall, the first and second discs are much better purchases than this one. The episodes are more exciting and tend to have the Miyazaki touch. However, if you found the other editions enjoyable Case File III is, for better or worse, more of the same.

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