When I was a boy in the magical, wonderful days of black-and-white photos and Howdy Doody on TV, the 1960’s, the Belmond movie theater did free Christmas movies for kids. Every weekend when I was nine we went to the show and took the neighbor kids, packed ourselves five-to-a-seat along with every other kid in Wright County, Iowa, and watched wonderful movies. We saw westerns with Jimmy Stewart and Alan Ladd. We saw Tarzan find the Elephant’s Graveyard in a movie starring Mike Henry. And best of all, we found a movie playing there as part of a triple-feature free-movie day, all in Japanese animation (known today as anime) called The Magic Boy. I fell in love. No, not with a neighbor girl or girl cousin that I was either sitting on or holding on my lap, but with the magic that is Japanese animation. Now, I won’t lie and say this was before I became slavishly devoted to the animated cartoon show Astroboy that played most weekday afternoons at three, and for several years at five o’clock in the morning. I was already immersed in that as well, but it was all on the black-and-white Motorola TV. It was the color, the motion, the cuteness of the characters, and the Japanese-ness of the basic story that I fell in love with.
It was the story of Sasuke, a young boy living in feudal Japan with his sister and several cutesy, highly-personified critters. One day, a marauding eagle comes and snatches up the little Bambi deer-thing and takes him to a lake. The fawn is dropped into the lake as a necessary sacrifice to the eagle’s evil mistress. Sasuke and his pets come to the rescue, leaping into the lake and saving the drowning deer. A huge evil salamander, actually the witch in her accursed form, nabs one of the rescuers, one of Sasuke’s pets, and eats it to gain the power to re-constitute herself in witch form as the evil Yakusha.
Sasuke then goes on a quest. He must learn magical powers from a wizard and grow into a competent sorcerer so that he can defeat the witch and avenge his lost pet. It was a quest that closely mirrored my own. (The year after I saw this wonderful movie, I was sexually assaulted by an older boy, a trauma it took me a lifetime to overcome. My quest was to become a wizard and find magic power to restore myself and protect others. My quest led to becoming a story-teller, a teacher, and an artist… as well as being a wizard. I chose colored pencils as my wands of power.)
This movie changed my drawing style and my life goals for good. And I had never been able to see that old movie again or find it on video despite years of searching because I could not remember what it was called. Today I found it. It is posted online with it’s German title, but the dialogue all in Spanish. I will watch it anyway. But I will only post the snippet I found in English here.