Friday, October 3, 2014

Ringo Goes West - By Mike Ferguson

aka... ながぐつ三銃士 /  Sanjûshi: 3 Musketeer's Gun Christmas Stocking' (Jp), Nagagutsu Sanjyuushi / 'Puss in Boots 2 - In the Wild West' (Jp), ex... Le retour du chat botté / 'The Return of Puss in Boots' (Ca-Qu), Kocour v botách 3 - Na Divokém západě / 'Puss in Boots 3 - In the Wild West' (Cz), Le chat Botté 2 / 'Puss in Boots 2' (Fr), Gestiefelte kater im wilden Westen / 'Puss in Boots in the Wild West' (Ger), Pero der Held - Der gestiefelte Kater Collection / 'Pero is Good - Puss in Boots Collection' (Ger-dvd), Continuavano a chiamarlo il gatto con gli stivali / 'And They Still Call Me Puss'n'Boots' (It), Superkatt i ville vesten / 'SuperKatt in the Wild West' (Nor), Kot w Butach na Dzikim / 'Puss in Boots in the Wild West' (Pol), Continuaban llamandole El Gato con Botas (Sp), Кот в сапогах на Диком Западе (Rus), Puss in Boots 2 - Return of Perro (Ex), Return of Perro (Ex), Ringo Rides West (Ex), The Three Musketeers in Cowboy Boots
 
A 1972 Japanes, Canadian co-production [Toei Animation (Tokyo), Sonolab/Télé-Métropole (Montreal)]
Distributor:  Dist: Toei (Jp, 03/18/72), ATA Trading (WW),  Mountain Video (UK, Vhs, 12/83), DEA (It), MPI Home Video (US, Vhs), (Cz, 93), Toei Video (Jp, Dvd, 03/21/03), Vapet (Cz, Dvd, 03/07/09), Divisa Home Video (Sp, 05/26/10), Alive (Ger, Dvd, 02/03/12)
Producer: Isamu Takahashi
Director: Tomoharu Katsumata
Story: Hiroichi Fuse
Screenplay: Hiroichi Fuse
Animation: Tōei Animation
Music: Seiichiro Uno
Running time: 51minutes
 
Cast:
Ringo/Pero/Pierre - Ron Lea & Yasushi Suzuki
Annie - Jane Woods & Kurumi Kobato
Various - Neil Shee
Jimmy - Kiyoshi Komiyama
Killer 1 - Shun Yashiro
Killer 2 - Isamu Tanonaka
Killer 3 - Ado Mizumori
Boss - Ushio Shima
One-Eye - Hidekatsu Shibata
Big - Hiroshi Masuoka
Fat - Eken Mine
Tiny - Setsuo Wakui
Mouse leader - Kôsei Tomita
Little Mouse -Sachiko Chijimatsu
Jane - Kazue Takahashi
Mayor - Shoji Aoki
Coachman - Kôji Yada
 
Sonolab of Montreal handled the English language version. Since they turned it into a "Ringo" western they deserve to get a co-credit. Sort of a 'Cat with a Name'.
 
In 1969 Toei released an animated adaptation of Charles Perrault's classic fairytale Puss ‘n Boots titled Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots (Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko). The film proved so popular that the titular cat, named Perrault, after the original's author - or Pero for short, was adopted as the company's mascot. Many older readers might remember him from the closing credits of a number of the American Saturday morning cartoons animated by the company including Transformers.
 
The popularity of Pero's debut prompted several other outings for the character. Nagagutsu Sanjyuushi (Three Musketeers in Boots) was the first, appearing in cinemas on 18th March 1972. The action is relocated to the Wild West where Pero helps a young girl named Annie, restores law and order to the town of Go Go and avoids the constant ambushes of his arch nemesis Neko boss' henchmen.
 
The 53 minute film was directed by Tomoharu Katsumata who went on to direct the Captain Harlock movie Arcadia of My Youth in 1982.
 
Pero's third and final outing came in 1976 with Puss 'n Boots: Around the world in 80 Days a return to the first movie's literature roots. In 1992 a Toei Puss In Boots TV show aired on TV Tokyo but it is completely unrelated to these movies and stars a different title character.
 
Three Musketeers in Boots was picked up for western distribution by the company ATA Trading in the early 1980's. The company was founded in 1947 and specialized in independent productions and foreign movies and acquired a number of animated movies from Toei for distribution in other territories including Nobody’s Boy and Ali Baba's Revenge. ATA Trading are still in business today and have expanded their operations into art dealing and valuation.
 
With a dub by the Canadian studio Sonolab (the company behind the Raccoons TV series) TMiB became Ringo Rides West, Pero renamed Ringo after the infamous real life Cowboy Johnny Ringo. Released in 1984 it was briefly available on video in the USA and UK from MPI Home Video and Mountain Video respectively. The UK video also contained a 'Bonus Cartoon' to bulk up the running time to feature length (more on this later). It was also mistitled Ringo Goes West on the video sleeve.
 
Pero's second adventure was seen around the world on TV and video including France, Germany,
Spain and Italy.
 

There is something interesting about the portrayal of the old west in Ringo Rides West. It is far removed from the way a similar children’s movie from the west would deal with the scenario. In a Disney or Warner Bros cartoon would the child sheriff hero actually shoot dead the outlaws or would he instead capture them by far less fatal and more slapstick means? I can't imagine Blackie being shot dead in the street in a Pixar production more likely he would have been caught in barrel or snared by a rope related ambush while trying to flee the town.
 
I'm not suggesting that the gunplay in Ringo is overtly violent - there is no blood and the victims simply clutch their wounds and fall to the ground in the tradition of Cow Boy matinees - it's just that such action would unlikely be deemed acceptable for a kid's movie in the West especially today.
 
I think Ringo Rides West benefits from the shorter than usual running time. The animation is great, smooth and fluid if not too detailed. The dubbing is good and well characterized. It's a shame that this second sequel wasn't as widely available as the other movies in the Puss 'n Boots series.

By Mike Ferguson

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