My earliest memories of Saturday morning cartoons are the first wave of Japanese anime: Marine Boy, Gigantor, Astro Boy, and Speed Racer. Although limited by today's standards, I loved the Japanese imports for their use of dynamic depth-staging, James Bond-style gadgets, sense of danger, and exciting action. These stories were often rooted in Space-Age technology and Cold War intrigue. My favorite was Marine Boy (1968-1969), one of the first color cartoons to be dubbed for the US market. Like many of its contemporaries, the cartoon tapped a then-current fascination with undersea exploration.
Marine science and scuba diving captured popular imagination in the late 1950s and 1960s with shows like Sea Hunt (1958-1961), Flipper (1964-1967), Jacques Cousteau (1968-1976), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968). Just as fans were thrilled by James Bond's mini-breather in Thunderball (1965), and by Gerry Anderson's Stingray (1964-1965), kids tuning into Marine Boy on Saturday mornings got their own hi-tech wish fulfillment for deep sea adventure.
Below is a model kit of the Submarine P1-0 from Marine Boy. The design was reminiscent of the "Flying Sub" in Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the "Spindrift" ship in Allen's Land of the Giants (1968-1970). The general form was inspired by real breakthroughs in undersea exploration (see National Geographic April 1964 and Time Magazine March 1960 below).
Marine Boy centered around a young hero who aided the Ocean Patrol in its fight against a weekly rogue's gallery of diabolical masterminds and mechanized terrors. Marine Boy was outfitted for adventure by his father, Dr. Mariner. His arsenal of gadgetry included an indestructible suit, propulsion boots, electric boomerang, radio helmet, retractable flippers, dolphin whistle, and "oxy-gum" to enable the boy to breath under water. The show was unique in that it was produced in Japan, but apparently for first-release run in North America. Canadian actress Corinne Orr provided Marin Boy's voice, as well as voices for other programs like Ultraman and Speed Racer. Marine Boy was out of print for years, but was finally resurrected by Warner Archives. Season One came out in June 2013 and the second season just appeared on the Warner site here.
Season One description from Amazon: "It's Marine Boy! The original "American anime" classic is here, at last! Produced in Japan but intended for first run in the US, Marine Boy was one of the first color cartoons to come from Japan, soon to be sharing syndicated screen space with the likes of Kimba the White Lion and Speed Racer (with whom it shares a number of voice actors). Teenage Marine Boy battles evil on and under the seas on behalf of the Ocean Patrol, aided by the amazing inventions of his father, Dr. Mariner and the brilliant Professor Fumble. Joining Marine Boy in his mission are his white dolphin, Splasher, young mermaid Neptina, and fellow Ocean Patrol agents Bullton and Piper. Adding complication to the mission are the effort of to CliCli prove himself a miniature Marine Boy. So break out your Oxy-Gum and get ready to dive into the amazing aquatic animated adventures found on this 3-Disc, 26-Episode Collection."
Video clip below features the title sequence with wordless version of the theme song. Footage quality is typical of bootleg copies that circulated among fans over the past 40 years. I look forward to seeing an official release! Related posts: Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, Gigantor, Spies Robots Monsters, Birdman, Beware the Batman w Shane Glines, Robert Valley's Wonder Woman, Boris and Natasha, Mod Wonder Woman.
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