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Grimm Masterpiece Theatre (Nippon, 1987)

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Snow White: The Wolf’s at the Door!
Source: TV
Layers: 2
Sketches: 1
Cel Number: A4, B4
Standard size

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Added 5/30/2011
Updated 4/4/2017
After a traumatic experience in the dark woods, where she had fainted from fear and exhaustion after being cornered by a pack of wolves, Snow White awakens in the Seven Dwarfs’ cottage. Curiously, she explores the child-sized house, then opens the window to find that a beautiful new day has dawned. Unfortunately, when she steps out the door, she finds a huge wolf sleeping right on the threshold. Her screams awaken her diminutive hosts, and she tries to explain the crisis to them before gasping in horror – she’s left the window open and the wolf might try to get in that way!

The Grimm Masterpiece Theatre version of this classic fairy tale ran over four separate 25-minute episodes, broadcast between December 23, 1987 and January 13, 1988. It was mixed down to a 100-minute short movie when released on VHS, and so it makes for interesting comparison with the Disney classic, which the creators obviously knew well. The character design of Snow White suggests the Disney avatar, but not too slavishly, and the story line parts company with the American version in many interesting ways.

Most notably, the first part of the story is darkened even beyond Disney’s rendition, which was too intense for many children when released. The Queen, finding that Snow White has grown up to challenge her matchless beauty, confronts her directly, and Snow White has no hesitation in telling her elder off: she may be beautiful on the outside, but she is hideously ugly inside. Hearing this, the Queen tries to murder her on the spot, and only a clever distraction by a palace friend allows her to escape into the woods. The huntsman sent by the Queen is no soft-hearted fool like Disney’s character, but a calculating, thoroughly terrifying assassin. And the nighttime attack by the wolf pack is in its own way as scary as Disney’s panic scene.

So when she wakes up in the Dwarfs’ home, it is time for some comic relief, and this scene manages it well. The wolf at the door, the audience already knows, is the pet and loyal protector of Snow White’s pint-sized saviors, and so it is particularly amusing to watch her dither over a problem that is not a problem. Of course, many heroines would be much more worried about being in a strange house with seven guys (little guys, but guys nonetheless), six of whom are dressed only in their multiply patched PJs and the seventh of whom is naked.

This pretty set came with the B4 layer (Snow White’s eyes and mouth) carefully separated from the A4 layer with her head and body. That, however, was stuck to a douga, though not badly. After separating the two, I was surprised to find that the douga did not match the cel, but went with the A7 in the cut, where Snow White holds up her hands in dismay and turns toward the window, expecting to see the wolf already clambering in to eat them all. (See thumbnail.)

Anime art from this period was preserved haphazardly, and it’s interesting that most of the surviving cels from the four “Snow White” anime episodes come from this scene or one just before it.

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Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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