Discotek is trying a little streaming experiment. They’ve subtitled the first episode of a 1986 anime version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and put it up for free on YouTube. If enough interest is shown, they will subtitle and release more episodes streaming. The previously dubbed international version will be released on BD/DVD in August.
My knowledge, and many of you may be the same, of The Wizard of Oz story begins and ends with the classic 1939 film. Which got me pondering how many kids haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz MGM movie and how much or little familiarity anyone going into this series would be.
World Masterpiece Theater is an interesting case where you can clearly see the difference between American and Japanese anime fandom. In Japan these are classic anime remembered fondly as entertainment for the whole family along the lines of the most beloved Disney and Pixar films. They were worked on by titans of the anime industry, have influenced many animators in Japan, and continue to have a lasting impact on the industry. In America, there are several fans who have taken an interest in individuals shows or sometimes even the whole series but they are hardly the norm. I would wager that more people know of Rocky Chuck the Mountain Rat as that show “Andes Hedgehog Mountain Chucky from Shirobako is based on” than as a show of the classic World Masterpiece Theater series. I admit both groups are fairly small but the first is larger than the second.
Now The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is not a part of the World Masterpiece Theater series but it is very clearly a show that was made to capture that same feeling. In fact, the producers of the anime had Junichi Seki, who was a veteran of the World Masterpiece Theater, do the character designs on this show. That means if you were unaware there was a Wizard of Oz anime you would hardly be alone. Since Discotek does have a penchant for selecting titles that have some sort of fan following the series did get an English release back in the day from HBO. I never knew this existed but I’m sure it made some amount of a fanbase that would like to see the original thanks to a bit of nostalgia.
So we have a series that has flown under the radar for quite a while but has a fairly impressive pedigree. Wizard of Oz is a beloved children’s series of books and it was adapted during a golden age of children’s anime. I was very curious to see how this dream team worked together. Continue reading