Live-action remakes of established cartoon and comic franchises are favored projects by studios looking for a solid return on their investments. Appealing to our sense of nostalgia they can pull in a good chunk of change even if they turn out crappy, something which, sadly, happens a lot.
However, on video originally posted to Niconico and YouTube by Masaki Hata reminds us that the great remakes need to be fun first and slick big-budget productions second. His version of a classic Aesop fable, which he’s titled Battle of Fate Settled at Last: Tortoise vs Hare in Japan, has won over many with its unique blend of cuteness and surprisingly good production value.
The film starts out very much like the fable with the hare, played by U-tan the rabbit. taunting the slow-moving ways of the tortoise portrayed by up-and-coming star Kamekichi. Words are exchanged, and then the race is on!
As with any great sporting event, we begin with the tale of the tape. In the red shorts is the one-year-old Netherland dwarf weighing in at 1,200 grams (2.6 pounds). Unfortunately shortly before the race the hare ate its red shorts despite repeated warnings from officials.
Wearing the blue shorts underneath its shell is the 26-year-old Chinese pond turtle. At 500 grams (1.1 pounds) it has a distinct weight advantage but will age play a factor?
The rules are laid out in accordance with the Japanese Interspecies Racing Association (JIRA) regulations on sub-meters animals. Each participant must make their way to the finish marker at the end of 400-centimeter (13-foot) foyer. The first to reach the finish is the winner.
Let’s start the Battle of Fate!
With the competitors released by their owner the race begins.
The hare is off to an early lead putting an insurmountable distance between itself and the tortoise.
However, in a surprise move the hare stops short of the goal and makes a u-turn, hightailing it back towards the tortoise.
After circling around the house a few times it then goes into its cage to eat some grass and sit down. Meanwhile the persistent tortoise continues towards the finish.
The hare watches intently from its cage, but is caught off guard when the tortoise puts on a final burst of speed and crosses the finish marker for the win!
The hare watches dejectedly from its cage realizing the folly of its ways while the tortoise is escorted to the winners circle for a post-race interview.
Tortoise: “To my parents who raised me, all the staff who gave me their support, and the fans for cheering me on today, thank you.”
It was a great day of celebration as the video comes to a close. However, the joy was short-lived as a bitter hare filed charges with the JIRA stating that the tortoise lied about its taxonomy and was actually a turtle…possibly a large terrapin.
A representative from the tortoise camp strongly denied these claims and struck back at the hare with charges that it was actually a rabbit. This legal battle is expected to last a while as no one really knows what the differences between these animals are.
And so concluded the modern adaptation of a classic tale. Video creator Hata received high praise for his works, with many saying his “editing was beyond good” and the production had “a wonderful charm” to it. If you’d like to see more of his work, be sure to check out his YouTube and Niconico channels below.