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Sherlock Hound

Entry updated 9 April 2023. Tagged: TV.

Japanese/Italian animated tv series (1984-1985); original titles Meitantei Holmes (Japan) and Il fiuto di Sherlock Holmes (Italy). RAI, Tokyo Movie Shinsha. "Original idea" by Marco Pagot and Gi Pagot. Chief Directors Hayao Miyazaki and Kyōsuke Mikuriya. Writers include Yoshihisa Araki, Tsunehisa Itō, Sunao Katabuchi, Mayumi Shimazaki and Keishi Yamazaki. Voice cast includes Yōko Asagami, Taichirō Hirokawa, Chikao Ōtsuka and Kōsei Tomita. 26 25-minute episodes. Colour.

As might be inferred, this Anime is set in a world of anthropomorphized dogs and concerns the adventures of one such, the private detective Sherlock Holmes (Hirokawa) (the "Hound" surname exists only in the English dub), who is generally more amiable than the original. Assistance is provided by Doctor Watson (Tomita) – very much in the Nigel Bruce mould – and Mrs Hudson (Asagami), still a widow but now much younger. Moriarty (Ōtsuka) is the main Villain: though intelligent his talents are directed more towards engineering (see Technology) than the intellectual; he is blustering, short-tempered and prone to over-elaborate plans whose success is further hampered by his employment of two incompetent assistants (see Clichés).

The setting appears to be in the decade before World War One, though some details hark back to the last decade of the nineteenth century, whilst there are anachronisms such as the British navy having a vessel that resembles the Japanese World War Two warship Yamato. Various apparatus provide a Steampunk air, particularly Moriarty's Inventions; these include a giant, unwieldy counterfeiting machine; a car that can tunnel Underground; an artificial sea Monster that travels on railway lines Under the Sea; a Balloon-assisted jet pack (see Flying); a fire-breathing mechanical dragon; a fly-shaped helicopter; and an aeroplane disguised as a pink pterodactyl. Hound himself has a small, manoeuvrable Airship with propellers, whilst in one adventure the secret hidden within a set of Underground chambers is protected by various deadly mechanisms. An oddity unremarked upon is whilst most art features anthropomorphized dogs, the Mona Lisa is as we know her (an angel's statue is also human in appearance).

There are frequent nods to the Holmes canon, but only the episode "The Speckled Band" is indebted to a Doyle story. The making of Sherlock Hound had begun in 1981 with Hayao Miyazaki as Chief Director; however the Conan Doyle estate's intervention caused delays and Miyazaki had moved on by the time production restarted, so Kyōsuke Mikuriya took over in that role. The original broadcast order was a little odd: for example, Hound's and Moriarty's first meeting is in episode 5, despite their having crossed paths in 2, 3 and 4.

As Chief Director, Miyazaki directed six episodes himself – these are the standouts, with some fine animation (though the series' quality overall is good), particularly "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" (written by Miyazaki; aside from the presence of the carbuncle it is not related to the Doyle tale) and "The White Cliffs of Dover". In the latter Mrs Hudson is in the middle of the action, proving to be a crack shot and a former aviatrix: she is noticeably more prominent in the Miyazaki period than the Mikuriya. Though aimed at children, this is an enjoyable series, and whilst its version of Moriarty seems to owe more to Dick Dastardly than to the original character, he does get some amusing lines ("I despise innocent bystanders." "Shut up and hand me a biscuit.").

Two films were produced by editing pairs of Miyazaki episodes together: the first was Meitantei Hōmuzu Gekijouban (1984), using "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" and "Treasure Under the Sea"; the second was Meitantei Holmes: Mrs. Hudson Hitojichi Jiken / Dover Kaikyō no Daikūchūsen! (1986), using "Mrs. Hudson is Taken Hostage" and "The White Cliffs of Dover". The series should not be confused with Sherlock Bones (2011-2012, original title Tanteiken Shādokku, vt Sherlock the Detective Dog), a Manga by Yuma Ando and Yuki Sato, about a boy who adopts a puppy: the family pipe gives it the ability to talk, revealing it to be the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Crimes are solved. [SP]

see also: Steamboy.


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