Magic Boy or its Japanese title Shounen Sarutobi Sasuke is Toei’s second film from 1959 that later became one of the earliest anime to be shown in American theaters in 1961. Much of the animation style and music is very similar to older Disney movies in that it has cute animals with very bold orchestra and instrumental music. The movie is based on the early life of a fictional character created from the Edo period named Sarutobi Sasuke who became the leader of a legendary ninja group Sanada Ten Braves. It’s said his group assisted warlord Sanada Yukimura during the Japanese civil war in the Sengoku period.
Sasuke lives in a village with his sister and playful animal friends. A large bird by fate or influence of the villain snatches a young dear named Tinkle from play and drops him into a lake where an evil demon named Yakusha in form of a large salamander lives. Our hero and his companions quickly come to the rescue with Sasuke and the mother of the dear jumping into the water to fight off the monster, but Sasuke is defeated and the mother sacrifices herself in place of Tinkle. There Yakusha gains enough power to reveal her true human form and Sasuke decides he’ll seek revenge, as it was millennia ago where a strong wizard sealed her away in her salamander form to stop her from attacking and grieving the area’s people. Soon after Sasuke decides to leave home and finds an old wizard high in the mountains who takes interest in teaching him magic to conquer Yakusha.
The English dubbing from the American movie company MGM includes a bit of added Western music where there wasn’t music near the start and there are very minor changes like which character narrates about the past of the wicked demon. I could say most of it of the movie was left intact including the original music, there’s still the issue of the radical name change and MGM wanting to promote the anime to American audiences with Sasuke as a samurai instead of a shady ninja. The dubbing is very enjoyable and can’t greatly be compared to modern voice acting in anime with different standards, voice actors, and technology. Much of the sound effects are done with instruments, too.
If you like how characters appear much more Asian or admired the odd character designs from the anime Oh! Edo Rocket then you should feel comfortable with Magic Boy. More images in my gallery album. It’s a movie for kids despite the violent use of magic, but it shouldn’t bother adult viewers unless you find cutely animated monkeys, squirrels, and a bear playing together offensive to mature tastes. Shounen Sarutobi Sasuke would be best described as an adventure with historical importance and something new to anyone not accustomed to older anime.