It’s always hard to decide what to watch next when you have a cabinet full of unwatched DVDs. As I was heading out the door, I didn’t have time to weigh one series versus another. On top of that, I have to be careful or else I’ll end up with a series with scenes not suitable for vanpool riding. I’m think of the bath scene in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (which also had some other inappropriate scenes, but I wasn’t watching it in the vanpool by then) and Strawberry Marshmallow. Princess Tutu unfortunately falls under this category of NSFC, all of these going to show that no matter how innocent a series is, you need to know the material before watching it in certain places.
Now, I have a number of pending series which I know won’t have anything inappropriate. I tried to quickly pick one, and decided I wanted an easygoing adventure. I figured Michel would fit, even though I knew nothing about it.
The reason I bought Michel (pronounced as “Misyel” or “Mishel”) is because it’s an ADV Films dub of a Korean series. While I’m hoping ADV Films picks up Janggeum’s Dream and movies such as Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox and Oseam (a movie I enjoyed, but haven’t written about yet), I thought this would be a good chance to see how they’d done on a Korean series already. I’d watched My Beautiful Girl Mari, but only the dub, not the original language track. I didn’t care for the film (maybe if I re-watch it, I’ll better appreciate it?), so that wasn’t a good representation of ADV Film’s work on a Korean piece for me. Also, Michel is a full, 26 episode series, rather than a movie.
It’s not that I expect the results for a Korean series to be any different from a Japanese series. You get different translators, but certainly the same pool of voice actors. I know ADV Films has their voice actors watch scenes in Japanese, I imagine to get a feel for the characters’ dialogue, for the tone of the voice, the emotion. Their voice actors probably have a good grasp for Japanese language sounds, and if they heard someone speaking in Japanese, another person in Chinese, and another person in Korean, I imagine any ADV Films voice actor could pick out which is the Japanese. With Korean, there’s a lot less experience there, as ADV Films specializes in dubbing Japanese animation.
Going into Michel, I’m expecting a show for children. I’m expecting something more for children than Cardcaptor Sakura is. I’m expecting something more like Ojamajo Doremi, but without the large cast, and more of a focus on story, especially as the back of the first Michel DVD suggests it’s based off a novel, if I’m understanding it right. All it needs is more character building than Pokémon and a coherent story, and I’m sure I’ll love Michel.
Being a children’s series, as the DVDs suggest (with a Y7 FV rating for young children around age seven, and a warning for fantasy violence), isn’t a problem for me. I enjoy series from Disney such as DuckTales, TaleSpin, Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, and Aladdin (all three movies and the television series alike). The missing element from these television series is any sort of storyline beyond a single episode. My favorite episodes tend to be the multi-episode pilots. Following Scrooge and his family on an epic adventure spanning many episodes. Seeing Chip and Dale meet up with everyone for the first time as the Rescue Rangers become a group with a mission. Watching Darkwing Duck come to terms with his position in life as he wrestles between being a crime fighter about to get his big break and having to protect a spunky young girl.
With Michel, I foresee the story being there. I hope for at least a hint of not only character development, but character growth as well. This is one reason I spend more time watching Japanese series than US American series. There’s no bias based on country, only on content. I’m waiting for the final episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender before I jump into buying the complete series on DVD (having seen and enjoyed the first two “books” of episodes via television).
When it comes to Japanese versus Korean, there’s a difference due to different cultures. Janggeum’s Dream took place in about 1500’s Korea, so it’s flooded with Korean culture. A movie such as Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox or My Beautiful Girl Mari is “today”, and it becomes less distinguishable from comparable Japanese films, although Japanese works taking place in “present day” seem to hold more culture in them than the “present day” Korean movies I’ve seen. Considering Michel is a fantasy story (and I don’t know the country of origin of the work it’s apparently based on), this may toss out any room for Korean culture (although Petite Princess Yucie does fit in some Japanese culture). Not only do I expect Michel will have a different feel from Japanese animation, but it may be different from Korean animation as well due to this fantasy aspect.