With such majestic, painstakingly crafted films as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki has made his name as Japanese animation’s preeminent artistic visionary — and quite possibly animation’s preeminent artistic visionary as well. But before he co-founded Studio Ghibli, the house that has become synonymous with Miyazaki’s kind of lush, universally appealing, and award-winning films, he worked on various kinds of animation, for different media and pitched at different levels of seriousness. One of the most notable projects of the end of that chapter of his career transposed the adventures of Sherlock Holmes into a world of anthropomorphic dogs.
The Italian-Japanese co-production Sherlock Hound aired as a television series between 1984 and 1985. Of its 26 episodes, which sent the corgi Sherlock Hound and terrier Doctor Watson after a variety of thieves and on all sorts of adventures across a steampunk London, Miyazaki directed six.
In the Miyazaki-directed episode “Treasure Under the Sea” at the top of the post, for instance, the detecting duo go after a submarine purloined by recurring antagonist of both Holmes and Hound, Professor Moriarty, who here takes the form of a wolf.
“The Sovereign Gold Coins” finds Hound and Watson in pursuit of that seemingly more traditional stripe of criminal known as a safecracker, and in “Mrs. Hudson is Taken Hostage,” their landlady (who seems considerably more youthful in Miyazaki’s vision than the matron in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s) goes missing, though her kidnapper badly underestimates the difficulty of pulling off his plan under Hound’s watch. Miyazaki would direct three more episodes (“The Stormy Getaway,” “The Crown of Mazalin,” and “The Four Signatures”) before a rights dispute with Conan Doyle’s estate threw a wrench into production. The show later went on under other creators, and U.S. viewers can see the whole, still-delightful run on Hulu, but Miyazaki didn’t look back — and seeing as Nausicaä had come out that same year, he didn’t need to.
Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.