About a week ago a fan-made anime of Doctor Who made quite a splash, winning (mostly) praise across the science fiction interwebs.
After a few days it was taken down by the creator. It's not clear why, although there are no shortage of theories. Join me after the jump for a walkthrough of this remarkable short film.
Doctor Who Anime is a creation of Paul "OtaKing" Johnson, a Japanese-English translator in the UK. It reimagines Doctor Who as anime in the style of the 80s and 90s (which is believed by some to be the high water mark of the genre.) The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) is featured, probably because his propensity for martial arts makes him the most anime-friendly. There has been some criticism of the film because villains that didn't appear until after Pertwee's tenure show up. I don't understand these complaints--he is a Time Lord, after all.
The film is bilingual (Japanese/English) with all dialog subtitled in the other language. Most of the voices are taken directly from the show. Paul Johnson suplies some additonal lines, as does Philip Sacramento. The original character of Tomo is voiced by Sachika Souno.
Importantly, there is not really a coherent plot, although you can tease out a story from the details. It's presented as a preview of an upcoming arc or series, albeit a legnthy one (about thirteen minutes long.)
We start off with a BBC1 logo and a new title card. The Third Doctor appears in Tokyo, and is shortly jumped by (English?) thugs. He defends himself with his Venusian Aikido until Tomo Kajiura of Special Section 7 intervenes.
Tomo is an original creation who is every bit the anime heroine, sexy and skimpily attired (as the Doctor amusingly notes.) She's also apparently the Doctor's new companion. Her intoduction shot, drawn as a background, is appropriately lavish, although the change in style may seem abrupt if you're not used to this from Japanese animators.
After this we get interwoven clips of the Master and the Brigadier between shots of the (rather modern looking) Cybermen causing trouble.
Daleks appear, wreaking random havoc. They deftly overcome stairs, but Tomo manages to destroy one in hand to hand combat.
The Brigadier's UNIT forces engage Cybermen, to little effect. Then the Daleks engage Cybermen, to slightly more effect.
The Master (Ainley version) introduces Tomo to the Master (Delgado version) who is showing off a Tardis with a sense of humor (Coffee Boss is a popular vended coffee in Japan.)
Cybermen and Daleks engage in orbit, while the Master and the Doctor duel on a skyscraper (Tokyo Tower, I believe.)
A detatchment of American soldiers try to defend themselves from Daleks, unsuccessfully.
The Master(s) and the Cybermen team up, turning humans into cybermen on an assembly line. This may be an attempt to draw out the Doctor, who "won't tolerate anyone deliberately playing havoc with his favorite planet."
Davros confronts Tomos, who is trying to infiltrate his base. In the midst of all this, Sutekh the Destroyer appears. (I had to look this one up. He is from 1975's The Pyramids of Mars. He's a VERY formidable baddie.)
A massive battle between the Daleks and Cybermen shapes up in orbit, while Daleks are still exterminating planetside. Mixed into this are a few anime-style pose shots of the Cybermen, the Doctor's companions, and the Doctor himself.
After the credits, including a dedication to the recently departed Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen, a forgotten Dalek revives itself in a half-destroyed room and begins blasting its way out.
This is a very impressive film, especially since it's mostly the work of one man. It does an great job of capturing the look of late 20th century anime. There's some unevenness to the animation, but that's perfectly in line with what was done at the time. A lot of effort would be spent on one or two big scenes per episode, while the rest would be handled much quicker. This definitely hews much closer to the former due to its emphasis on highlights from the imagined series.
Conversely, the teaser format is probably also its biggest drawback, as it fails to capture a large part of the Doctor Who feeling. We only get a couple instances of what Tomo and the Doctor's chemistry would be like, for example. I would like to have seen more of an episode, or even an episode fragment. However, the use of original voices would make that fairly difficult.
As I said earlier, there's no word thus far about why the episode was taken down. My favorite speculation is that BBC wants to commisssion a proper episode. I think that's probaby unlikely, but I very much want it to be true.
Meanwhile you can still find some instances of this film online, although I don't know if they'll last. It's currently on Metatube. Earlier preview releases and at least one instance of the full version have been re-uploaded to YouTube.
Got a fan film or web series you'd like to see featured? Hit up Church at firstname.lastname@example.org