6 April 2014 | MissSimonetta
Discotek needs to get their hands on this and put it on Blu-ray!
Though Hayao Miyazaki's work at Studio Ghibli is known the world over, few outside of Japan seem to know or care about the work he did before that in the 70s and early 80s. It's a real shame, because works such as Future Boy Conan (1978) still hold up well today despite the choppy television animation.
The plot is chock full of iconic Miyazaki themes and archetypes which look forward to his later films and manga. The post-apocalyptic setting, motif of flight, morally ambiguous characters, and environmentalist theme should all be familiar to hardcore Miyazaki fans. In fact, the whole thing feels like a dress rehearsal for the later Castle in the Sky (1986): the relationship between Lana and Conan mirrors the later bond between Pazu and Sheeta, the villain Lepka resembles Muska, and Captain Dyce and his crew bring to mind the Dola pirates.
Despite the similarities, though, Future Boy Conan stands well on its own. I would even go as far as to say it equals (or in some cases, even betters) Castle in the Sky. Being a 26-episode TV series, it has more time to let its characters develop and grow. One major difference between FBC and later Miyazaki is it's broad comedy. There's lots of goofy slapstick and silly moments that you don't see the like of in post-Nausicaa Miyazaki. Still, it's good comedy that never feels out of place.
I know most anime fans won't watch anything preceding Dragonball, but Ghibli fans and Miyazaki diehards will enjoy this series without a doubt. It helps show you where all those ideas, characters, and themes of his later films were first allowed to be fully expressed.