Review of The Adventures of Hols, Prince of the Sun (1968)

Moving picture, 82 minutes

Ōtsuka Yasuo (animation director), Takahata Isao (director), Miyazaki Hayao (scene designer, animator).

A father on his deathbed in a windswept land of ice tells the story of an evil wizard who destroyed a village. With this explanation for his harsh and lonely existence, a boy goes out for revenge. He immediately fails to achieve it.

Iron-age Germanic fantasy epic with a political undercurrent. It was produced in the series started with Hakujaden (1958) but during a labour dispute, years over schedule. The creation process was “democratic” and the makers, many of them involved with the student revolts of the 1960s, consciously strove to break away from the American traditions that had dominated previous productions at the studio, and cartoons in general. Hols was Takahata’s directorial debut.

Two sequences are not animated, due to the production dispute, and half an hour of footage is supposedly excluded by in-house censors, which would be unique if true. There are also pacing/integration problems and a reek of Team Rodent, somewhat undermining the idea that Hols is the first modern anime. A lot of the originality, including a laser-breathing giant pike and ghostly Nopi~ru-tans, is quite silly. The concept for Hilda is excellent however, and the overall maturity of the work is historically significant beyond any doubt.

References here: “Suzuki Toshio” tag description, Ghibli movie titles, Fire and Ice (1983), Princess Mononoke (1997), The Boy and the Heron (2023).

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction