It's time for some spring cleaning at Conversations on Ghibli, and that means finishing up some older posts that I've been putting off forever. Back in June, when Puss in Boots was released on DVD, I wrote a post detailing who was responsible for animating what. It was a somewhat unfinished listing, based largely upon snippets of information here and there, and good ol' fashioned deduction. Ben Ettinger, our beloved anime scholar at Anipages, detailed a few more scenes from the movie. Let's take a look.
Of course, I'm assuming you've all bought the Puss in Boots DVD by now, right? If you haven't yet, then step away from the keyboard, head over to the store, and get your copy. Don't worry, we'll wait until you get back. Hmm hmm....
....Alright, are you back? Good. Let's go.
Yoichi Kotabe: Here is another extended sequenced that was animated by Yoichi Kotabe. It begins with the sunset scene where Pero prods Pierre to spend some quality time alone with the Princess Rosa, then continues into the next extended scene. It's a lengthy bit that starts with Pero leading the mice in a choir (it's very Doris Day, ain't it?), while Pierre confesses that he's really a peasant, while Rosa still accepts him, then leads to Lucifer charging in, stealing Rosa away in a chariot, and finishes with Pierre suddenly losing the sleepy-eyed look and turning into an action hero.
Yes, I know, it's not that important. Just go with it. It's the lead-up to the castle chase, which is the whole reason you're watching this movie anyway.
Reiko Okuyama: Okuyama has a couple important scenes early on in the movie. First, she's the animator during the early fight scene between Pero and the cat assassins. As Ben Ettinger explains, it's the scene that begins with the chase around the table. I wonder if she took that throwing food gag from the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup. If anyone gets the chance, be sure to ask.
She picks up again after Yasuji Mori's musical skipping number, when Pierre and Pero arrive in town and spot the King and Princess for the first time. Pierre is more dumbstruck than usual, which is really saying a lot for him, so of course Pero heads over to the castle to spy the Princess' oddball collection of suitors. The suitors scene at the castle is pretty funny stuff, and it marks the arrival of Lucifer, the wizard bad guy who, strangely enough, looks an awful lot like Bluto. Doesn't this whole scene remind you of an operatic Popeye cartoon? Only this time, there isn't any spinach.
These three scenes are very different, and showcase Okuyama's considerable skill and diversity as an artist. Like her husband, Kotabe, she figures strongly in the early careers of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and is an important figure in the history of anime.
It's also a good opportunity to admire the terrific visual and color style of Puss in Boots. There's something about the rich saturation, and brilliant color of the Toei Doga movies. We've never really seen anything like it ever since. The WMT productions of the '70s and the Ghibli films of today go for a much more natural, impressionistic look, while the old Toei classics are so completely immersed in color. It's really too bad that Toei couldn't have provided Discotek with a properly remastered source for the DVD, instead of this worn down, scratchy, single-layer disc. There's really no excuse for skimping out, especially in this day and age.