26 Days of Future Boy Conan - Episode 06
Episode 06 - Dyce's Rebellion
Episode Summary: Conan and Lana make their escape. They eventually find a plane from the last war that Lepka wants to use. They are captured in the hangar. Lepka threatens to hurt Conan if Lana doesn't tell him where her grandfather is, but she refuses. Dyce seeing what Lepka has done decides to help Lana. Dyce and his crew kidnap Lana and make their escape on the Barracuda.
"One of the reasons I don't like Industria is because there is only rock and steel. There are no trees and grass." So says Conan in typical Miyazaki fashion. I'm wondering if Industria is really a metaphor for modern, industrial Japan? This depiction of a corrupt, decaying civilization of concrete and steel feels slightly eerie in the wake of last month's earthquake-tsunami, and the resulting catastrophe at the Daiichi nuclear power plant. And it's more than a little unsettling that we can read ourselves in a post-apocalyptic science-fiction adventure. We were supposed to be better than this.
The conflict between modern civilization and the natural world, Japan's postwar drive towards industrialization, and the loss of man's traditional connection to nature - this is the central theme of Studio Ghibli for both Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. I wonder if Heidi, Girl of the Alps and 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother became an influence? Both were stories set in the 19th Century, and both seemed to dismiss "modern" cities in favor of a traditional rural or frontier life. Future Boy Conan returns Miyazaki's gaze to his own modern society.
Tonight's episode was fantastic. How many cliffhangers did Conan and Lana run through in this one episode? It feels like they were escaping from one jam, just to collide into another. I love it - hah! This show really needs to be on Cartoon Network. I'm not sure how many Americans would feel about Conan's super strength, though. It's great for heroic feats and the occasional sight gag, but there is a suspension of belief. Even I think it has a whiff of deus ex machina sometimes. Conan's ability to fall 20 or 30 feet without taking any real damage (apart from a funny Wile E. Coyote-style gag) is one of those moments where people are going to raise objections. People always want explanations for everything. They want Mr. Spock to walk in and explain the science behind everything that happens.
Ah, well, it's alright. We all get to obsess over various details in the Future Boy Conan universe. I get to ponder grand themes of man-vs-nature; you get to ask loudly for explanations why Conan alone has all these super powers, like a stack of hidden "Get Out of Jail Free" cards. Fortunately, we're only six episodes into the show, so there's plenty of time to work through our favorite arguments.
The younger Miyazaki had found a perfect balance between action, comedy and romance. The early scene where Conan breaks into Lana's prison cell has all three; I even spied a quick riff from Castle of Cagliostro, which was made a year later in 1979. I enjoy this series, and all Miyazaki anime, because it's heart is sincere. There isn't a trace of cynicism or contempt towards the audience anywhere. Miyazaki and Otsuka and the whole crew are having as much fun conjuring all these crazy jams as we are watching them.
I know the episode is titled, "Dyce's Rebellion," but that's more of a sub-plot to this episode, and it's really the setup to the cliffhanger into episode seven. This episode is all about Conan and Lana; they take the center stage together for the first time since the pilot episode. After all the buildup, they deserve time together. As a couple, they do bond quickly, don't they? Kinda reminds me of Anthony Quinn in The Guns of Navarone. Or Pepe le Pew. Either one works.
Bottom line is they're a perfect pair, a matching of equals. Conan gets to show off all the time, but Lana reveals her tougher side, too, and her intelligence. She's quiet but she pays very close attention. Watch out for those types. They're the ones who will walk away from the poker table with all the money in their arms. It's kind of a tough thing for Lana, since much of her time is being spent being kidnapped and then rescued, but I don't think of her as a helpless maiden waiting for her prince. Lana has her strengths.
Oh, and should I finally mention how Castle in they Sky basically rips off these two characters? It's basically Future Boy Conan starring the under-studies. I'm sure everyone's figured that one out by now. I'd really like to hear what fans have to say once the blogathon's over, which Miyazaki anime they preferred. Me? I'm going with Conan. I still say the '70s TV series are where the true Miyazaki-Takahata masterpieces lie. Just the fact that I get to spend much more time with these characters - Conan and Lana, Heidi and Peter and Clara, Marco and Fio, Anne and Diana - makes a world of difference.