Roger Corman and the Infamous Terrible Anime Movie

The passing of Roger Corman, the legendary cult filmmaker known for his work on Little Shop of Horrors, the Raven, and many other films, has been announced. In addition to his roles as a director and producer, he also supervised multiple releases from his studios, including a highly controversial anime dub in the 1980s.

In 1970, Corman founded his own production company, New World Pictures. In addition to producing his own films, New World Pictures also distributed works from other emerging filmmakers. Notable names such as Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, and Joe Dante had their first projects acquired by the company.

Despite his focus on American genre films, Corman also had a keen interest in movies from other countries, particularly Europe and Japan. He was responsible for bringing in various foreign films, including the widely acclaimed anime movie Galaxy Express 999, which had gained immense popularity in Japan but did not receive the same reception in the United States.

Despite its swift notoriety among sci-fi circles and emerging anime communities, the dub and re-edit of Galaxy Express 999 remains a spin-off of the popular anime show. In 1980, the availability of dubbed and broadcasted properties like this was still limited in English-speaking territories, making it uncertain if the audience would be familiar with or comprehend the franchise.

As a result, Galaxy Express 999 was condensed from its original length of over two hours to just a little over 90 minutes, resulting in the removal of significant portions of the plot and exposition. In addition, the script and character names underwent drastic alterations, creating a rather peculiar outcome.

The main character, Tetsuro Hoshino, was renamed as Joey Hanakanabobakananda Smith, Antares was transformed into Olaf, and Captain Harlock was now known as Captain Warlock. Poor editing made it challenging to understand at times, and the voice-acting was not up to par (although it was most likely recorded under strict time constraints, as was common for dubbing in the ’80s and ’90s).

In 1996, a different version was created and Corman’s dubbed version has gained a following among cult movie enthusiasts. Although the New World Pictures version of Galaxy Express 999 is not considered good, it is worth acknowledging that Corman recognized the appeal and potential of anime at a time when it was not widely recognized. Unfortunately, it is now challenging to find the complete 1980 dubbed version, although snippets can be found on the internet.

He was a pioneer, and his other findings, like Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, have stood the test of time much better.

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