The New Three Musketeers, a Japanese TV show based on the book by Alexandre Dumas, with a script by Welcome Back Mr McDonald‘s Koki Mitani. 40 x 20 minutes, running daily on NHK. What’s not to like…? Someone, surely, from the world of television must think this is worth a punt? Well, NHK does for a start, as they are apparently already running it in English on their international channel.
The Japanese have always done well with the source material. Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds is still a childhood favourite with many of my generation. There was also an anime Three Musketeers in the 1980s, in which Aramis turned out to be a woman in disguise. But the sequence above is only the opening credits, with music from Spanish Connection (the whole thing seems oddly Spanish — perhaps a leftover from Dogtanian, or even Alatriste). The show itself is the latest in NHK’s long-running cycle of puppet shows, which has previously included such gems as Aerial City 008, Madcap Island and New Hakkenden.
Here are the puppets themselves in action:
You can find out more about the history of Japanese puppetry in the entries on individual shows for the Dorama Encyclopedia and the larger survey included in the Anime Encyclopedia. But I’m still finding stuff out, like this, and like the stories in Yasuo Otsuka’s The Prospect of Little Nemo, in which he recounts the impact in Tokyo of an “epoch-making” 1961 puppet performance of Macbeth, and how the staff behind it soon found themselves working in TV, and then on anime.