Thursday, August 26, 2010
Marine Boy : Dragon of the Sea (1965)
The show revolves around a talented boy who is further enhanced by some sophisticated inventions. With these, he serves with the underwater policing agency, the Ocean Patrol, in making Earth's oceans safe. The series is set in the future, when humankind has pioneered the world's oceans, establishing great facilities for undersea ranching (episode 4, 17, 22), mineral and oil exploitation (ep. 2, 12), research (ep. 6, 7), and some underocean communities (ep. 10, 15). In this era there is an ocean based government agency: The Ocean Patrol, whose mission includes protecting all in the sea from danger (episode 4). Most of the activity we witness of the OP is that of policing the world's oceans, for this affluent frontier and its resources seems to have produced a startling number of megalomaniacs—it seems hardly a week goes by in which the Ocean Patrol doesn't divert someone with an impressive private military force from taking over the world. That being the case, the Ocean Patrol is also an impressive military force with small and large subs, war ships, and an air force (ep. 5, 18). The military branch of the OP includes researchers and scientists who are constantly developing their defensive and offensive arsenal (ep. 9, 10, 17, 19) as well as new research vehicles (ep. 10, 12) and devices (ep. 13). Key people in this department are Marine Boy's father, Dr. Mariner, as well as the brilliant Professor Fumble. However, there are non-military branches of the Ocean Patrol which conduct some of the aforementioned ranching, research, oil drilling and so on.
The program concept was developed by Terebi Doga, (aka Japan Tele-Cartoons or JTC), in Japan in 1965, originally known as Dolphin Prince (ドルフィン王子 - Dorufin Ôji). Produced as a short experimental trial series of only 3 episodes and filmed in black and white, Dolphin Prince aired on Fuji TV on Sundays at 7.30pm between 4 April and 18 April 1965. The episodes featured young Dolphin Prince, his mermaid friend Neptuna and Dr. Mariner, with stories entitled "Secret Of The Red Vortex", "Call Of The Sea" and "Attack Of The Sea-Star People". It was a well-received experiment and Terebi Doga prepared to produce a full series follow-up, although this time they decided that their program would be produced in color in order to maximise the potential of the production, both artistically and commercially. Although color television was introduced to the US in 1965, Japan had been transmitting some programs in color since 1960, however, not
all Japanese studios had invested in the conversion of their operations to color. To complicate matters, not all the networks were interested in buying expensive color film series which were considered "vehicles" for selling commercial airtime, especially programs aimed primarily at children. Some broadcasters, (such as NHK, TBS, NET, Yomiuri, etc), had embraced color as the emerging and more engaging format, but others such as Fuji TV were unwilling to buy or co-finance color programming without a guarantee of commercial return or sponsored support. Fuji TV had broadcast the popular color series Jungle Emperor (ジャングル大帝 - Janguru Taitei) in 1965, but this would not have been filmed in color at all without the pre-sale of the series to US distributor NBC Films for broadcast in the US as Kimba The White Lion, (on the NBC Network which, at the time, insisted that it be supplied color programming by its distributors, the network using color as a promotional tool to attract both sponsors and viewers alike).
I have fond memories of watching this show, with my little sister every morning before I ran of to school.