Thursday, March 21, 2019

Manxmouse

Paul Gallico was an American-born author who lived in England (and other parts of the world) and wrote popular fiction for both adults and children. His best known works include Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris and its sequels, The Snow Goose, Love of Seven Dolls, and The Poseidon Adventure. The last two were adapted into smash movies, namely, Lili (1953) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972). He wrote several very popular stories about cats, including The Silent Miaow and Thomasina, The Cat Who Thought She Was God, which was also made into a a movie. His 1968 children's novel, Manxmouse, was a childhood favorite of J. K. Rowling. It was adapted in 1979 as a Nippon Animation TV special with the title Tondemo Nezumi Daikatsuyaku (The Great Adventures of an Outlandish Mouse), or more simply, Manxmouse. It was dubbed into English, with different songs and a somewhat altered script. This is the first subtitled version in English.

Manxmouse tells the story of a ceramic mouse created by a tipsy potter. The mouse has no tail, long ears, and powerful hindquarters. Hence, its creator calls it a Manx Mouse, by analogy with a Manx Cat. At some point, the mouse comes to life. Because it was created rather than born, it has no mouse-like instincts; in particular, it has no fear. During its travels, the mouse meets many creatures and people, including a shape-shifting ghost that is baffled by a creature without fear; a hawk that thinks it's an airplane pilot; a young schoolgirl, who gives the mouse a formal name (Harrison G. Manxmouse); a runaway circus tiger named Burra Khan; an unscrupulous pet shop owner, who wants to sell Manxmouse for a fortune; and finally the legendary Manx Cat himself, which, according to the Book of Doom, is destined to eat Manxmouse in a single bite.


Needless to say, all ends happily, as is only proper in a G-rated children's cartoon.

Manxmouse presented unusual translation issues, most of which can be summed up in a single question: where the Japanese dialog and the original English text differ, which should be followed? For better or worse, most of the Japanese dialog is translated as is, with one significant exception: the name of the main character. In Japanese, the mouse is called Tondemo Nezumi (Outrageous Mouse). I've stuck with Manxmouse; the Japanese localization obscures the main joke (a tailless mouse is a Manx Mouse). Otherwise, the Japanese dialog prevails.
  • In the book, the mouse starts life in the village of Buntingdowndale. In the movie, this became Tanizoko-don, translated as Gorgebottom. (The dub uses Dondowndale.)
  • In the book, the shape-shifting ghost is called a Clutterbumph. In the movie, it has a name, Dororon, simply transliterated.
  • In the book, neither the potter nor Burra Khan's trainer have names, and the greedy pet shop proprietor is Smeaton rather than Benten.
When the mouse is being referenced as an instance of the mythical breed or species of tailless mice, it is called a Manx Mouse. When it is addressed by name, it is Manxmouse. On the other hand, a Manx Cat is always Manx Cat, whether general or the specific individual Thomas R. Manx Cat. That's how the book does it; go figure.

The voice actors mostly predate current anime.
  • Masako Nozawa (Manxmouse) is a legend. She played the leads in 30000 Miles Under the Sea, The Adventures of Gamba, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry no Bouken, Billy Inu nan demo Shoukai, and Hey! Bumboo. She was Enma-kun in the original Dororon Enma-kun, Son Goku in the original Dragonball, and Kitarou in the original 1968 and 1971 versions of GeGeGe no Kitarou as well as Hakaba Kitarou. Even though her first role was in 1965, she is still active, appearing as Obaba in Ping Pong the Animation, Madame Curie in Marie & Gali, and of course, Medama Oyaji in the current version of GeGeGe no Kitarou. She won a lifetime achievement award in 1997.
  • Ryuji Saikachi (Meyer the tipsy potter) played Nurarihyon in the 1968 and 1971 versions of GeGeGe no Kitarou. He also appeared in Sangokushi 2 (1986), an Orphan release.
  • Nagai Ichirou (Dororon) starred in numerous shows, playing grandfather Jigoro in Yawara!, the off-the-wall narrator in Gosenzosama Banbanzai!, Professor Hajime in Queen Millennia, and Happosai in the Ranma 1/2 franchise. He appeared in Nora, Hidamari no Ki, Yuukan Club, and Yamato 2520, all Orphan releases.
  • Kazuko Sugiyama (the school girl, Wendy H. Troy) played Heidi in Heidi, Girl of the Alps, Akane in the Dr. Slump franchise, Maria in The Royal Tutor, and Ten in Urusei Yatsura.
  • Teiji Oomiya (the tiger, Burra Khan) appeared in both Speed Racer and the original Doraemon.
  • Kihara Shoujirou (Captain Hawk) had featured roles in Perrine, Space Runaway Ideon, and the City Hunter franchise.
  • Kazuo Kumakura (Thomas R. Manx Cat) appeared in both the 1963 and 1980 versions of Astro Boy. He played Papa Panda in Panda Gopanda, Oz in The Wizard of Oz movie, Sima Hui in Sangokushi, and Inspector Unmei in Akuma Tou no Prince: Mitsume ga Tooru; the last two are Orphan releases.
  • Ishizaka Kouji (Narrator) also provided the narration for Gallery Fake.
The director, Saitou Hiroshi, directed many World Masterpiece Theater series, including Heidi, Girls of the Alps, Katry, the Cow Girl, Lucy-May of the Southern Rainbow, and the first half of Perrine. The music and songs are forgettable faux-Disney.

Moho Kareshi did the original translation. laalg checked the dialog and translated the songs. ninjacloud timed. I edited and typeset (very little to do there). BeeBee and Nemesis QCed. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from a Japanese laserdisc that Iri purchased in Japan. The source isn't great, but it seems fairly unlikely that Manxmouse will get a digital release.

Manxmouse is episodic and doesn't have much in the way of dramatic tension, but it is competently made and far less twee than the original book. You can pass a pleasant afternoon with Harrison G. Manxmouse and his friends, knowing that there will be lots of good company as well as tea and cookies. You can get Manxmouse from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

This is the last of our "creature features" for a while; no dogs, cats, or other critters in the backlog at the moment. You'll just have to make do with people.


3 comments:

  1. Is it just me, or is manxmouse a fancy name for rabbit?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for subbing this gem. Had forgotten it existed, vaguely remembering it was also available in German.
    Hiroshi Saito is one director whose approach I liked. He was also one of the 3 directors of Rascal, my favorite WMT series. I think they even surpassed Isao Takahata in this one.

    ReplyDelete