Tottoko Hamutaro: Anime Dechu! (found "Hamtaro" anime series; 1999)
Magazine ad for VHS of the anime
Date found: Unknown
Found by: Admins of "Ham-Ham Paradise"
Tottoko Hamutaro: Anime Dechu! is the original 1999 adaptation of the popular anime series Tottoko Hamutaro known as Hamtaro in America.
Most anime fans probably know the series Hamtaro, the anime about the cute little hamster owned by a 5th-grade girl named Laura/Hiroko and who goes on adventures with his hamster friends. However, before the actual series premiered in Japan in 2000, there was a short series that was released on VHS in 1999 called Tottoko Hamutaro Anime Dechu! (とっとこ ハム太郎 ヤニメ でちゆ), (not to be confused with the 2011 Hamtaro re-airing known as Tottoko Hamutaro Dechu).
What is known about this anime is as follows:
- It is based on the original manga by Ritsuko Kawai and has no relation to the final series (in other words, it is not considered a pilot for the final series).
- Hamtaro was voiced by Naomi Nagasawa instead of Kurumi Mamiya. He is also the only hamster to speak in the series.
- Hamtaro is owned by a girl named Natsumi and not Laura/Hiroko.
- Penelope (Chibimaru-chan) is a boy called Chibimaru-kun in this version.
- Most of the main 15 Ham-Hams appear, except for Boss and Stan.
- The VHS release contains 4 episodes of the anime, and it's unknown if any others were produced or not.
- The VHS was apparently not publicly available and was only given/sold to members of the production team at Shogakukan, the company who created Hamtaro, which makes it especially rare. The original cost was apparently 1200 yen (approx. $10).
- The episodes used songs that would be used later in the final series, including “Let’s Draw Hamtaro”, “Let’s Play Again Tomorrow” and “Techitechi March” .
- The anime's existence was brought into knowledge by this Twitter post: https://twitter.com/ermame26/status/841543418195017729
UPDATE as of July 20th, 2017: A tape of the original adaptation appeared on a Japanese auction website and was bought by admins of the Hamtaro fansite "Ham-Ham Paradise" who have digitized it!: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AqsjLYEl7OKojVo1lii0MCchEqic
Screenshots of the tape have been posted by a Japanese twitter user under the moniker 8111Fhamtaro.