Movie Night - Future Boy Conan, Ep. 2

(Update: This video has since been removed from Youtube.  Sorry.)

I had to be sure to upload the second episode of Future Boy Conan, since the first one ends on such a cliffhanger. It would be mean of me to leave you hanging. Anyway, episode 2 really kicks things off. The main thrust of the story - Conan rescuing Lana and screaming very loudly - is established, most of the major players are brought onto the stage, and we have a fuller insight into the backstory of this post-apocalyptic world.

This episode of Conan is also notable for a couple reasons I'd like to highlight. The first is the death of Conan's "grandfather." If you've been following this blog for a while now, then you'll already be familiar with the groundbreaking Horus, Prince of the Sun. The death scene in Conan is a clear homage to the death of Horus' father, complete with deathbed confession, and the son being charged with the responsibility of reconnecting with the outside world. It's one of the better of Miyazaki's many tributes and riffs.

The second item of note is the very next scene, Conan's grieving. This scene was animated by Yoshifumi Kondo, and is regarded as one of his finest moments. It's beloved by Miyazaki and Otsuka and the others on the show, and for us, this is another example of Kondo's brilliant talents. I tend to associate him with a naturalistic, real-life style of drawing, but Conan's grief, and his hurling of bigger and bigger rocks, shows an exaggerated cartoon style. It's a real change of pace, and demonstrates how all the best animators must call upon many different traits.

So, for animators, there's your lesson for the day: don't become stuck in a rut. Broaden your skills, widen your palette.

I should also note that this scene slyly introduces one of Conan's reoccuring talents - his super-strength. More often than not, it's used as a comic gag, and I suppose in lesser hands, it would merely be a cheap method for the writers to get themselves out of a jam. Heroes trapped in a corner? Just have Conan use his strength. Instant Deus Ex Machina - just add water.

Plot elements like this need to be introduced before they're really employed. It's also a crucial lesson of videogame design - it's a hallmark of Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario, Zelda). Of course, it's also nice to know that this is, after all, a cartoon show. There's nothing wrong with goofing off every now and then, as long as you stay consistent and honest.

Conan episode 2 also pays tribute to Horus near the end, when Conan builds his boat and leaves Remnant Island. It's a terrific bit of planning and comedy, and I'm also truly impressed with the pacing of these scenes. Conan doesn't just throw something together and set sail in one short montage (which would be the American standard). You appreciate the value of time. You also begin to discover that Conan is a lot smarter than he let on in the first episode.

Without further ado, here is episode 2 of Future Boy Conan. If there's enough of a demand, I'll continue to show episodes as long as I'm able. Enjoy!


art said...

Hey Daniel,

I'm enjoying "Conan" so much...pls. continue posting..can't wait for the 3rd episode! Thanks!!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I've toyed with either sticking with Conan, or rotating Marco, Anne of Green Gables, and Heidi. You should be downloading Conan and watching on high resolution and full-screen. We'll see how it goes. Thanks for watching.

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for posting this episode and episode 1. This is the first I've seen these, and I'm really enjoying them.

In terms of episode 2 in particular: I too was incredibly impressed by the storytelling in the death and grieving sequences. Grandfather's remembrance of his and his comrades first days on the island -- their sense of hopelessness and their desire for an end to life and their subsequent reaffirmation in life --, told as a unified narrative within what is a moment of impending death is really a wonderful storytelling device and essentially affirms what I assume will be the future trajectory of the narrative.

The grieving sequence was amazing. This is animation at its best: telling the story through image, and not relying on prose. Just amazing. The picking up and shattering of each successively bigger stone . . . wow. Such power. Great stuff.

Anyway, thanks again. I vote definitely to continue posting, if you can, the Conan episodes. I'm already totally captivated.

Chris Sobieniak said...

This was one of my favorite episodes for the same reason, plus you really need to watch this to fully get hooked to watching more of the show. Also enjoyed Yoshifumi Kondo's sequence as well for how far he was able to stretch it.

ReuS said...

The grieving sequence was very well done. It didn't feel over the top or anything given the type of boy Conan is in this point of the series.

More Ghibli Blog Posts To Discover