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  Ringo Goes West
1983 | ATA Trading.
battle for moon station Dallos celebrity just for kids

Ringo Goes West. It doesn't say why he's going west or where he's leaving from. There's a lot of mystery around this gun toting cat. Just look at him there on the cover... he's smiling at you but he's also pointing a gun your way. And I don't like that wide-eyed, glassy stare either. It's like he's playing about - pretending to hold you up - but you don't trust that he isn't going to accidentally shoot you or start taking it seriously. If life's taught me one thing it's that you can't trust a cat in red thigh boots.

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In 1969 Toei released an animated adaptation of Charles Perrault's classic fairytale Puss In Boots titled Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots (Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko). The film proved so popular that the titular cat, named Perrault, after the original's author - or Pero for short, was adopted as the company's mascot. Many older readers might remember him from the closing credits of a number of the American Saturday morning cartoons animated by the company including Transformers.

The popularity of Pero's debut prompted several other outings for the character. Nagagutsu Sanjyuushi (Three Musketeers in Boots) was the first, appearing in cinemas on 18th March 1972. The action is relocated to the Wild West where Pero helps a young girl named Annie, restores law and order to the town of Go Go and avoids the constant ambushes of his arch nemesis Neko boss' henchmen.

The 53 minute film was directed by Tomoharu Katsumata who went on to direct the Captain Harlock movie Arcadia of My Youth in 1982.

Pero's third and final outing came in 1976 with Puss 'n Boots: Around the world in 80 Days a return to the first movie's literature roots. In '92 a Toei Puss In Boots TV show aired on TV Tokyo but it is completely unrelated to these movies and stars a different title character.

Three Musketeers in Boots was picked up for western distribution by the company ATA Trading in the early 80's. The company was founded in 1947 and specialised in independent productions and foreign movies and acquired a number of animated movies from Toei for distribution in other territories including Nobodys Boy and Ali Baba's Revenge. ATA Trading are still in business today and have expanded their operations into art dealing and valuation.

With a dub by the Canadian studio Sonolab (the company behind the Raccoons TV series) TMiB became Ringo Rides West, Pero renamed Ringo after the infamous real life Cowboy Johnny Ringo. Released in 1984 it was briefly available on video in the USA and UK from MPI Home Video and Mountain Video respectively. The UK video also contained a 'Bonus Cartoon' to bulk up the running time to feature length (more on this later). It was also mis-titled
Ringo Goes West on the video sleeve.

Pero's second adventure was seen around the world on TV and video including France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Nagagutsu Sanjuushi Ringo Rides West   Toei Logo
Japanese Movie Poster
Japanese VHS Cover
Pero appearing as Toei's logo

Our story begins suddenly with an enraged, and for the duration anonymous, cat leader bellowing the demand that his underlings kill Ringo "by Thanksgiving" for the unforgivable crime of being a "mouse lover" (I'm sure it's not as distasteful as it sounds). It's apparent that this was a task they'd been previously given and had obviously failed at. The incentive for these subjugated moggies to carry out the assassination of Ringo is to avoid execution by hanging. The scene is dimly lit and the cat leader is a scary and imposing character all in all this isn't entirely what I was expecting from a childrens video packaged with a bright, colourful cover!

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West

The credit sequence begins with the movie actually titled "RINGO RIDES WEST" (speech marks included). The hero of the tale rides peacefully across the plains until his journey is interrupted by the feline assassins. From here Ringo's journey descends into cartoon slapstick as he attempts to escape his determined would-be murderers. Eventually he looses them by using the old "uncoupling the train cars" trick (no doubt causing terrible disruption to the railroad's timetable) and just in time too as the credits are just ending!

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West

Ringo has hitched a ride on the roof of a stage coach heading through the desert. On the roof with him is a young boy and inside are a priest, a young girl named Annie and two generic and nameless old west types. Annie, it is revealed, is the daughter of the tavern owner in Go Go Town, the coaches destination. She is returning home after being schooled in the East and the priest warns her that her home town has changed quiet a bit since she left.

Suddenly the coach comes under attack from bandits, the driver tries to out run them but it's in vain. The men search the wagon for "the Sheriff" and leave peacefully finding him absent. The unsavoury characters return to Go Go Town, just ahead of the other travelers, to give the news to their boss "Blackie" (presumably named after his stereotypical 'Western Villain' outfit). He seems pleased with their findings, concluding that the Sheriff isn't coming as he is too scarred to dare try and clean up the town.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

Moments later Annie and the others arrive in Go Go. She is met from the coach by her Aunt who has some terrible news for the young girl - the two of them hurry to her father's saloon, a drinking-hole so generic that even it's name is "Saloon Western"! Outside people are huddled around the doors. The two push through and are greeted by a shocking sight - Annie's father laying dead on the floor! This discovery is understandably upsetting for the girl... they could have just told her, they didn't have to leave him rotting on the Saloon floor until she got home! When Annie looks answers the town's folk walk away unwilling to risk their own lives by spilling the beans. There is a coin in Annie's father's hand but before she has time to inspect it Blackie's hoods Fatty and One-Eye arrive on the scene and swipe it from her. As they leave the Major of Go Go enters to comfort the child. Annie asks him about her father's murder and he tells her that they have had four Sheriffs since she left and each one of them has been killed. It seems no one is brave enough to protect the law abiding in Go Go anymore.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

At the funeral later that day young Annie decides to leave town and head back East to continue her schooling. She returns to the Saloon to pack meeting Ringo on the way and he implores her to stay. He admits he has a thing for pretty girls and even more of a thing for justice! He wants her to stay in Go Go and uncover her father's killer so he can be dealt with by the authorities. It's no good though, Annie has made up her mind and Jimmy, the boy Ringo met on the Stage Coach, isn't helping any either happy just to keep out of it and strum his guitar. While scolding Jimmy for his apparent lack of concern Ringo spots a horse he recognises from the earlier hold up tethered outside a bar across the street. With no help from Jimmy he decides to investigate.

The patrons seem decidedly Cat-ist and hurl Ringo back outside so he sneaks in the back through a window. Inside the pantry he finds a caged indian mouse and goes to free him not realising it is an elaborate trap! He is ambushed by the three Cat assassins who give him a choice: either eat the mouse, silently accepting his role in an anti-mouse society or be killed. Ringo defies them by freeing the captive rodent and displays Segal-like speed as he avoids a bullet and escapes his aggressors with assistance from the freed mouse. Under the floor boards the Indian mouse tribe thank Ringo for his help and pledge to do all they can to assist him in future. They also offer some information - that the Saloon owner from the other side of town is planning on chasing Annie out of town!

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

Our hero catches up with Annie as she is preparing to board the Stage Coach out of town and she is told of the news. Ringo repeats his pledge to help her track down the man responsible for her father's death and this time even Jimmy agrees to help. Sure enough Fatty and One-Eye appear and try to force Annie onto the coach but Ringo intervenes with a bit of butt-biting and a fight breaks out. Ringo implores the town's people to stand up to the criminals and to fight for justice but no one is willing to risk their lives. Finally Annie agrees to stay.

From a window in his Saloon Blackie has been watching all this. He's not afraid of the threat posed by Annie, Jimmy and Ringo - not because they're two kids and a cat but because, it is revealed, he has the mayor on his side!

That evening Jimmy hatches a plan to turn Annie's father's run down Saloon into a restaurant. Ringo is overjoyed by the idea and even goes so far as to perform an impromptu musical number based around it to encourage Annie to agree. The hastily written English lyrics seem to work if they are a little contrived such as the opening; #Stay with us and you will see, this old place we will haunt, until we've built for you, the most delightful restaurant!#

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

By the end of this brief song-and-dance Ringo and the gang, with a little help from the Indian mice, have restored the run down building into a brand new Restaurant imaginatively named 'Annie's Western Restaurant'. Blackie seems none to please about this turn of events and ominously promises to eat there at it's grand opening that night.

At the grand opening seems a success. Annie plays piano and people dance and celebrate. All goes well until Blackie's goons arrive. Ringo gives them a table but they aren't there to eat of course. Within minutes they are started a brawl and are willfully destroying everything the two children, cat and mice had worked so hard to create. The good guys fight back with slapstick but the arrival of more heavies leaves them out numbered. The Indian mice decide it's time to intervene and launch a barrage of pepper arrows which has everyone, good and bad, coughing, spluttering and stumbling for the door.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

The next day Annie's Western Restaurant lays in ruins. "Why those crumb bums! They've really demolished the place!" laments Ringo. In amongst the wreckage Annie uncovers a Mexican silver coin just like the one her father was holding and on closer inspection it is found to be a fake. She reasons that one of Blackie's men must have dropped it and jumps to the conclusion that Blackie must have killed her father. Ringo likes this theory too as it proves his mistrust of Blackie was correct all along. He decides to head over to the suspicious man's 'Saloon Paradise' to investigate further.

He sneaks inside through a loose floor board (the one brighter than all the others as usual) and heads up stairs. Looking behind closed doors he sees someone he thinks is Jimmy but before he can clarify the three cat assassins butt in again. Once more there is a comedy scuffle but it is cut short by the arrival of Blackie himself, entering the room through a secret door. Ringo darts through the opening before it closes and discovers a whole money forging operation in action.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

Ringo rushes back to the restaurant and blurts out his findings to Annie not realising that the mayor is listening in. The mayor immediately alerts Blackie who decides that the only way to stop his counterfeiting operation being uncovered is if the mayor murders Annie!

That evening Mr Mayor invites Annie and her cat to his home for dinner. Not long after they sit down at the table Blackie's men walk in, guns at the ready but rather than shoot them they instead tie up Annie and Ringo and through them in the shed. With the good guys so clearly taken care of Blackie organises the horde of phony loot to be ferried out of town to hide any trace of his wrong doings.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

Back at the shed a figure walks in brandishing a knife. The two heroes cower in fear but rather than the expected throat slitting the stranger turns out to be Jimmy and he uses his blade to free them. He directs Ringo to the fleeing wagon of coins while he and Annie stay behind to take care of Blackie himself.

On the back of his trusty donkey Ringo catches up to the wagon and after much fumbling and slapstick the bad guys are stopped and the evidence secured. Meanwhile in town an army of bandits have lent their support to Blackie & Jimmy has to resort to fatal shootings to survive.

From the window of his Saloon Blackie taunts the young boy encouraging him to find a sheriff brave enough to take him in. Then comes the big twist.... Jimmy is the sheriff! Annie's father called him to town after discovering Blackie's counterfeit coins - the very one Blackie had his men on the look-out for. The streets are turned into a battle ground as the sheriff shoots it out with countless bandits appearing on every rooftop from every window and from behind every barrel. With some swift gunplay and a little help from Ringo and the Indian mice all the bad guys fall leaving only Blackie but he has plan...

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

The villain takes Annie hostage and a tense stand off between him and the sheriff unfolds. The outlaw demands Jimmy drops his gun or the girl dies. Seeing no other choice Jimmy eventually complies. The town looks on in horror as the cowardly bandit wastes no time in shooting the sheriff as soon as he is unarmed. Annie runs to his aid and now that she is no longer in the line of fire Jimmy grabs his gun and fires! Things go hazy for Blackie as he stumbles into the street milking his death for all he can like any good Western Outlaw would.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

With everyone seemingly distracted the Mayor makes a dash for freedom but Ringo spots him and snipes him in the head from the roof top. With a mouse catapult. Fearing he might attempt to escape again the Indian mice hold the old man down while our feline hero pounds him in the head.

  Ringo Rides West  

It seems the good guys have won the day. Jimmy's life was saved by the counterfeit coins in his pocket, Blackie and his men are dead and the crooked Mayor is in custody. The next morning Ringo and Jimmy receive a heroes farewell as they leave town and part ways. Riding off on his own Ringo is once more ambushed by the cat assassins and they chase him off into the horizon.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West Three Musketeers in Boots

The main feature fades out and a moment later the bonus cartoon fades in. The differing style of the animation jars with Ringo's which is still fresh in the mind. There is no title card or introduction for our second story but with a little research it is revealed to be a full episode of Charlotte Holmes, another anime adaptation.

Ringo Goes West Ringo Rides West

But more on that another time...

Missing videos Missing videos

Ringo Sings
How do you convince someone to do some difficult and time consuming work? With a musical number!

High Noon
The final showdown between Ringo & Jimmy, Blackie and his men.

Good dubbing
Good script
  Faithful adaptation
  Not too long
  Bonus cartoon
  Incorrect title!
Some simplistic character designs
Slightly choppy edits

There is something interesting about the portrayal of the old west in Ringo Rides West. It is far removed from the way a similar childrens movie from the west would deal with the scenario. In a Disney or Warner Bros cartoon would the child sheriff hero actually shoot dead the outlaws or would he instead capture them by far less fatal and more slapstick means? I can't imagine Blackie being shot dead in the street in a Pixar production more likely he would have been caught in barrel or snared by a rope related ambush while trying to flee the town.

I'm not suggesting that the gunplay in Ringo is overtly violent - there is no blood and the victims simply clutch their wounds and fall to the ground in the tradition of Cow Boy matinees - it's just that such action would unlikely be deemed acceptable for a kid's movie in the West especially today.

I think Ringo Rides West benefits from the shorter than usual running time. The animation is great, smooth and fluid if not too detailed. The dubbing is good and well characterised. It's a shame that this second sequel wasn't as widely available as the other movies in the Puss 'n Boots series.