Reviewed by: Azure
Released by: Optimum Releasing
Age Rating: U
Region: 2 - UK
Length: 82 minutes
Audio: Japanese 2.0 Stereo
The Norse Prince is a coming of age adventure story, a young boy named Hols is attacked by wolves he barely fends them off and runs home. There he finds his father is dying, his dieing wish is that Hols find the community his father abandoned when the demon Grunworld attacked it. On his journey Hols meets Hilda a young girl who it seems like him is alone in the world, Hilda it seems has a mysterious power an unusually beautiful voice.
The Norse prince was something of a surprise release, but makes perfect sense when placed in context with the rest of Optimum Asia’s releases. The film was directed by Isao Takahata who later went on to direct Grave of the Fireflies, and Hayao Miyazaki is also an animator on the film. As such it’s easy to see why Optimum released the film, it marks an important milestone in the history of Studio Ghibli.
The character designs are bold and have a distinctive Toei feel to them, and lean more to classic shounen than anything else. The animation is also of excellent quality especially when you consider it was released in 1968. The animation of the giant is especially good and is reminiscent of the larger demons in Princess Mononoke. The direction of the action scenes is superb as is to be expected from Takahata. While the plot may be nothing new it is after all a reworking of a classic adventure myth, it’s highly enjoyable.
Sadly there aren’t many extras on the disc, Optimum’s release would have befitted from a short introduction like Cagliostro to place the film in context and highlight it’s importance. The DVD is sub only, which is no bad thing since the subtitles are well written, but it does mean it will make difficult family viewing in most households, which is a shame. Norse Prince has the potential to reintroduce anime into a lot of households.
Norse prince is actually quite dark and serious in tone, younger children would probably find the fight scenes in particular scary but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy it, Norse Prince is reminiscent of the more unusual Disney films such as the Black Cauldron with it’s dark edgy tone, and would make excellent viewing choice for fans who have been longing for Disney to return to more experimental storytelling. The release of The Norse Prince is an unexpected treat, and a hugely enjoyable experience.