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Takarajima (1978) TV animation series by Tokyo Movie Shinsha

by Short Jim Gold

The world was blessed when in 1978, animation production company Tokyo Movie Shinsha (nowadays called TMS Entertainment) produced a television series based on the Treasure Island book of Robert Louis Stevenson, though in my personal opinion they improved the story tremendously and had a much bigger punchline, especially as far as the hunt for the treasure is concerned. 

Many children, today adults, grew up with this series and have never, ever forgotten it.  Myself included. 

The story begins one stormy night, with a clap of thunder... Here, to an old inn called the "Admiral Benbow" on "Black Hill" in a remote part of the countryside of England appeared an old mysterious sea captain. Jim Hawkins, the only son of the former owner of the "Admiral Benbow" is an adventurous 13 years old boy who lives with his mother and "Benbow" a leopard given by a guest. They lived happily until that night, when Billy Bones arrived...

The old captain, Billy Bones, lived in dread of a one legged man for some reason. Billy Bones, dying one night, gives Jim the key to his sea chest up in his room.  But now, Jim and his mother will be hunted for what's in that chest!  

And with good reason:  Later they discovered that the map to a place called "Treasure Island" was hidden in there.  The map was drawn by "Big Flint", the notorious pirate, who had amassed unimagined piles of treasure, most likely now hidden on Treasure Island. Jim was thrilled and felt the seaman in his blood.

With the help of Squire Trelawny and Doctor Livesy, they get a ship and are on their way to Treaure Island.  But on the journey John Silver, Jim's best friend who acted like the ship's cook, turns out to be the ruthless pirate who was once the right hand of Flint himself.  Silver has all the crew in his pocket, and they'll kill Jim and his other friends to get the map and have the treasure for themselves. 

Feeling betrayed forever, now Jim has to deal with his mixed emotions and face Silver who still considers himself and Jim as friends, even though the circumstances are now impossible to deal with.

The animation at the beginning of the series starts out well but soon starts looking slightly rushed (but not ugly), up until the second half of the series where the animation gets really, really beautiful.

I remember it took me a while to like this series when I was little, but after a few episodes I discovered what it really is.  From then on, I was hooked.  I love it up until this day. 

This Japanese series has been translated into everything from French to Arabic, German to Afrikaans, Spanish to some more.  At current writing I am yet to find an English version, but I'm sure it'll be there some time.   I can definitely recommend this series.


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