I initially stumbled onto this series because of the reference to the film in Moyoco Anno’s biographical manga about her husband, “Insufficient Direction”! It was cited there as an early influence for the famous Neon Genesis Evangelion director, so — of course, I had to give this feature a try! I originally expected a spooky, mystery scenario… but the narrative somehow manages to spiral around, and ends up punching you in the face with the message that big companies are bad and don’t care about your health!
⚠️ This review will contain spoilers ⚠️
Synopsis: Hayato’s city is devastated by a giant robot, his parents are killed in the massacre. The only friend left to him is his dog Jack, the only things left are mom’s shoe and a picture of a man and a woman who, as his father tells him on his deathbed, are his real parents. Now Hayato wants revenge on the one who is said to have sent the robot: the terrible Ghost Ship which threatens ships and is rumored to wish to exterminate everything. But then Hayato stumbles on a secret underground factory of Mr. Kurosio, owner of mostly everything in the city — and realizes things are not as Mr. Kurosio has been telling him… Someone terrible lives in a castle under the sea… Hayato is trying to tell people the truth — but his life is now in danger by from the one who does not wish to be known. Then Hayato is saved by no other than the captain of the Ghost Ship… Hayato is about to uncover more than the one secret he has been searching for.
This film is not what you will expect it to be. We start out with a seaside manor ghost story, starring a vengeful phantom, and then that arc suddenly ends with a suspiciously green soda that is turning people into human-crustacean mutants, followed up by a flamboyant finale battle, that is reminiscent to something out of a tokusatsu TV special! It’s wild, apparently one sip of Boa juice turns its innocent consumers into a horde of mindless crab people! The plot actually is able to effectively pull it off, and the corporate executives turn out to be the reason behind Captain Phantom’s murder, and is presented, in the end, as a vigilante against an oppressive system, rather than just a menacing bone man! Captain Phantom is a very iconic anti-hero of his time, along with Tatsunoko’s “Casshern”!
While there is the basic message of “big companies rob the people of their money and health” — there is a split consensus of whether this movie actually has a good message, and here’s why… the most obvious interpretation is to show the exploitation of capitalist marketing, but the second reading of the film is a little bit more sinister, you see, the greedy manufacturers of the soda are called “Golem” and after reading a little bit into the usage of the word, a “Golem” is a derogatory word against Jewish people, so there is a slight “Zionist conspiracy” slant to the narrative. According to Moment Magazine, “the golem is a highly mutable metaphor with seemingly limitless symbolism. It can be a victim or villain, Jew or non-Jew, man or woman — or sometimes both. Over the centuries it has been used to connote war, community, isolation, hope, and despair.”
I had no idea that the innuendo was in the film, until after I had finished watching it and took a deeper look into the “Golem” thing, so while I was watching it, it just seemed like a run-of-the-mill kid’s film, similar to an episode of “Scooby Doo” or something! It had underwater bases, giant squids, a giant robot (designed by none other than Ghibli’s “Hayao Miyazaki”), and kids beating the baddies with the power of resourcefulness and optimism. Since it was originally released in 1969, the antisemitic innuendoes wouldn’t be too out of the question. It would be a shame if that were a case though, this film has such a unique mood and it was genuinely captivating for what it was!
Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅
Hiroshi Ikeda (screenwriter and director), notable works:
- Dōbutsu Takarajima (“Animal Treasure Island”)
- Hustle Punch
- King Kong: 001/7 Tom Thumb
- Mogura no Motoro
- Mahōtsukai Chappy — Episode Director
- Mahōtsukai Sally — Episode Director
- Ōkami Shōnen Ken
Commentary: I have only watched a few episodes of “Mahōtsukai Sally” and seen a couple of clips of “Dōbutsu Takarajima,” so I can’t really comment on Mr. Ikeda’s overall directing skills, but I thought the atmosphere and some of the animation techniques in Soratobu Yūreisen were impressive, especially for the time that it came out! Great job!
Extra: Hayao Miyazaki worked the on key animation for this film.
Good Seiyū Work = ✅
Really Enjoyed the Seiyū’s Performance = ✅ ✅
One of Luna’s Favorite Performances OF ALL TIME = ✅ ✅ ✅
Masako Nozawa as Hayato Arashiyama, notable roles:
- Polly Harrington, Ai Shōjo Pollyanna Story
- Chico, Anime 80-nichikan Sekai Isshū
- Blink and Kakeru Shiki, Aoi Blink
- Rascal, Araiguma Rascal
- Asura Asura
- Dukemon, Digimon Savers and Digimon X-Evolution
- Guilmon, Digimon Tamers ✅ ✅
- Hiroshi, Dokonjō Gaeru
- Doraemon, Doreamon (1973) ✅ ✅
- Enma, Dororon Enma-kun ✅ ✅
- Son Gokū, Son Gohan, Son Goten, and Son Gokū Jr. — Dragon Ball (series) and Dr. Slump ✅✅✅
- Shen-Long Belvedere, E’s Otherwise ✅
- Gamba, Gamba no Bōken (series)
- Kitarō, Gegege no Kitarō (1968 to 1972) ✅✅
- Oyaji Medama, Gegege no Kitarō (2018) ✅✅
- Kentsu Norton, Ginga Hyōryū Vifam
- Tetsurō Hoshino, Ginga Tetsudō 999 ✅✅✅
- Gaudi, Hatara Kids Mai Ham Gumi
- Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry no Bōken
- Hiroshi Suzuishi, Hyakujū-Ō GoLion (“Voltron: Defender of the Universe”) ✅
- Iczel, Iczer-Girl Iczelion ✅
- Daizaemon Kaze, Inakappe Taishō
- Tarō Kaibutsu, Kaibutsu-kun (1980)
- Isamu, Kaitei Sanman Mile
- Musashi, Karakuri Kengō Den Musashi Lord
- Kenta Ikegami, Maicching Machiko-sensei (“Miss Machiko”) ✅
- Green, Midori no Neko
- Willi, Mitsubachi Maya no Bōken
- Kureha, One Piece
- Teppei Uesugi, Ore wa Teppei
- Elekid, Pokémon: Pikachu Tankentai ✅
- Hiroshi, Shin Dokonjō Gaeru
- Jim Hawkins, Takarajima
- Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer no Bōken
- Sanpei Mihira, Tsurikichi Sanpei
- Kintaro, Urusei Yatsura ✅✅
- Poppo, What’s Micheal?
Commentary: The main kid is voiced by none other than Son Gokū’s (“Dragon Ball”) seiyū! While her performance as Hayato Arashiyama is one of her earlier roles and comparatively plain, compared to some of her signature characters, Ms. Nozawa is able to give the leading character an energetic enigma and adds a sense of child-like wonder to the ambiance of the film! Amazing talent!
Gorō Naya as Captain Phantom, notable roles:
- Willibald Joachim von Merkatz, Ginga Eiyū Densetsu ✅✅✅
- Leonard Dawson, Golgo 13 ✅
- Nosferatu, GS Mikami: Gokuraku Daisakusen!! ✅✅✅
- Professor Yamanōe, Jetter Mars
- Lord Yupa, Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä ✅✅✅
- Kōichi Zenigata, Lupin III ✅✅✅
- Emperor Xul, Rokushin Gattai GodMars ✅
- Narrator, Shinzō Ningen Casshern ✅✅
- Adam Robinson Jr. — Space Fantasia 2001 Nights
- Narrator, Uchū Majin Daikengō
- Jūzō Okita, Uchū Senkan Yamato ✅✅✅
Commentary: Mr. Naya is one of my favorite voice actors of all time, to the point where it’s often hard to watch the new “Lupin III” adaptations, because no one can replicate HIS version of “Zenigata”! It’s impossible! Unfortunately, Mr. Naya passed away in 2013, so he wasn’t able to reprise his roles as Jūzō Okita in “Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199,” or as Kōichi Zenigata, in any of the newer “Lupin III” sequels. His presence was by far the strongest in this movie, though the mysterious phantom didn’t get as much spotlight as he ought to have had, despite being the titular character! Incredible seiyū, rest in peace!
Overall, this is a coveted classic by those who grew up watching the film — I personally wasn’t one the people who saw it air on its ※ETB time slot, but this film is like comfort food! It’s a big, gooey slice of nostalgia-flavored pizza for those who like monster movies like Godzilla and some of the older Osamu Tezuka animations. Despite many of the controversies about what may or may not have been an anti-Jewish sentiment in this film, I felt a specific joviality towards it — that I only really feel towards classic films that have a wholesome and spirited milieu to them, so I will rate Soratobu Yūreisen a 5/10!
※ETB is a Columbian telecommunications broadcast network.