Wishes can come true!
Well, that was incredibly painful. Warner Bros. has seen fit to release a disc so agonizingly bad Amnesty International has labeled it as cruel and unusual punishment. Originally released in 1984, this anime version of The Adventures of Pinocchio is actually an English dubbed repackaging of the Japanese animated television series Mock into a feature length film.
We all know the original Carlo Collodi story, right? This is slightly different than what you may remember. Geppetto, a lonely wood carver, creates himself a surrogate son out of the branch of a tree and names him Pinocchio. Touched by the love Geppetto puts into his work, the beautiful Oak Fairy enchants the carving, bringing to life a wooden boy. Anointing the house cricket Timothy as Pinocchio’s conscience guide, the two set off on a series of wild and wacky adventures, each providing a valuable lesson on the road to becoming a real boy.
This Ippei Kuri (Gatchaman) production of the classic fairy tale story is unique, to say the least. In addition to Pinocchio’s father Geppetto (whose voice could easily be mistaken for SNL’s Father Guido Sarducci) and friend Timothy the cricket, we also have Rudy the alcoholic rat (did you know they made rat-sized containers of alcohol?), Sly the Brooklyn-accented fox and his pal Slick the weasel, Zapano the evil puppet master (whose beard makes him an honorary member of ZZ Top), and Gloria the pasties-wearing mermaid (I kid you not), just to name a few.
On his many disjointed adventures, Pinocchio voluntarily becomes the obnoxious brat of a son to a selfish government official, discovers a magic money tree in the heart of an active volcano, becomes a singing house plant for the home of a rich aristocrat, heroically liberates an entire circus full of talking animals, rescues an imprisoned young mermaid from a carnival sideshow returning her safely to Mermaid Island and her half-naked grandmother, defeats an evil pirate and rescues a group of kidnapped children, falls in love with a young girl and proposes marriage, and travels to the peak of an icy mountain range to rescue a magic healing herb, before learning everything he needs to know in order to become human. Along the way, we are subjected to inconsistent animation quality, such as Pinocchio’s hair changing color from red to blue to black to purple, horribly annoying vocal acting, and a migraine inducing original soundtrack from ’80s musical sensation The Bullets.
As if that weren’t enough, the disc itself will confuse and confound you. Animated menus, complete with a sampling of The Bullets’ piercing score, introduce a 1.33:1 full frame transfer that is reminiscent of a water color painting left out in the rain, limited scene selections that are neither labeled nor chaptered with any logic behind them, and a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack that is best enjoyed by activating the mute button on your remote. The icing on the cake is a DVD-ROM coloring book, but if you’ve gone this far I suggest psychiatric counseling.
Please, under no circumstances should you spend any money onThe Adventures of Pinocchio, either purchasing or renting. Save yourselves. Save your children. Save your friends. Save your most hated enemies. Get yourself a copy of Princess Mononoke or Kiki’s Delivery Service to see what good (dubbed) anime really is.