Trailer - The Flying Ghost Ship (Toei, 1969)
On my bulletin board, I have a checklist of all the Toei Doga movies from 1958-1971, and the two Puss in Boots sequels. I'm on a mission to one day chronicle all of these films on The Ghibli Blog via four categories: Reviews, Posters, Trailers, and Screenshots. Tonight, during my latest research on Youtube, I've succeeded in scoring a whole truckload of movie trailers, and I'll be sharing them here over the coming days and weeks.
Tonight, I'd like to share the trailers for Toei's 1969 movie, The Flying Ghost Ship (Sora Tobu Yureisen). This is considered a "minor" film in the Toei Doga canon, and I confess that I wasn't too impressed upon my first viewing six or seven years ago. But it has a certain charm and it does grow on me from time to time. I think it's important to enjoy The Flying Ghost Ship for what it is, an escapist B-picture.
By the late 1960s, Toei was under pressure from rivals like Osamu Tezuka's Mushi-Pro studio, and there was something of a race to produce cheaper, lower-budget anime in the "limited" style. The Flying Ghost Ship is one of those movies. The budget and production values are nowhere near the lush, full-animation classic from Toei's golden years, classics like Hakujaden (Legend of the White Serpent), Saiyuki (Journey to the West) and Wankapu Oji no Orochi Taiji (Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon). It's also a fairly short movie, just over an hour.
That said, Flying Ghost Ship has a few really memorable scenes and a sly bit of satire (I still say Boa Juice was the inspiration for Slurm). Yoichi Kotabe served as Animation Director for the first time, and
Hiroshi Ikeda, a veteran Toei member of the director's staff, had his debut as feature film director. Ikeda was also the director on 1971's Animal Treasure Island, which is just about my all-time favorite anime movie (it's my favorite Toei movie after Horus). And, as everybody knows, Hayao Miyazaki worked on storyboards and key animated a terrific action scene of tanks battling a giant robot in a crowded metropolis. Yeah, totally Japanese B-Movie stuff. This scene was recreated years later in 1980's Farewell, Beloved Lupin. A couple plot points were also copied in Future Boy Conan, as we'll discover next month.
Anyway, those are a few notes on Flying Ghost Ship. I should also note that this movie was released in the Soviet Union shortly after its run in Japan. I think it may have been a joint production, but don't quote me on that. For years, the only fansub copy in circulation used the Russian soundtrack. Anime actually sounds pretty good in Russian. The current fansub (sorry, too minor a movie for any Western DVD release) contains both Japanese and Russian soundtracks.