An uninspired handling of U.S. author Ruth Stiles Gannett’s 1945 book, Japanese animated feature provides unobjectionable, if wan, entertainment value for younger children. Vocal redubbing would make this a viable family rental item in most markets.
Brief prologue shows a community of distinctly non-fire-breathing, whimsically colored dragons at play in their paradisiacal mountaintop homeland. But a storm upsets this idyll, carrying off one blue-and-yellow-striped baby serpent. Action then switches to a seaside town where young protag Elmer meets an elderly, rather imperious “traveling cat” who tells him about the lost winged creature he’d seen captured and abused on fearsome Wild Island. The boy decides to play rescuer, journeying at length to said isle. There, various talking-beastly inhabitants — tigers, crocodiles, gorillas — try to thwart the outsider, requiring quick thinking on Elmer’s part. Pokily paced feature sports some attractive, pastel-hued backgrounds. But character drawing looks cheap, generic and stilted, not helped by routine vocal contribs. Original story’s charm barely seeps through. Still, as baby-sitting entertainment goes, innocuous effort should prove diverting enough for ages 3-8.