Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Adventures of Young Santa

Typically, every December, in some form or another, I write about L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, but after running the Royal Blog of Oz for so long, I have trouble finding anything new to say about it. (Especially after 2009, when I examined the book, Baum's further Santa Claus stories, the adaptations, and any other Santa Claus tales by the Royal Historians, though I was unaware of Jack Snow's "The Animal's Christmas Tree" at the time.)

However, this year, I can finally look at one of the other adaptations I couldn't look at before: the 24-episode anime series 少年サンタの大冒険 (pronounced Shounen Santa no daibôken), translated to English as The Adventures of Young Santa. Some other Oz bloggers and fans and I were finally able to locate a very good copy of the anime in its original Japanese. It seems an English dub was made, but it's taken us long enough to find any version of the series at all!
Left to right: Necile, unidentified snow leopard and owl, reindeer
(Flossie or Glossie), bear, chipmunk, Claus, Blinkie, Shiegra, unidentified
rabbit and squirrel, other reindeer, Peter Knook
The version we managed to obtain appears to possibly be from the original masters. As the series aired in 1994, one would expect that it had been preserved on VHS and then transferred to DVD (which we got it on), but this shows no sign of being transferred from VHS, the picture quality being very clear and sharp. In addition, these are the complete episodes, with full opening and end titles on each episode, "next time" trailers, even tiny spots that were shown during commercial breaks to remind you what show you're watching.

Although my knowledge of Japanese is limited (like... nonexistent), I've still been able to pick up on what's going on. The plot is a highly expanded adaptation of what's in Baum's book, rather akin to Peter Jackson's version of The Hobbit. Ak, Zurline, Necile, Shiegra, Peter Knook, Flossie, Glossie and especially Blinkie are all present, but so are many new characters. An owl, bear, leopard, squirrels and rabbits join the Burzee cast, and a character named Mary is a close friend of Claus. I can't tell if she's a fairy, a Ryl, or another wood-nymph, though.

The difference between Claus and the Immortals of Burzee are actually made pretty clear in the opening credits: the Immortals can all fly, while Claus can only get around on his feet. A difference is made in the anime from Baum's text: the animals of Burzee can speak, and the Immortals can be seen by humans. (It is implied that Claus is an exception to that rule in Baum's book.)

As of right now, I've watched the first 14 episodes. Having heard about there being a battle over the Mantle of Immortality, I was under the impression that the Immortals and the Awgwas would figure very heavily in this series. However, it has mainly focused on Claus. Surprisingly early in the series, he leaves Burzee to build his own home closer to humanity, and a little girl named May becomes a frequent visitor. I was also very glad that shortly after this, there are less plots in which Claus' life is put in definite peril.

However, the presence of evil beings hasn't been absent. In the second episode, Mary is tending to flowers, but when Claus accidentally messes up her work, a being that is likely a Gadgol comes in. The Mantle of Immortality is glimpsed briefly in the first episode, so the writers of the series definitely had things all plotted out, even if plots are sometimes created from a sentence or two in the book.

In its expanded form, though, Baum's story is definitely still there, even if we have side stories where Claus meets a man who might be his father and a tale of a rich lad wanting to buy Blinkie from Claus.

Although one of the other bloggers is looking into a creation of a fan dub or an English subtitle, it is fun to watch these without any knowledge of what's being said and invent new dialogue on the spot. Last we knew, the opening and ending titles were uploaded to YouTube, but were later taken down due to a copyright claim from the owner, so if anything comes of this attempt to create a fan dub or subtitled version, it probably won't be there unfortunately.


Anonymous said...

hi. i really want to watch Shonen Santa no Daiboken.. but i cant find any of it... pls post some links.. english/filipino dub. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Can i have a copy of the story?? Ive been looking for it for a long time.

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