For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in Japanese. Being originally done way back in 1981, it's your basic stereo track that's really just mono with everything going through the center channel. It sounds good without any noticeable distortions but what sounds like a slight bit of hiss. It's hard for me to tell due to some hearing problems of my own. We also listened to the English track while writing the review and noted that it basically sounded the same and without any real problems.
The video side of things is two fold. We're given a bit of an explanation of the source materials, in that the video was remastered from the original 35mm source with the exception of the opening, ending and previews. This is quite noticeable when you watch it, as those three segments simply don't look as good as the actual show itself and are generally a bit darker and much grainier. The actual show itself though looks surprisingly good with great looking colors, solid backgrounds and a complete lack of cross coloration. This is probably the best the show has looked in years, if not since its original release.
The covers for this series are done up in something of a Victorian style look with the look of a novel almost. This cover features a red background with a pencil sketch of Holmes and Watson in the center. The back cover features a few screenshots of the show and a quick idea of the shows premise while listing the episode numbers and titles. The foldout insert provides each of the episodes chapter information for each side of the disc and a larger version of the front cover sketch. The back side gives an interesting rundown on the history of the show an its origins.
The menus are identical on each side and consists of static images with the main menu being a book and you select to play everything, select an episode or check the credits. There's little else here, but moving around the menus is fairly quick and everything is laid out normally. On the plus side, when you play the Japanese side, it starts up subtitles automatically, unlike Cardcaptor Sakura which hides the selection in the extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The premise of Sherlock Hound is pretty simple and obvious. It takes the traditional characters of Holmes and Watson, makes them dogs, and plays the stories out pretty much as you'd expect from an anime version of the tale. Each episode is a nice self-contained story that deals with a mystery coming up or a job offered that the two get involved in and through some careful observations, end up solving.
Things kick off nicely with introducing us to Holmes whose taking a cruise. Also showing up here is Watson in his rambling clumsy way, as he stumbles into Holmes and introduces himself. The two get along well enough as the trip continues, but when a pirate ship arrives looking for some precious jewels that one of the passengers have, the two team up to try and distract them so the ship can get away. They get along so well in fact that Holmes asks Watson to come live with him.
Ah, the innocence of older stories. That's the thing that's most obvious throughout these episodes is just how innocent it is in all things, being very much a
children's show in how it looks at the world but told in a way that adults won't be bored or insulted by it.
As with any hero, there's got to be a villain. For Holmes, it's Professor
Moriarty. Along with his two often-times fumbling bumbling assistants, the trio mastermind various get-rich capers and other ways to foil Holmes once it becomes apparent that the two are at odds.
Moriarty is one of those classic villains in that he's definitely got his own sense of honor and does live by it, as it apparent during an episode where the owner of the house where Holmes and Watson stay is kidnapped in an attempt to lure Holmes out.
One of the biggest attractions to these early episodes is the involvement of Hayao Miyazaki, who was at the time getting work prepped on Nausicaa and still doing his manga. There's plenty of his touches throughout, such as certain flying scenes and the general way a lot of the characters move and interact with the world. Early shows like these can definitely be fascinating in seeing how a creator has evolved.
If there's anything I really have to complain about with this release is that while the credits are translated on the English side, the Japanese side doesn't have an addendum section for credits. We've given the original Japanese title cards and credits, but if you want to find out who was involved with that episode, you have to flip to the English side and look into that episode.
With the anthropomorphic nature of the show and the "old school" feel to it, Sherlock Hound was a good fun watch, something that was easily accessible and just brought smiles to my face throughout it.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.