Alix (1999)

26 episodes, 24 min. each; French/no subtitles; dir. Jean Cubaud

This television series is based on the longstanding Franco-Belgian comic book series Alix l’intrépide or The Adventures of Alix, which was created by artist Jacques Martin. The series began publication in 1948 and continues to be published today (though Martin passed away in 2010). It was first published in Tintin magazine and shares its ligne claire style with that famed comic, as Martin worked on both projects.

The story follows the adventures of 16-year-old Alix Gracchus, a Gallic youth who was captured, sold into slavery and bought by a Roman noble named Honorus Galla during the era of the late Roman republic. His adoptive father is a friend and contemporary of Julius Caesar, who is depicted as a protector of the young man. Alix is good-hearted, brave and motivated by justice. He frequently finds himself in situations where he is torn between his Gallic heritage and values, and the questionable ways of the powerful Romans among whom he now lives. His adventures often focus on real historical events of the period, particularly those related to the Gallic Wars (such as the Siege of Alesia in 52 BCE), though he also travels to Greece, Egypt (where he befriends his trusty sidekick Enak), Carthage and even China.

The TV show, which lasted only one season and aired on France 3, depicts several of Alix’s biggest adventures, and while the animation attempts to recapture the style of the comic, it is a basic hand-drawn program that lacks the vivid detail of its graphic counterpart.


Venus [Венера] (1991)

2 min.; Russian; dir. Anatoly Reznikov; Soyuztelefilm; no dialog

A group of men attempt to make improvements to the statue of Venus de Milo. The efforts are unsuccessful and an act of nature restores the statue to its original, imperfect yet beautiful state.

Prometheus (1992)

2 min; directed by Marcell Jankovics, produced by Pannónia Filmstúdió, Hungary

This very short hand-drawn film depicts the Titan Prometheus as he struggles through time and space to bring fire to earth. He starts off young and full of vigor, accompanied by triumphant music, but by the end both he and the flame have aged. Will he succeed in his quest? The ending leaves it an open question.

The film recalls Jankovics’ earlier work, 1974’s ‘Sisyphus,’ which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Prometheus was a particularly potent figure in Soviet and Eastern Bloc art and culture — “Prometheus” was a popular name for bookstores in the USSR. He was characterized as a hero who fought against the gods in order to help mortals, who valued humanity more than himself, and who was tortured and suffered for his good deeds. The fire he brought to Earth was usually interpreted as the fire of knowledge and he was understood as fighting for equal rights for all, like a believer who longs for the coming of world communism (see also the animated films ‘Prometheus’ (1974) and ‘The Return from Olympus’ (1969) by Alexandra Snezkho-Blotskaya). Prometheus also taught people skills–for example, how to work with stone–and because of this he was viewed as an advocate for the working classes.

And yet, as a figure of revolt or resistance, he was also embraced by those who opposed the communist regime: for example, Prometheus was the name of a Russian underground avant-garde video art collective from the 1970s, while Prometheism was an important social movement in the early 20th c. that supported nationalist independence movements among non-Russian peoples living within Russian borders, which was crushed by Stalin’s purges. This duality made him a potent symbol as he could both uphold or destabilize dominant communist values.


Hercules (1995)

50 mins.; Jetlag Productions / Goodtimes Entertainment

Director: Toshiyuki Hiruma Takashi


This budget direct-to-video children’s production tells a sanitized story of the life of Hercules with a focus on the twelve labors. I presume this film, like its 1997 Golden Films and 1998 Mondo TV counterparts, was produced in order to capitalize on the success of Disney’s 1997 feature film of the same name.

The animation is rendered in a simple Japanese style and the plot, apart from a few odd twists, is unexceptional, but what actually makes this film worth watching are the three original songs it includes (this was a special feature of all Jetlag Productions films): “Greek Mythology,” “Son of Zeus” and “Never Give Up.” Absolutely mind-blowing!


Full film dubbed in French


Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus (1998)

80 min. Produced by Renaissance Pictures/Universal Cartoon Studios, directed by Lynne Naylor

A feature-length action adventure direct-to-video film based on the hit TV shows,  Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior PrincessThe main actors from the shows, including Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless, did the voice work for the characters.

A brief plot summary: “Mighty Zeus brings Hercules’ mother, Alcmene, to Mount Olympus, and Hercules, believing she has been kidnapped, leads a rescue mission to save her. Zeus’ jealous wife, Hera, decides that it should now be her time to rule the universe. Hera steals the Chronos Stone, source of the God’s power, and unleashes the four Titans from their eons of imprisonment. With these angry behemoths on the loose, only the combined forces of Hercules and Xena, together with their trusty sidekicks Iolaus and Gabrielle, can save Mount Olympus.” Written by David Mullich <>



Pygmalio (1990-91)


Pygmalio consists of 39 episodes (25 min. in length) produced by TV Tokyo and is based on the manga of the same name by Shinji Wada, which was published between 1978 and 1990. It tells the story of Kurt/Coult, the prince of the kingdom of Loon, son of King Stephan and Galatea, whose mother is the goddess Aganade. She has blessed Kurt with a cheerful spirit and special talents which he has to use to defeat Medusa. When Kurt was a baby, Medusa transformed Galatea and others into statues out of envy at her happy marriage to the king. Medusa also forced King Stephan to swear allegiance to her and to promise to make Kurt do so on his eighth birthday in order to save his kingdom. When the day comes Kurt declares he will defeat Medusa and restore those transformed back into humans. He sets out on a long journey to the Land of the Dead in order to complete his quest.



Run, Melos! [走れメロス!] (1992, 2nd version)

Released in Japan in 1992 by Bandai, Run, Melos! (Hashire Melos! in Japan) is a 107- minute animated adaptation of the famous 1940 short story by Osamu Dazai and a remake of the 1981 animated film. It featured direction and screenplay by Masaaki Osumi and was produced by Visual 80. This was the second of three versions of “Run, Melos!” — click here to learn more about the 1981 film and here to learn about the 2009 version.

Note: The story was also animated as a 30-minute stop-motion short for the Classic Children’s Tales series (1992), and again, as a 10-minute short directed by Keisuke Morishita, for the Famous Japanese Fables series (1997).


Alexander Senki or Alexander: War Chronicles [アレクサンダー戦記] (1999)

Released in North America as Reign: The Conqueror and in Europe as Alexander the Great, this series of thirteen 30-minute episodes is a super stylized sci-fi retelling of the life of the Macedonian ruler. It is based on a light novel written in the 1990s by Hiroshi Aramata. Famed animator Peter Chung (who created MTV animated series Aeon Flux) developed the character and set design. The first ten episodes were also recut into a film in 2000.


Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea [Полифем, Акид и Галатея] (1996, NSFW)

This is the last of four shorts by Anatoly Petrov for Soyuzmultfilm in the 1990s that depict mythological stories with overtly erotic content, which is unusual in Russian animation. These also include “The Birth of Eros,” “Daphne” and “The Nymph Salmacis.” These films are also unique due to their experimental use of two-dimensional handcrafted cell animation as a means of creating three-dimensional effects.

The Nymph Salmacis [Нимфа Салмака] (1992, NSFW)


This is the third of four shorts by Anatoly Petrov for Soyuzmultfilm in the 1990s that depict mythological stories with overtly erotic content, which is unusual in Russian animation. These also include  “The Birth of Eros,” “Daphne” and “Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea.” These films are also unique due to their experimental use of two-dimensional handcrafted cell animation as a means of creating three-dimensional effects.

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