Mysterious Cities of Gold

Mysterious Cities of Gold is an anime series
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In 1532, the orphan Esteban sets out from Barcelona in search of the fabled South American Cities of Gold. He's accompanied by the young Inca girl Zia, the adventurous Spaniard Mendoza, who found the baby Esteban adrift on the open sea, and (later) Tao, the last survivor of the sunken kingdom of Mu (Heva in the English dub).

Set in the time when Japan was "discovered" by the West but made at a time when old-fashioned adventure yarns were rediscovered by the Indiana Jones mob, MCoG was a Franco-Japanese coproduction undertaken after the completion of Ulysses 31. There are a few concessions to kiddie programming, such as an infuriating parrot and some comic-relief bunglers, but there is also much in this series to recommend it. It was loosely based on the books The King's Fifth (1966) and City of Seven Serpents (so claim the producers, though no work of that name exists in the Library of Congress) by Scott O'Dell, better known in the U.S. as the award-winning author of Island of the Blue Dolphins (1961). According to O'Dell's widow, Elizabeth Hall, City of the Seven Serpents was briefly a working title of The Captive (1979), a book by O'Dell relating to Mayan civilization. Full of unexpected changes in gear, MCoG starts as a straightforward sea voyage, before giving the first indications of its sci-fi leanings in episode nine when the crew of the Spanish galleon Esperanza jump ship onto the flying ship Solaris. Needless to say, as the quest begins in earnest in South America, Esteban discovers he is the offspring of an Inca princess (with an absent father who turns out to be not so absent)-hence, in true anime tradition, the perfect pilot for the show's supermachine, the solar-powered Golden Condor. Ancient technologies, lost cities, and warring tribes create an exciting mix, and though there are occasional anachronistic bloopers (a tribe of Amazons, in the Amazon, for example), the Japanese version closed each episode with a mini historical documentary explaining the actual events and personages that inspired the fictional characters-explaining the differences between Aztecs, Olmecs, Mayas, and Incas, or filling in the background about Pizarro or Magellan. However, these documentaries were dropped from many foreign-language territories, including the U.K. Though made primarily for the French market, MCoG was also popular with the Japanese audience, particularly with those who could spot the irony of staff members from Gold Lightan animating the flight of the Golden Condor using similar glare effects and shot compositions. Perhaps the most compelling element of MCoG is the way in which it genuinely conveys a feel for the age. There was, literally, a whole New World to conquer, and the sense of anticipation and adventure is gripping. Predating the similar Secret of Blue Water by several years, MCoG remains an original, not the least because it presented a positive, sympathetic view of Native American peoples unique to children's television. When the series was rereleased on French DVD, there were rumors that producer Chalopin was in negotiations with Japan about a remake (or perhaps a sequel, since the children only manage to find one of the seven fabled cities), though there has yet to be any confirmation. See also Pepelo, Boy of the Andes.

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Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Mysterious Cities of Gold
Romaji: Taiyo no Ko Esteban
Publisher ?
Start Year 1982
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Aliases Esteban the Child of the Sun Esteban and the Cities of Gold Esteban the Sun-Kissed Boy
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