Wow, more ancient stuff from a local collector (thanks Scot). This was actually recorded off morning television many years ago. Although both the quality of early VCR gear, and the longevity of tapes in general, makes me glad I saw it when I had the opportunity.
Once again the episodes I saw did not contain the start of the story. The important fact is that marine boy is a young guy well placed for adventure to happen. His dad is the boss of the `underwater patrol' which keeps the world safe from aquatic villains. Now normally this would seem a fairly comical job, but in this version of the world the sea is a strange place full of dastardly pirates, hidden mysteries, magic and great dangers. And some of these situations are so serious that not even the tough and capable men of the patrol, and their torpedo armed mini-subs, are enough.
Luckily marine boy has all the equipment, abilities and allies to win the day for the good guys. These include a gum that allows him to breath in the water, propellers in his boots for fast travel, and also his lethal high tech boomerang for the finishing blow. A weapon with which he is both accurate and efficient, one scene showing him sawing through four steel pylons with one throw. He can also sneak, fight, fears no evil, and can always call on his pet dolphin and mermaid romantic interest (although not much of one) when he needs a hand.
Well, I only saw three episodes so I cannot be certain in this review. Although I doubt my abilities to find any more of this relatively ancient show. However I think I can safely say that the essence of this anime is `boys own adventure'. This in itself might be a relatively archaic phrase, but effectively it means that young kids are supposed to see themselves as being marine boy while he saves the day in one adventure after another. It also has the disadvantage that it comes across as rather simplistic.
To begin with the `human' elements are quite restrained. In terms of personality marine boy really doesn't give much away. He's totally fearless, confident in his abilities and downright gung-ho such that I get very little sense of character from him. The remainder of the cast are quite obviously aligned around him though. His dad and the regular `sailors' of the ocean patrol are an excuse to get involved in the adventure and give him support. He's also got a mad scientist to make his boomerang (though if it's so great a weapon why not mass produce it?). He's got a mermaid girlfriend and their pet dolphin who get pretty callously used as assistants and diversions on important missions. I certainly never felt any sense of character interaction between the two. It's a touch too convenient and lifeless to really be that interesting.
And then comes the villains and odd things in the sea. These guys are straight out of the comic books, full of diabolical plans, weird gadgets and overblown character traits. They do provide a feeling of threat to an extent, there is actually a reasonable amount of violence in the show, but they're so clearly disposable villains. Their plans, and indeed goals, are often fairly weak and contrived. And when it gets to the `mysteries of the deep' section things such as the underwater tiger strain credibility to breaking point. And of course everything `resets' at the end of the show so there can be another adventure next week.
Effectively the adventure must be an epic chance for marine boy to show his stuff. The world held to ransom, his friends in danger or at least an evil plot to overcome. And he, with his little boomerang, is the only one who can save the day. It really is fairly formula shounen adventure stuff. And, as such, can be safely replaced by more modern variants of exactly the same sort of material. Although in the modern version marine boy would look a bit cooler, have more style in his gear, and have a bit more character.
The animation itself is actually quite reasonable. It's old, no doubt about that, and those who adore the technical complexity of modern animation will find it clunky. That said it does manage to get the story across without forcing you to notice the weaknesses in the depiction. Although this fades somewhat when it tries to do `epic' effects, such as underwater battles and huge explosions, which look quite silly and repetitive. The sense of design is quite archaic and simplistic. The biggest problem is simply a lack of character and originality, which means while you can cope with the animation there's little reason to try to do so, other than historical interest. The voices are decent, though lacking in character, and the music is not something to be treasured.
Haven't really looked around for other reviews yet.