Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid (1975 film)

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Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid
Directed byTomoharu Katsumata
Tim Reid
Written byMieko Koyamauchi
Ikuko Oyabu
Based onThe Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
StarringFumie Kashiyama
Mariko Miyagi
Taro Shigaki
Music byTakekuni Hirayoshi, Alex North
Distributed byToei Company
Release date
March 21, 1975 (Japan)
Running time
70 minutes

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.[1]


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 hairpin 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. She then asks her grandmother if humans can live forever. She says that although mermaids can live up to 300 years, they don’t have an immortal soul like humans do when they die. Mermaids just simply dissolve into sea foam and cease to exist. While exploring a sunken ship destroyed by the storm, she discovers a statue of a human prince. 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 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 kingdom. 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 hairpin.

Determined to see the prince again and to gain an immortal soul, 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 hairpin high in the air.

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. Jemmy, 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 dagger. They tell her that if she stabs the prince through the heart and lets his blood drip onto her feet, she will become a mermaid again. Marina accepts the dagger. 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 dagger 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. Marina becomes a daughter of the air and her spirit lives on in Heaven for her self-sacrifice, while Fritz calls out her name.

The movie then fades back to live-action in Denmark. The narrator then expresses belief that the mermaid princess has become one with the sea and waves in body and soul, that her love and courage forever lives on in the hearts of all. The movie ends on a still shot of The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.

Main characters[edit]

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 Justin (フィヨルド王子, Fiyorudo Ouji)
He is brave and well-trained in the military arts. Justin 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 Justin'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)

Sung by Kumiko Osugi, Lyrics by Tokiko Iwatani, Music and Arrangement by Takekuni Hirayoshi.
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.


Cleopatra Music by Alex North


Cleopatra Music by Alex North

Exit Music

Cleopatra Music by Alex North

Voice cast[edit]

Character Original English
Marina Fumie Kashiyama Kirsten Bishopric
Fritz the Dolphin Mariko Miyagi Thor Bishopric
Prince Justin Taro Shigaki Ian Finlay
Duke the Whale Kosei Tomita Unknown
King of the Mermen Hidekatsu Shibata
Whistler Ichiro Nagai
Crab Kaneta Kimotsuki
Sea Witch Haruko Kitahama Jane Woods
Jemmy the Cat Kazuko Sawada
Raven-haired girl/Princess of Suomi Rihoko Yokota
Marina's Sister Kazuko Sugiyama
Prince Justin's Mother Nana Yamaguchi
Queen Mother of the Mermen Miyoko Asō

Additional Voices[edit]

  • Jeannette Casenave
  • Terry Haig
  • Neil Shee

Movie title for VHS[edit]

  • Andersen dôwa ningyo hime (Japan) (alternative transliteration)
  • Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid (USA) (video box title)
  • The Little Mermaid (international: English title)

Home releases[edit]

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".[2] The cover art [3] 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")[4] or the film animation style.[5] 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.

Internet release[edit]

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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]