Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid (1975 film)
|Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid|
|Directed by||Tomoharu Katsumata|
|Written by||Mieko Koyamauchi|
|Based on||The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen|
|Music by||Takekuni Hirayoshi|
|Distributed by||Toei Company|
|March 21, 1975 (Japan)|
Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid (アンデルセン童話 にんぎょ姫 Anderusen Dōwa Ningyo Hime, lit. "Andersen's Fairy Tales: Princess Mermaid") is a Japanese anime film based on Hans Christian Andersen's eponymous fairy tale, released in 1975 by Toei Animation. Unlike the Disney adaptation released 14 years later, this film is closer to Andersen's story, notably in its preservation of the original and tragic ending. The two main protagonists are the youngest daughter of the royal Merman family, Marina, and her best friend Fritz, an Atlantic dolphin calf. In Japan, this film was shown in the Toei Manga Matsuri (Toei Cartoon Festival) in 1975. The film was later released in the United States, dubbed into English by G. G. Communications, Inc. and Prima Film, Inc., on February 4, 1978.
The movie opens in live action Denmark. The narrator talks about Hans Christian Andersen and his authorship of the original story. After a brief shot of a live action ocean and the opening title card (with a mermaid song in the background), the scene dissolves to 2D hand-drawn anime.
Princess Marina, who lives in the undersea kingdom with her father, grandmother, and five older sisters, is playing with her best friend Fritz, a dolphin. On her way home, the Sea Witch conjures a powerful storm. Marina is scolded by her sisters for being late, reminding her that their grandmother won't give her the pearl hair-pin that signifies adulthood unless she is responsible. Marina and her sisters are then summoned to their father and grandmother and are told to go to bed early because of the storm.
The following day, Marina's sisters go to the surface. Marina is curious, but she is forbidden to go because she has not yet come of age. While exploring a ship destroyed by the storm, she discovers a statue of a human boy. Deciding she is ready to see the world above, she and Fritz sneak away to the surface with the help of Fritz's uncle, Duke the whale. There, she sees the handsome young prince from the statue on a ship.
Suddenly, another storm arises and throws the prince into the sea. Marina saves him and brings him to shore, leaving him there to be found. A raven-haired young woman arrives, finds the prince, and cares for him. Marina and Fritz then return home to the palace. Marina's grandmother tells the king of the rescue and decides that Marina is ready to come of age. The next morning, Marina joins her sisters and receives her pearl hair-pin.
Determined to see the prince again, Marina visits the Sea Witch, who actually sent that storm and apparently has some agenda of her own in the context, and obtains a potion which allows her to exchange her tail and her beautiful voice in order to become human. The Sea Witch warns Marina that if the prince marries another, she will die and turn into sea foam the next morning. After a heartfelt goodbye to her family and to Fritz, Marina drinks the potion and is transformed.
Early the following morning, she is discovered by the prince on the shore. Marina lives with the prince for one month and they become very close. One day, Fritz visits Marina and informs her that if she needs him, she can signal him by raising her pearl hair-pin.
The prince takes Marina horse-back riding the next morning. While riding, the prince's jealous cat Jemmy pounces on Marina's horse, spooking the horse into throwing Marina off. Marina is surrounded and chased by a pack of wolves. The prince comes to her rescue and kills the wolves, enraging Jemmy.
The prince tells her that his parents want him to marry a foreign princess, but instead he wants to marry the girl who saved his life. Since he cannot find her, he wishes to marry Marina. Jimmy, who then vows to get rid of Marina, reports the conversation to the prince's parents, and the queen suspects that Marina has bewitched her son.
When the ship arrives carrying the princess his parents intend for him to marry, the prince's father orders Marina to be placed under arrest for treason. The next morning, the prince meets the foreign princess and recognizes her as the same raven-haired girl who had supposedly saved him. The prince and princess are soon married.
Heartbroken, Marina summons Fritz so she can say goodbye. Fritz vows to find a way to save her. Marina's sisters, having given their hair to the Sea Witch, give her a magic knife. They tell her that if she stabs the prince through the heart, she will turn into a mermaid again. Marina accepts the knife. With dawn only minutes away, Marina sneaks into the prince's room but finds that she cannot bring herself to kill him. Marina kisses him goodbye as he sleeps.
As she throws the knife into the sea, the reflection wakes the prince. He rushes onto the deck, calling after her, but she jumps before he can reach her. As he calls her name one last time, he sees that she has left behind her pearl hair-pin and a scale from her tail. As the sun rises, Marina's body slowly turns to foam and ascends into the sky. The prince suddenly realizes that Marina was the girl who had saved his life. He grieves her death as Marina's spirit goes on to Heaven for her self-sacrifice, while Fritz calls out her name.
- Princess Marina (マリーナ姫 Mariina Hime)
- Sixteen years old. Princess of the undersea kingdom and the youngest of six daughters. She is a blonde, sweet and beautiful mermaid and is known for having the most beautiful voice in the kingdom. She is curious about the human world and likes collecting items that come from the surface.
- Fritz (フリッツ Furittsu)
- A blue Atlantic dolphin calf, and Marina's best friend.
- Prince Fjord (フィヨルド王子 Fiyorudo Ouji)
- He is brave and well-trained in the military arts. Fjord dislikes the idea of an arranged marriage.
- The Sea Witch (魔女 Majo)
- Unlike other versions of the story, the sea witch is not evil. She is shrewd. She has no specific interest in harming anyone, but can be very destructive in creating storms that sink ships. She is a gigantic devil ray.
- Princess Cecilia (スオミの姫 Suomi no Hime)
- The raven-haired princess of the Kingdom of Finland. Her personal name is not given in Japanese.
- Jemmy the Cat (ジェミー Jemii)
- The main antagonist of the story, despite being Fjord's loyal cat. She tries to get rid of Marina, first by killing her and then by accusing her of manipulating the prince.
- Opening Theme
"Yearning" (あこがれ Akogare)
- Inserted Song
"The One I've Waited For" (待っていた人 Matteita Hito) Marina's Song in the English version.
- Sung by Kumiko Osugi and People, Lyrics by Tokiko Iwatani, Music and Arrangement by Takekuni Hirayoshi.
- Fumie Kashiyama - Marina
- Mariko Miyagi - Fritz the Dolphin
- Taro Shigaki - Prince Fjord
- Kosei Tomita - Duke the Whale
- Hidekatsu Shibata - King of the Mermen
- Ichiro Nagai - Whistler
- Kaneta Kimotsuki - Crab, Conch
- Haruko Kitahama - Sea Witch
- Kazuko Sawada - Jemmy the Cat
- Rihoko Yoshida - Raven-haired girl/Princess of Suomi (miscredited as "Rihoko Yokota" in some sources)
- Kazuko Sugiyama - Marina's Sister
- Nana Yamaguchi - Prince Fjord's mother
- Miyoko Asō - Queen Mother of the Mermen
- Kirsten Bishopric - Marina
- Thor Bishopric - Fritz
- Ian Finlay - Prince Fjord
- Jane Woods - Marina's Sister, Sea Witch, Raven-haired girl/Princess Cecilia of Suomi, Jemmy the Cat, Prince Fjord's mother
- Jeannette Casenave - Queen Mother of the Mermen, Housekeeper
- Terry Haig - Additional Voices
- Neil Shee - Additional Voices
Movie title for VHS
- Andersen dôwa ningyo hime (Japan) (alternative transliteration)
- Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid (USA) (video box title)
- The Little Mermaid (international: English title)
It was initially available on region 1 (USA and Canada) DVD, released by UAV Corporation under the name "The Little Mermaid: Based on Hans Christian Andersen's Classic Tale". The cover art  is significantly different from the cover art from the original US VHS release of the film (released by Starmaker under the title "Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid") or the film animation style. However, multiple reviewers on Amazon.com state that the actual film on the DVD is the same as the Starmaker release (albeit somewhat censored). The customer images aside from the cover art also depict images from the original 1975 Toei film. The UAV version is not to be confused with the GoodTimes Entertainment/Golden Films version. The film is now licensed by Discotek Media. Discotek Media released the full, uncut film on Region 1 DVD, making it the first time the full film has been available in the United States since the original VHS release. The DVD includes the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub, and presents the film in its original aspect ratio.
The Japanese version can be viewed on several media websites including Yahoo! Japan, but IP addresses not based in Japan are blocked from viewing it.