Poster - Puss in Boots 3: Around the World in 80 Days
Here is another addition to the always-impressive lineup of Toei Animation movie posters: Puss in Boots 3: Around the World in 80 Days, from 1976.
I'm a great fan of the original 1969 Puss in Boots. In fact, I think it's an anime masterpiece and one of Toei Doga's crowning achievements. It benefited greatly from the immense talent at the studio, including Hayao Miyazaki, Yasuo Otsuka, Yoichi Kotabe, Reiko Okuyama, and Yasuji Mori. Within a couple years, however, they would begin the migration away to other studios and projects like Lupin III and Heidi, and the quality of Toei's movies deteriorated as a result.
Puss in Boots 2, made in 1972, was a weaker sequel, but it still had some charms, thanks to Mori and Okuyama. At least, the Wild West theme was a bold change of pace. Most sequels aim to repeat the exact formula, so you have to admire the willingness to take risks. I think it's an alright movie and is worth watching at least once.
Puss in Boots 3, however, is a disaster. If there was ever an example of Toei's decimation as a great movie studio, it's this picture. It's amazing that this was even considered a feature release at all. It has the look and feel of crude television, some low-budget mess that was probably green-lighted as a result of some executive losing a poker match.
I will say this in the movie's defense: I really like the setting. "Around the World in 80 Days" is a terrific idea for a movie; in fact, it happens to be a terrific movie. That's a movie you watch with the grandparents at holiday gatherings. So it makes sense to give it a try with Pero the Cat. It's a pity the whole thing is such an unimaginative mess.
I found it a bit weird that Puss in Boots 3 completely rips off the 1968 anime masterpiece Horus, Prince of the Sun. How did that come about? Was Toei finally feeling remorse over letting the movie tank at the box office, sacking the director, Isao Takahata, only to see him steal the studio's best talent and revolutionize anime with Heidi and Marco? Strange. Personally, I chalk it up to a lack of ideas. The filmmakers who made this picture couldn't find a decent idea if it bit 'em on the....ehh, whatever. You get the point.
I also wonder if Hayao Miyazaki had seen this movie? How strange is it that a movie that steals from Horus features a climactic chase through a clock tower, one that Miyazaki seems to steal for Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro? Yes, it's true that the clock tower motif first appeared in an episode of Lupin III: Series One, but, still. I came away with the impression that Miyazaki ripped this scene out. You can't blame him for being cranky, in any event.
Let's see, what else is there? The animation is stiff and crude, barely television quality, as I've mentioned before. Pero is certainly likable, but dull and witless. You can tell this isn't the same whipsmart anti-hero from the original 1969 classic. The villains are likewise boring. Just why are we seeing that fox character yet again? He was first a character on the television show Hustle Punch, and then a pirate in Animal Treasure Island (another of my all-time favorites). Why is he in this lousy picture? And why can't he get to do anything interesting or fun?
An animated movie version of Around the World in 80 Days should be wildly funny, colorful, full of life. This should be a movie for Pixar, not the creatively bankrupt Toei. This is an absolute clunker. I can't think of any redeeming qualities for this movie....except for the movie poster. That's a really terrific poster.
That said, a fansub of the movie is now available. Ta-daa! Aren't I a terrific salesman? You can find it at the Download These Fansubs section of this website.