The first wave of anime to arrive in America was usually found in syndication, filler in the mornings and afternoons for the off-network stations in the New York area. It all started with Astro Boy but was quickly followed by Eighth Man and Gigantor, Kimba the White Lion to the Amazing Three. And then there was Marine Boy, the first of the color animated series to be broadcast in America. In his native Japan, the name translated to Undersea Boy Marine and was therefore Americanized.
Produced by Minoru Adachi and Japan Tele-Cartoons, there were 78 episodes in total and the first season or 26 episodes, have now been collected by Warner Archive, which is fitting since Warner was the company to distribute the series back in the 1960s.
Sometime in the future, there lived a boy, maybe 15, remarkable enough to serve as a full-fledged agent of the Ocean Patrol. Their mission was to troll the seven seas and ensuring that the undersea ranching, mineral and oil exploitation, research, and undersea habitats were safe. With all this prosperity above and below the surface, there seemed to be an unending supply of single-minded villains out to seize control of some portion of this prosperity for themselves.
Thankfully, Dr. Mariner and Professor Fumble were on hand to grow and equip the OP with the gear they needed to keep fish and man safe. Various-sized craft were dispatched but the series focused on the P-1, manned by the comedic duo of Bolton and Piper along with the title character. Marine Boy is an all-around all-star, the perfect athlete, swimmer, tactician, etc. He was beloved by all, including sea life in the form of the friendly dolphin Splasher. Since he insists on heading into action, he’s been equipped with a special wetsuit that allows him to withstand the varying pressure changes underwater along with a ring that can whistle for dolphins and the frequently-used oxy-gum. Odd for the water, but he uses a boomerang with deadly accuracy.
He’s also accompanied by Neptina, a slightly younger girl who just happens to be a mermaid. Little was revealed about her race but she wears a pearl around her neck with a wide array of convenient magical powers.
The vocal work is weak, largely because Corinne Orr, best recognized as Speed Racer’s Trixie, performs the roles of Marine Boy, Neptina and Cli Cli, a small boy who idolized Marine Boy. Sharp-eared fans will recognize the tones of Jack Grimes, Peter Fernandez, and Jack Curtis.
The stories are all long before ecological issues were common so were far more typical adventures such as investigating what happened at drilling Satellite Station 23 or the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Pacific Empire. There’s a certain simple charm to them even if the criminal mastermind of the week grew a little tiring.
Growing up, I never warmed to the show although my siblings liked it well enough. It was certainly engaging enough back in the day and was clearly a stepping stone to the American market and other projects.