Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flying Phantom Sonorama




 
I’m a big fan of the 1969 Toei film FLYING PHANTOM SHIP – I paid cash money to have it translated into English, even though its story of a ultra-advanced flying battleship fighting super destructive giant robots controlled by an evil capitalist conspiracy masterminded by an undersea monster is easy enough to grasp, no matter what language it’s in. And as a big fan, I can’t quit writing about it.


So when I spotted this Asahi Sonorama children’s book-and-record set among the Kamen Rider singles and jazz LPs of Tokyo’s Kanda/Jinbucho neighborhood, there was no question that it would be coming home with me. And it did!


A highly abbreviated version of the film, what makes this scratchy Sonorama single stand out are the original Shotaro Ishinomori color illustrations. I can’t get enough of moody Ishinomori watercolors of tattered sailing vessels looming ominously in the background as Hayato, our audience-identification hero, bravely faces killer crabs and deadly soft drinks.



Not that those make it onto this Sonorama record, of course. Hey, even at 331/3 rpm you only get seven minutes per side, so something’s gotta get cut. But the important stuff remains, including the mysterious skull-masked captain of the Flying Phantom Ship, the robot Golem, and its ending in a giant explosion (cue producer of “Bride Of The Monster”). The opening song and music cues from the film remain, though the dialog is completely rewritten.



There are enough short Toei films from the late 1960s-early 1970s to outfit an entire fleet of Flying Phantom Ships, and while most of them can’t boast this movie’s pedigree, they’re all worth a look if you can dig ‘em up. Until that day, however, enjoy the scratches and pops of this representative sample.



6 comments:

Steve Harrison said...

I love Flying Phantom Ship. If studios are going to indulge in remaking stuff I would vote for a Flying Phantom Ship TV series...oh, wait, Nadia already stole much of it, dammit.

Anyway, you know the one thing that bugs me, the one tiny thing that just makes my teeth bleed. That dog. That damn dog. I know, I know, comic relief mascot, likely influenced by what was going on with American TV cartoons at the time, I dig, but that dog just makes me crazy.

And your soundsheet record has a cutaway of the Phantom Ship. Man, don't you miss that sort of thing?

d. merrill said...

I'm pretty Flying Phantom Ship predates Scooby-Doo by at least a few months.

Steve Harrison said...

Well, I didn't SAY Scooby-Doo (for some reason 1972 sticks in my mind for that but I'm probably wrong), I said 'what was going on at the time' which was cute, near anthropomorphic acting from a mascot animal, such as Bandit on Jonny Quest.

Naturally it was all over anime as well.

But put that all aside, that damn dog is creepy and annoying!

d. merrill said...

There was another blog that explicitly claimed Flying Phantom Ship's dog was a Scooby Doo ripoff, and that's what I assumed you were talking about. My bad. I don't really see the Bandit comparisons, but I never watched a lot of Johnny Quest. It wouldn't be the first cutesy animal mascot in an anime film, certainly; even discounting things like DOGGIE MARCH or GULLIVER'S SPACE JOURNEY with talking animals, the cat in 62's SINDBAD is a more traditional non-talking Animal Adventure Friend.

I don't mind Jack - he's big and goofy lookin' just like real Dobermans, and he fulfills the purpose of giving the main character somebody to talk to.

Ba5tarD said...

If I remember correctly it was one of the first animes bought by USSR for screening. It was a huge hit there and my first anime ever! Remember watching it with a great USSR-made russian dubbing. One of my favorites. :)

Chris Sobieniak said...

d. merrill said...
I don't mind Jack - he's big and goofy lookin' just like real Dobermans, and he fulfills the purpose of giving the main character somebody to talk to.


True enough, I have prob with Jack either. I guess not having him would give us more of Hayato's interior monologues as the events unfold.

And yeah, I wouldn't mind a remake of this film either if they did it right.

Ba5tarD said...
If I remember correctly it was one of the first animes bought by USSR for screening. It was a huge hit there and my first anime ever! Remember watching it with a great USSR-made russian dubbing. One of my favorites. :)


Too often they refer to it as a co-production for that reason or such, though it doesn't really feel like one to me (other than seeing how the plot might be favored by the Russian film distributor). Too bad there still hasn't been a decent digisub besides the vhs tape I got years ago. There is one but is based on the Russian DVD release anyway I downloaded years ago.