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Anime / Future Boy Conan

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A.K.A. Mirai Shounen Konan and Conan, The Boy in Future.

An anime series airing on NHK during 1978, Future Boy Conan features direction, storyboards and character designs by Hayao Miyazaki. The story is based on The Incredible Tide by Alexander Key, also known for the Witch Mountain books.

In the far future time of July 2008, war breaks out between two great nations, using electromagnetic bombs even more powerful than nuclear weapons. This causes massive earthquakes, tidal waves, the Earth tilting off its axis, and the continents breaking apart and sinking. An attempt to escape to outer space fails, but one ship crashes on Remnant Island, which is still barely capable of sustaining life. Two of the survivors are able to have a child before they pass away.

The story proper opens with the child, Conan, now in early adolescence and living alone with his adoptive grandfather, the sole remaining survivor of the crash. They believe themselves to be the last humans on Earth. One day, a girl named Lana washes up on the shore. Conan is more befuzzled by the concept of "girl" than by her apparent ability to talk to birds. Lana is quickly followed by soldiers of Industria, one of the few remaining outposts of the old civilization.

It seems that Lana's grandfather, Dr. Lao, has disappeared, and the Industrians plan to use Lana to track him down and force Dr. Lao to return to work for them. In the ensuing fight, Conan's grandfather takes mortal injuries, and the Industrians escape with Lana. After burying his grandfather, Conan sets sail after them, despite having no idea where Industria might be.

Meanwhile, the Industrian soldier Monsley docks with the salvage ship Barracuda, and she clashes with the ship's captain Dyce before taking off to deliver her prisoner.

Conan arrives on a somewhat more populated island, and runs into another orphaned survivor, Jimsy. They soon become fast friends, and when the Barracuda docks at the island, they sneak aboard to head to Industria to rescue Lana.

Which does happen, but not before many more exciting adventures have happened.

Tropes seen in this series include:

  • Adults Are Useless: Not completely true, but the younger characters are the ones who accomplish almost everything worthwhile.
  • After the End: The war between two superpowers with magnetic weapons have sundered the surface to the point where the continents split into various islands and the rest sunk into the ocean.
  • Apocalypse How: Somewhere between Class 1 and Class 2, which humanity still maintaining its civilizations to an extent after the war.
  • Apocalypse Wow: Depicted in the first episode, and then shown before the title credits of every episode onwards.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Geomagnetic weapons.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite the marriage of Monsley and Captain Dyce and the decision to stay and repopulate Remnant Island, the suicide of the doctors of Industria and the death of Dr. Lao embitters the situation.
  • Boring Return Journey: Conan's voyage off Remnant Island takes him through vicious storms that are said to be why no outsiders had visited or found it before then. Despite that, the Barracuda's trip back in the final episode is completely calm and devoid of danger. Possibly the vast land reshaping that increased the island's land mass altered the climate to be more stable.
  • Bridal Carry: Conan sometimes carries Lana like this.
  • Broken Bird: Monsley, as we see her past.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Conan's vigorous life on Remnant Island has made him superhumanly strong for his size and able to cling to surfaces with his toes.
  • Competence Zone: Set to age 11. Until they're older than about 60, most adults are less competent and in many cases physically weaker than the young heroes.
  • Flooded Future World: The show is set after the oceans have flooded the world and the bad guys live on an island that's the sole surviving industrial center on the planet (and even they are forced to scavenge from the ocean floor).
  • Free-Range Children: Justified, as throughout the series, the heroes' parents are either dead, incapacitated, or missing. But even when Conan had a guardian, he was able to go shark-hunting with no real attempts to stop him.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Industrian bread is made out of recycled plastic.
  • Gaia's Revenge: Land-sinking earthquakes occur in urbanized areas. Eventually one of these sinks Industria.
  • Ghibli Hills: High Harbor, which could pass for a coastal Mediterranean town if not for the occasional bits of ruined highway still standing.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: "Patch" has a nasty scar vertically across his left eye (which wears the black patch he's nicknamed for) and back across his skull, which makes him look very scary. But he's actually very kind, being in fact the missing Dr. Lao.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Jimsy seems to have a tobacco addiction.
  • Green Aesop: Even green energies like solar energy won't save you if you abuse the planet too much. You need to live by only taking what you truly need.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Captain Dyce starts off working for Lepka and kidnaps Lana while tracking down Dr. Briac Lao. However, after witnessing Lepka's cruel treatment towards Lana, he helps her escape and eventually becomes an ally of Conan's.
    • Monsley is an uncaring enforcer who works for Lepka, helping him capture Lana and later leads an attack against High Harbor. However, as the series goes on, she takes an interest in Conan due to his strength and bravery. Then after the folks of High Harbor allows her and her soldiers to join their community, she tries to convince Lepka to follow a more peaceful path. When that (obviously) fails, she turns against Lepka and joins Conan and his friends.
    • The young girl, Tera, appears as a bratty bully, helping her older brother, Orlo, steal and torment the people of High Harbor. She slowly starts to change after growing attached to Jimsy.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Industrian shooters NEVER hit anything, not even when their target is at near point blank (see episode 18 at the start, when Conan rescues Lana). They do manage to shoot Monsley, which is promptly lampshaded by her.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Conan, Lana and Jimsy with Dyce and Monsley.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Sometimes this is the case with Lana when her dress gets caught in a gust.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Lepka's damaged escape craft explodes—right after passing behind a distant hill. Everyone assumes that's the end of him, but there's still three episodes to go.
  • No Social Skills: Jimsy, and to an extent Conan as well, in High Harbor.
  • Ocean Punk: Thanks to the massive war involving magnetic weapons, many of the habitable areas happened to be islands that can only be traversed by ships.
  • Parental Substitute: It's implied that Dyce and Monsley become Conan, Lana and Jimsy's guardians at the end.
  • A Pig Named "Porkchop": Jimsy, when you're raising a pig, you're not supposed to call it "Umasou" (broken Japanese, roughly for "it looks delicious").
  • Plot Pants: The characters change out of their wardrobes when they're relaxing at High Harbor, but every time trouble starts up they jump back into their old, ragged clothes as fast as they can.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Conan was practically raised barefoot, so he feels more comfortable like so. When the people at High Harbor try to give him shoes, he gets rid of them fast, though it doesn't help that they're too large for him.
  • Psychic Powers: Lana has ESP, which allows her to talk to birds, have premonitions, and to a certain degree communicate directly with human minds.
  • Puppy Love: Conan and Lana. Implied with Jimsy and Tera.
  • Reused Character Design: Several characters will look very familiar if you've seen other works of Miyazaki.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The pigs that Jimsy raises are remarkably soft-looking.
  • Saturday-Morning Cartoon: The Latino Spanish dub was part of a predominantly anime Saturday morning lineup on Univision circa 1987, alongside Princess Knight (La Princesa Caballero), Time Bokan (La Maquina del Tiempo) and the animated Moonlight Mask (El Capitan Centella) among others. Until the 2021 GKids Blu-Ray release, this had been the only official release of the series in the U.S. note 
  • Scavenger World: There's a plastic shortage, so the islanders dig through old trash heaps for the stuff.
  • Tsundere: Monsley reacts violently whenever Dyce compliments her.
  • Vestigial Empire: It's mentioned that Industria was a major world power before the apocalypse. By the time the series takes place however, what's left of the country is just teetering on the brink.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Monsley once was a sweet little girl who lived with her parents and her dog. Then, shit hit the fan. She was completely trashed.
  • Walk the Plank: Lana is forced to stand on the plank. For hours. She does not fall off, even after fainting.
  • We Will Use Lasers in the Future: Mounted energy weapons seemed to have been commonplace just before the apocalypse. The Triangle Tower's defense turrets run purely on electricity, so when Lepka uses them despite the High Council's advise, he's almost literally taking bread out of his citizens' mouths. The same goes for some weapons of the giant aircraft we see filling the air in every war flashback. Weapons on older vehicles (i.e. Industria's only plane and gunboat) and all small arms are conventional firearms.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The rebellious gang leader, Orlo, constantly smacked Lana around while trying to get information on Conan's whereabouts.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Lepka threatens to shoot Lana to get away.