Poster: Rock el Valiente (Wan Wan Chushingura)

Poster: Rock el Valiente (Wan Wan Chushingura)

Rock el Valiente is the Spanish title for Toei Doga's 1963 animated feature film, Wan Wan Chushingura. This movie is a loose retelling of the Japanese tale of The 47 Ronin, but presented with a cast of animal characters, including dogs, foxes, bunnies and a ferocious tiger. It's a very good movie, entertaining and colorful and featuring a great action-filled climax. Toei always knew how to end their pictures on a strong note.

Today, this movie is probably best remembered as Hayao Miyazaki's very first work in animation, where he began as a lowly in-betweener. In his memoirs, he famously grumbled that all of his drawings were corrected by the supervising animators, which made his initial drawings unrecognizable. This is what the old-timey folks called "paying your dues." In short order, the ambitious young animator was already working his way up the animation ladder, and famously offering a novel idea for the ending to the next Toei feature film, Gulliver's Space Travels. By 1965, he had advanced to the level of key animator on the television series Hustle Punch and Wolf Boy Ken, where he famously met another young director named Isao Takahata. One of cinema's all-time great partnerships had begun, and would last for the next 50 years.

Anyway, back to our movie poster, which looks terrific. I can only imagine how rare and expensive this is. Such finds are extremely rare on Ebay, so it's a special honor to anyone who was fortunate enough to grab one of these gems. I like the layout sense of color, and it's especially nice that this poster retains the classic Yasuji Mori character designs. He was one of the all-time great cartoon animators.

I have great affection for the "classic" Toei Doga movies of the 1950s and 1960s, which followed the Walt Disney formula while offering a very unique Asian spin, with a young generation of artists who were endlessly experimenting. It's beyond baffling that these films that were once so important to Japanese animation are all but forgotten. We need a renaissance for classic animation. There's so much beauty and art in the world to discover.

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