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D’Works learns local lingo for ‘Shrek’

Hamada, Fujiwara, Yamadera turns film Japanese

TOKYO — Scheduled for a December release by UIP in Japan, DreamWorks’ “Shrek” will feature the voices of top Japanese talent in a dubbed version that will go out alongside subtitled prints.

The good-hearted ogre has been revoiced by movie and TV star Masatoshi Hamada of “Space Travellers” fame. Norika Fujiwara, whose face covers Japan selling everything from mobile phones to lipstick, makes Princess Fiona speak Japanese, while TV star and experienced voiceover artist Kouichi Yamadera translates Eddie Murphy’s edgy Donkey. Nasty Lord Farquaad got his Japanese sound and soul from TV/movie veteran Masato Ibu.

The marketing power of these stars in a country where TV personalities rule unchallenged will greatly enhance the appeal of “Shrek,” which reaches one of its most important overseas markets relatively late.

Although local animated pics often set box office records in this country, Japan is notoriously tough on toonful offerings from the U.S. — those pics often underperform in the normally lucrative territory.

Using local stars to dub animation is nothing new, however: Disney has done it for years. “Imitation is the biggest compliment,” says Buena Vista Intl. Japan’s prexy Dick Sano.

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