Tales of a Street Corner

Aru Machikado no Monogatari
Also Known As: The Story of A Certain Street Corner
Genre: Drama
Format: 1 Movie
Allegiance: Mushi Productions
Director: Yamamoto Eiichi
Vintage: 1962
Intelligence Agency Report by: The Macaque
Tales of a Street Corner is the first experimental anime produced by the legendary mangaka Tezuka Osamu. It portrays how life circles around a certain street corner, with music leading the way, as animals, people, even posters and lamps interact with each other. Tezuka deliberately left the plot quite vague and concentrated his efforts on the emotional side. As every event is in sync with Takai Tatsuo’s musical score, and all characters are represented by their own distinct tunes, Tales of a Street Corner displays the whole gamut of emotion, varying from peacefully calm to warlike rage.

Field Agent Report by: The Macaque
Overall 7.00

Mushi Productions was estabilished by Tezuka Osamu back in the early sixties, as he wanted to distinguish himself from the big production companies at that time. Tezuka wanted to create animation as an independent entrepeneur. His first movies were short and quite experimental, and Tales of a Street Corner was the very first of those movies. Tales of a Street Corner was more or less Tezuka’s own creation, rather than the director Yamamoto Eiichi’s, which is why I’ll give Osamu all the credit in this review. Of course the soundtrack by Takaki Tatsuo deserves to be mentioned as well.

Whenever something is too difficult, or too high-flying to be explained with words, you make a song out of it. This is my take on why people like Andrew Lloyd Webber made so many musicals. To be honest, I’ve never enjoyed live action musicals at all. I mean Julie Andrews was nothing more than a stone age relic for any eighties kid. However, for some reason I found animated musicals to be quite interesting back in the day.

Movies such as Peter and The Wolf and Fantasia were fun entertainment for a growing kid, but they too lost their charm as time went by. Tehnically, Tales of a Street Corner isn’t far from those two flicks of the 1940’s. Since I always thought Fantasia was the end result of Disney on a hallucinogenic trip, Tales of a Street Corner with it’s street poster love triangle could be seen as the Tezuka equivalent. His ambition to develop the animation techniques that were necessary to lay the groundwork for a rising Japanese animation industry produced over a dozen of these more-or-less experimental films. The ending scene from Tales of a Street Corner; with it’s five layers of background images all rolling with different speeds to create a three dimensional feel, was among those groundbreaking new inventions Tezuka pulled off to become one of the most successful Japanese animators of all time.

It’s actually a good thing Tezuka left complex plots to future generations. In my humble opinion, had Tales of a Street Corner actually been a tale rather than a theme, it would have hurt the outcome. This way, it gives some leeway for a more artistic approach, and it makes the mood changes more acceptable. If you’re at all interested in the history of anime, and you find this show somewhere, check it out. It’s definitely worth 38 minutes of your lifetime.