Hayao Miyazaki’s path to fame and admiration among international animation fans has been anything but linear. Particularly in the English-speaking world, the Studio Ghibli co-founder didn’t earn significant mainstream recognition until "Spirited Away’s" Oscar win in 2002, at which point he’d been working in the anime industry for almost 40 years.
The result for a lot of non-Japanese fans is that when they did discover Miyazaki’s magic, they had a treasure trove of his past works to experience too. But there’s one early work that’s never been offered for sale in North America, and actually wasn’t even allowed to be sold there, that’s finally going to be available, as "Future Boy Conan" has been licensed for North American distribution by GKids.
"Future Boy Conan," alternately known as "Conan, The Boy in Future," is a 26-episode post-apocalyptic adventure anime TV series that aired in the fall of 1978. It’s an imaginative adaptation of American author Alexander Key’s novel "The Incredible Tide," but what’s really noteworthy about it is that it’s the very first anime for which Miyazaki has sole credit as a director (Miyazaki shared co-directing credits with eventual Studio Ghibli colleague Isao Takahata for the 1971 "Lupin III" TV series, and a brief pilot Miyazaki directed in 1972, titled "Yuki’s Sun," was never developed past a four-minute teaser).
▼ "Future Boy Conan"
But while "Future Boy Conan" is considered something of a half-forgotten classic by anime historians, it didn’t impress Key, who was upset at the changes Miyazaki had made to his original story, such as giving it a more optimistic tone. Key’s animosity continued from beyond the grave, as he instructed his estate to block any attempts to bring the anime to North America, evidently made possible through the original agreement not including the territory.
It’s now been 40 years since Key passed away, though, and cooler heads seem to have prevailed among his descendants. GKids says that "Future Boy Conan" will be available in North America later this year, and it’s getting a 4K restoration and optional English dub as consolation for the several-decades wait.
Source: Twitter/@GKIDSfilms via Anime News Network/Alex Mateo
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