|AKA: 未来少年コナン (Mirai Shounen Konan), Conan: The Boy in Future, Conan: The Boy of the Future|
|Genre: Classic futuristic adventure with fantasy elements and drama|
|Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 25 minutes each|
|Distributor: Currently unlicensed In North America|
|Content Rating: 10+ (emotional intensity, violence (some rather intense), language)|
|Related Series: Future Boy Conan 2: River Adventure, Future Boy Conan: The Movie|
|Also Recommended: Any other Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli movies (especially Nausicaa and Laputa), The World Masterpiece Theatre shows (especially the ones with Miyazaki Involvement), PataPata Airship Adventure, Nadia, any old school fantasies or sci-fi shows|
|Notes: This series is very loosely based on the novel The Incredible Tide by Alexander Key. The novel has long been out of print, and is now extremely rare. This series marks the directoral debut for Hayao Miyazaki. However, he had NO involvement in the sequel.|
Future Boy Conan
July 3, 2008 A.D.
Mankind was facing the fires of extinction. Super-magnetic weapons, far more destructive than atomic weapons, caused half the world to be wiped out in an instant. The Earth was seized by great tectonic upheavals. Its axis was twisted. The five continents were ripped completely apart and sank into the sea...
Twenty years later, life exists on only a few remaining islands. One of these islands is "Remnant Island", where a boy named Conan lives with his grandfather as the only two survivors on the island. They think they might be the only two humans still alive in the world, until a girl named Lana turns up unconscious on the beach. Lana is being chased by the huge technological city of Industria, and they soon capture her again. Conan is determined to get her back, and sets off on the adventure of a lifetime.
There aren't any true anime fans who haven't at least heard of the great works of Hayao Miyazaki. That's because his films have such pure, three dimensional characters and situations, and such innovative and unique fantasy settings, that they've practically become the prime example of what anime is, or at least what anime should be. His films have set the criterion for existing trends in the industry, and started several new ones. He is considered a master of storytelling, not just in the anime world, but in all of filmmaking. So where did it all start? Where did this amazing artist's creative vision first show itself? For the answer, look no further than Future Boy Conan, which is the first series Miyazaki ever directed. Because this series reaches such a level of excellence, suspense, and fun, it's soon apparent that only Miyazaki could have directed it.
By this point, it hopefully goes without saying that this series is, in every way, an excellent experience. When you aren't having great fun watching this adventure unfold, you're cringing on the edge of your seat in suspense. The plot work is excellent, excellently combining the fun with the serious and symbolic for a multi-layered story that anyone can enjoy a part of. At the end, this series is ultimately a cautionary disutopian sci-fi tale (funny, so are later Miyazaki films Nausicaa and Laputa), but you couldn't tell it from other parts of the series, which often times appears as more of a fun adventure between two friends, with even a slight fantasy trend. That's what makes the storyline not only work for anime, Miyazaki, and sci-fi fans, but for anybody who can enjoy real storytelling. Because right as the series has been going one direction for long enough, it won't fail to change course at the drop of a hat (or episode ^_^), while keeping the same amazing characters.
Which brings us to the characters of Future Boy Conan. They're some of the most amazing, memorable characters I've ever seen in an anime. That's because they never fall flat, ever. Even though they're all formed from some of the most fundamental archetypes of storytelling, you're always discovering new layers of all the characters, regardless of how major they are, or whether they are good or bad. This is because, even though they are based off fundamental archetypes, they are all identified as human characters, and humans aren't in black and white. That's why, every time you think you've figured a character out from front to back, they'll do something that, although unexpected, somehow fits with the character's personality. This, along with the engaging plot, makes for an amazingly fun, watchable show that you'll want to watch at an amazing speed.
But the storytelling aspect of Future Boy Conan, which alone would make for a superb series, is only half of this show's triumph. The amazing setting and locale of the show is showcased excellently with beautiful, colorful, vivid animation. Granted, this is a seventies anime, and the animation looks like a seventies anime. While it may at some times look limiting; overall, it works, and extraordinarily well at that. The character designs are adequate, and become very appealing still in the early stages of the series. The animation is smooth, and treats the action scenes very well. The backgrounds, while more abstract than modern shows, never cease to please the eye while setting the many locations of this adventure. The voice acting aspect of the show is also excellent. The acting talent is such that it adds even another layer to the characters, making them seem even more real and three dimensional.
The only creative aspect of this series that could be considered lacking would be the sound and music. It, like the artwork, is very much '70's style, and is very much lost and misunderstood (initially, at least) to those fans who are used to J-Pop every 5 minutes in their anime. However, it, like the animation, works, and that's what counts. The BGM and SFX appear to, if anything, get better as the series progresses, and you'll go from thinking at the beginning of the series that the OP and ED themes are, well, just a little weird, to absolutely loving them by the end. So, the music in Future Boy Conan won't make you love '70's style anime music, but it will make you love its '70's style music, and ends up adding a lot to the series.
So overall, Future Boy Conan is a perfect example of what anime should be. An engaging, multi-layered story with many creative sci-fi and fantasy locales and lovable, archetypal characters that, nevertheless, never cease to surprise you. The production values, while dated, are superb, and succeed in showcasing the series in all its glory. It's also coincidentally the prototype for all of Miyazaki's later work, and elements of every single movie he's worked on since can be found here, wonderfully utilized to move this wonderful adventure along. It's an absolute must see for any anime fan, especially Miyazaki fans. Also, because of how dynamic every creative aspect of this is, just about anyone who enjoys classic storytelling, otaku or not, can find great enjoyment in this series. It's a truly amazing piece of work, and is not to be missed!
Maybe subtract one star (but just one), if you absolutely cannot stand '70's anime, as that is just simply what this is. However, even if you are one of those people, you'll still find immense enjoyment in this series, and shouldn't miss it! For everyone else, this'll be a show that you remember for a long, long time. — Connor McCarty
Recommended Audience: This show is generally so lighthearted and harmless that it hurts to say anyone shouldn't see it. That being said, there is some violence. Although it's mostly slapstick, it can escalate into gunfights (sometimes machine vs. machine, but sometimes human vs. human) and some deaths do result. The violence develops a more serious tone as the series progresses. There's also some emotional intensity, especially near the end, as the suspense peaks to a near unbearable level, and a certain enemy ends up being much more ruthless and evil than he'd appeared to be before. There's also a fair amount of language, at least in the translation I viewed, and as the emotional intensity gears up, so does the language. So, overall, I must say that young children under 10 or so probably shouldn't see this, at least without guidance.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Future Boy Conan © 1978 Nippon Animation Co Ltd