Sherlock Hound: The Four Signatures (1984)

Genres - Children's/Family, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Anime, Detective Film  |   Run Time - 25 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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The premiere episode of the animated Sherlock Hound series, "The Four Signatures," establishes early on the pattern of playing fast and loose with the Arthur Conan Doyle stories that are the source of many of its episodes. Still, this can hardly be a surprise, given the fact that the brilliant detective and the rest of his cast have been transformed into dogs, which rather gives away that the makers just may not be totally faithful to Doyle's intentions. Once one gets used to this, it's rather easy to like the series, especially those episodes (such as this one) directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The masterful animator and director is clearly working under budgetary limitations, but the results still have his trademark imaginative storyboarding, clear design, and sense of energy. "Signatures" introduces Hound to Watson, and does so in a manner which makes it clear that Watson is not the buffoon he often appears to be in cinematic adaptations of Doyle. While the screenplay is a bit skimpy on mystery, it packs a lot of action into its 25 minutes. As with all the Hound entries, the dubbing is annoying, but this is a minor distraction. All in all, "Signatures" is a fine introduction to this charming, if fairly inconsequential, series.