Sunday, July 8, 2018

Maple Town Episode 1 Commentary

So how about a write-up of the first episode of Maple Town?  Before we continue, I need to emphasize that just as I will be using the English dub names of the characters, I will be using the English dub titles where I can.  I will also use the Japanese episode titles and the Spanish dub titles as well.

Maple Town Episode 1
English Dub Title: Welcome to Maple Town
Japanese Title:  "Kochira dōbutsu taun" (こちら動物タウン)
Spanish Dub Title:  El Senor Conejo Cartero

This episode is essentially a "welcome" episode designed to introduce the main characters, namely Patty Rabbit and the Rabbit family.  Anyway, let's get on with the show.

As the episode opens up, we get some nice camera shots of a steam powered train moving through a dense forest.

As the train moves through the forest, we cut to a shot of our protagonist Patty Rabbit looking out the window of the rear train car.  

On a technical level - and I do know things about art and film as I am a freelance illustrator who makes comics - Maple Town is excellent quality by 1980s standards and even by today's standards.  The shots and camera angles used when the train is moving combined with the beautifully rendered backgrounds and the character design - it's exceptional.

The wardrobes of the characters, like the Rabbit Family picture above, are of a superb design.  It always fascinated me that this anime was made in the mid-1980s yet the technology and fashions resemble something from the first half of the 20th century.  That's part of the unique charm of Maple Town.  Anyway, the Rabbit family from left to right is Mrs. Rabbit holding their baby, Bunny; Rachel Rabbit, the eldest child; Patty Rabbit, our heroine sitting by the window; Mr. Rabbit, wearing the hat; and Ricky Rabbit, the only son in the family (reading the book).

Patty complains about the long train trip but her father assures her they'll be arriving in Maple Town soon.  She also complains that she's hungry and fishes out a piece of candy from her suitcase.

Rachel berates Patty for eating candy.  Meanwhile, we have a brief shot of the Maple Town mayor, Mayor Dandy Lion, rehearsing a speech to welcome the newcomers, the Rabbit Family, to town as a bored train station worker listens.  Of course, fate has other ideas in store for Patty and her family.

The train comes to an abrupt halt as it gets held up by the primary villain of Maple Town, Wilde Wolf.

Wilde Wolf in silhouette

Wilde Wolf is pretty much the main villain of Maple Town.  I'll be honest - "villain" may be too strong of a word.  While he is genuinely menacing at times, other times see him as being more ineffectual.  We'll see more of that as the series progresses.  Anyway, Wilde Wolf gathers valuables from the townspeople to put into a sack.  But he doesn't stop there.

Remember that candy I mentioned before?  The one Patty Rabbit was eating?  Wilde Wolf actually steals the candy from her.  Patty grabs they candy back from him as Mr. Rabbit yells at Wilde Wolf for doing that.  At that moment, Wilde Wolf spots the mailbag that Mr. Rabbit is carrying with him.  Forgetting about the candy and the valuables, Wilde Wolf steals the mailbag, thinking its contents are full of money.

Wilde Wolf steals Mr. Rabbit's mailbag

One of the things I did when working on this review was to compare the English dub in my possession to the Spanish dub.  Not surprisingly, the English dubbed episodes have scenes cut out.  While some of these were most likely cut for time, some were cut for probably violating North American broadcast standards.  Like the scene you're about to see...

Cut scene from USA broadcast
Cut scene from USA broadcast

Mr. Rabbit tries to go after the mail but Wilde Wolf threatens him with a flintlock pistol.  This was cut from the American broadcast, most likely due to restrictions on violence for broadcast television.  It does irk me when material gets censored.

Anyway, Mayor Dandy Lion is alerted to the train robbery as is Maple Town's resident lawman, Sheriff Barney Bulldog.  Mrs. Fox tags along and they learn the details of the robbery.  Sheriff Bulldog is first amused at the fact that Wilde Wolf stole the mail until Mrs. Fox yells at him for that; it turns out both she and her husband, Mr. Fox, were expecting a very important letter.

While Mr. Rabbit, Mrs. Fox and Sheriff Bulldog head off into the woods to track down Wilde Wolf, Patty Rabbit runs off alone into the forest to find Wilde Wolf too and get the mail back.  As our heroes head into the woods, Wilde Wolf decides to open the mailbag to inspect its contents...while a figure in a wooden barrel follows him.  The mailbag does indeed have only mail in it rather than money.  The figure in the barrel berates him.  

The kid in the barrel is none other than Bobby Bear, the deuteragonist of the series.  When Wilde Wolf realizes Bobby is right there, a chase ensues.

After a lengthy chase, Wilde Wolf gets temporarily incapacitated and Bobby recovers the stolen mailbag.  Patty Rabbit eventually catches up to Bobby and asks him to return the mailbag.  Bobby refuses to return it but Patty insists it belongs to her father.  When Patty tells Bobby that it has just mail in there, he gives it back.

Wilde Wolf though regains consciousness and comes after both Patty and Bobby.  After a scuffle, Wilde Wolf is knocked out.  By then, Mr. Rabbit, Mrs. Fox and Sheriff Bulldog find Patty and Bobby.  While Mr. Rabbit yells at Patty for running out into the woods alone, he is happy that she recovered the mail.

Patty's father yells at Patty for running off

Patty and Mr. Rabbit reunite with everyone else

The episode wraps up with a welcoming party in honor of the Rabbit family.  Mr. Rabbit is able to deliver mail to a number of the townspeople including the Fox family (we'll learn more about them in future episodes).

Welcoming the Rabbits to Maple Town

Mr. and Mrs. Fox get an important letter

As the party goes along (and Mayor Lion drones on with his speech), Rachel takes Patty inside to show her around their new home.  After a cross-section cut showing them walking around the inside of their new house, they head up to the balcony and end the episode by admiring the wilderness surrounding their new home of Maple Town.

What, no bathroom?

Patty and Rachel admiring their new home of Maple Town, their favorite place to be...

FINAL THOUGHTS:  This is essentially a "welcome" episode, meant to introduce the main protagonists of Patty Rabbit and her family, Bobby Bear, Wilde Wolf and some other characters.  It does succeed in that aspect and sets the tone for the series.  I give this episode a grade of A.

On another note, future episode commentaries will be lighter on screenshots.  Taking those shots and putting them into the blog posts - what a labor intensive ordeal.

Feel free to comment below.  Feedback can be sent to mapletown(at)gmx(dot)com.

Be sure to check out my blog about my comics series Sunnyville Stories and my webcomic Tiffany & Corey.  If you like this blog, be sure to buy me a Ko-Fi.

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