Hanako & Anne’s English dub surfaces

In my post about the English dub of Isao Takahata’s Anne of Green Gables anime, I briefly mentioned a 2014 live action drama based on the Japanese translator’s life. That series is Hanako & Anne, a 156 episode entry in NHK’s Asadora block of 15 minute morning dramas about inspirational women. Building on Japan’s deeply established love of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Canadian classic, it became NHK’s most watched Asadora in a decade, with audience shares averaging just under 23%. Naturally, the novel itself got a sales boost. Japan wasn’t the only one to notice the series, either. As it wove Hanako Muraoka’s life with scenes from the book, the Canadian Tourism Commission began to offer travel packages to Canada. The result? Anne’s home province of Prince Edward Island saw a record amount of Japanese guests, experiencing a dramatic 225% increase in visitors from the country versus the prior year. That added an additional $20 million to their tourism income.

I figured that would’ve been the last time I ever spoke about the show, but I know you’ve read the title.

This drama series is based on the life of Hanako Muraoka, the woman who translated L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables into Japanese for the first time. Hanako was born into a poor, rural family in 1903. But because her father wanted her to receive higher education, at the age of ten, she was transferred to a Christian school for girls attended by children of noble birth or wealthy families. Unfortunately, Hanako couldn’t understand what her English-speaking teachers were saying and she felt depressed for not being able to fit in. However, she overcame these challenges in bold and witty manners and eventually was able to excel at English even more than her schoolmates. Just like Anne Shirley, the main protagonist in Anne of Green Gables, Hanako had a youth filled with excitement, love, and friendship, and in later life she was able to realize her dream of becoming a translator.

So, yeah. It got dubbed into English. In Vancouver, by Azur Productions. Little is known about the cast, though I’m pretty sure that’s Kirby Morrow as Hanako’s father, Kippei Ando (played in the drama by Tsuyoshi Ihara). I’ve been told that young Hanako might be Claire Corlett. Hayden Daviau confirmed her involvement as Ayako Daigo back in January. Callyn Dorval also lists the show as something she’s worked on.

Azur’s been dubbing NHK dramas into English for a while now but this is the first time I’ve seen footage of one of them. How’d I get that promo? The Japan Foundation has been making inroads to promote Japanese culture abroad. That includes having their shows and movies wind up on TV in foreign markets. Hanako & Anne was one of the shows selected. The English dub premiered on Zambia’s MUVI TV on May 15th and Jamaica’s CVM TV on June 21, 2017.

Will these ever pop up in North America? I’m going to say it’s not likely. Japanese dramas don’t get a lot of official play here on any medium (home video, streaming, and linear television) and as far as I can tell, that goes doubly for NHK’s productions. Some do air on TV Japan, but usually just in Japanese without subtitles. Hanako & Anne would’ve been a nice thing to run on Omni 2 for Canada 150 and tie-in with the two new Anne TV productions, but from what I can tell, most of Omni 2’s scripted programming goes towards Chinese, Korean and Indian productions. They usually air stuff raw anyway.

Speaking of those Anne TV productions, the third and final (?) entry in YTV’s Green Gables TV movies, Fire & Dew, is set to air on July 1st. The channel is premiering the film after a marathon of the two earlier ones starting 2PM EST/PST.

May was a big month for Japanese Anne stuff. The NHK drama had its English language debut, the first YTV movie saw a limited theatrical engagement over there, and Japan took part with the rest of the non-Canadian world in seeing the CBC’s new Anne (or Anne with an E, known in Japan as A Girl Named Anne) series. Netflix had the show dubbed into Japanese, though it’s of course also available with subtitles. It’s always difficult to dub live action due to the inherent disconnect between body/voice and precise mouth movements.

If I’ve got my head on right, this means Takahata’s Anne was dubbed into English for South African television. Hanako & Anne for Zambia and Jamaica. How long until I find out the Before Green Gables anime aired in English in Egypt or something? Maybe the Emily of New Moon series had an English version that could only be seen every third Sunday at 2:45AM on secondary audio track on a South American satellite channel. You never know.


In other news, GKids has revealed more information on their US release of Mune: Guardian of the Moon, a 2014 French CG animated film (that has a bunch of French Canadian animators and received funding from Quebec’s provincial government). What does that have to do with this blog? Well, the English version was directed by Karl Willems at Ocean in Vancouver, though the credits indicate some voice work was also done at Technicolor Montreal.

Actually, I guess I should say the original English version was recorded there. You see, GKids is doing that thing where you take a film that already has a completely fine English audio track and grab a bunch of lesser known celebrities to replace them with. Out goes Trevor Devall, in comes Rob Lowe. Michael Dobson gets swapped for Christian Slater. Patton Oswalt takes the place of Sam Vincent.

This practice isn’t at all uncommon for non-US CG films. The France-Canada co-production Ballerina is going through the same thing in the US, where it’s now named Leap! (eOne released the film theatrically in its original state in Canada earlier this year and is set to put it out on home video before the US launch). Studios believe stunt casting works. It’s just weird to see GKids, of all companies, do this to a three-year-old film. They’re not a mass market publisher that usually makes moves like this. Sure, Mune is getting a theatrical release in the US, but it’s a blink and you’ll miss it one-night only screening. Maybe they’re really confident in its home video/streaming potential? Perhaps this is a way for them to enter the film into award shows?

As far as I can tell, Mune hasn’t officially been released in Canada. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Maybe GKids includes the original track as a bonus? Maybe we get a Canada-specific release? What I do know, though, is that Ocean’s version isn’t difficult to find online, so clearly it must’ve shown up on a release somewhere.

Oh yeah, I also know I’d rather have GKids put Rob Lowe and Christian Slater into this over Lionsgate dumping a bunch of Youtube people into this Japanese CG animated film.

By the way, I found out the first 28 episodes of Ocean’s dub of Tobot is streaming on Toys “R” Us Hong Kong’s Youtube channel. I don’t really know why they chose that version over the English dub recorded in Asia, but hey, if you’re curious about a Korean kids mecha cartoon that has better voice acting than Turning Mecard, you’re in luck.

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