Shōnen Sarutobi Sasuke ("Young Sarutobi Sasuke") was released by Toei Animation in 1959 as their second feature-length animated movie (after The Tale of the White Serpent. In June 1961, it became the second anime film to be released in the United States (as Magic Boy), with Panda and the Magic Serpent [Hakujaden] released one month later in July 1961. MGM handled the US release for Toei, which means it occasionally appears on Turner Classic Movies.
Not to be confused with Manga Sarutobi Sasuke, a 24-episode anime series from 1979-80 (released in the US as Ninja, The Wonder Boy).
- An Axe to Grind: Yakusha's minion Gonkuro carries one.
- Appropriate Animal Attire: Sasuke's woodland posse is a mixture of examples Koro the bear wears a white collar, Tinkle the deer has a collar with a bell, and Kiki the monkey only wears a red shirt.
- Battle in the Rain: Saskue and Yakusha's final fight takes place in a storm whipped up by the evil witch.
- Big Bad: Yakusha, a female demon who was transformed into a salamander and as soon as she regains her true form, she plots to bring a reign of terror to Japan.
- Bloodless Carnage: Yukimura slices through a lot of bad guys with his katana (and even impales a few), but not a drop of blood is spilled, even in the Japanese version.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Okei-chan, a refugee from one of the villages that Gonkuro's bandits attack.
- Bookends: At the beginning, Yakusha escapes from her underwater prison. At the end of the movie, a lake becomes her eternal resting place.
- Carry a Big Stick: Yukimura's retainer Miyoshi wields a massive iron club.
- Clipped-Wing Angel: As she keeps exhausting her powers against Sasuke during the final battle, Yakusha transforms from someone who at least appears human into a decrepit old woman and then into an animated skeleton that ultimately falls to pieces when she gets a dagger in the skull.
- Completely Different Title: In addition to changing the title for the American market, MGM claimed its original title in Japan was "The Adventure of the Little Samurai"; evidently the marketing department viewed samurai as more honorable than the ninja that Saskue canonically was.
- Doomed by Canon: At the end of the film, Yukimura asks Sasuke to serve him at his castle presumably the same one they'll eventually defend to the death against the army of Tokugawa Ieyasu near the end of the Warring States Period.
- For Want of a Nail: At the start of the film, Kiki steals one of Koro's yams and tosses it into an empty tree stump. As the bear retrieves it, he disturbs a nest of bees, which chase all the other animals around and forces Tinkle out into an open field. A giant hawk snatches her up and drops her into a pond, and her mother's death while trying to rescue him triggers the reemergence of the Big Bad Yakusha.
- Friend to All Living Things: Sasuke, who sets out to rescue a young deer grabbed by an eagle and eventually seeks the training of a wizard to avenge the death of his pet. Near the end, a great number of Sasuke's animal friends come to help him out in the final battle.
- Historical-Domain Character: Aside from Sasuke himself, this movie also features a young Sanada Yukimura.
- Karma Houdini: Kiki never catches any flak for causing the death of Tinkle's mother or the emergence of Yakusha.
- Mind over Matter: Yakusha telekinetically slams Sasuke around at the start of their final battle.
- Nature Hero: Sasuke has many animal friends who end up coming to his aid in the final battle.
- Onee-sama: Oyu is one to Sasuke in the literal sense (and a Yamato Nadeshiko in general).
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Yukimura helps Sasuke by taking on Yakusha's bandits in the final battle.
- Sealed Evil In A Salamander Which Is Also In A Lake
- Take a Level in Badass: Sasuke leaves the forest to learn magic in order to do this and defeat Yukimura.
- Teleport Spam: Sasuke and Yakusha do this during the final battle.
- Those Two Guys: The two bandits who kidnap Okei-chan during an attack on her village take a shine to her and release her during the final battle (even defending her from other bandits in the process).
- Training from Hell: Hakuunasi looks and talks like a friendly grandfather, but he won't hesitate to bop Sasuke over the head with his staff or throw knives at him without warning to test his skill.
- Whip It Good: Yakusha wields one on Oyu and Sasuke.