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The Dog of Flanders

Review by: Adam "OMEGA" Arnold

Nello's life has always been full of hardship. He was raised by his impoverished grandfather in the old days -- when hard work was an unescapable aspect of life and only the most well-to-do children got an education. But, Nello is blessed with a remarkable gift to draw, a loyal dog named Patrash, and a dear friend in Alois, the governor's daughter. However, life is hard for the impoverished. Patrash's real owner wants the runaway dog back, Grandpa isn't getting any younger, Alois's father is overbearing and disapproving of Nello, and being in debt is the deepest hole to escape from.

The Dog of Flanders, is adapted by Miho Maruo from the classic tale by Flemish novelist Oui'da which director Yoshio Kuroda masterfully brings to life in an unforgettable way. But, The Dog of Flanders is quite possibly the most depressing anime movie ever made. The story starts out fun and hopeful, but quickly falls into a pattern of one bad event after another. By the time something good actually happens in the movie, its too late for the characters. Likewise, one important aspect with the movie is you can actually feel the characters joy, pain, and sadness. As you watch the movie, you experience it. You hate the tax collector, you want the kids to succeed in running away from the dog keeper, and you want to knock some sense into Alois's dad. You know a movie must be powerful if you can actually feel for the characters and end up all teary-eyed when it's all over. This simple aspect makes this movie stand out.

The English dub is exceptionally well-produced. with Robert Loggia doing an exceptional (albeit small-parted) job at voicing Grandpa. Brandy Bluhm and Debi Derryberry present very believable children in Nello and Alois and add to the overall impact of the movie. Sean Young also does a equally small-parted framing sequence for the movie as she voices Sister Alois. Along with those are a number of other anime voice actors including Matt K. Miller and Sherry Lynn. If you're in the domestically-released market, this is definitely one relese whose dub you're going to have to love, because Pioneer is only going to release it English.

Exclusive to Target stores, this VHS dub comes bound with a ‘special limited edition' animated motion picture soundtrack with over 24 minutes worth of Taro Iwashiro's bitter-sweet score. The tracks include, 1.) View Of Antwerp, 2.) Through The Market, 3.) Never And Forever, 4.) Tragic Fire, 5.) Alone, 6.) Into The Rest, 7.) Chapter IV Pie Jesu (Rest) [Theatrical Mix]. The instrumental tracks are powerfully compelling and will bring back memories of the scenes they accompanied. On the technical side, the CD does has some static points where the scale pitches too high making the music pop.

In conclusion, even though The Dog of Flanders is aimed at a younger audience, it takes a mature person to fully grasp the extent of the story. The movie has simple character designs with backgrounds and costumes that perfectly represent the Flanders countryside look-and-feel of the 19th Century, and it also has a touch of CG thrown in for added punch. Track down this anime movie, you will not be disappointed. Just teary-eyed.

Review Info File
The Dog of Flanders
VHS dub, DVD dub
VHS is a Target exclusive.
WARNING: Do not watch this movie if you are depressed or have just watched Grave of the Fireflies.
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