Release Date: Jan 17th
Box Office: $1,023,042
It’s weird how going through old films from your childhood rings certain bells and brings back memories you didn’t know you had any more. Seeing Clubhouse Pictures get mentioned is something that does this, an awful lot.
This was something I remembered seeing on one of my videos growing up. My uncle ran a video shop so he could ‘acquire’ movies, so as I was around 8 I got a load of kids stuff, including Gobots Battle of The Rock Lords (1986). I watched it countless times and because it was copied from the rental tape I watched the trailers on it countless times; The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985), Party Stooge (1986) and this. Some anime looking thing about a rabbit who gets super powers who goes off to save the world.
Never saw it on TV or in any video shops, just that trailer on that video that I used to have. So then, a good couple of decades later, I saw it on Netflix and was taken aback.
The memory of the trailer was etched into my mind, images and sounds that I could remember with clarity. So I watched it. I watched this film that my 8 year old self saw time and time again, that watched it and wondered what the rest of the film was like, I watched this film that evoked all of those feelings of being a boy sat in his bedroom surrounded by all the things that would all too soon become half forgotten memories, like this film had become, trying to get back to that place again, that place of safety and happiness that comes from childhood.
I watched this film.
It was a bit shit.
That might be a bit harsh. It was never going to be anything classic, despite having a couple of names behind it: it was based on the artwork of Pop Artist Stewart Moskowitz, his work had been used as mascots by several Japanese companies. This is how the American Rabbit ended up being co-produced by Toei Animation, who at this time would have been most famous for their adaptions of several Go Nagi mangas including Mazinger Z and Cutie Honeyand would go on to produce the Dragon Balland Sailor Moonseries. The other co-producer was Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, the Wolf of that being the Fred Wolf who you’ll remember from the end credits of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles TV show of the 80s. One of the animators was Shingo Araki who worked on the legendary Ulysses 31.
I mean, thats some collection of creators. And I’m sure they all do their best but it ends up just being a forgotten slice of 80s animation, something that gets found on an old VHS tape and is forgotten as soon as it’s ejected.
It’s a shame really. It lands an interesting time for animation, what with on the one side Disney on it’s knees but on the other the rise of anime continued. Robotech exploded into popularity the previous year and we’re only two years away from the release of Akira (1988). Studio Ghibli’s first official film is released in Japan this year.
American Rabbit (1986) is then a footnote, a small line in a Wikipedia page sandwiched between larger and more influential releases. For those of us who caught a glimpse of it at the time it might hold some interest, but even then only in passing.