September 30, 2004

Marine The Sea Bottom Boy

Yes, I know -- the fate of the free world was debated in Florida tonight, and I'm going to lead off writing about...cartoons.

He seems like a pretty well informed guy when it comes to this stuff, so maybe Blogfonte knows something about what the Germans would no doubt refer to as a specimen of Ur-Anime, a show I loved as a kid and am disappointed I can't find as an adult, namely Marine Boy.

Marine Boy.jpg

You can learn a heck of a lot more than I remember about the show (I think it went off the air when I was six or seven) by following the link, or this one, which offers a glowing tribute. What I do remember is Marine Boy's Oxygum (which allowed him to breathe underwater -- I confused with Aspirgum, which was aspirin you could blow bubbles with), that the soles of his boots had water jets in them (he'd click his heels together to activate them) and his boomerang. The boomerang was the coolest thing -- it folded into handy pocket size, it was electrified, and it always came back to him. How I envied him the boomerang.

I don't remember much else about the show (including, disturbingly, the music -- more on that later). I don't recall the plots of any of the episodes, or much about the other characters (the Mermaid, named "Neptina," I believe, doesn't ring a bell at all, although I do remember a scientist type and a pair of submariners -- Piper was the name that stuck in my head). The pictures on this site haven't done much to jog my memory, although apparently that the Japanese animators of Marine Boy...


...were buying animated spider robots from Hanna Barbera's Jonny Quest prop department:


What I do recall, rather distinctly, is that, of the various Japanese animated shows available in the U.S. during my youth (Kimba the Lion, Speed Racer, and of course, Astro Boy), Marine Boy seemed, to my then-six-year-old eyes, to be the most sophisticated of the lot -- the timeless classic with real staying power. It's odd that Warner Brothers, which apparently owns the rights to the series, hasn't issued it on DVD or video. Marine Boy was, after all, a very special boy -- as the cheesy theme song (click here, and scroll down to the bottom) makes clear. And this clarity is one of the disturbing elements that challenges my childhood memories. I remember the opening words of the song -- "It's Marine Boy! Brave and free" -- but I recall them sung to a kind of brassy fanfare that combined the majesty of the Star Wars theme with the urgency of the Beatles' "Got to Get Into My Life." Hearing the actual theme -- with its admitteldly charming but simultaneously cliched Japanese motifs and the goofy sound effects in the instrumental break -- I begin to think that, after all, it might be better that the cartoon hasn't been released on DVD, and perhaps some things were meant to be loved solely by children in the late 1960s...

SO, REGARDING THE debate, about all I have to say is that on the things by which we grade debates, it was a draw. And by this I mean, let's say one candidate says A=A, and the other, A=R. In the objective world, A does not equal R. But the candidate saying A=R is quite polished and likeable. The candidate saying A=A looks at his watch or applies extra rouge while saying it, or admits that he doesn't mind if Michael Dukakis's wife is sexually assaulted as long as the attacker agrees that A=A. Now, A will still equal A, but gee, he had a bright red face pointed at his watch while he was saying it, but A=R guy made great eye contact, and really connected with people who think that the government is hiding in Area 51 affordable prescription drugs acquired from the space craft that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico ... well, that's politics, and I admit I'm addicted to it in what I hope is a healthy way.

To get to my point though, there was no moment when either A=A guy or A=R guy, for that matter, made the big mistake. Both candidates did a fairly decent job of critiquing the other guy. I would have preferred it if Kerry had been more specific about his plans and about hypotheticals (I don't criticize Bush for this, because he's actually been President and has a record to run on).

I will say this much (which isn't much) -- I've pretty much made up my mind which candidate I'm going to vote for, and I hope he wins (and expect he will). But I also think the other candidate's ideas are worthy of respect and are not beyond the pale of reasonable discourse, or respectable American politics, and that in other circumstances, they might well be the preferable policies. And that's what I took from the debates -- a draw in the sense that neither candidate looked at his watch while wearing too much rouge, but one candidate being in sync with what (in my altogther inexpert opinion) the next four years demands and the other being several beats out of sync (but not hopelessly lost) with same. Ultimately, the debates didn't have nearly the same impact on my likely vote as, say, the theme song of Marine Boy had on my confidence in my childhood opinions.

Posted by Ideofact at September 30, 2004 11:52 PM

Sadly, I'm one of those johnnys-come-lately that don't have much use for the deep classics, and I don't pay attention to Marine Boy or your general AstroBoyKimbaAmazingThree Tezuka continuum. I'd point you at Robert Fenelon, Jeff Thompson, or one of the other silverbacks, except I don't know of any of them who maintain a regular weblog or journal. Oh, except for Dave Merrill. He'll be the guy blog/livejournal go-to guy on goofy old cr- childhood memories.

To be honest, the only Marine Boy I've even seen was a ten-second-clip from one of Merrill & Co's Bad American Dubbing clipshows. It struck me as the aquatic love-child of Astro Boy and Johnny Quest, neither of which really engaged my emotions or interest on their own merits.

Posted by: Mitch H. at October 1, 2004 11:02 AM

I think at this point I'd find Astro Boy unwatchable (I saw a documentary on some cable access channel about the show, and was pretty horrified I even watched it as a kid, let alone semi-liked it), but Jonny Quest -- at least the vintage 1960s episodes -- still seem like classics to me.

Posted by: Bill at October 5, 2004 01:55 AM

I've never seen Marine Boy, but it reminds me of a couple of other urAnime shows I used to *love*: "The Seven Cities of Gold" and "Spartacus." Ever seen either of these? I think they were Franco-Japanese, actually, but I remember them as being incredibly high-minded compared to the other stuff Nickelodeon was showing at the time.

Now that I think about it, back before Nickelodeon had the budget to do flashy, American-style stuff on its own, there was some great low-budget international programming on that channel. Turkey TV, some British show about modern pagans, the aforementioned cartoons. Hmm.

Just mindless ruminating-- don't mind me. ;)

Posted by: J. Puma at October 5, 2004 02:17 PM