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The Asian ApertureThe Little Norse Prince (1968)
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, April 19, 2014    Share

Back in the 60ís, Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki teamed up to create a beautiful adventure tale about a young boy who grows up to be a fierce warrior. Years later, Takahata and Miyazaki would found Studio Ghibli in 1985.

Based on the puppet play called Chikisani no Taiyo aka The Sun Above Chikisani from Ainuís oral tradition, the setting was changed to Scandinavia and was one of the first anime intended for an adult audience.

This coming of age story begins with a young boy, Hols, who is fighting for his life against a pack of ferocious silver wolves. Armed with only a small axe with a rope attached to it, Hols must rely on his wits to survive the attacking wolves who leap at him from multiple directions. During the conflict, Hols awakens a giant stone creature. The creature complains of a sharp pain in his shoulder and Hols pulls out a sword. The sword turns out to be the Sword of the Sun and contains magical properties when sharpen. Hols and the creature become friends and Hols set out to return to the village that he was born in and save it from the evil onslaught of Grunwald, a sorcerer, who had previously destroyed it.

Along the way, Hols befriends Coro a bear cub. The two soon are forced to fight Grunwald who causes Hols to fall from a cliff. Grunwald thinks Hols is dead. However, Hols is nursed back to health in a nearby village and is befriended by an old man who helps Hols sharpen his Sword of the Sun.

For a 1968 anime theatrical release from Toei, The Little Norse Prince still holds up well today. Rich colors are used throughout with detailed backgrounds. Although not a musical, various characters do break out into songs that move the plot along instead of being a silly distraction as in Alakazam the Great.

One of my favorite moments in The Little Norse Prince is how emotions are enhanced in action scenes by the use of stills. Instead of animating the action, detailed stills are used that showcase characters in various emotions that are easy to identify with. These stills are like a combination of manga and woodblock art that allows the viewer to feel engaged. When watching these scenes in context while sandwiched between scenes involving motions, these stills donít pull you out of the story. This can only be credited to how wonderfully illustrated they are and combined with excellent camerawork and editing provide a rewarding experience. Never once did I complain when the scenes switched from motions to still images.

Sadly, The Little Norse Prince failed to connect with audiences in Japan and only lasted 10 days. However students and up-and-coming anime artists rallied behind it causing it to become an underground hit.

The Little Norse Prince is a wonderful time capsule into the potential of what anime would one day become and what Japanese animated movies were like in the 60ís. It has likeable characters, an engaging plot, and is never boring. Adults and children can both find something to enjoy.

The Little Norse Prince is available for Steaming on Netflix under the title Little Norse Prince Valiant. Oddly, Netflix lists it as Episode 1, which is in error, this really is the movie and not part of an ongoing anime series. So for a clever blast from the past, sit back and enjoy. The perfect movie for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Highly Recommended

5 out of 5 Stars

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2014 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2014 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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The Little Norse Prince (1968)