Movies ‘Til Dawn: “Marine Boy: The Complete First Season” (1967)

712SHOf40uL._SL1000_This candy-colored anime aired in the United States on syndicated stations in 1967, making it among the first Japanese animated series (after Astro Boy, Gigantor and Kimba the White Lion) to reach television audiences here. Set in a not-too-distant future in which mankind has focused its interests on undersea exploration, Marine Boy follows the adventures of the titular teenager, who aids his father, the aptly named Dr. Mariner, and members of the Ocean Patrol in protecting the seas from ceaseless attacks from crooks, despots, rogue scientists, monsters and other nefarious types. Marine Boy’s efforts are largely successful, thanks to his array of technologically advanced gear, including “Oxy-Gum,” a strip of white chewing gum which allows him to plumb the ocean depths without breathing apparatuses, while receiving backup from his white dolphin, Splasher, and the adolescent mermaid Neptina, whose alarming (if appropriate for merfolk) lack of clothing is somewhat negated by strategically placed tresses. Cartoon-loving kids of the 21st century may find the animation crude by today’s standards, but will undoubtedly enjoy the extraordinary amount of out-and-out carnage in each episode, which invariably end with a high body count, a fleet of destroyed vessels and monsters vanquished with high explosives. Parents not distressed by the on-screen mayhem may find their nostalgia nerves twanged but good by the familiar tones of the vocal cast – Corrine Orr as Marine Boy and Neptina, with the prolific Jack Curtis, Jack Grimes and Peter Fernandez handling a host of supporting roles – all of whom performed similar duties on Speed Racer and dozens of other Japanese imports (Fernandez also directed the dialogue). Like the aforementioned Astro Boy and other proto-anime, Marine Boy is probably best enjoyed by anime enthusiasts seeking to fill in the gaps in the vast and dizzyingly complicated timeline of Japanese animation, or by wistful former Saturday afternoon aficionados seeking a whiff of vintage thrills; the three-disc Warner Archives set includes 26 of the show’s 78 episodes. 

About Paul Gaita

Paul Gaita lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his lovely wife and daughter. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Variety and The Fix, among many other publications, and was a home video reviewer for Amazon.com from 1998 to 2014. He has interviewed countless entertainment figures from both the A and Z lists, but his favorites remain Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury and George Newall, who created both Schoolhouse Rock and the Hai Karate aftershave commercials. He once shared a Thanksgiving dinner with celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson, and regrettably, still owes the late character actor Charles Napier a dollar.
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