Australia provided an (admittedly unacknowledged) touch to Monster Prince (怪獣王子), one of Japan’s most popular TV shows in the late 1960s. Monster Prince told the story of Takeru Ibuki, a boy left stranded on a tropical island while a baby when his family is caught in a volcanic eruption and subsequently raised by dinosaurs living there. Together with his brontosaurus friend, Nessie, Takeru defends the island, and by extension the Earth, from invading aliens.
And that’s where the Australian touch comes in…Takeru’s weapon of choice is a boomerang!
The show ran for two series and was made by Nihon Tokusatsu Kabukikaisha. The role of Takeru was shared by twins, Yoshinori and Mitsunori Nomura, both of who were prominent child actors at the time, but for who this would be their final role before they both left showbiz. Monster Prince was plagued by troubles throughout its duration, though its merchandise did brisk sales.
Confectionary giant, Lotte, the program’s sponsor, wanted to pull the plug after the first series, but agreed to extend its backing when the show was sold to the United States.
In-fighting also plagued the program, which was shot in Kyoto but by a crew from Tokyo, and rivalries between those from the ancient and modern capitals were apparently fierce. Nihon Tokusatsu Kabukikaisha wound up following the end of this series, which came as the tokusatsu boom that had encompassed Japan through much of the 1960s slowly declined from its zenith.
Check out KAIJU OUJI: MONSTER PRINCE, which has an awesome write-up on Monster Prince, a program also known outside of Japan by the romanization of its Japanese title,Kaiju Ouji.
See a subtitled version of the first-ever episode of Monster Prince (featuring plenty of boomerang throwing and an awesome scream to kick-off the opening titles!)
The cartoon told the story of Lucy-May Popple and her family, who had emigrated from Yorkshire to live in Adelaide, Australia. The story was based on a book called Southern Rainbow by Australian author Phyllis Piddington. The anime would be translated into numerous languages and aired in many countries outside of Japan.
The DVD cover
The cartoon introduced Japanese audiences to all sorts of Australian animals that were then largely unknown. Among the Australian creatures featured on the show were kangaroos, platypuses, wombats, kookaburras and koalas. There were no koalas in Japan when the cartoon aired, but the marsupials would sweep the country of its feet with their cuteness when the first koalas arrived at the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya two years later.
Lucy-May of the Southern Rainbow was part of the World Masterpiece Theater, a yearlong series that featured an anime adaptation of a famous book. Among those who worked on the series were Hayao Miyazaki, who had already left Nippon Animation before Lucy-May of the Southern Rainbow aired. World Masterpiece Theater aired from 1969 to 1997, then resumed after a 10-year hiatus and continues to air now.
Japan is a land of vending machines. You can find vending machines on just about any street corner in cities. They mainly sell beverages, but the ubiquitous machines also sell a vast array of other items, including gifts, toys, fresh eggs, rice, birth control, cigarettes, beer, costumes and even surgical masks, as shown here.
Walking along Route 246, I was surprised to look up and see the katakana script reading アースウィンド！
アースis, in English, arse…or, so I thought. Arse wind, then, could only mean one thing….surely a company couldn’t have named itself after a fart?
Of course it didn’t. In fact, アース is also the reading for earth. That makes Earth Wind a little easier to comprehend, even if the English is still a little awkward.
Australians have a special way of spreading Christmas cheer
Ploughing snow is a big no-no, we have sun over here
Christmas pud is a pav instead, while lunch is on the beach
Cold ham replaces turkey, And we have three servings each
Kangaroos help Santa out, ‘Cause reindeer just won’t do
For they don’t know the bush so well, roos just bound on through
Forget the fur lined boots this year, thongs are what we need
Rudolf will have to sit it out, while Skippy takes the lead
But don’t you worry, have no fear, Santa’s used to us down here!