Little Prince and the Eight Headed Dragon, The
Little Prince and the Eight Headed Dragon (Wanpaku Oji no Orochi Taiji) is an 87-minute movie from 1963, directed by Yugo Serikawa ( “Anju to Zushio Maru”, “Cyborg 009” ), with art direction by Reiji Koyama (“Shonen Sasuke”), and music by legendary film composer, Akira Ifukube (“Godzilla”). Based on tales of the Japanese mythological figure, “Susano'o no Mikoto”, it’s Toei Studio’s 6th full length animated movie, and part of their collection of classic children’s adventure films.
When his mother, Izanami, passes on, young Susano heads out on a journey to bring her back from the land of the dead. Told by his father, Izanagi, to give up his foolish quest, Susano is not deterred, but builds a ship to sail with his rabbit friend, Akahana, to the lands of his siblings; the ice cold, Land of Night ruled by the moon, his brother, Tsukiyomi, and the Land of Light ruled by his sister, the sun goddess, Amaterasu, to garner their support.
He travels the seas and battles the giant monster fish that lies beneath the deep on his way to his brother’s realm. However, upon his arrival, Tsukiyomi tells Susano that he can not help him, and to give up and return to their father. Undeterred, Susano leaves the Land of Night to arrive on an island where villagers need protection from the volcanic fury of the Fire God. Susano announces himself to the god as the son of Izanami and Izanagi. The god is unimpressed by this, and Susano engages him in battle. Winning with the power of a crystal ball given to him by his brother, the little prince receives a giant flying bird; which carries him, along with Akahana, and Titan-bo, an emissary from Fire Island, to the Land of Light.
In the Land of Light, Susano’s sister tells him that she, too, cannot help him on his quest. But she offers him and the downtrodden villagers from Fire Island a place in her kingdom. Susano agrees to till the land to make a new home for the villagers. However, Susano’s rough and careless nature angers the inhabitants of the Land of Light, and he and his followers are cast down, out of Amaterasu’s kingdom, to the island country of the Rising Sun.
The rivers of Izumo flow with the blood of seven sacrificed maidens, all given to appease the eight-headed dragon god, Yamata no Orochi. Susano meets the eighth girl due to be sacrificed, Princess Kushinada, and vows to kill the monster./p>
“There may be many terrifying enemies ahead of you.
Fight these enemies and save those who are suffering.
If you do this, you will surely be able to see the peaceful land of our mother.”
My favorite of Toei’s classic anime, made to follow upon the domestic success of Disney’s imported animated features. Filled with a timely post-war ferverino of: ‘we will all work to create and sustain a wonderful new Japan’, Little Prince and the Eight Headed Dragon has exciting non-stop action, interestingly stylized designs, and a killer soundtrack, which combine to make it a masterwork.