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 1961, it became the second anime film to be released in the United States (as Magic Boy); 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.
- 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.
- 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.