Hakujaden - VHS Cover
I found this little gem thanks to the little miracle we call Google. Since I'm still covering Japan's first animation feature film, I'm dragging you all with me. Heh heh.
Here is a scan of the VHS release of Hakujaden. It's a somewhat sparce design, only a few characters on the front, as opposed to the movie poster that's seen on the back. What's remarkable to me is how the female lead, Bai-Niang, is given center stage. Her expression and her pose are aggressive, dominant; the boy remains in the background, passive. It's the sort of gender role reversals we're accustomed to seeing from the Studio Ghibli films.
I'm also impressed that the couple are front and center in Japanese promotions for this movie, while Panda is a supporting character. Those roles were completely switched when it was imported to the US as Panda and the Magic Serpent. The conventions of American cartoons pretty much require it. The funny thing is, I'm not sure things would change very much today.
Of course, I wouldn't complain if Hakujaden and the other classic Toei movies found their way to our shores. I'd just be thrilled to see this movie at the Mall of America Best Buy. Heck, I'll be happy if Ghibli Freaks everywhere download the fansub and watch it. This is where I should seriously pursue the idea of panel discussions at anime conventions.