Marine Boy is one of the first examples to be found in television history of Americanized anime programming. The series was originally conceived as experimental short works in Japan before becoming transformed into a full length color cartoon on Japanese airwaves in the early 1960's.
The series was licensed by Warner Bros and was transformed from Undersea Boy Marine (the English translation of Kaitei Sh?nen Marin) into Marine Boy. It was a syndicated program and became one of the first examples of anime American audiences would discover. The series has been preserved on home-media for the first time with the Warner Archive release of the debut season.
The series focuses upon the title character, Marine Boy, who is a talented young boy around the age of 15 who goes on underwater adventures and escapades while trying to protect the world at large from the surprisingly large array of super-villains determined to destroy the entire universe, working in various dastardly ways to try and thwart Marine Boy. He works in unison with a great organization known as the Ocean Patrol, a sort of governmental protection agency fighting for an underwater environment that is safe and secure. This all takes place sometime in the future of the world, naturally.
Marine Boy's ace super-skills continue to help him with overcoming the baddies. He can breathe underwater with a special medicine that makes him able to swim around without any issue. He's capable of martial arts skills. He's able to communicate with a white dolphin, a mermaid girl of help to everyone, and he can use the various inventions made by his father and from the brilliant (yet kooky) professor Fumble.
The basic outline of each episode revolves around something going wrong, which causes Marine Boy to try to fix things for everyone underwater, and with the help of the various geniuses and other aids he connects with to fight the baddies. This is essentially the structure of the show in terms of its creative-writing and plot-structure. You don't expect it to break from this structure, which makes the show seem somewhat repetitive at times.
The good thing is that despite some silly, repetitive, episode-of-the-week writing, the series is brilliantly campy in oh so many ways. It's difficult to say how much of this is inherent to the original show considering there's no option to view it in the original Japanese. However, the voice-actors seem to be having a blast with the production.
Many of the voice-actors involved with the English production of Marine Boy also worked on the English dub for Speed Racer, and they do their best to make the characters both funny and likeable. This is one of the best strengths of the show.
The dubbing works well, and is silly but enjoyably so. This series has an entirely cheesy and pulp-edge to it that makes it feel like a serialized comic-book of the time. Ultimately, this element translates well into the show's creative style and it actually ends up helping the Americanized production in feeling effectively and efficiently rendered.
This show isn't brilliant television by any means, but it's a fun series with good dubbing, some notable animation, which is beautiful in terms of character designs and overall artistry. It's an impressive example of what anime was capable of an art form even in its early stages. This is certainly something that adds to the series historical relevance.
Even as characters aren't as fluidly drawn as what one would find in a modern production, for a anime series produced in the early era of the art-form it's quite impressive visually and it works well within the world the series inhabits. This makes it stand out as something special. It's quite dated and the series has lots of limitations too: stories feel like stocked concepts, and characters were barely developed in any given episode. Yet the humor and general likability of the show is more than enough to keep things interesting if you're in the mood for a pulp action-adventure as example of an early Anime. These inherent qualities help to make the overall excursion seem all the more worthwhile.
The 1.37:1 full frame ratio preserve the original television broadcast ratio. Much to my surprise, the series actually seems as though it has received some sort of digital clean-up or restoration before arriving on DVD from Warner Archive.
Most of the episodes have very clean animation with little in the way of print damage, color fluctuation, and other video-quality inconsistencies that are sometimes commonalities with classic television releases. Certainly, some episodes still look to be in better condition than others, but the show at least seems to have had a digital restoration. Colors are good. These transfers don't have major faults. This is a satisfying presentation for an anime series made during the 60's.
The 2.0 mono audio doesn't disappoint. First of all, don't expect much from it because of the standard audio one can usually expect to find with classic television. Yet be prepared for its impressive dialogue reproduction with clarity and little in the way of pops, hiss, and other anomalies of audio distortion. This is a generally clean and efficient mono presentation. I wouldn't suggest expecting bass or fidelity that impresses, but that's to be expected for an entirely basic mono audio presentation.
There are no extras at all.
Marine Boy is a fun example of a classic anime production becoming Americanized in the 60's. The dubbing is genuinely great and it features a lot of the same voice-actors who worked with creating the dub of Speed Racer. This is simply a silly and pulp-based underwater adventure series with basic characters and repetitive concepts, but if you want something that is funny, action-packaged, and well-animated and that represent early Japanese anime you won't be disappointed checking out this series.