Triton of the Sea [海のトリトン] (1972)

27 episodes, based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka

directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino for TV Asahi

“Triton of the Sea” (originally titled “Blue Triton”) tells the heroic story of Triton, the sole survivor of the destruction of Atlantis five thousand years ago. The sea god Poseidon and his family destroyed both the island and Triton’s family because of a jealous rivalry between the two clans. Triton is rescued and raised by humans but he returns to the sea to avenge the murder of his family by killing the offspring of Poseidon. He does so with the help of his dolphin companions and he also marries the last surviving mermaid, Pipiko, with whom he has seven children, named after the colors of the rainbow. The saga of inter-familial strife between the two families plays out in a tragic manner, with both Triton and Poseidon dying in the end. The children of Triton and other merpeople are left to find a place to live far away from the humans who hunt them.

The plot has little to do with any traditional Greek mythological narrative associated with the sea gods Triton or Poseidon, but it is clearly inspired by mythical figures and the motifs of ancient heroic epic.

A feature length film, also titled Triton of the Sea, was produced as a sequel to the TV show in 1979.


Sirens [Sirenen] (1983)

4 min.; dir. Klaus Georgi

This avant-garde short, produced by the East German state run studio, DEFA: Studio fur Trickfilme, takes an “eco-socialist” approach to the story of the Sirens, best known from Homer’s Odyssey. The lure of the Sirens’ song is shown growing less powerful as the centuries pass. Modern modes of transport befoul and ultimately overwhelm the dread creatures.

Free to Be You and Me: Atalanta (1974)

h/t Christopher McDonough

5 min. ; produced by Marlo Thomas and Free to Be Productions, in association with Teru Murakami-Fred Wolf Films, Inc. and cosponsored by the Ms. Foundation

A feminist retelling of the myth of Atalanta!

Emmy winner for Outstanding Children’s Special; Emmy nominee for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming; winner of the 1975 Peabody Award

From IMDB: “Based on the beloved children’s album that helped challenge gender stereotypes, this 1974 TV special brings a selection of songs from Marlo Thomas’s record and book to the small screen via live-action, puppetry and animation.”


Syrinx (1965)

3 min; Director: Ryan Larkin

From the National Film Board of Canada: “Borrowing from classical mythology, this very short film illustrates the story of Syrinx, the nymph who attempts to escape the goat-god Pan’s amorous advances by fleeing to a nearby river for help, only to be transformed into hollow reeds. Syrinx is the first film by Ryan Larkin, an Oscar®-nominated director who began his animation career in Norman McLaren’s student group. The technique employed is charcoal sketches on paper; the accompanying music is Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx” for solo flute.”

Diana and the Golden Apples (1960)

6 min.

Produced by New World Productions; one episode of the Mel-O-Toons series

An odd retelling of the Atalanta and Hippomenes myth in the “limited animation” style. In this version, the baby Diana is abandoned after her parents are captured by bandits. She is raised by the hunters who find her and she learns to run, ride and hunt. Melanion is her childhood companion in these activities and her best rival. After her parents somehow reclaim her, she returns to Athens with them but not before predicting she will marry Melanion. Years later he competes for her hand in the infamous running race, but it is her father who helps him win by providing the golden apples that will lead to her defeat.

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse (1980)

5 min., Directed by Evelyn Lambart, Canada

Summary from the National Film Board of Canada: “In this animated short, Evelyn Lambart uses her well-known style of animation – paper figures and brightly colored backgrounds – to revisit Aesop’s tale of 2 mice with vastly different lifestyles. Ultimately, the film suggests it is far better to live simply and in peace than to live in luxury amidst danger.”

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


Sisyphus (1974)

2 min.

A powerful hand-drawn short by Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics. It premiered in the US at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1974 and was nominated for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards in 1975. It was also featured in a car commercial during the Super Bowl in 2008.



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