By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
In honour of Otaku no Culture’s 1001th post instead of 1000, I fondly recall an animated feature film, 千夜一夜物語 — Senya Ichya Monogatori (A Thousand and One Nights) (1969), from Japan which never got a fair treatment outside of its own country. The reason is most likely because it was very risqué for its time; it was x-rated. I recall securing a VHS copy decades ago because any title based on literature appealed to me. Where it went now, well, I have to dig through my boxes of stored tapes to see if I still have it. Sadly, not every old anime I want to get replaced got a DVD release when I wanted to. The original Japanese language instead of the trippy English dub is available through YESASIA.
Part of why I was intrigued with this series is because this anime was an idea Osamu Tezuka (Astroboy) thought of. He believed not every product should be youth friendly and a study on Cartoon Research wrote:
…Tezuka, a fan of animation in all forms, was concerned by animation’s reputation as being for children only. He wanted to show that animation could be for all age groups and all interests. In the late 1960s he determined to produce theatrical animation features that would obviously be for adults rather than for children. These would be erotic but in good taste; the animated equivalent of America’s Playboy magazine. All of Mushi Pro’s resources would be behind them – with mixed results.
Eiichi Yamamoto served as director. In what the two crafted was based on the most popular of the tales presented in the original Arabic tale, One Thousand and One Nights — of which have been many adaptations. Aladdin and Sinbad are the heroes in this film. The exotic quality of the production was what drew me in and one day, I will put the DVD on my shelf again, next to Tezuka’s The Phoenix.
Also, 1001 Knights (1001 ナイツ) is also an ongoing Shōjo manga first published in Monthly Asuka. It is up to volume seven at the time of writing, and there is a fan translation group offering this series online. This series is written by Yukiru Sugisaki (DNAngel). If only a company like Viz can bring an official release out, I would definitely be buying the volumes! This series offers tantalising mystery where two twin brothers, Naito and Yuta Fuuga, are searching for their father. He’s disappeared somewhere in the Middle East. They travelled to Dubai in search for him. Who they meet and the mysteries they face are straight out of the world of 1001 Nights. The comedy I’m reading in some chapters is reminiscent but not a copycat of another saga I adore, Sazan Eyes (サザンアイズ). This series is one I’m tracking, in hopes, a proper North American release will one day hit shelves.
While fan efforts are great to bring to light series companies are not considering mainstream, how can anyone deny the appeal of the original lore as presented in the original texts? After all, this huge literary body of work is where “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” came from!