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Golden Age Series

Andersen Monogatari (Mushi, 1971)

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This crucially important series in the history of anime was produced by Mushi Production, the pioneering studio founded by Osamu Tezuka. Building on the success of the first series designed specifically for Japanese audiences, Andersen Monogatari [The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen] created a market for adaptations of Western childrens’ classics, which in turn inspired Nippon Studio’s "Masterpiece Theatre" series, beginning with the Takahata/Miyazaki breakout series, Alps no Shoujo Heidi

Cannily planned to run an entire year of weekly installments, the series began on January 3, 1971, with the first installment of "The Ugly Duckling" and concluded on December 26 with "The Little Match Girl." Along the way came early Japanese adaptations of many of Andersen’s famous stories, including "The Snow Queen," "The Wild Swans," "The Red Shoes," "The Emperor’s New Clothes," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," and "The Nightingale." It is regrettable that no complete version of this series is readily available, even in raw Japanese.

The Series Director was Masami Hata, a wide-ranging and influential animator who had worked on previous Tezuka productions such as Princess Knight and Unico and went on to much more important tasks, including directing Syrius no Densetsu/The Sea Prince and the Fire Child and the film version of Little Nemo – Adventures in Slumberland, the first anime movie to be given a theatrical release in North America.

Art from this series is scarce, as you might imagine after this time, but when it arrives it is surprisingly vibrant in color and trace lines. That is because Mushi chose to have the cels hand-traced in India ink, in the old-fashioned way of classic Disney and Warner Brothers cels. (Photocopied trace lines had been standard in other studios for several years, and it's not surprising to find that Mushi went bankrupt within a few years of the release of Andersen Monogatari.)

Character design is surprisingly complex and engaging, even when the actual context of the images can't be identified. In any case, it is a long-deferred pleasure to open this gallery and begin exploring the art of this quirky and influential series.

The last cel in this gallery is actually from Madhouse's 1976 Manga Sekai Mukashi Banashi (Folktales from Around the World), but as it adapts one of Andersen's most famous tales, I've bundled it in here for convenience.


 The Little Mermaid begs for another chance to see the prince

 The Steadfast Tin Soldier

 Rudy has breakfast

 Rudy gets the baby eagle

 Thumbelina’s Mole Fiancé

 The Tinder-Box Soldier

 The Tinder-Box Soldier and the Princess

 A Danish elf?

 The Old Man and His Son Make a Clever Trade

 An Irate Baddie

 Ugly Washerwoman
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Curator: 60something-sensei
Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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Presentation 8.81/10   Collection 9.46/10   Overall 9.02/10   Votes 83 votes
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