Prince of the Sun: The Great Adventure of Hols

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Feature film: 21 July 1968 / 82 minutes
Director: Isao Takahata
Screenplay, Story: Kazuo Fukazawa

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Prince of the Sun: The Great Adventure of Hols (太陽の王子 ホルスの大冒険 Taiyō no Ōji: Horusu no Daibōken?) is one of the classic masterpieces of anime in Japan. Released in theaters in 1968 by Tōei Dōga (Tōei Animation Studio), it was epoch making in many ways.

This was the first feature film Isao Takahata ever directed. It was made by young, idealistic staff members, who wanted to make something totally different from anything Disney and previous "Tōei kid's stuff." It was made during the height of a huge labor dispute at Tōei Dōga and the story and the production process reflected the situation.

The theme of the movie was "the unity among people," and the staff members tried to make Hols in a "democratic" way, meaning many ideas from all the staff members, including Hayao Miyazaki (who worked as a key animator on the project), were incorporated into the final film. In fact, Miyazaki's contribution was so great that they had to create a new job title, "Scene Design," just for him.


The film took more than three years to complete, way beyond the initial schedule of eight months. Although it was highly acclaimed critically and many organizations recommended it, Tōei only ran it for 10 days! As a result, Hols was the lowest grossed anime in the Tōei history. Takahata was demoted because of this and was never again allowed to direct a movie at Tōei Dōga.

However, it was embraced enthusiastically by many young Japanese, such as university students (considering that anime, or manga movies as they were called, were considered "kid's stuff" even more than now, this was really something). The theme of the movie, "the importance of being united," really appealed to those who were in the student and union movements.


Hols is also the origin of Miyazaki anime in many ways. The beginning of the movie is very similar to Conan: The Boy in Future, the first TV series which Miyazaki directed. With his incredible strength and strong love towards the heroine, Hols is definitely the prototype of Conan, as well as Pazu from Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

The heroine, Hilda, is the archetype of Miyazaki heroines. Hilda is probably one of the most complex heroines in Japanese animation history. She is very strong, though her strength was unfortunately shown primarily through her evil side. She carries both good and evil inside of her and in Miyazaki's later works, she is reincarnated as pairs of heroines: Nausicaä and Kushana in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Lana and Monsley in Conan, and Clarisse and Fujiko in The Castle of Cagliostro, to name a few.

After receiving many inquiries as to where the names in Hols came from, we asked Mr. Kanō of the Takahata・Miyazaki Research Lab, a well-respected fan organization in Japan. He in turn asked Yasuo Ōtsuka, who was the supervising animator of Hols. Kanō returned with the following reply from Ōtsuka:

"Actually, there is no record on how Hols, Hilda, and Grinwald were named… I think that Hols was not named after Horus of Egypt but was named after northern European names such as Holhel, Holhes, or Holt." [The spelling on these last three names may be off.]

Hols was retitled The Little Norse Prince Valiant, dubbed into English, and shown on Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) in the United States in the early- to mid-1980s. An official English-subtitled version has screened at some film festivals and is available on DVD in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

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