It's time once again for another exciting installment of our popular high-tech feature ANIME ON CED! That's right, Capacitance Electronic Disc AKA RCA Selectavision, possibly the most useless video format ever created! Was it a temporary home for Japanese anime home video releases in North America? Yes it was, and it's our mission to seek out and document all examples of... ANIME ON CED.
The best part about buying CED discs is that invariably you find enormous piles of them in thrift stores and antique malls, and once you start thumbing through them, somebody will always come up to you and (1) ask you if you know what they are, (2) inform you that they are laser discs, and (3) ask you if you have a player for them.
All these things happened when I came across today's offering, THE LITTLE PRINCE. Based on the 1943 children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, this tale of the boy who lives on the asteroid B612 was very freely adapted by the Japanese anime studio Knack into a 39 episode series that aired in 1978 and '79.
The original novel is a popular and influential work that's influenced people around the world with its charming, dreamlike qualities. The anime series, not so much; our little Prince spends each episode hitching comets down to Earth so that he can express amazement at all the wonderful things and help people with their problems. Broadcast on Nickelodeon in the 80s, the American version's Little Prince was voiced by Katie Leigh, who would later go on to do voice work for "Dungeons & Dragons" and "Totally Spies".
It's tough writing about this show because it's really dull. It doesn't have the crazed thievery of other Knack series like Groizer X or Astroganger, and it lacks the total sub-standard lousy of Ninja The Wonder Boy. My Nickelodeon time was spent watching "You Can't Do That On Television" and "Tomorrow People", so I have no fond memories to fall back on. You can see Knack's team trying to emulate the Nippon Animation Company's World Masterpiece Theater Miyazaki-Takahata style of vaguely Europeanish characters - and it gives Little Prince a class not normally found in Knack productions -but "Heidi" this ain't. On the other hand the style fits right in with Nickelodeon's other Euro-style anime offerings Belle & Sebastian and Mysterious Cities Of Gold.
The two episodes on this CED feature the Little Prince helping a mountain-climbing kid climb the Andes only to be rescued by a surrealistic balloon decorated with a giant eye, and then he visits London where he aids a chimney sweep in his star-crossed romance with a nanny - wait, I mean, with a ballet dancer. Many life lessons are learned.
This disc actually does NOT feature the scene illustrated on the back cover, which seems to be from a "very special" episode of The Little Prince, one endorsed by NAMBLA.
Unlike so many other shows, The Little Prince has been released on DVD,so you're in luck. The bargain retailer East/West also released at least two Little Prince DVDs, one of which coincidentally contains the same exact two episodes that are on CED. I guess somebody at East/West knows what Selectavision discs are, and has a player.
If you have fond memories of watching the show on Nickelodeon, then by all means I would seek this show out in whatever format currently is in vogue. If, on the other hand, your psyche was not imprinted at an early age with the story of the little asteroid guy who loves a rose and tends volcanoes, this one might make for some tough watching.