(Update 1/22/11: Since this post was published, the Youtube videos were taken down. A new Youtube video of Jarinko Chie is now available. You can watch Jarinko Chie here.)
And now, dear readers and silent hangers-on, I present to you Isao Takahata's 1981 movie Jarinko Chie. Our old friends Yasuo Otsuka and Yoichi Kotabe were the Animation Directors, and the cast of characters were pulled from Japan's famous comedy troupe, Yoshimoto Kogyo (Mind Game used actors from there as well).
The dialog was all recorded before animating, or "pre-scored," something that is standard here in the States, but very uncommon in Japan. Oh, and the actress who played Chie was elected to Congress. Not a bad achievement!
Jarinko Chie was adapted from a very popular manga by Etsumi Haruki. The story revolves around a 10-year-old girl named Chie; her thuggish, gangster-wannabe father, Tetsu; her mother, Yoshi; and an oddball assortment of friends and hangers-on. The film is episodic, a little like My Neighbors the Yamadas, but there's a tighter narrative, weaving around the central thread of Chie's desires to see her parents reunited.
Mostly structured as a slapstick comedy, Jarinko Chie is a story about family, seperation and loss. Takahata's trademark drama is present, mixed in with the comedy, and wrapped around a grand tribute to Kobe and Japan's western Kansai region. The film was produced at Telecom and proved successful enough to warrant a popular TV series, which ran for two seasons. Takahata served as general director.
I'm sad to report that I do not have English subtitles for you tonight. Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy the film regardless. Repeated viewings will be rewarded, and I promise to share what dialog I do know. Enjoy!