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AKA: Baeku, Baekgu, Pure Heart Baekgu, White Dog with White Heart
Genre: Drama
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America
Content Rating: PG (violence, depictions of animal abuse)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: 101 Dalmatians, Aristocats, The Fox and the Hound
Notes: From the Editor:

White Heart Baekgu is based loosely on the true story of a Korean Jindo Island dog named Baekgu who, in 1995, traveled 260 km and 6 months to return to its original owners after being sold to an owner on the mainland. In general, this animated series represents the tradition of the dogs of Jindo Island, who are legendary in their region for being an extraordinarily loyal and intelligent breed.

This review is based off an all-region DVD ("White Dog with White Heart ") that makes some changes to the character names (Sori and Dongi are "Sol" and "Dong", and Baekgu is renamed "Max") - there is no official North American or European release, though.

This series is a South Korean production that we are reviewing as a service to the readers of this site. While it is not technically anime by this site's definition of the term, we feel this is a series worth reviewing and championing in North America.
Rating: Five StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive StarsFive Stars

White Heart Baekgu

Synopsis

Sol and Dong live with their widower father on an island village, where he works as a fisherman. One day a white puppy enters their lives. They adopt him and name him Max. However, after their father dies at sea and circumstances separate Max from Sol and Dong, Max must find the will to fight his way home, so he can be reunited with his owners.


Review

This TV series puzzles me to no end. The initial uncertainty of its national origin aside and the fact that I didn't know its title for a long time, the story itself has so many turns and plot twists that I couldn't help feeling lost from time to time. And yet ...

The art itself has a very Studio Ghibli-esque feel to it, only hampered with stilted and choppy animation in occasional scenes, coupled with the use of layer movement to simulate animation in other scenes. Which is odd, because just as often the animation runs smoothly and beautifully. Especially the weather effects like rain and snow are beautifully crafted.

The Korean dub is well played. At least I think so. I'm not really a good judge of this -- the Korean language sounding very unfamiliar to me, unlike Japanese. The music is generally very good too, in particular towards the end of the series.

The plot itself actually managed to reel me in and keep me hooked to the very end. This series tends to let slip some cheesy lines every now and then (perhaps due to the subtitling), and also depends too much on scenes where people break down and start crying, sometimes for almost no reason at all. However, there's no denying that this is a well written piece when it is all put together, with suspense, drama, and scenes that will squeeze your heart into a small lump sent up your vocal cords.

Of course, this series is seen just as much through the eyes of Max and the other dogs he meets, including his arch enemy Black the fighting dog and the mysterious white dog, Dolgae. In most cases, the dogs are just as talkative as the human actors. So as he travels, he both learns and imparts his small bits of doggy wisdom to the people and their pets who he meets on the way home, giving them his loyalty until they can stand on their own. More often than not, we see that things aren't always what they appear to be and even the bitterest of enemies can remind us that we should never ever treat our four-legged friends any worse than we would ourselves.

So I give a nod in the direction of this strange but beautiful animation. Though it may not be Japanese in origin, there's not a doubt in my mind that it deserves this review and the stars I'm about to give.

If you demand your animation to be absolutely spotless, remove one star.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The dogfights can be rather nasty, plus we do see the occasional scenes of animal abuse. Even so, this can be viewed by anyone at ten or older. And it should be, so we can learn why some people shouldn't be allowed to own pets. Ever.



Version(s) Viewed: DVD, Korean language with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
White Heart Baekgu © 1998 Mago21
 
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