It's Not Prince Valiant, Ya Jerks

This is the sort of thing that just makes me cranky. Let's just see if we can count all the things about this DVD cover that ticks me off. Ugh. It's just painful to even look at.

For those without a keen eye, this is not, "Prince Effin' Valiant," but a lousy Italian repackaging of Horus, Prince of the Sun, Isao Takahata's revolutionary masterpiece and one of my all-time favorite films. I think I've written about Horus once or twice. I even watched it again earlier this evening, before literally peeling myself away from the couch.

We're probably far enough along in the J-Pop and anime boom to remind the kids what things were like back in the old'n days. Two decades ago, this was the standard treatment for imported anime. Hacked films, altered scripts, rewritten scripts, painfully bad dubbing, and rediculously stupid covers. What jerk approved this lousy box? Somebody with a degree from a community college, I'll bet.

The reasoning by the suits is simple. Cartoons are for kids, and this one is just as good as any other. Little Timmy and Suzie won't complain, because they don't know any better. And, besides - it's foreign, which to our superior American minds means it sucks. It must. We're number one! U-S-A!! U-S-A!!

Such is the moronic attitude that made anime viewing on these shores so very difficult for so many years. Forget about imports with quality fansubs. Forget about newsrooms or websites or downloads. Unless you had some major connections, chances are this was your only way of getting into the scene. This was a major pain well into the '90s, even after Akira officially made Japanese animation "cool" for most Gen-X'ers.

When Horus was exported around the world, it was typically with the syruppy title, "Little Norse Prince Valiant," or just "The Little Norse Prince." The movie had ab-so-freakin'-lutely nothing whatsoever to do with Prince Valiant, but, ehh. Who cares? Timmy's loaded up on Ritalin. He's off in la-la land. One day he'll grow up to become a talk radio host.

Even today, at a time when all parties should know better, we're still battling this rediculous title. The UK release of Horus comes plastered with that stupid, "The Little Norse Prince" title, as if the suits in charge couldn't be bothered to translate the name. I mean, it's right there on the screen in big bold letters! How could you miss it? Didn't the opening scene with the wolves give you a clue? This isn't anybody's idea of a kiddie cartoon. Anybody except Sam Peckinpaw, I suppose.

And why do western cartoon boxes always have that stupid airbrushed look to it? And all the characters always have to be smiling. What the hell is with that?! C'mon, you've had enough chance to see this movie if you've been following the Ghibli blog. You can even download the fansub right this minute. Look at that damned cover. Does that cover resemble anything - ANYTHING - in this movie?!

You see, above all else, this is the reason why I love Horus, Prince of the Sun. It is the polar opposite of THIS. Horus and Hilda don't sing and dance like freakin' Smurfs. They come roaring through your speakers like Black Sabbath. Every time I watch, I sit in amazement that Takahata, Miyazaki, and the crew ever pulled it off. It's a miracle that the Toei studio bosses never burned the negatives. For 1968, it's that shocking. Heck, it's that shocking today. This movie still couldn't be made in the States. Too dark. Too violent. Too heavy. Too freakin' awesome!

Truth be told, this DVD packaging isn't even the worst offender for anime imports. The worst offender of them all...well, strangely enough, that's another picture Miyazaki worked on. I'll see if I can find a photo online somewhere.


asuka said...

if you want to talk smurfification, what about the cover for the fox/troma dub of totoro?!
agreed - hols is great. the "camera work" when hilda is introduced to us, singing in the deserted town... great stuff.

asuka said...

the disney cover for kiki is a bit of a shame too. especially when compared with their lovely and very sensibly chosen covers for their releases of other miyazaki films, like totoro and nausicaƤ.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, all overly agreed *shakes ehad in shame at the world* Christ almighty guys! Animation isn't JUST for kids anymore! GET OVER IT!!! So for, i have to say anything that has had anything to do with ghiblli or anyone having had worked at Ghibli recent or past, is obviously experts at storytell and animation on the whole and definetly an inspiration for anyone in the artistry or writing business (not to say, hollywood should take a bloody look into these for a friken change, am I right?)

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