Posted by psgels on 25 October 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews



One thing I love about watching anime is that you never know when you’ll run into a masterpiece. Taiyou no Ko Esteban, or The Mysterious Cities of Gold tells the story about three 12-year-old kids who travel from Spain to South America, as they face off against the Spanish soldiers in order to find the titular mysterious cities of gold. While it sounds cliché, I was hooked after only two episodes. This is EVERYTHING an adventure-series should be!

There are many good points of this series; I think it could be best described as a strange crossing between Mahou Shoujotai and Mobile Suit Gundam: the series is the antithesis of episodic: every single episode pushes the story forward, every single episode is fast-paced without any sign of a break and every single episode delivers. (Okay, apart from the one with the submarine I guess, but that still means 38 episodes of epic adventures). While at first this may seem a simple historical series about the Incas and the Mayas, as the series goes on a whole multi-layered science-fiction setting starts to surface. The show is more than 25 years old, and its setting can still be considered as truly original.

The “adventure”-part of this series is also rock-solid. Again, it’s an old series, and yet it can outclass so many modern adventure series. The key is that this series makes optimal use of its environment, whether this concerns large-scale battles between small armies, or just one-on-one fights, strategies take an important role. Think of destroying suspended bridges in order to stop the enemy from advancing, or going against a small army by destroying an artificial dam. One thing I also loved about this series is how it keeps track of its characters: when some of the important characters leave the screen for a while (because Esteban and the others are focusing on something else, for example), you can bet your hat that said characters aren’t going to sit still until the camera focuses on them again, and they’ll be carrying out their own agendas again

The characters are also a lot of fun to watch in this series, and especially Mendoza is an awesome character: he’s continuously scheming and using his head, instead of his muscles; he’s an excellent combination between a father-figure and a greedy and cunning Spaniard. The rest of the characters all have their own identities, roles and purposes. Esteban himself may not be the most memorable of them, but nonetheless he can carry the weight of this series as its main character, and he grows into a brave young boy, who is forced to make huge decisions, despite his very young age.

Regarding the production-values, the only really negative thing I can say about it is that the encoding-quality of the videos I watched was pretty bad. I also encourage people to view the English dubs, instead of the Japanese ones. The English sound-director was a very ambitious one, who didn’t just literally translate the lines from Japanese to English, but instead tried to add as much expressivity as possible. The result is that people speak very fast, but at the same time lots of subtle details are added to the dialogue, giving the characters a very genuine touch. The animation-quality adds to that, with a lot of expressivity in the drawings.

And of course, no review of The Mysterious Cities of Gold can be complete without a mention of the downright astounding soundtrack. Let me say here that I’m going to be very surprised if I were to run into a different soundtrack from the seventies, eighties and even the early nineties that’s able to outclass the different background tunes of this series. You need to listen to it to understand, but the synthesizers and futuristic sounds give this series a unique atmosphere.

In terms of flaws: you do need to suspend your disbelief once in a while. This mostly involves a few coincidences that sit a bit weird, like a building randomly getting destroyed, with the worst being the introduction of Tau. It’s nothing major, though, if you’re not the most critical viewer. While some scenes are a bit dodgy, others are surprisingly clever for a series that’s meant to be for children.

Overall, this series is an excellent watch for every age. Children will love the huge amounts of adventures and wonderful places that this series visits, it also teaches them a bit about making important decisions, and at the same time it’s never too childish for adults to feel ashamed of watching it. This series set the standard of what an adventure-series should be, and unfortunately there were only very few series (if any at all) that followed its example.

Storytelling: 10/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 10/10

11 Responses

  1. DiGiKerot says:

    You know why MCoG is so distinctive? Only half the staff were Japanese.

    It was conceptualized in Japan, but in order to get funding for the show they ended up producing this as a co-production with a French company (in a similar fashion to the awesome Ulysses 31C a year or so prior). The amazing soundtrack wasn’t actually used in Japan, were they went with their own (worse) music. A lot of the scripts were actually written by the French staff. Whilst the Japanese kept a firm reign on things like the character and mecha design, much of the rest of the art direction (like the background work) fell to the French members of the animation staff. It all really combines to make the show pretty unusual.

  2. thenullset says:

    I remember really liking this show when it was on tv in the early 80s on Nickelodeon. I’ve wondered how well it would hold up if I watched it today.

  3. AlexS says:

    I must agree with DiGiKerot, the series benefited from the pooling of Japanese and European talents. This was a great series, one of my favorites during my childhood, and currently a common feature in my friend’s DVD collection. I should watch it again, one of these days.

    And the soundtrack was amazing.

  4. pgal says:

    I first watched this show from when I was very young. Although I wasn’t able to re-watch it until recently, I always remembered many scenes from it such as the golden eagle and ship, Mendoza and who can forget the excellent and memorable soundtrack.

  5. Sapphire says:

    “Again, it’s an old series, and yet it can outclass so many modern adventure series.”

    That’s exactly what I think. I keep saying that people should watch more old-school anime (from the 80’s and early 90’s at least) because some of them are much much better than so many new anime series. It’s a shame, because like The Mysterious Cities of Gold, there are more wonderful series.

    If you liked the adventure in TMCG and if you’re in the mood of watching an old masterpiece, you should try watching “Anime Sanjushi”. It’s the most complete anime I’ve ever watched. And it has the most beautiful soundtrack ever.

  6. Anon says:

    I am always on the lookout for forgotten classic anime, I’ll try to find a way to watch this one :)

    One thing that stands out about a lot of old anime is that the creators actually care about telling a *story*. So many anime series these days are made out of fan pandering getting in the way of honest themes.

  7. Neil Pearson says:

    Glad you enjoyed it! I was only 5 when it aired in the UK but could still remember the golden condor, cities collapsing and the amazing opening song.

    I watched the whole thing again as a student with my flatmates and it totally stood up to rewatching as an adult. Mendoza is an excellent villain/anti-hero. they really don’t make them like this anymore.

    There’s a sweet DVD collection available in the UK that I have been strongly hinting towards for Christmas.

  8. Archaeon says:

    Waaaaaaah!!!

    I love this show so much. I used to run home from school whenever it was on, and I never missed an episode. I watched it again about a year ago, and it hasn’t lost any of it’s charm since the time I first watched it.

    All together now. Children of the sun….

  9. Sonalee says:

    more about it for ur deep information
    wait for ur nice comments
    The story is set in 1532. A young Spanish boy named Esteban joins a voyage to the New World in search of the lost Cities of Gold. He hopes to find his father, from whom he was separated on being rescued from a sinking ship by Magellan’s expedition. On arrival in South America Esteban and his companions begin uncovering evidence relating to the Cities of Gold and various ancient technologies, and also become deeply embroiled in a conflict between the Spanish, the various native populations and later, a strange race called the Olmecs.

    The programme was originally shown in two different versions, under different titles. Its first airing was as Taiyō no Ko Esuteban in Japan in 1982 (with different editing, characterization and music), and was then followed by its first French showing as Les Mystérieuses Cités d’Or in 1983. The French version was subsequently redubbed and distributed to many different countries throughout the world. The series was later released to VHS and DVD in French and Japanese. The English DVD was released in 2008.

    A film version of the story is to be produced by the Movie Plus Group in 2008
    Regarded
    Sonalee

  10. Gottis says:

    Oh, MCoG is just one of my MOST favorite shows EVER. I mean, it blew me away as a kid in the 80ties, and it still holds true to this very day. ♥

  11. Meep says:

    Well, I finally did it! I finally completed the Mysterious Cities of Gold. I didn’t see it during my childhood, but I felt nostalgic throughout its entirety as if I did. What a great atmosphere this anime has. The soundtrack definitely added to that.

    I most likely wouldn’t have known about this anime for a long time to come if you didn’t review it, so I thank you a lot. This is definitely one of my favorite anime now.

    Oh, and I watched it in english dub like you recommended (though I couldn’t find the Jap dub anywhere anyway). I loved the voices, especially Mendoza’s.

    Thankfully, it is not all over! I look forward to its new release in 2011.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jul 27. 2016 01:48 PM)
    @topgavin, I am not gonna deny that’s a large part of what I like about it as well. And practically everything really does become a side plot when the other guy is introduced.
  • topgavin
    (Wednesday, Jul 27. 2016 01:19 PM)
    I think, after watching the recommended episodes for kaleid and watching the first 3 eps of it, I’m solely watching for Gil. All the other stuff (and girl mc’s) is a side-plot to Gilga-f******-mesh wrecking people.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jul 27. 2016 05:43 AM)
    @Aidan: You know how a boomerang works.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jul 27. 2016 01:08 AM)
    @RealJustified, pretty sure that’s Kevin pretending to be afgm.
  • reaLjustified
    (Wednesday, Jul 27. 2016 12:49 AM)
    @afgm How so? I’ve rarely even seen you on here, plus trolls aren’t even a common occurrence.
  • afgm
    (Wednesday, Jul 27. 2016 12:40 AM)
    this chat is ass, to be honest
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:35 PM)
    @Krista, relax. He’s the only one that riles people up like this. Normally this chat is fairly civilized.
  • Krista
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:24 PM)
    The chat’s becoming too angry for me, thanks for the recommendations guys! I’m gonna try to find another place for this kind of stuff.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:03 PM)
    @Vonter, Personally I only give a score to stick to Psgels format. If up to me I would just give a recommended or not recommended verdict.
  • Vonter
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 07:37 PM)
    Ok, then now it’s more clear. Since from what I’ve heard in-between critics some say comparisons is the path of unhappiness. Or so I’ve heard.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

orange 04c

orange – 04

Orange takes it very slowly this week, even slower than its standard. Indeed, we can summarize the plot of the first 15 minutes just by one sentence: After Kakeru dating with another girl, Naho feels brokenhearted and avoids Kakeru like a plague. Which actually makes sense. After all, the guy already had a girlfriend so […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 03d

Thunderbolt Fantasy – 03

With this episode we basically get an idea where the show will head for the rest of the series and I pretty much enjoy the direction they taking so far. Of course it makes sense that in order to get past those obstacles, the band needs to ally with others who are most suitable for […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 03 2

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 03

Plenty of action this week as we have faceoffs between Beatrice and Illya with Gil and Angelica firing legendary weapons back and forth. I wish there was a bit more fight animation here as while it was the same in the manga, it’s still a shame to have the scene cut away just when the […]

91 Days - 03 4

91 Days – 03

Seeing as things didn’t quite go to plan for Avilio last episode, it’s now time for him to prove his innocence to Nero. Avilio is playing his cards right and things would have gone to plan if it wasn’t for the man who lead them to Fango before. He states out of curiosity that he […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 17 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 17

While I did enjoy this episode and think that some interesting things have been brought up, I must admit that even my patience is starting to run out. I blame this mostly on the fact that I am watching this weekly instead of binge watching it all as the progression in these episodes has slowed […]

EVA 01b

Neon Genesis Evangelion – 01

Truth be told, I’ve never seen any of the EVA franchise, and it’s not normal since EVA is a must for any anime viewer. I don’t really know the reason why I keep myself from watching it, maybe both because mecha is not my favorite genre, and the hype of EVA is just overwhelming that […]

Berserk - 03 2

Berserk(2016) – 03

Forgive me for the delay on this particular post but I must admit that in light of Berserks quality my interest in covering it has somewhat declined. I know that for every episode to come I will have to dance around the elephant in the room but this series isn’t making that easy for me. […]

Orange 03d

Orange – 03

So this week we finally encounter a love rival. Of course with a romance drama show like Orange there had to be someone who would stand on their way right? Except there’s not much of a rival really since Naho never stands a chance against the new girl Ueda. As she learns hard and clear […]

91 Days - 02 2

91 Days – 02

At this point I think it’s clear what kind of show we are getting. It’s not Hitman Reborn which essentially uses its mafia inspiration as window dressing for shounen battles. Nor is it Baccano with a silly yet funny atmosphere combining the prohibition setting and supernatural. No, what we have here is the old school […]

Latest Reviews

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice a

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice (2015) Movie Review – 85/100

Welcome to the third installment of World Animation section, but this time we head back to Japan for my favorite anime movie out of last year. If anything, I have always wanted those reviews to be a recommendation if you want to look for something different. So if there is anyone who would check out […]

Untitled-1

Legend of Legacy Review – 80/100

Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this […]

My Life as a Courgette a

My Life as a Courgette (2016) Movie Review – 82/100

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of […]

Red Turtle a

The Red Turtle Review – 93.5/100

Welcome to my first movie review on World Animation section, the column where I wholly dedicated to indie/ art-house animated features around the world that hardly got coverage anywhere really (but rest assure our since sometimes I will review anime movies as well). And what’s a better way to start this section by reviewing one of […]

Flying witch 09d

Flying witch Review – 86/100

As I mentioned in one of my weekly posts, most of the reason why a slice-of-life anime show don’t work well is not because there’s nothing happen, but more because the cast isn’t interesting enough or the show tends to repeat the things that we already know. I’m happy to say that this is not […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12a

Bungou Stray Dogs Review – 62/100

Well, we don’t usually give a review on the first cour of anime show, given the fact that the second part will air next autumn season. But since I’m not certain I would cover its second half, plus I don’t think this series will improve itself, I might as well give Bungou Stray Dogs a […]

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]