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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

'Magic Boy' DVD: Terrific Blend of Anime and Hanna-Barbera Style Animation

Magic Boy (1961)
Warner Archive extends its reach beyond traditional classic and cult film and television fare in releasing the DVD version of the 1961 Japanese anime family drama "Magic Boy." The Archive insight regarding this one is that is "the first full-length animated feature produced in Japan to reach the shores of the United States."

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube and Archive, of a scene from "Boy" provides a good look at the terrific animation style and lays out the basic story in roughly three minutes. It will draw you in and leave you wanting more.

This truly delightful and charming movie begins with titular lad Sasuke frolicking in the woods with his playful woodland creature friends when one of them is carried off and becomes a victim of a previously restrained wicked witch who breaks free and connects with a gang of bandits that is terrorizing the countryside.

The witch roaming free prompts Sasuke to seek out mountaintop dwelling wizard Hakumsai to begin a lengthy Luke Skywalker-style apprenticeship developing the magical skills that defeating the witch requires.

The overall setting prompts a strong impulse to comment that Sasuke has a yen for magic, and his walking down a mountainside at a perpendicular angle screams out for referring to the '66 "Batman" series. The final primary riffing opportunity comes during a catchy tune that rhymes "witch" and "ditch;" the word to add in the improvised line is quite obvious.

Further, "Boy" is very artistically animated in the old-school gentle anime style rather than the garish and frantic modern form with a history of inducing seizures. Think more "Kimba the White Lion" than "Dragon Ball Z".

Additionally, the English dubbing is expertly done in a manner that avoids the choppiness and poorly executed syncing between audio and video that characterizes a great deal of anime.

Every visually stunning sequence looks great; stand outs include an underwater scene and the very vivid expected showdown between our hero and his nemesis.

Additional magic in "Boy" relates to it telling the story of a youngster reaching his potential despite his doubts in a sweet but not teeth-rotting manner. It will make you believe that a boy can fly.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Boy" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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