The Passion of the Bear: Resurrection of the Little Prince
Okay, we usually gather to remember how good the old days of cartoons were. We remember the tender emotions we felt as we absorbed every precious bit of delicious 80’s media between cereal and fruit snack commercials. Reminiscing about old cartoons is wonderful, but actually revisiting old cartoons is, um well…I’ll let you decide.
You never really know how “good” or in this case, how “bad” a cartoon really is until you revisit it. Lately I’ve been on a kick to watch all of my much-missed cartoon shows. I was very excited as I purchased an overpriced bootleg-quality copy of the Little Prince on DVD at an anime outlet. The guy at the counter warned that this was the cartoon he hated which came on right before the one he liked. (I see what he means) However, this was the one of the most influential cartoons I remembered from my youth. In fact our first grade teacher would let us watch an hour of it on Nickelodeon in the afternoon, and sometimes Schoolhouse rock or Today’s Special. Yes, in those golden days we watched loads of TV in public school besides learning to read, write, and do math. Go figure.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth revisiting the Little Prince. I quite enjoyed the 80’s-style music bits that were quite plentiful in this series. I might warn though that much of the content is quite embarrassing. I owe much of this to the terrible editing job and dubbing to accommodate the American audience. What is it with the U.S. that there can be sex and drugs and guys getting owned with machine guns on every station, but they have to lie to kids about something as simple as ‘death’. I don’t remember a point in my life as a kid where I was like, “Things die? OMG, that is sooo scary. I think I’m going to need therapy.” Of course I’d seen the Disney classics “Bambi”, “The Fox and the Hound”, and also Family Home Entertainment’s “The Littlest Fox” (a Fox and the Hound rip-off, which was even more depressing). My parents didn’t bother with having ‘a talk’ with me about them and ‘death’. I would shed a few tears, then rip into a bag of potato chips and watch an episode of MacGyver, or eat some fruit roll ups and go tearing around the house like a maniac. Kids know this stuff. Kids can also have their intelligence insulted. If you try to pull this nowadays, you might get a cap popped in you by a todler from the east side.
Ah well, the Little Prince wasn’t all that bad. It still had the nudity.
American Censorship Rule #1: “Nudity is acceptable if blatant, hairless, and with appropriate embarrassing camera angles and pans.” Hey, doesn’t this kid look like the original link from the first legend of Zelda? What's that? You're too busy wondering why he's got no pants?–Well, I think he does.
We actually owe this one to the Japanese who make some dang good cartoons- heck, I might not have even noticed the nudity if the rest of this cartoon had not been so whitewashed before it hit our TV screens.
I would give the Little Prince an embarrassment rating of 10/10, but I was an only child- I needed to know that cartoon children had something “down there” too, so I wouldn’t feel abnormal. I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for younger viewers who too need to know without shame.
The main problem is the length of the nudity in proportion to the length of the violence and death. It seemed to go on and on. Okay, if this had been under thirty seconds it would have been all well and good, but longer than that is just pushing awkward. Having a conversation while nude is just out. I’d say balance it out with some death, but Woa No, ‘Death’ is disturbing and makes children cry- Quick! Cover it up with something! -Catch that Lakers game?
What follows next is a crime against all cartoons and nature too. Be prepared to recoil in fear and disgust. This is, perhaps one of the most embarrassing moments in cartoon history:
There once was an episode that told the story of a very special little bear named ‘Yuri’. This bear resembled something of a chimpanzee when it walked. It had unusually long arms and walked on its knuckles. This bear would sing and dance for money to feed an elderly man with a fiddle. Yuri and the old man were obviously best friends.Try to remember this scene- you’ll see it again in exactly seventeen minutes.
The Little Prince meets the old man and they travel together for a while. The episode gets pretty boring as they practice Yuri the bear’s routine, and beg for food and board until…
The Little Prince and Yuri are practicing the ball routine at night in the forest when a wolf attacks! I don’t know which to be more afraid of- the wolf which is barely visible or the bear who looks like he just burst out of the gates of hell.
Yuri the bear gets bitten on the leg, and the bite gets infected! Poor Yuri!
After hours of trying to nurse him back to health, Yuri doesn’t make it and he dies. (Cut to commercial)
After five blissful moments of Captain Crunch, Toucan Sam, and Slip ‘n Slide we return to see that they’ve buried Yuri. Rest in peace, Yuri. If you ask me there should be some kind of Japanese anime music-montage here where it shows everyone looking depressed, and coping with the loss of Yuri- Like when Eluza dies on Gall Force.
But Woa No! The American TV censors had a even better idea!
Here’s how it all went down:
(Same scene by the grave)Little Prince: (In denial) “Not True!” Old man: “Poor little Yuri is gone.” Little Prince: (In super-denial) “No! We didn’t see it!” Old man: (In fake Russian accent) “I don’t know. Somehow in the night somebody come along and bury him, poor Yuri- better we don’t see, better somebody else do it” Little Prince: (In super-duper-denial) “Well I just don’t believe he died, I think this is grave of somebody else, not Yuri!. There’s a village! Maybe Yuri got up during the night and wandered in there for help. Maybe he was delirious- didn’t know what he was doing- I’m going to find yuri!” (Goes through the town shouting and smiling all the while) “Yuri! Are you here, Yuri!?”
(The Little Prince continues this for several minutes- I’ve never seen someone in so much denial.)Old man: “Children laughing? It is the same as if my little Yuri was dancing” (He’s still kneeling by grave as the Little Prince comes running up the hill with a lynch-mob with a bunch of pitchforks- oh wait, that’s a group of children.) Fake French guy narrator: “In his feverish condition Yuri DID wander away during the night. Some small boys found him and took him into the village, where a doctor is taking care of him and he will soon be well.”
The Little Prince is so happy that he can’t help but bust a move or two while he delivers the good news to the old man. This is some mad top-rocking he’s doing- Yuri the bear must have taught him. He raps “Yuri’s well! He’ll be back! Yuri’s Well!”… This continues for about four more refrains.
The mob of kids gather around him and sway back and forth. This is a serious lyrical. He's 'Le Petite Prince'! And if that’s not enough the old man even comes over and serenades them on his fiddle. While the Little Prince again says “Yuri is alive and well, he’ll be back.”
If that doesn’t convince you that Yuri the bear will make a glorious comeback, this expression on the Little Prince’s face confirms it. Yes! I believe him! “Yuri’s well! He’ll be back!”
Then they roll the stock footage. It’s the same exact clip as the one at the beginning of the cartoon. Nice editing. (notice that you don’t see the bear again until here)- Eat your heart out, Mel Gibson. This film had time for the Resurection.
Well, this had to be the worst cartoon episode I’ve ever seen, period. I’ve forgiven the Little Prince for some smaller evils, but nothing’s more evil than killing a bear and resurrecting it through censorship mumbo jumbo. Rest in peace, Yuri. Rest in peace.
I wouldn't throw the Little Prince out the window yet, though. There are actually some quite redeeming moments in the other episodes, like when the little prince is buzzing on some bad cactus juice in the desert and hallucinating that he’s talking to a llama. Woa dude, trippy.
...Or the time he had a sleep-over party with an Oil-rigger. The Little Prince is laughable at least. It’s hard to be mad at something that’s so bad it’s funny. I’d say it’s worth a look. I just hope you like stock footage. You’ll be seeing whole lot of it. Swifty: Hey, wasn’t this same exact scene in the middle of that other episode?