Sherlock Hound: Case File I (1984)
Review by Dindrane

Written by Hayao Miyazaki, Yoshihisa Araki, and Tsunehisa Ito, based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki and Kyosuke Mikuriya


Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

Rating: Suggested 7+

Anamorphic: N/A

My Advice: Rent it.

A joint project between Tokyo Movie Shinsha and RAI, Italy's national channel, Sherlock Hound brings the classic mysteries of Doyle to today's children. The production history of this series is rather complex, rife with halts and disputes; episodes are based at least loosely upon Sherlock Holmes tales but starring a host of canine characters. It is nice to see Hayao "Princess Mononoke" Miyazaki's early work being brought to light.

This disk contains several of Hound's early cases, based on original short stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "The Four Signatures," "The Crown of Mazalin," "A Small Client," "Mrs. Hudson is Taken Hostage," and "The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle."

The only truly irritating element to this series is the way Professor Moriarty has been denigrated from criminal mastermind with class and brilliance, if not morality, into the kind of wimpy bad guy you expect to see tying blond bombshells to railroad tracks, twisted mustache and all. While Holmes himself has been somewhat watered down, perhaps to keep his analytical mind and logic from going over the heads of children, it's not only inaccurate but sad to see poor Moriarty cut in this way. Surely children could understand a more elegant villain without being unduly frightened?

The extras are literally non-existent. It would have been nice to have had at least a cast and crew list, much less some character galleries or even a text of one of the original stories, just for comparison. While there are five complete cases on this disk, there was still plenty of room on the DVD for some frills.

The audio is solid, with little hissing and much clarity. The English accents may seem affected at times, but perhaps they are any case, the tones at least seem to suit the characters--Holmes is friendly, if not particularly sharp, and Watson is grumpy and military-sounding.

All in all, animal-loving children will probably enjoy this series, and Holmes fans of any age will be amused by the production. Some of the plot changes might annoy die-hard adult Holmes fans, but were clearly made for the sake of brevity, appealing to a younger audience, or clarifying certain aspects of the tales, and are therefore understandable at least. Holmes' cocaine addiction has of course been removed, as have any sexual overtones from the original stories. These episodes may not be brilliant or particularly inspired, but they are fun, and children will almost certainly enjoy them.

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