By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
“There’s ‘Marine Boy,’” said Mom, poring over the TV listings. “You want to watch ‘Marine Boy’?”
That was Mom, circa 1975. I was seven. Or it could have been circa 1978. I was 10. “Marine Boy,” originally created as “Kaitei Shōnen Marin” (“Undersea Boy Marine”) for Japanese kids in the 60s and early 70s, played local Seattle television for seemingly ever. Then again, I was a kid. And I didn’t even know it was Japanese.
“Marine Boy” shares an era and some cast/crew with the legendary “Speed Racer,” but for whatever reason(s), took much longer to come to North American DVD. The first season was just released earlier this year by the Warner Archive.
It’s the exploits of a young wavy-haired boy who roams the ocean depths, chewing “oxy-gum” to keep breathing underwater, while he fights sea monsters, underwater pirates, and environmental pollution (one of the earliest mentions of this topic on TV) alongside a mermaid, Neptina, and a dolphin, Splasher.
Neptina goes bare-chested, although her long tresses mysteriously always cover her breasts whenever she faces front. The show’s science wasn’t terribly plausible, even for science fiction; the intrepid trio dives to bathyscaphe depths and back without (de)-pressurizing.
Most kids, however, weren’t nearly so in-the-know or choosy, and the show’s continuous diet of marauders, lost civilizations, sinister submarines, electronic brains, giant squids, giant lobsters, telepathic giant shellfish, newfangled gadgetry, and some of the most cheerfully ludicrous villains around (“Slime’s the name, and I’ve got a slimy deal for you!”), kept them worshipping at the screen. It’s a welcome find on DVD; you can’t quite go home again, but you can savor overgrown crustaceans menacing Marine Boy. And remember Mom’s call … (end)
“Marine Boy” is available on DVD.
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at email@example.com.