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Monday, 24 January 2011

60s japanese animation : the little norse prince


Norse myths meet Japanese folk tales in the 1968 animation The Little Norse Prince, an amazing and, not unexpectedly, sometimes confusing mix of cultures, complete with a lead character who could be Astro Boy's Iron Age cousin.

This was the first film by future Studio Ghibli co-head Isao Takahata, but the Ghibli look and feel are already in place in a determinedly non-Disney film that also squared with the revolutionary zeal of 1968 in its theme of unity. Japanese students loved it. It was, of course, though, meant "for good children everywhere".

Hols is the Little Norse Prince hero from a northern land long ago who battles devils, a pack of ghostly silver wolves and the wolves master, Grunwald, with a sword pulled from the shoulder of an ancient stone giant, and who's helped throughout by a bear and a girl called Hilda, who doesn't know whether she's demon or human. Added bonuses: a nightmarish enchanted forest, a battle with a monstrous pike and an eerie messenger owl.

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