Action, adventure, and just a little romance. A classic is brought to DVD at last!
Originally conceived and scripted in part by Hayao Miyazaki, director of such classics as The Castle of Cagliostro, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service, the series follows one Sherlock Hound (Sherlock Holmes in the original Japanese dub) through his many adventures and mysteries. All the characters in the series are anthropomorphic dogs, and the series is full of Miyazaki's influence and style. However, he only worked on six episodes, three of which are contained on this DVD: "A Small Client" (Little Martha's Big Mystery), "Mrs. Hudson is Taken Hostage", and "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" (Blue Ruby).
Here are short reviews of the episodes contained on this DVD. "English titles" (followed by Japanese titles):
"The Four Signatures" (He's the Famous Detective) In this episode, Dr. Watson and Hound/Holmes meet for the first time. They are on a ferry from Currie, and midway through their journey a band of Barbary pirates shows up seeking a traitorous member and the treasure he stole. Dr. Watson helps Hound/Holmes as he does his best to save both the innocent people on the ship as well as the former pirate.
"The Crown of Mazalin" (The Evil Genius, Professor Moriarty) The son of the protector of the Crown of Mazalin is suspect in its theft, and only his girlfriend and Hound/Holmes can clear his name. Inspector Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, is intent on catching the young suspect, and it takes all of Hound/Holmes' brains, as well as a little luck, to find the real criminals.
"A Small Client" (Little Martha's Big Mystery) Martha's daddy is missing, and thanks to her neighbor friend, Martha knows just who to ask to find him. Meanwhile, London is being flooded with counterfeit coins, threatening to undermine the economy of the entire empire, and Lestrade is stumped. When an innocent letter from Martha's father turns out to be more than it appears, Hound/Holmes enlist Lestrade's help to save the missing father and the empire.
"Mrs. Hudson is Taken Hostage" (Mrs. Hudson is Taken Hostage) Moriarty become an amateur photographer as he finds a weakness to exploit in Hound/Holmes: Mrs. Hudson. He hatches a plan to kidnap the beautiful widow and get Hound/Holmes to steal a work of art to exchange for her so Moriarty can get him locked away as a criminal. Mrs. Hudson, however, turns out to be more than he expected.
"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" (Blue Ruby) Moriarty has just stolen a priceless gem, and on his way home he literally runs into Polly, a young pickpocket who relieves him of his new acquisition. Moriarty is furious when he discovers the gem is missing, and so begins a hunt for the elusive young thief. Hound/Holmes and Watson intervene on behalf of Polly, and together they battle to stay one step ahead of the evil genius.
The transfer onto DVD is excellent, and there are only a few spots where artifacting is obvious. It looks like the best source materials were used to create this transfer. Because the English version is about 1 minute longer than the Japanese version, the English and Japanese versions are recorded separately on opposite sides of the DVD. Pioneer thoughtfully made the labels for each side different colors, though, so it's easy to tell which side is which: blue for English and red for Japanese.
The English voice acting is very good, and the translation for the subtitles is an actual translation instead of "dubtitles". There are some minor continuity problems in the English version (for instance, Professor Moriarty greets Hound/Holmes as if for the first time in the sixth episode, despite them having met in the second). The sound quality, while only Dolby Digital 1.0 (Mono), is clean and clear, and the sound level is just right.
There are no extras included on the DVD, though with the age of this series (almost 20 years old) it's probably hard to find any. The insert, however, opens into a nice mini-poster of Hound/Holmes and Watson.
This series is enjoyable by kids of all ages. It's full of action, a little bit of romance (as Holmes has a thing for Mrs. Hudson), mystery, and slapstick adventure. There's a little bit of something for everyone here, and it's a great introduction to the cases of Sherlock Holmes for those who've never read the originals. I highly recommend it!