Future Boy Conan

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (1978; vt Conan, The Boy in Future). Original title Mirai Shōnen Konan. Based on the novel The Incredible Tide (1970) by Alexander Key. Nippon Animation. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Written by Satoshi Kurumi, Akira Nakano and Sōji Yoshikawa. Voice cast includes Iemasa Kayumi, Ichirô Nagai, Mieko Nobusawa, Noriko Ohara, Masato Yamanouchi and Rihoko Yoshida. 26 29-minute episodes. Colour.

In July 2008 the use of "supermagnetic" Weapons during a Future War causes tectonic upheaval, submerging the continents (see Post-Holocaust). A few people flee in a Spaceship, but it crashlands onto one of the few remaining islands. Twenty years later a child, the exceptionally strong Conan (Ohara), and his grandfather are the only survivors. One day Conan finds Lana (Nobusawa), a Telepathic young girl, washed up on the beach; shortly after a hydroplane from the City of Industria arrives, captained by the efficient Monsley (Yoshida). Conan's grandfather is killed and Lana abducted. Building a catamaran, Conan sets off in pursuit. At Industria Lana is questioned by the City's all-Scientist Central Committee about the whereabouts of her grandfather Dr Lao (Yamanouchi), who knows the coordinates of an orbiting satellite that collects solar power (see Power Sources). Lana realizes the Head of Administration, Chief Lepka (Kayumi), wants the energy to fuel the aptly named Giganto, a plane still carrying a supermagnetic weapon, and so rule the world.

Conan and Lana escape and, after some adventures revealing Industria's Dystopian society, they find Dr Lao. He has discovered the weakened Earth's crust around Industria is about to subside, so wants to warn the Central Committee. The others go to Lana's home, High Harbour, a Pastoral community, though not without its tensions. When Monsley arrives in an Industrian gunboat, Conan sinks it and her forces are stranded on the island: a shift in her loyalties begins – earned (perhaps a little quickly) by Conan's trust. Conan, Monsley and others return to Industria where Lepka is now dictator and Dr Lao imprisoned. With the help of the Industrian underclass Lepka is overthrown, despite reviving the Giganto, which Conan forces into the sea. Most of the Industrian's depart for High Harbour, though the Central Committee stay behind to perish with their city. When Lana and Conan are reunited Dr Lao blesses them ("your era begins now"), then dies.

Though an early work, many of Miyazaki's themes are present: environmentalism, anti-fascism (see Politics), strong female characters (see Feminism) and a love of aircraft. Despite its hostility towards industrialization and technophilia, the film's antipathy is not towards science itself: the Central Committee members are well meaning – though curiously Dr Lao, due to injury and build, physically recalls the Frankenstein Monster from Frankenstein (1931). The characterization is variable: whilst Lepka is two-dimensional, Monsley is an example of Miyazaki's redeemable Villains (she is also the most competent Industrian we meet); though her romance with the comic-relief Captain Dyce (Nagai) is unconvincing. Bearing in mind the budgetary constraints, the animation is impressive and ahead of its time: it looks like a Miyazaki work, with overgrown rockets and skyscrapers. Though overlong and more simplistic than his later works, it still stands up well.

A 49-minute compilation movie edited from the final three episodes was titled Mirai shônen Konan Tokubetsu-hen: Kyodaiki Giganto no Fukkatsu (1979; vt Conan the Future Boy: The Big Giant Robot's Resurrection). The animated television series Future Boy Conan II: Taiga Adventure (1999-2000) (original title Mirai Shounen Conan 2: Taiga Daibouken) is, despite its title, unconnected to this Anime. [SP]

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