Kashi no Ki Mock (Mock, Made of Oak), directed by Seitaro Hata. 52 half-hour episodes. January 4 – December 26, 1972.
This was a year-long half-hour animated serialization on Japanese television featuring the Pinocchio character stereotypes. No attempt was made to adapt any of Collodi’s specific story ideas, except Pinocchio’s nose growing longer when he lies. Often Mock/Pinocchio began by showing one of the faults described by Collodi such as selfishness, laziness, or greed, which he would be brutally punished for before the Blue Fairy appeared to tell him why that was a bad idea.
Wikipedia says: “Throughout the entire series Pinocchio (Mokku), partly due to his own delinquency and repetitive disobedience, must undergo other costly ordeals of hardship and pain in which he is continuously tormented, persecuted, taunted, hectorized, chastised, assaulted, picked on, humiliated, tricked, ridiculed, ostracised, beaten, downtrodden and subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment. Its plain depiction of the austere reality of what it would be like to be literally subhuman growing up in a world of danger and hardship, makes this another good example of traditional Japanese stories, which teach moral observance through tough endurance.” Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd. gave this a “fairy tale” art design by a young Yoshitaka Amano, who would go on to much better art (like Vampire Hunter D). This is one of the combinations of Collodi’s and Tolstoy’s versions. Gepetto has a huge, brightly colored nose that made him look drunk all the time, taken from Tolstoy’s 1936 version in which “Giuseppe” specifically has a large, brightly-colored nose because he drinks too much.
Around 1978, the C/FO got a letter from Tatsunoko Pro that basically said the studio had become aware that we were showing video tapes of Tatsunoko programs without permission, which they could not allow. However, as long as we had video tapes of some of their programs, could we show them to some TV executives who might be interested in licensing them for American TV instead of just to fans? I answered these as the C/FO’s Secretary; the Tatsunoko staffer who wrote was Koki Narushima, who I understand later became a major executive in the company. He was more interested in the C/FO’s showing Tatsunoko’s animation to TV executives than in preventing us from watching illegal videos of the company’s animation. After awhile he realized that most of the C/FO’s videos were 6th- or 7th-generation video copies, which he worried would not display Tatsunoko’s animation to best advantage to American TV executives. He asked if he could send me some first-generation studio masters to show the pros? I said yes, and to be sure to send episodes that would be particularly attractive to American buyers. I got an episode of Kashi no Ki Mock that I think was literally titled “Mock, the Envoy of God”, but which all the fans I showed it to called “I Am Pinocchio, the Son of God”. In it, Pinocchio well-meaningly impersonates Jesus Christ to a sickly, probably dying little girl! Hey, Pinocchio is popular in America and Jesus Christ is popular in America, so this should be a guaranteed seller, right? I did not show it to any TV executives.
About 15 years later, after Japanese animation became better-established in America, Saban bought the series and called it The Adventures of Pinocchio or Pinocchio: The Series. Reference information about the series says that Saban produced all 52 episodes. I don’t know how they handled that one.
Un Burattino di Nome Pinocchio (A Puppet Named Pinocchio), directed by Giuliano Cenci. 93 minutes. December 21, 1972.
“Finally for Christmas, the national PINOCCHIO”. The production studio was Cartoons Cinematografica Italaliana. Wikipedia says that Cenci directed it with his brother Renzo; that Collodi’s grandsons Mario and Antonio Lorenzini (Collodi’s real name) served as advisors; and that religious portraits of the Virgin Mary were used as models for the Girl With Turquoise Hair (the Blue Fairy).
As this was the first feature-length cartoon of Pinocchio produced in Italy, advertised as “la vera storia scritta da C. Collodi”, there was tremendous cultural pressure for it to be made as closely to how Collodi wrote it as was feasible for a theatrical animated feature. The character design looked like Attilio Mussino’s book illustrations. The character names were La Fata Turcino (The Blue Fairy), Mangiafuoco (the Fire Eater), la Volpe and il Gatto (the Fox and the Cat, without giving them names), Lucignolo (Candlewick), and so on.
If you know the plot of Collodi’s story, you don’t need a separate plot synopsis. Un Buratino di Nome Pinocchio was released in America as The Adventures of Pinocchio in November 1978. Notable names among the American dubbers were Don Messick as the Cat and the Talking Cricket, Paul Frees as the Green Fisherman, and Hal Smith as the Farmer.
Pinocchio Yori Piccolino no Boken (Pinocchio From Piccolino the Puppet), directed by Hiroshi Saitô and Masaharu Endo. 52 half-hour episodes. April 27, 1976 to May 16, 1977.
I said that I would include only the major animated adaptations of Pinocchio. Having included Kashi no Ki Mock, I don’t see any need to list all the other Japanese TV serializations. For some reason, Pinocchio was especially popular in Japan. In addition to Tatsunoko’s 1972 Mock, there was this 1976-’77 52 weekly serialization by Nippon Animation, and a 1979 TV serialization by Japan’s DAX International.