Childhood Memories: Japanese Cartoons of 1970s

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Childhood Memories: Japanese Cartoons of 1970s

Xah Lee, 2011-06-28

We get old. Am in my 40s, but can still hum many tunes from cartoons when i was under 10. Now and then in the past few years, i've tried to search on the web of these old tunes in my head, to remember it, to see with adult's eye what it was about, who made the cartoon, etc. But often it's hard to search. But today, with youtube, within 1 minutes search you find the whole collection.

This page lists several cartoons that are deeply in my memory. They are made in Japan, around 1970s to early 1980s, typically broadcasted in Taiwan few years later.

One big thanks to 張哲生 (Jason), who took the time to collect and annotate these old cartoons. In fact he wrote a book 飛呀!科學小飛俠. His website is: In the following, Chinese excerpts are usually from his youtube annotation, and English are usually frow Wikipedia.

The Adventures of Hutch the Honeybee 小蜜蜂


The Adventures of Hutch the Honeybee (昆虫物語 みなしごハッチ, 1970). Quote:

The cartoon features the adventures of a young bee named Hutch : the son of a Queen bee, Hutch is separated from his mother when his native beehive is destroyed by an attack of wasps. The series follows Hutch as he searches for his missing mother, in the midst of a frequently hostile nature.

The original show (1971) is notable for its frequently sad and cruel scripts. In many episodes, Hutch would befriend another insect, only to see his new friend die a violent and painful death.

From Jason:


Note that Hutch the bee is a orphan, in search of her mom. In lots of these cartoons of 1970s era, the protagonist are all orphans, searching for their parent, usually mom, and going thru hardship. You'll see several on this page.


詞 / 曲:汪石泉

有一個小蜜蜂 飛到西又飛到東
嗡嗡嗡嗡 嗡嗡嗡嗡 不怕雨也不怕風

自立自強有信心 刻苦耐勞勤作工
萬里尋親不怕難 消滅敵人最英勇 
最英勇 啦啦啦啦

有一個小蜜蜂 飛到西又飛到東
嗡嗡嗡嗡 嗡嗡嗡嗡

有恆一定會成功 有恆一定會成功

Candy Candy 小甜甜


Candy Candy (キャンディ・キャンディ) (1975). Quote:

Candy is an abandoned orphan taken in the orphanage Pony's Home near Lake Michigan around the start of the 20th century. She spends the first years of her life at the orphanage, where she will often return to repose and decide her next course in life. Growing up she gets adopted twice, first by the Leagans who treat her poorly, and after that by a wealthy benefactor whom she does not meet until the end of the story. But he is heir to an important estate, and a relation of her first love Anthony and his cousins the Cornwell brothers. After Anthony dies, Candy gets an education in London where she meets the rebellious Terry, her second and grand love (in the words of the author Keiko Nagita/Kyoko Mizuki in the essays found on Misaki's website, “the great love that cannot bear fruit”). Circumstances seem to constantly divide the pair. Upon her return in the US, she trains and gains experience in becoming a nurse in Chicago, around the time of WWI, while Terry tries to become a Broadway actor and meets another woman, Susannah, who hopes to get between Candy and Terry. Eventually both have to make honest decisions for their own happiness while being true to themselves. And with the revelation of the identity of her guardian, Candy also discovers who her childhood hilltop prince is.

About the story, from Jason:

日本卡通「小甜甜」原名「キャンディ・キャンディ」(Candy Candy)改編自漫畫家五十嵐優美子和兒童文學作家水木杏子所創作的少女漫畫作品。小甜甜卡通由NET、旭通信社、東映聯合製作,1976年10月1日至1979年2月2日在日本NET電視台(朝日電視台前身)首映,共115集,得到相當大的好評。






The Chinese translation of the show and the main character is “小甜甜”, literally “little sweet sweet” meaning “little sweetie”. Note that Britney Spears's nickname in Chinese is also 小甜甜.

Youtube has this touching comment.


Here's a quick translation:

Once, I was also a “Little Sweetie”. Back then we called “animations” as “cartoons” [transliteration of the English word]; Back then, every day after school before dinner we can't wait to watch Candy Candy and Hutch The Honeybee; Once, I was a little girl too …. In this sad night, me a 35-years old women listening to these childhood tunes, tears came out my eyes …

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Here's the Chinese lyrics:

詞:孫儀 / 曲:周金田

有一個女孩叫甜甜 從小生長在孤兒院
還有許多小朋友 相親相愛又相憐 
這裏的人情最溫暖 這裏的人們最和善 
好像一個大家庭 大家都愛小甜甜 

一天又一天 一年又一年 
轉眼之間已長大 依依不捨說再見 
每一個孩子都勇敢 每一個孩子都樂觀 
自立自強有信心 前途光明又燦爛

Quick translation:

there's a girl named Candy, she grew up in a orphanage
here are many other kids, they love and care for each other
the people here are the most warm; the people here are most kind
like one big family, everyone loves Candy

day after day, years gone by
in a blink we grew up; reluctantly we depart
every child is brave; every child is hopeful
with strong confidence; the future is shining bright

This story is in the background of American and England. Thru these stories, we as kids learn about Western people and culture. The blonde hair, the clothing, the living habits, the Victorian settings; just as most US Americans first got a glimpse of Asian culture and history from cartoons or movies.

Triton of the Sea 海王子


Triton of the Sea (海のトリトン) (1972). Quote:

5000 years ago, the Triton Family was living peacefully in Atlantis until the Poseidon Family destroyed them all out of jealousy for their successes. The race of merman was annihilated leaving Triton, the last survivor of his kind. Ruka took the orphaned Triton to Japan in order to protect him from his enemies. …

日本卡通「海王子」原名「海のトリトン」,改編自手塚治虫於1969年創作的同名漫畫,1972.4.1~1972.9.30在日本TBS首映,共27集 …





triton of the sea

Triton of the Sea

i particularly love this theme song.

詞:林家慶 / 曲:鈴木宏昌


勇敢的海王子 他要去尋找
他的故鄉 在彩虹的那一邊 

勇敢的海王子 為了大海的和平
他要 去冒險 去拚命 

嘿嘿 海王子 呵呵 海王子 
嘿嘿呵呵嘿 海王子

Here's a quick translation:

in the sea far away
there is a beautiful rainbow

the courageous sea prince, he is seeking
his home country, over the rainbow

the courageous sea prince, for the peace of the sea
he goes on this dangerous adventure, the fight

heh, heh, Sea Prince, hoho, sea prince
heh hoho heh, sea prince

Note that in this story, the hero's name is Triton, and the bad guy's name is Poseidon. As a kid, i didn't know nothing about it. But now reading about it, you realize that these are borrowed from Greek Mythology. In this cartoon, Triton and Poseidon are enemies. In Greek mythology, Triton is son of Poseidon. (See also: A Love of Mythology of the Greeks.)

Vicky the Viking 北海小英雄

北海小英雄 (Vicky the Viking)

Vicky the Viking (小さなバイキングビッケ; Wickie und die starken Männer) (1974)

This story is in the background of Europe, the Viking. It is this story, i first learned about Vikings. As a 8 years-old boy, back then, i didn't give a shit about learnings or knowledge, and i didn't really “learn” anything about Vikings, but i surely remember the particularly styled ships (called Longship), the priate story, those helmets with horns, and i as remember, i loved it. Though, innocence get lost when you grew up. Today, the history of Vikings would not fascinate that much, among the histories of great many world's cultures.

Heidi, Girl of the Alps; 小天使

This one i barely remember. I don't remember the song, but do remember this cartoon.


Heidi, Girl of the Alps (小天使; アルプスの少女ハイジ; 1974)

Heidi a Girl of the Alps cartoon 2 Heidi a Girl of the Alps cartoon 1

Heidi, Girl of the Alps

Apparently, this is based on a very popular novel titled Heidi's Years of Wandering and Learning, by a Swiss author Johanna Spyri (1827‒1901). Quote:

“Heidi's Years of Wandering and Learning”, usually abbreviated as Heidi, is a novel about the events in the life of a young girl in her grandfather's care, in the Swiss Alps. It was written as a book "for children and those who love children" (as quoted from its subtitle) in 1880 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.

As i now look at these tales, many of them really classics, of universal nature.

The Story of Perrine; 小英的故事


The Story of Perrine (小英的故事; ペリーヌ物語) (1978)

Again, i don't remember this song, but only the cartoon.

Based on the French novel, En Famille by Hector Malot, Perrine (also known as “Peline Paindavoine” in French Name) is the daughter of a French father and a half-Indian mother. Before dying, her father asks his wife and Perrine to return to their hometown. They lack the money for the trip, but when Perrine has the idea to use an old camera and sell portraits to the villagers, money becomes one resolved problem. Unfortunately, many tougher problems await Perrine, her mother, their faithful dog Baron and Palikare, their donkey.

Perrine de En Famille DVD

The Story of Perrine

The novel's author is Hector Malot (1830‒1907).

「小英的故事」改編自十九世紀法國作家馬羅(Hector Malot)的文學名著《孤女努力記》(法文原書名為En Familie,英譯本書名為 Nobodys Girl)…


Mazinger Z 無敵鐵金剛

The above ones are often watched by both boys or girls, as far as i recall. Now, some for mainly boys.


Mazinger Z (無敵鐵金剛; マジンガーZ) (1972)

This one is classic. Every boy of 1970s knew, and knew it well. According to Jason and Wikipedia, it's the first that popularized the concept of man riding inside a giant robot (aka mecha).

Mazinger Z

Mazinger Z

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman; 科學小飛俠


Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (1972). Later English adaptations are known as: {Battle Of The Planets, Gatchaman, G-Force: Guardians of Space}.

Battle of the Planets Battle of the Planets team 2

Battle Of The Planets, G-Force team members.

Dinosaur Savers 恐龍救生隊


恐龍救生隊 (恐竜探険隊ボーンフリー) (1976)

This one is particularly novel, because it combines drawing with model-based animation technique, somewhat similar to Thunderbirds (TV series).


Watching them now, you find them extremely silly, childish, especially the scifi ones for boys. Exactly. That's what they are, children's cartoons. But when i was watching them at age ~10, it wasn't anything “childish”. It is your life. It is the chat at school, it is the lives to lookup to, it is the philosophy to learn from. Know the stories is a show of superiority, having the toys is a status symbol, being able to draw them, is a mark of genius, the admiration of peers. It was a BIG deal. The heros, heroines, their love, difficulties, are major parts of our life, just as we adults today regards with career, cars, housing, or even politics.

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