Region: 1 - North America
Length: 108 minutes
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Long ago, spirits of fire and water lived as one. But jealous Algaroch, lord of the winds, drove a rift between King Oceanus and his sister Hyperia, queen of fire. Since then fire fairies and water sprites have been at war and forbidden from consorting, but when Prince Sirius, the king's chosen successor, meets Hyperia's beautiful daughter Malta, they fall madly in love. A wise, old turtle explains their one chance is to reach the hill of Elysium during the next solar eclipse, where a magic flower blossoms that can carry them to a distant star where fire and water live as one.
Masami Hata's and Sanrio's (yes the same people behind the saccharine cute Hello Kitty) The Legend of Sirius or The Sea Prince and the Fire Child as it is commonly called is by one of the most under appreciated and overlooked works of classic anime. Which is a real shame considering that has become one of my favorite anime films. The film was given a short life on VHS and was shown on cable a few times briefly as well and then was thrown into obscurity ever since (albeit building a cult fan base).
I discovered The Sea Prince and the Fire Child about a year ago after reading an article about it from the Anime News Network in their rather informative and entertaining column called Buried Treasure. The only way I could see this movie was through fansub and needless to say, I fell in love with it. When I later received the news that Eastern Star along with the good folks at Discotek Media announced that they were going to give The Sea Prince and the Fire Child another shot at exposure; I was ecstatic to say the least.
The Sea Prince and the Fire Child is essentially a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in the backdrop of a world that is based off of an elemental fantasy. A long time ago, the spirits of fire and water lived in perfect harmony until the evil god of the winds Algaroch, grew jealous of their love and tore them apart by spreading nasty rumors about King Oceanus, lord of the sea and Queen Hyperia of the fire. The two races have been at war and are forbidden to see each other (sound like Montague and Capulet). That is until Sirius, prince of the sea meets Hyperia's daughter, Malta. The two fall in love and... You get the idea...
Before anyone goes off on a tangent and blows off this as being "Just another Romeo and Juliet story" it definitely does have it's lighter moments in comparison to the famous tragedy. The Sea Prince and the Fire Child is intended for children and does have some childish moments of whimsy and fancy, but it does not patronize them by completely sugar coating the original Romeo and Juliet. The Sea Prince and the Fire Child has some very emotionally hard hitting scenes which (I'll admit) moved me to tears. Adults can appreciate this film for it's tasteful and balanced presentation of such topics as death, hatred, and love, while at the same time children will not feel alienated because it does it in a way that is not over bearing. It's a story we have heard many times, and although not as tragic as the original, The Sea Prince and the Fire Child tells it in a way that still touches hearts.
The animation of The Sea Prince and the Fire Child is just gorgeous, with the obvious inspiration of Disney. The Sea Prince and the Fire Child definitely could pull the wool over the eyes of most people because it could pass as an American animated film if you were to watch it in the English dub. Animation is crisp and epic, for it's time and is still beautiful in its own right. The world is like a grand fairy tale in every sense of the word and is as imaginative and lively as the characters that inhabit it. The Sea Prince and the Fire Child is animation you just don't see anymore. Especially from the company from which it is inspired.
Koichi Sugiyama (of Dragon Quest music fame) composed the score which is awesome every time I hear it. It fits the story and backdrop perfectly and evokes a true sense of fairy tale grandeur. The English dub is a disappointment, so I advise that you keep to the original Japanese. Some of the original Japanese songs are in the original version which are very pleasing in their own right. I won't be too hard on the dub however, it was recorded during a time when the voice acting pickings were slim. What evades me is the fact that the company could not do a revised English Dub version.
A final gripe I have with this DVD is the bone dry extras that come with it. There is only the theatrical trailer that comes with it along with some other theatrical trailers that showcase some classic anime films (which are also worth a look). That is all. You would think that a DVD that has the captions of: "30th anniversary edition" slapped on would give more pizzazz in terms of content. As a DVD The Sea Prince and the Fire Child fails, but to be fair, the DVD itself only cost me fifteen dollars brand new and the film does more than it is required to hold it all together.
The Sea Prince and the Fire Child is a true work of visual poetry that is as enjoyable for children as it will adults for its classic storytelling and moving presentation. Pick up the DVD and enjoy this unsung vintage anime.