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.


Ghibli said...

The pair in Laputa does not have enough screen time to fully develop as characters, so I wouldn't want to compare them too much with Lana and Conan. I'd say that I like both FBC and Laputa equally, viewing them as two different mediums expressing Miyazaki's views.

A note on Conan's jumping abilities. We can see the same feat performed in two other films: Animal Treasure Island (jumping done by the Captain) and in Porco Rosso (Curtis jumps into Porco's secret hide-out).

On an unrelated note, here is a cute graphical work representing Miyazaki's lead female characters: http://chan.sankakucomplex.com/post/show/854088

PS: Daniel, could you, please, take a look at the post on BBT, regarding Heidi.

Osaru said...

This is awesome where are Future Boy Conan DVDs are sold?, I still use VHS videos dubbed in Arabic for the show

attilio_bettega said...

5 and 6 episodes really crank it up like crazy.

I do agree with other posters that you see the Conan/Lana duo and the Lepka villain repeated in Laputa, but IMHO, it's not the same. Both elements are definitely more mature. Sheeta and Pazu look to be in their late teens and behave much less childishly. Muska is so charming, persuasive, yet ruthless when his superficial charms fail in the same way "director Lepka" behaves.

Another element that I saw in Laputa is the ledge scenes. Starting with the first 2 minutes when Sheeta crawls out of the window of the airship, you see her tip-toeing on the ledges. And when the teens hit Laputa, you see Pazu trying to make his way around the lower orb of "war power" surrounded by the laputa branches. Very nerve racking is the scene when the robots come out of the slide and Pazu tries to maneuver around that.

Yet for all the maturity and greater integrity and lesser suspension of disbelief that Laputa offers (no superboy powers), I think Conan is far deeper and more enjoyable. It characterizes in such a deep profound way and uses cliffhanging, nailbiting suspense like no other Miyazaki work ever did. For that my heart will always cry 50% "CONAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN" and the other 50% "LAAAAAANAAAAAAAAAA"

attilio_bettega said...

To Osaru;

I am Italian. I saw Conan in Italy and have been in its spell for nearly 30 years (much like all the Arab boys I am sure).

I bought the Conan DVD dubbed in Italian direct from Italy, the newest version thereof released about a year ago.

I found it beacuse I am trying to get many Italian books and DVD's for my children. We have a code free DVD player a must for any multicultural, international person so I can buy DVD's direct from Europe and watch them regardless of coding.

I used www.amazon.it, the Italian amazon. If you're French, you'd use the .fr, German is .de, Spanish is .es, portuguese is .pr and russian is .ru. Take whatever handle your region of desire might be, and use that amazon. You will be surprised what you find. I am very sure there is an arabic amazon, but I am not sure of the handle because I don't speak/write arabic. But you probably do, so just think of the .ARAB (or whatever) handle, and type that arab suffix after the amazon. site, and then use that engine to search for Conan.

IMHO, it is actually very cheap, cheaper than going to your country of origin. Also, the shipping is pricey for low cost orders, but it does not rise proportionately, so a 200 dollar order is not 4x as expensive as a 50 dollar one. Therefore, the more you buy, the better shipping fee you get. So if you were hankering for other goodies in arabic, now is the time to unleash your pent up desires and buy hundreds of dollars worth. You get a better shipping per item that way.

Ciao/Salam Alekum

valentina said...

I don't think Conan's superstrenght would be a problem. Once you get to know him, you sort of accept it as it is. It's Conan! He can do anything :)

Hayley Harrison said...

I've been thinking of Laputa this whole time! I'm watching Conan for the first time, but I saw Laputa ages ago. I think Laputa will always have a special place in my heart, and it's very symbolic to me. I tend to prefer films to TV shows (though I frequently watch both, make no mistake). So far, Laputa is still my favorite because of the striking imagery and beautiful symbolism. Of course, you can't compare a TV show to a movie in terms of technical quality, but the images stick out in my memory so much more than in Conan. I've already pretty much forgotten what Conan's island looked like, but I'll never forget the hill where Sheeta and Pazu are captured by the army. The film just feels more put together in terms of plot and characters too.

I agree also that Sheeta and Pazu are much more mature and that this changes the character dynamic a bit. I think both have seen enough of the world not to be naive to the sadness and danger in it, whereas Conan and Lana seem very much like kids, from these first few episodes. I always remember Pazu telling Sheeta "we've got to go to Laputa and stop Muska. If we run away now, we'll be followed forever." That's maturity; realizing that simply running away is useless and you have to finish what you start. Conan and Lana still believe that running away is the solution, despite the amount of time they've been given to realize otherwise.

Though, Lana really surprised me in this episode by not backing down when they threatened Conan's life. That's something that Sheeta never did! I'm very impressed by Lana's courage there because I was just expecting her to break down like it was a given.

Anyway, we'll see how things change as I watch more!

Also, I hear there's a movie version of Conan. What's it like?

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