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Grimm’s Fairy Tales: The Golden Bird (Madhouse, 1984)




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A predecessor to Nippon’s Grimm Masterpiece Theatre TV series, The Golden Bird ("Grimm Douwa: Kin no Tori") is based on the Grimms' Tale 57: Der goldene Vogel. A typical story of a younger brother who succeeds where his arrogant older brothers fail, it details a quest in which the simple-minded but good-hearted Hans obtains a golden bird, a golden horse, and a princess bride with the help of a magical talking fox.

Produced in 1984 by Madhouse Studio, it was not released until 1987, when it was bundled with an extended episode of Maple Town and a compilation of three episodes of Cho Shin Sei Flashman, and shown in theatres as part of the “Toei Manga Matsuri” [Toei’s Manga Festival].

Directed by Toshio Hirata, with character design/animation supervision by Manabu Oohashi (a veteran of Metropolis and, more recently, of A Tree of Palme), the show is not very well known, even among experts of early anime. The website www.pelleas.net, however, has a very helpful review of the film. It notes that, as the film was not released until three years after its completion, rumor had it that it was a “lost masterpiece.” This is an overstatement, says the reviewer, but adds, “in terms of visuals alone this is certainly an anime film of great interest. It has some of the most ornate animation and creative design work of any contemporary anime movie. . . . Sumptuous, loudly theatrical backgrounds combine with the fluid Madhouse animation to create consistently beautiful visuals in every scene.”

Happily, a complete version has appeared on YouTube (search under the Japanese title "Kin no Tori"), so one can now see that this assessment is totally accurate. It really shows a brash and unique visual conception unlike anything else in anime, though it reminds me in many parts of the domestic animated feature Ferngully.

After eight years' quiet lurking for more art from this anime film, I've recently been lucky enough to give it a gallery of its own. Added to the cels are some scans of a souvenir booklet that was sold at theaters at time of the original release. These give a summary of the story (in Japanese) and a wider selection of images from this very interesting title.


 Hans and Lulu fly with Big Bird

 Hans and the Golden Bird

 Hans is tempted

 The Witch

 Hans sees the Princess

 Victory

 Booklet: Part 1

 Booklet: Part 2

 Booklet: Parts 3 and 4
 

Curator: 60something-sensei
Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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Presentation 8.80/10   Collection 9.45/10   Overall 9.02/10   Votes 81 votes
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