AN EMPIRE OF ONE

If you don't think the world's weird, you're not paying attention.

Laserdisc Madness

Am I the only one who went crazy for Pioneer’s Animation Animation laserdisc series? How did it begin? I had already spent years looking for a video copy of Yuri Norstein’s “The Tale of Tales” and had learned (I think from a Sight & Sound magazine article about Norstein) that it was available on laserdisc in Japan. This led me to order a copy of the new edition of Sight & Sound’s Import Laserdisc catalog for $39.95. (I still can’t believe that I paid that much for a catalog.)

Sure enough the catalog listed a Yuri Norstein laserdisc and it included “The Tale of Tales.” But not only did the catalog confirm the existence of the Norstein LD,  it listed several other titles that set my mouth watering. They were all part of a series called Animation Animation produced by Pioneer. Several titles in that series were released in the United States, but most of them were never made available outside of Japan.

I immediately called up Sight & Sound and ordered several of the Animation Animation titles from the catalog. Little did I realize that most of these titles had been out of print for years. Most of the LD’s had been published in 1987 and had gone out of print the same year. The catalog, which had just been published, was already several years out of date. Despite this I managed to obtain a copy of  the Norstein disc. (It wasn’t easy.) In fact, I ended up with two copies.

Yuri Norstein was kind enough to sign this copy of his laserdisc

 

Over the years, I accumulated several more laserdics in the series, but the four that I had wanted the most eluded me. Once, in 1996, I had the opportunity to purchase two of them, but I was broke. (The laserdics in this series were not cheap with prices often reaching $125 or more, partly thanks to the US dollar being weak against the yen at the time.)

But today the four elusive laserdics titles in Pioneer’s Animation Animation series have finally arrived in the mail. Here they are:

Chinese Animation Film Vol. 1: The Cowherd's Flute

 

Chinese Animation Film Vol. 2: Nezha Conquers the Dragon King

 

Czechoslovak Animation: Inspiration

 

Soviet Animation

For the record, no, I don’t have every title in the Animation Animation series. Missing are a Hubley, the Baskhi Lord of the Rings, a Brothers Quay, and probably others that I don’t know about. Of course, the laserdisc medium is long dead, but Pioneer, as Geneon, has continued the Animation Animation series on DVD. In fact, there have been two Chinese animation titles that include most of the LD’s contents and I have had VHS copies of the contents of all titles for many years. However, since there are many extras that were not carried over to DVD from laserdisc, and the LD’s visual quality is superior to my VHS tapes, I am still happy to finally have the LD’s after all these years. Very happy.

Note: you can find out more about the contents of these discs from this book.

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Written by David Kilmer

March 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm