Samurai Jack Bought Its Inspiration From Japanese Animated Movie The Little Prince

Among the most well-known pictures in cinema have much less, well-known inspirations. The opening wedding ceremony sequence of The Godfather, with its putting distinction between Don Corleone’s darkened workplace and the blinding mild of the reception, took its cues from the look of an previous Anscrochrome movie inventory. On the earth of animation, the distinctive look of Ursula in The Little Mermaid was, partially, impressed by cult film actor and drag queen Divine. And a number of other movies, TV collection, and video video games you’ve possible grown up with have taken cues from a groundbreaking however hardly ever seen Japanese movie from 1963.

That movie is The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon, additionally launched in English as Prince in Wonderland and The Rainbow Bridge. The sixth feature-length movie for Toei Animation, it’s an adaptation of a number of of essentially the most well-known foundational myths of the Shinto faith. The “Little Prince” of the title is Susanoo, who’s among the many most outstanding Shinto deities, and the eight-headed dragon he faces is the legendary Orochi. Title however, the movie is primarily about Susanoo’s quest to seek out his mom after she “leaves” for Heaven and the assorted adventures he has within the international locations he passes by way of on his journey which ends within the battle with the dragon.

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The tales from Japanese mythology depicted are softened from their authentic types. Susanoo is tamed down, in contrast with the raging god of sea and storms some legends paint him as, and a comic book reduction rabbit follows him in all places. Towards this, the movie’s soundtrack is heavy and dramatic, typical of acclaimed composer Akira Ifukube. The Little Prince was not a serious success upon its launch, and has largely pale into obscurity exterior of Japan, however its status amongst animation circles is immense. A global survey of animation employees for Tokyo’s Laputa Animation Pageant rated it the tenth finest animated movie ever made.

Picture By way of Toei Firm

The status of The Little Prince comes extra from its animation and total design sensibility quite than from its story. The movie represented a break from the extra conventional, rounded figures Toei had labored with of their earlier movies. Drawing from such seemingly disparate influences as America’s UPA studio and the Soviet manufacturing of The Snow Queen, the employees of The Little Prince developed a extremely stylized method. Whereas stay motion reference was used for sure sequences, the character proportions for Susanoo and a lot of the different human figures are divorced from actual anatomy. They’re constructed on geometric shapes, and even with the development strains ereased and the characters absolutely inked and painted, that geometry remains to be evident. Even characters with extra sensible anatomy, just like the rabbit, have a geometrical high quality. For essentially the most half, these graphic types are absolutely animated (12 to 24 drawings per second of movie), however UPA’s restricted animation methods are utilized in choose scenes to recommend extra pace. Animated characters and results are rendered with skinny, coloured strains that just about disappear towards the backgrounds. And people backgrounds are closely stylized, with obvious influences not solely from UPA and Soviet animation, however American artist Eyvind Earle, the colour stylist of Disney’s Sleeping Magnificence.

These design selections set The Little Prince other than modern animated releases, and arguably from the vast majority of fashionable anime. It was additionally what caught the attention of Russian-American animator Genndy Tartakovsky after he completed work on his breakout collection Dexter’s Laboratory. Tartakovsky had pitched Cartoon Community on the concept for a present a couple of samurai warrior thrown ahead in time by an evil shapeshifting wizard. There have been narrative considerations to be addressed – simulating the extent of motion violence wanted to be completed in a method that will appease Cartoon Community’s requirements – however Tartakovsky confronted stylistic challenges as effectively after spending so lengthy working with a specific type. “I’d been doing black strains all by way of Dexter, all by way of Powerpuff [Girls],” he recounted, “and I used to be simply sick of it.” Tartakovsky additionally needed “a cartoony motion present – a stylized motion present.” Then, whereas nonetheless engaged on The Powerpuff Women, Tartakovsky noticed The Little Prince for the primary time. The standard of the laserdisc he watched diminished the already-thin outlines across the character to the purpose the place Tartakovsky thought there have been no strains. “And it had an amazing really feel to it,” he stated, suggestive of what he needed for his samurai present: “Lots of lighting and temper…little or no dialogue, [more] concerning the motion, easy tales, and the character.”

When the present, which everyone knows as Samurai Jack, premiered in 2001, it was certainly a stylized motion present, with graphic background artwork, geometric character design, and no outlines. There may be expressive lighting to evoke quite a lot of moods, and the dialogue is minimal. These are broad similarities, to make certain, and Tartakovsky had been working with geometric characters for a while. A extra apparent and direct nod to The Final Prince may be see within the design of the wizard Aku, who bears a robust resemblance to the fireplace god Susanoo battles on the halfway level of the movie.

Picture By way of Cartoon Community

Samurai Jack wasn’t the one animated undertaking of current years to take inspiration from The Little Prince. Tomm Moore of Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, and director of The Secret of Kells, Tune of the Sea, and Wolfwalkers, has cited the movie as a serious affect. And on the earth of video video games, a former animator on The Little Prince, Yoichi Kotabe, used it as a mannequin for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Sadly, anybody within the West trying to see the movie that impressed all these productions faces an uphill battle. Whereas Toei issued a Blu-Ray of the movie in 2020 for the Japanese market, The Little Prince’s final official launch accessible elsewhere was on DVD in 2002, briefly reissued in 2008. A field set put out by Mill Creek Leisure in 2019 included a model of the movie, however it was cropped and dubbed.

If The Little Prince is fated to stay obscure exterior its nation of origin, nevertheless, its animated descendants proceed to make a splash. Samurai Jack’s revival season was a success, The Wind Waker has gone from divisive and underperforming to being hailed as a basic recreation, and Wolfwalkers garnered Cartoon Saloon a few of its most interesting evaluations to this point. Not a nasty attain for such a bit of prince.

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