I watched a lot of cartoons when I was a little kid. There were a few that were airing on TV on the time (ex. Yu-Gi-Oh), but a lot of them were shows that I watched through DVDs.
A while back I was reminiscing over some of these shows when it finally occurred to me that they were old anime.
Has anyone had this experience before? Watching a cartoon as a child but not realizing until much later that it’s an anime?
To be fair, all of these shows were dubbed in different languages, so I never really thought much on it. (Although, now that I think about it, Chibi Maruko-chan‘s opening and ending songs were always all in Japanese, so I’m not sure why that didn’t tip me off back then.)
After this belated realization, I was suddenly motivated to find the names of all of the anime I watched as a child. Thankfully for some of them, I remembered their Chinese titles (not so much the exact characters, but I could finesse my way with pinyin). As for a few others, I had to rely on varying levels of memory I have towards them.
It turns out that a lot of these anime are old. Like, ’70s-’80s old. So I figured I’d make a blog post on my discoveries. If anything, there may be some old gems in this list.
The Story of Perrine (1978)
The Story of Perrine (Perrine Monogatari) is based off a French novel written by Hector Malot, called Nobody’s Girl or En Famile. The story centers around Perrine, a girl who embarks on a journey to find her paternal grandfather, as wished by her late father. The problem is, there is strain between her grandfather and her parents. Before her mother passes away on the journey, she warns Perrine that even when she finds her grandfather, he would not be welcoming towards her. Perrine eventually makes it to her father’s hometown and finds the factory her grandfather owns. She adopts a false identity and starts working there to find a way to get close to her only surviving family.
This was one that wasn’t too hard to find, because I still remembered the Chinese title: 《小英的故事》(pinyin: “Xiǎo Yīng de gùshì”). I just typed in the pinyin when searching because while I knew the Chinese title, I didn’t know the exact characters. If I had tried to guess the Japanese title on a whim, I would’ve likely mistakenly written “Sakura” for the main character’s name. (“樱,” the character for sakura/cherry blossoms is also “ying” with the same tone.)
I remembered the overall plotline of the anime, but not a lot of the smaller details since I may have only watched this once or twice. (Considering that I completely forgot that the characters were French, I think that’s a fair assessment.) I wouldn’t mind watching this again. Maybe the story will stay with me more this time around.
Ore wa Teppei (1977)
Ore wa Teppei is an anime adaptation of a ’70s manga series written by Tetsuya Chiba (the creator of Ashita no Joe). The story is about Teppei, a rude, wild boy who has been living with his father in the mountains. They are eventually found and are reunited with (or for the case of Teppei, got to meet) their large, uptight family. Teppei is suddenly forced to live a normal life by going to school, etc, but eventually finds a suitable place to release his energy — the school’s kendo club.
The Chinese title is 《好小子》(pinyin: Hǎo xiǎozi), which I find that highly ironic considering that that translates to “good/nice boy” and Teppei is anything but that. Maybe that title is just being purposely sarcastic.
Even though it’s pretty old, I say it still stands out and has its own unique charm. Like or despise him, you won’t be able to deny that the main character is full of personality and spirit, even if he’s a brat. He and his father (who’s equally as horrible) pretty much carries the show.
If there’s anything I have to complain about the anime, it’s that it feels incomplete. The anime ends right before it could fully take on its new identity as a kendo sports anime (at least with how the story direction seems to be going). My guess is that the anime didn’t cover the entirety of the manga. Seeing that the manga was still ongoing around the time the anime ended, that probably was the case. That’s a huge pity. I feel like it missed its chance on potentially becoming an iconic kendo anime.
Vicky the Viking (1974)
Vicky the Viking (Chiisana Viking Vickie) is a fun show that features a crew of very merry vikings going off on adventures. The main character — and the crew’s most reliable asset — is Vicky, the clever and intelligent son of the viking chief. Whenever the crew finds themselves in a pinch, it’s always up to Vicky and his big brain to save the day.
The show is based on a Swedish children’s book series. Another fun fact I found out while writing this post is that this show was an influence towards Eiichiro Oda’s interest in pirates (hence his known work, One Piece). That’s pretty neat!
Just to make things clear, this is a children’s show. I feel like the visuals make that pretty obvious.
The funny thing is, this show didn’t come up to mind until I was looking at what other old anime were made under Nippon Animation (which made The Story of Perrine and Ore wa Teppei). It apparently was co-produced with Germany, so I guess this isn’t strictly a Japanese cartoon. I did really enjoy this as a kid. There were some pretty creative tactics shown in that show.
Nobody’s Boy: Remi (1977)
Like The Story of Perrine, Nobody’s Boy: Remi (Ie Naki Ko) is based off a (different) Hector Malot novel. Remi is a young French boy living happily with his mother. One day, his absent father returns home, reveals that Remi is adopted, and sells him off to an old man named Vitalis. Vitalis is a traveling musician who performs with his troupe of animals. In search of his real parents, Remi accompanies Vitalis and they travel together, not without many hardships and losses.
If you want me to be really honest with you, I remember almost nothing from this anime. I don’t even remember what its Chinese name is. I’m literally looking at the Wikipedia summary that was used for writing the synopsis paragraph in this section, and thinking, Oh, so that’s what happened? This is what the story is about? I’ve watched it only once, but I must’ve not cared about it because I completely forgot the overall story. The only things I remember were:
- It’s supposed to be very sad.
- There were lots of dogs. There was a black dog and a small white dog. There was another dog, but for some reason I don’t remember what it looked like.
- The entire scene with wolves.
- There was a monkey at some point, but I don’t remember when it appeared.
- The main character was a sad boy who cried a lot. There was one time he cried because the old man bought a new pair of pants for the boy but cut it to be at a shorter length.
In case you were wondering how I managed to find this, I Google searched “sad anime with lots of dogs” and it somehow worked.
To be fair, my poor memory is not giving this anime any credit. It’s a sad drama story. I was a kid who enjoyed watching comedic or action-filled shows. Among all of the shows on this list, Nobody’s Boy: Remi is the show I want to rewatch the most. It’s the one show I remember the least of, so going in watching it would almost be like a new experience. Plus, I may be able to appreciate the drama elements now that I’m older. (And maybe actually understand what was going on in that pants scene.)
There’s apparently a later (’90s) version where Remi is a girl. I have not seen that one.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1980)
Anime adaptation of the American classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Tom Sawyer is a boy who lives in a town by the Mississippi River. The show just follows his antics, usually activities done with his friend, the homeless and family-less Huckleberry Finn.
I’ll admit, I learned the story by watching this first. Many years later, I eventually came around to reading the actual book and its sequel.
A Little Princess Sara (1985)
Anime adaptation of the novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Sara Crewe is a wealthy girl who is sent to live in a boarding school in London. At first living well and making many friends there, her world is turned upside down when her father passes away, leaving her bankrupt, penniless, and at the mercy of the school’s headmistress, who forces her to work as a maid and mistreats her.
Like with Tom Sawyer, this was how I first learned the story of A Little Princess. Years later I read the book.
Chibi Maruko-chan is a slice-of-life comedy show revolving around elementary-schooler Maruko and her interactions with her family and classmates. It’s simple, but it’s really cute and funny. Maruko is the epitome of a little sister — kind of annoying at times, but you can’t bring yourself to fully hate them. And I do really like Maruko as a character.
There are tons of episodes (an understatement, really — it far exceeds a thousand episodes in total), but it’s episodic so it isn’t mandatory to watch all of them. (In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t; I don’t think anyone has that much time to binge an entire show with over a thousand episodes.)
This show is the only show on this list that isn’t from the ’70s or ’80s (and still has a season that’s currently airing). However, the Taiwanese Mandarin dub of Chibi Maruko-chan is probably the show that defined my childhood (along with the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, but that’s not on this list). So yeah, I have a bit of a soft spot for it.
So this is my list of anime I’ve seen in my childhood. There may have been other shows I’ve seen, but if there were any, then I don’t remember them.
This list sort of doubles as a recommendation list for myself. A few of these titles I remember very little of, so I can always rewatch them in my spare time. If not, I could instead look into the source material. Since a lot of them happen to be based on novels, this more or less gives me motivation to read something that isn’t manga or any class-assigned books.
Well, time to go back to dwelling in the present, I suppose.