Newest Reviews
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
  Sea Prince and the Fire Child fairies get frisky
Year: 1981
Director: Masami Hata
Stars: Tôru Furuya, Mami Koyama
Genre: Animated, Romance, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Long ago, spirits of fire and water lived as one. But jealous Algaroch, lord of the winds, drove a rift between King Oceanus and his sister Hyperia, queen of fire. Since then fire fairies and water sprites have been at war and forbidden from consorting, but when Prince Sirius, the king’s chosen successor, meets Hyperia’s beautiful daughter Malta, they fall madly in love. Their star-crossed romance upsets golden fairy Fiale, who harbours her own secret crush on Malta, while little sea urchin Bibble bemoans Sirius’ absence when the undersea kingdom suffers a jellyfish attack. After Malta neglects her royal duty to protect the Holy Flame, their secret comes out. Slimy sea serpent Mugwamp the Magnificent, who covets Sirius’ throne, seizes his chance and sets the young lovers fleeing their vengeful parents. A wise, old turtle explains their one chance is to reach the hill of Elysium during the next solar eclipse, where a magic flower blossoms that can carry them to a distant star where fire and water live as one.

From the late seventies to the mid-eighties, Sanrio (the company best known for its Hello Kitty merchandise) made a determined bid to become the next Walt Disney Studios. Beginning with The Mouse and His Child (1977), they produced a string of lavish animated features that, while successful in Japan and Asia, proved to be costly failures throughout the western world. After the disastrous international co-production, Little Nemo (1991), Sanrio shelved their ambitions and concentrated on toys, but screenings on cable TV won their movies a loyal fan following. None more deserving than Sea Prince and the Fire Child, which marks the pinnacle of their achievements.

At a time when Disney had almost given up making cartoons, this film boasts dazzlingly fluid animation, audacious multi-plane camerawork and evocative character designs. From the wondrous undersea kingdom haunted by floating anemones, swaying fronds, sea dragons and delightfully odd fish characters, to the pastel-hued fairyland of fluttering wisps, vast pools of stars, and flower palaces. A sense of grandeur pervades the production, which extends from soaring beauty of Koichi Sugiyama’s orchestral score (a rarity in anime) to the impressive designs of Hyperia, a towering fire maiden with a Bride of Frankenstein hairdo, and King Oceanus, a Godzilla-sized sea monster who slightly resembles the Forest God in Princess Mononoke (1997).

Co-written by Masami Hata and Chiho Katsura, this was one of several Sanrio projects based on a novel by Shintaro Tsuji. The story is a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet, itself a version of many tales of star-crossed lovers from around the world, and succeeds in melding extravagant, Disneyesque visuals with a more sophisticated anime storyline. Twists and turns cast perilous obstacles in the lovers’ path and there are genuinely heartrending scenes of death, tragedy and self-sacrifice. A subplot about Mugwamp’s attempt to resurrect Algaroch remains undeveloped, but there are memorable turns from Fiale and Bibble (who offers Sirius the horn plucked from his head because “that’s all I have to give”), plus the sagely Aristurtle (a corny pun that raises a smile).

Most crucially, the young lovers are vibrant and richly characterized, wrestling with anxieties, duty and prejudice. Boyish, energetic Prince Sirius floats about with the swashbuckling verve of Disney’s Peter Pan (1953), while Malta proves a surprisingly sexy, capable heroine and is beautifully animated. Note the ripples as she skips along the water - a mark of the attention to detail that won Hata the chance to replace Hayao Miyazaki on Little Nemo. Like Juliet, Malta proves more emotionally mature and thoughtful and balances out her reckless Romeo. Their first encounter is a magical piece of animation, set amidst a trippy light-shower straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and again, surprisingly sexy as Sirius presses his head to Malta’s naked body “trying to hear her heart” (yeah, that old line). Hata pulls out all the visual and emotional stops for a kaleidoscopic, achingly poignant conclusion that stays true to the spirit of Romeo and Juliet without being too downbeat for kids.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 7269 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: