Future Boy Conan (未来少年コナン, Mirai Shōnen Konan), also known as Conan, The Boy in Future, is an anime series produced by Nippon Animation. It premiered across Japan on the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) between April 4 and October 31, 1978 in a 30-minute broadcast frame from 19:30 every Tuesday.

The series is an adaptation of Alexander Key's novel "The Incredible Tide" and spans a total of 26 episodes. It was Hayao Miyazaki's directorial debut, and featured work from industry luminaries such as Isao Takahata, Seiji Okuda, Yasuo Ōtsuka, Yoshiyuki Tomino and Noboru Ishiguro who assumed various roles such as directing, storyboarding and designing.

The audience rating for the original broadcast received a disappointing 8% on average in the Kanto region, and the maximum audience rating was only 14% by the 25th episode. It was remade as a compilation film but was dismissed by the original television production staff, who saw it as going against their original intentions.

A video game version of the series by Riot / Telenet Japan was released in February 28, 1992 on NEC's PC Engine console. The game was released on the Super CD-Rom format and was only available in Japan. A compilation movie was released in 1979.

Overview

The series marked Hayao Miyazaki's directorial debut and was the first ever animated series aired on NHK. Television shows aimed at young boys were traditionally broadcast at 18:00, but considering children and adolescents accounted for the majority of viewership during prime time, they decided to schedule the series' broadcast at 19:30. Following this series' release, the 19:30 Tuesday timeslot became a regular anime program block.

The production faced numerous production delays, as it took one year and three months to complete all 26 episodes. When an episode wasn't completed for broadcast, NHK would air another program and apologize for the delay due to "production circumstances". Miyazaki recalled that "it was possible because it was the NHK."

Yasuo Ōtsuka was originally in charge of the key drawings in the first episode, but Miyazaki was appalled at how Lana, who was described as a beautiful girl, was depicted so poorly. Miyazaki took charge and ended up checking all the key drawings for the first eight episodes.

Plot

Main article: List of Future Boy Conan episodes

Conan, Lana and Jimsy struggle against the forces of Industria.

The story begins in July 2008, during a time when mankind is faced with the threat of extinction. A devastating war fought between two major nations with ultra-magnetic weapons far greater than anything seen earlier brings about total chaos and destruction throughout the world, resulting in several earthquakes and tidal waves, the earth thrown off its axis, its crust being rocked by massive movements, and the five continents being torn completely apart and sinking deep below the sea.

An attempt by a group of people to flee to outer space failed, with their spaceships being forced back to earth and vanishing, thus shattering their hopes. But one of the spaceships narrowly escaped destruction and crash landed on a small island which had miraculously survived the devastation. The crew members of the spaceship settled there, as if they were seeds sown on the island.

Amidst these survivors, a boy named Conan was born, bringing a new ray of hope to the earth. After several years, during which most of the other survivors had died and the only people left on the island were Conan and his grandfather, he meets a young girl named Lana, and their adventure begins.

Between the different islands left in the world: Industria, High Harbor, Rambent, and others, the group travel and conflict rises between good and evil.

Characters

Conan (コナン, Konan?) Seiyū
Noriko Ohara
The main protagonist of the series, Conan, is an 11 year old boy who grew up on the island and was raised by his grandfather. Conan is very strong, and can even hang from a ledge using only his toes. Conan is friends with Lana.
Lana (ラナ, Rana?) Seiyū
Mieko Nobusawa
Lana is the first non-Remnant Island inhabitant, and the first girl Conan sees. Lana is the granddaughter of Dr. Lao, and Lepka wants to use her to get Lao to tell him the secret of solar power. Lana is referred to as possessing ESP, allowing her to communicate with a tern named Tikki, as well as sense the presence of her grandpa. She comes from High Harbour.
Grandpa (おじい, Ojī?) Seiyū
Masato Yamanouchi
Conan's elderly grandfather, who's alive after their spaceship crashes on the remnant island in the first episode.
Monsley (モンスリー, Monsurī?) Seiyū
Rihoko Yoshida
A young commander of Industria's armed forces, Monsley is the second non-Islander Conan sees. Piloting the flying boat Falco, she follows Lepka's orders by helping capture Lana, and eventually leading the invasion of Industria to conquer the High Habor. Ultimately after the lost battle in the High Harbor, Monsley renounces Lepka's ambitions, and joins with Conan against him.
Jimsy (ジムシー, Jimushī?) Seiyū
Kazuyo Aoki
A wild boy living alone on the first island Conan arrives at, Jimsy quickly becomes Conan's first 'companion', helping him rescue Lana. Jimsy is a master hunter, and motivated by his stomach.
Dyce (ダイス, Daisu?) Seiyū
Ichirō Nagai
Dyce is a citizen of Industria, and the captain of the ship Barracuda. He was ordered to kidnap Lana prior to the start of series, but let her escape due to his obsession with his captive. Dyce is initially a comedic villain in the show, but eventually becomes one of Conan's allies .
Lepka (レプカ, Repuka?) Seiyū
Iemasa Kayumi
The head of administration of Industria, Lepka technically serves under the Industria High Council, a group of scientists. However, over the course of the series, he becomes the sole dictator of Industria, and the primary antagonist. Lepka desires to extract the secret of solar power from Lao to power his weapons, allowing him to rule over what remains of the world.
Dr. Lao (ラオ博士, Rao-hakase?) Seiyū
Masato Yamanouchi
The grandfather of Lana, the main scientist responsible for the development of solar power for both civil and wartime usage. Originally a member of the Industrian High Council, he defected after he learned of Lepka's ambitions. He believes that the people of Industria must be taught to discard their weapons, and begin new lives. For this reason he escapes, bringing with him the secret of how to access the orbiting solar power station from pre-war times.
Umasou
Umasou is Jimsy's piglet, "unmasou" which means "Look Delicious" in Japan.
Orlo
The coward and the traitor of the High Harbor, he follows the Industria and has an evil plot to become a leader of High Habor then he gives a demand to everyone to give up Industria.
Tera
Orlo's younger sister, she's injured by a rocket from Industria's soldiers and is the second leader of Orlo's men.

Source Material

"The Incredible Tide" by Alexander Key.

The series is based on American novelist Alexander Key's science fiction novel "The Incredible Tide". According to producer Junzo Nakajima, he wanted to work on the project not only because it was the first anime series to be broadcast on the NHK but that he assumed it would be "family friendly" similar to other World Masterpiece Theater works by Nippon Animation. He presumed he would be working on an adaptation of Frances Hodgson's "The Secret Garden" but later changed his mind and decided to "make it an adventure for 5th and 6th grades of elementary school".[1]

Due to the anime boom at the time, NHK decided to adapt "The Incredible Tide". Nakajima chose Hayao Miyazaki to direct, but the latter was initially reluctant. Miyazaki said he would only direct on the condition that he be allowed to alter the story and setting of the novel significantly and that Yasuo Otsuka was appointed as the animation director.

The original novel is a pessimistic tale with a strong ideological point of view set against a Cold War backdrop. Miyazaki was reluctant to show this type of story to children, so he significantly modified the settings and characters. The scenario was now set twenty years after a fictitious war nearly ended all life on Earth. Miyazaki also expressed discomfort in how the original work depicted High Harbor as the United States and Industria as the Soviet Union.[2]

Behind the Scenes

Yasuo Ōtsuka and Hayao Miyazaki have known each other since their days joining student protests.

The series is a co-production between an in-house animation team at Nippon Animation and OH! Production . Each episode averaged roughly 6,000 to 7,000 drawings. While Yasuo Ōtsuka is credited as animation director for the series, he shared responsibilities with Hayao Miyazaki, especially with regard to how Lana was depicted. Miyazaki was dissatisfied with how Lana was drawn in the first episode so he took over as animation director for several episodes.

The credited screenwriter wrote scripts based on the synopsis provided by Miyazaki. It was customary for the producer to require a a final script be written before production begins, but in practice it was rarely done and Miyazaki drew e-conte or storyboard directly. While the production team had initially completed several episodes before airing to act as a buffer, that quickly dwindled due to several production delays.

The series' background music and opening was composed by Shinichiro Ikebe. Compared to Ikebe's previous works, his work in "Conan" has a stronger tonal orientation and is characterized by more upbeat / bright music. The film version's score was done by Koji Fujika.

Legacy

Cover art for the Blu-ray Memorial Box, released on November 25, 2011.

Many aspiring creators cite this work as a major influence in their careers. Mitsuru Hongo, Masayuki Masayuki, Toshiyuki Inoue, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, Hitomi Tateno, and many more. Kitarō Kōsaka, a longtime animator for Studio Ghibli, saw this work in high school and joined OH! Production, an animation studio just so he could work with Hayao Miyazaki.[3] Tadashi Hiramatsu states that the series taught him the joy of moving pictures, and it became his jumping off point as an animator.

Yoshiyuki Tomino, who worked in the series as a storyboard artist, said that he imitated this work when directing "Combat Mecha Xabungle" (1982). Mamoru Oshii, who was a newcomer to the industry at the time, learned story layout after studying the storyboard collection of this series, particularly those done by Isao Takahata.[4]

Sequels

Future Boy Conan II: Taiga Adventure, a spinoff in name only, released in 1999.

Attempts at sequel never left beyond the concept stage in the 1980s. Miyazaki planned to produce a second animated series based on "Around the World Under the Sea" on NHK, but the idea was eventually scrapped. These concepts were then recycled in the 1986 animated film, "Castle in the Sky", and some were also seen in the 1990 series "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water", which was directed by Hideaki Anno.

In 1999, TBS aired a spinoff series called, "Future Boy Conan II: Taiga Adventure". While not directly tied to the original, the series shares a similar sense of adventure featuring the titular "Taiga" and his father, the archeologist Dr. Daino. They visit the continent of South America to investigate an ancient ruins discovered by treasure hunters. There they find a stone statue of a gigantic bird which stands more than 50 meters tall. To their surprise, the stone bird wakes up and flies away from the very spot it remain motionless. It turns out that the stone bird is called "Oobats" and when obtains a relic called the "Ooparts Egg", it will become a dangerous weapon which could destroy the whole universe. Taiga must hunt down the bird to prevent world wide disaster.

Its animation and setting emphasize a sense of movement reminiscent of the original. The series also has a few returning staff from the original, such as director Keiji Hayakawa. As for the title of the work, the name "Future Boy Conan II" was omitted after the the 15th episode.

Movie version

The "Future Boy Conan" compilation movie released in 1979. It was disavowed by Hayao Miyazaki.

A 123 minutes "Future Boy Conan" compilation movie was released in theaters on September 15, 1979. It was screened alongside the baseball anime "Yakyū-kyō no Uta", which was also produced by Nippon Animation .

Hajime Sato, who previously directed live-action movies such as "Terror Beneath The Sea" and "Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell", served as the director of the compilation film. The story was significantly modified, omitting several scenes in High Harbors and the climax with the Gigants. The theme song was re-recorded and performed by Naoko Ken, and the background music was also changed.

Key plot points were also changed, such as Dr. Bliack Lao surviving and Industria not sinking. Noriko Ohara, who played the role of Conan, re-recorded new dialogue while suffering with acute laryngitis, had revealed she had mixed feelings over the project. Fan reaction was also generally negative. The film received a home video release in 1984, but is currently out of print.

Koichi Honhashi, the president of Nippon Animation, and producer this film, and Osamu Ueno, who was a radio producer for Nippon Broadcasting Corporation, presented the story of the film adaptation. The proposal was sent to the Nippon Broadcasting Side, and the production was decided by Toei's production cooperation and distribution.

A Gundam-style parody of "Conan" on Out magazine.

Director Hajime Sato and the screenwriter Eiichi Imado were hired by the producers at Toei. Initially, Hayao Miyazaki was set to be appointed as director, which was announced on May 1979's issue of the Animage magazine. However, Miyazaki opposed the changes made to the film's story and demanded that all 26 episodes of the TV series be screened in the theater or that a sequel be produced as a new movie. Despite his protestations, the film was released and Miyazaki chose to have his name removed in the credits.

In order to build hype for the movie's release, on July 20, 1979, 10,000 fans were gathered to hold the "Conan Festival" at Nippon Budokan. Series voice actors performed on stage, and the movie's version of the theme was sung by Hiroko Taniyama. Special guests include Isao Sasaki , Mitsuko Horie, Kumiko Osugi, Yutaka Mizushima, Akira Kamiya, Takashi Toyama.

Furthermore on August 31, 1979, Nippon Broadcasting hosted a special event the day before the release of the movie called "All Night Nippon performs a live broadcast of four hours". It was basically a radio drama with several special guests calling in on the phone.

On August 8, 2012, a digitally remastered version of the film was broadcast on NHK BS Premium, part of the "Summer Vacation Anime Specialties".

Credits

Credit Staff
Screenplay Akira Nakano (13 episodes), Satoshi Kurumi (eps 2, 4), Sōji Yoshikawa (eps 9-11, 15-22)
Series Director Hayao Miyazaki (eps 1-26), Isao Takahata (eps 9-10), Keiji Hayakawa (eps 11-26)
Episode Director Hayao Miyazaki (15 episodes), Isao Takahata (5 episodes), Keiji Hayakawa (5 episodes), Noboru Ishiguro (ep 11), Seiji Okuda (eps 5-6), Takayoshi Suzuki (ep 17), Yoshiyuki Tomino (eps 14, 21)
Animation Director Yasuo Otsuka
Key Animation Hidenori Ooshima (14 episodes), Hideo Kawauchi (eps 2, 4, 6-26), Johji Manabe (eps 8-17), Kazuhide Tomonaga (eps 11, 18-26), Kōichi Murata (eps 8-26), Masako Shinohara (eps 3-26), Nobuhiro Okasako (ep 2), Nobumasa Shinkawa (20 episodes), Nobuo Tomizawa (eps 5, 7-26), Shojuro Yamauchi (eps 8-26), Shunji Saida (eps 5, 8-26), Toshiyasu Okada (ep 7), Yasuji Mori (eps 6-7), Yoshiaki Kawajiri (ep 1), Yoshifumi Kondō (8 episodes)
Background Artists Junji Kasahara (eps 8, 10-26), Masamichi Takano (20 episodes), Taizaburō Abe (eps 1-3, 6, 9-15),
Color Design Michiyo Yasuda
Planning Shoji Sato (Nippon Animation)
Animation Cooperation Anime Toro Toro, Nakamura Productions, Studio Planning, Studio Cockpit, O Productions, Video Studio, Sakuraku Create, LIBERTY SHIP, Mad House, Production IG
Producer Junzō Nakajima, Shigeo Endo
Music Shinichiro Ikebe
Scene Design Hayao Miyazaki

References

  1. "Secret Garden" was eventually adapted as an anime series in April 1991.
  2. Hayao Miyazaki Essay (1996), p435, "Talking about Conan"
  3. "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Roman Album Extra 61" (1984), p114.
  4. Oshii (2004), pp178-179

External Links

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