26 Days of Future Boy Conan - Episode 02
Episode 02 - The Journey
Episode Summary: After Lana is kidnapped by the two soldiers from Industria, Conan fails to rescue her. Conan's grandfather dies from his injuries. After burying his grandfather, Conan builds a boat and sets off to rescue Lana.
When we last watched, Lana was being carried away by a group of strangers in green jumpsuits and escaped in a seaplane. Conan pursued and landed on one of the wings. As episode two begins, Conan is busy smashing holes in the wing, as the bad guys try to shake him or shoot him off the plane. Chaos ensues, but Conan is finally shaken loose and falls into the sea.
So what else happened in tonight's episode? Conan tends to his grandfather, who is deathly hill from the rocket explosion. The grandfather then tells us the backstory of what happened to those astronauts who tried to escape when the world went up in flames. The astronauts crash on Remnant Island, and after a period of despair, water is discovered, and soon life returns to the island. Conan is born, but, strangely enough, nobody will cop to being the parents (hah, just kidding!). After reenacting the deathbed confession scene from Horus, Prince of the Sun to perfection, the grandfather dies. After grieving and a burial, Conan builds a boat and sets out to rescue Lana.
Oh, and in unrelated news (mumble mumble), it turns out that Conan has super-strength. And he uses his toes like hands. Ahem. Don't bother trying to explain why. There is no explanation. Just go with it.
I really like the expert pacing of this second episode. It's much slower, more reflective and sad. You can tell that Miyazaki has supreme confidence in his skills as a writer and director, in that he doesn't feel the need to hurl things at the screen every minute. That's a notorious problem with movies today, doubly so in animation. You don't need wall-to-wall action to keep the audience in their seats. A skillful director will allow for quiet, reflective moments, and that's what Miyazaki gives us with Conan episode two.
After the "commercial" break, we see one of the great scenes in Future Boy Conan, the scene animated by Yoshifumi Kondo, of Conan lifting and smashing boulders. This is a terrific bit of pathos, perhaps reminiscent of a very similar scene from Wanpaku no Orochi Taiji, but I liked this version better. The grieving feels more authentic, more honest from a boy's point of view. Except for the super-strength. Ahem.
On the Lana side of things, this episode reveals that he kidnappers are in pursuit of her grandfather, Dr. Lao. Monsley is given her formal introduction, and she immediately dominates every man in sight. She's one of the strongest characters in the entire series, possibly the strongest, and her progression is the heart of this series. I really don't like how she ends up in the final episode, but we'll get to that when the time comes.
We also are introduced to Captain Dyce, the great comedy relief of Future Boy Conan. I'm trying to think who he reminds me of...definitely Homer Simpson, but maybe also Tetsuo, the bumbling gangster father from Jarinko Chie. Yasuo Otsuka was also the animation director on Takahata's 1981 film, so perhaps there's a connection somewhere. As for Dyce, he's a bumbler, a goof, and it's always fun to watch Monsely cut him off at the knees.
Really, when you get down to it, episode two is just more exposition that began in episode one. Everyone is planning, scheming, preparing. It's an episode of loss and grieving, yet also new beginnings. Conan is leaving home for the vast ocean and adventure, Lana and her captors are headed toward Industria. The next few episodes are going to be terrific. I can't wait! Well, actually, I could watch the entire series if I wanted, but we're sticking to our schedule. And I'll continue to try to get these essays out earlier in the evening. Until next time, kids!