One thing I can't wrap my head around is the fact that most American Hayao Miyazaki fans are completely aware of his vast career before the founding of Studio Ghibli. Even prominent animation scholars and movie critics think it all began with Castle of Cagliostro or Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. It's a bit like meeting a diehard John Lennon fan who's only aware of his 1970s solo output..."Beatles? What's that? Never heard of it."
Thank God for Discotek, I say. The US distribution label has steadily grown into one of the best anime publishers around, and they've done an excellent job providing us with the pre-Ghibli works of the 1960s and 1970s. In 2006, they released a trio of Toei Doga classics: Puss in Boots (1969) and Animal Treasure Island (1971). In 2012, they released Lupin III: The Complete First TV Series (1971-72), of which I contributed three short essays, and Panda Go Panda (1972, 73).
Discotek also released the 1979 Toei feature, Taro the Dragon Boy, which was not connected to Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, but old friends Yoichi Kotabe and Reiko Okuyama were the Animation Directors, and the movie was a surprising throwback to the Toei Doga classics of old. Every self-respecting anime fan should have this DVD in their collection.
All of these DVDs seems to completely disappear from the radar, and remain criminally overlooked. These classics manage to fall between the cracks for varying reasons: too old, too clunky, lack of quality dubs, lack of advertising or marketing, no presence at retail. Ignore all of that. Just buy everything directly from the Discotek website, and send them your thanks.
Where are all these so-called Miyazaki and Takahata fans I keep hearing about? I've got a whole stack of Beatles albums, just waiting to be discovered.
Puss in Boots (1969)
Animal Treasure Island (1971)
Lupin the 3rd: The Complete First TV Series (1971-72)
Panda Go Panda! (1972, 73)