I recently tracked down a copy of the Magic Boy (Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke) movie [a.k.a. “The Little Samurai”] made in 1959. This is very early anime, and was the first Japanese anime to get a theatrical release in the USA. Even today, the quality of the animation is quite good, and it’s well worth a look. Bear in mind that in 1959, colour TV anime was still several years in the future!
The story is set in an alternate mediaeval Japan. Young Sasuke plays with his animal friends, till an encounter with a witch, who kills one of the animals and attacks Sasuke. Â Sasuke goes off to learn to be a great magician, so that he can defeat the witch. Add some bandits and a local lord, and you have the story.
The movie came with three soundtracks (Jap, Eng, Spanish), and an Italian .srt file, but no English subs. Â There’s a Â Japanese-only DVD available if you feel like aiding Japan right now. In fact this isn’t a movie that depends heavily on dialogue, and there are passages several minutes long without any. One of the animals is killed in an incident rather reminiscent of the death of Bambi’s mother 🙂
After struggling with the .srt file, I made my own English subs .srt file, which you can find in the Manga Translations part of this site (at the bottom of the M.T. page). Â I recommend using it with VLC Media Player.