Even these tapes cost something

  Robin Hood - The Boyhood Adventures
1990 | Interfilm Company
Robin Hood the Boyhood Adventures Genesis Video

James Bond did it, now revel in Robin Hood Jnr's early escapades, back when he looked less like Kevin Costner and more like Ranma.

Anime Bargain Bin RSS feed

Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood, England's quintessential folk hero of legend. An outlaw who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, hiding out in Sherwood Forest with his band of Merry Men. An archer of unparalleled skill who fought against the evil Sheriff of Nottingham for the love of Maid Marian and the freedom of the common man.

The legend dates back over 600 years with the earliest known reference in 1377 AD. The tale has been retold and reinterpreted many times over the centuries and in various countries across the globe. The heroic outlaw was brought to screen first by Douglas Fairbanks in 1922 and then, most iconically, in 1938 by Errol Flynn. Although he had been portrayed in cartoons many times before, the first animated feature based on the legend didn't arrive until Disney's anthropomorphic comic musical in 1973.

In 1990 Tatsunoko co-founded Ippei Kuri proposed a TV series based on the legendary Robin Hood. Taken for its basis was Man in the Iron Mask author Alexandre Dumas' 1872 novel Robin Hood Le Proscrit (The Outlaw), the French writer's second novel on the subject which depicted the famous outlaw band in their youthful early days. Dumas' tales were themselves based on an earlier work of Englishman Pierce Egan entitled The Merry Men of Sherwood Forest serialised in 1838.

The series became Robin Hood no Daiboken (Robin Hood's Great Adventure) and aired 29th July 1990 at 6.30pm on NHK. The 39 episodes followed young Robert Huntington as he and his teen outlaws fought back against those responsible for the killing of his family; the power hungry Baron Alwine and Bishop Hertfort. They are soon joined by Little John and his gang of forest dwelling rouges who reluctantly assist in their adventures to stop the evil Alwine and rescue the beautiful Maid Marian. The mysterious and handsome Gilbert, Knight of the Black Rose, becomes Robin's sworn nemesis as well as rival for Marian's affection.

Bee Train founder Koichi Mashimo served as Series Director on the show. His first job with Tatsunoko came in 1975 as Assistant Director on the wildly popular Time Bokan, but he is most famous in the West for helming Noir, .hack and Tsubasa Chronicle plus the imported kid's cartoons Medabots and Spider Riders, all though his Bee Train studio.

The initial run came to an end on 30th June 1991 and was almost immediately repeated on NHK's sister station as part of the Animation Theatre Sunday block alongside two Osamu Tezuka classics Jungle Emperor, Marvelous Melmo, and Teddy Ruxspin. This re-run also included the additional episodes created for the European market.

Under the simpler title of Robin Hood the TV series became incredibly successful in Europe particularly Italy and Germany were the cartoon exploits of a young Robin Hood are still re-run to this day.

Such was the support for Tatsunoko's series that an additional 13 episodes were created specifically for the export market. The theme tunes to the French, German and Italian dubs became well known throughout their countries.

These edits were created by a Walter G Sabatinelli through the company Interfilm. The same company released an English dub of the first four episodes of the TV series straight to video in the UK through Genesis Home Video in 1991. This version uses a music track only rendition of the original Japanese theme music - the only version to do so since all others replaced both themes with entirely new compositions for their country.

The cassette was titled Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures with the dub produced in Canada with a cast including actors from Genesis' White Fang video.

In 1995 the volume was re-released under the same title but containing only three episodes. Despite the show's massive popularity in the rest of Europe it never received a TV broadcast in the UK.

As for American availability; I'm not too clear. I've seen a different English language dub and theme (with unique lyrics) to the UK VHS and read that it was shown in America as a Saturday morning cartoon. If you know more please leave a post at the bottom of the page.


The Soundtrack CD
DVD poster
Japanese Title Card

As you know, or at least should have noticed from the ending of the address, this website is written in England. As such we are governed by the laws of England, meaning any discussion of Robin Hood in media must be authenticated for historical accuracy using the correct method as devised by HRH Queen Elizabeth II herself.

No one really knows the true origins of Robin Hood or even if the legendary outlaw existed at all. After centuries of interpretation, translation and reinterpretation it isn't even clear which the true telling of the tale is and who the real historical figures are.

That aside, a dedicated team of scientists (working under instruction of the Queen) were able, after decades of extremely intense and not to mention expensive research, to pinpoint which of the existing stories is the definitive version of the ancient tale - be it book, film, poem or off-the-cuff remark. It is these findings on which the official system for historical accuracy is based.

Robin Hood Accuracy Rating Scale

As you can see, the official scale uses two renditions of the Robin Hood legend as its accuracy basis. The least correct should be obvious to all - Disney's cartoon Robin Hood - Robin Hood was a man not a fox, a massive oversight on Walt's part. The depiction found most likely to be the correct re-telling (at a phenomenal 98.7% accuracy rating) is Kevin Costner's Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Although, the scientific community is still divided over whether or not the Lord of Locksley would have had an American accent. That, we will never honestly know.

The official unit of measurement for the accuracy of the Robin Hood Legend is the Errol Flynn (or Errol for short).

Episode 1...

The Hero of the Woods is Born

What is that sinister puppet/robot thing with the violin at the start of the credits? It was removed from every other version but this, which makes sense to me as it is like watching a six year old's fevered nightmare. Its creepy fixed expression. Its human female lips. Its unnerving ability to fade in and out of vision. Who made it and what is its purpose? Combined with the medieval music and surreal dreamscape setting its like either an old 90's House Music video or some sort of hallucinatory sequence designed to implant subliminal instructions into children's sub-conscience.

A quick, motherly, voice over introduces us to the setting (Knotting Ham, England) and the evil villains, then it is straight into the story. Nasty Baron Alwine is watching as his heavies burn down Castle Huntington, with the occupants still inside. Amongst the flames Robin (or Robert as he is known here) searches for his cousins, who have the hip and exciting names Will, Barbara and Winnifred. A mysterious Knight appears in the doorway. Not content to let Robert burn alive, he wants to make definite his demise by having a very risky sword battle in a collapsing building. Rob finds his dad's bow and shoots and arrow right past his assailant catching him on the cheek. Having not expected such a fierce battle the knight retreats.

Now homeless and outlawed the kids decide to live out a new life in the forest. But the woods in England are a creepy place and it is not long before the wildlife is attacking. First is a strange flying squirrel which seems to be learning the English language and the second - less friendly - a huge bear with demonic white eyes. I sure am glad all those forest dwelling bears became extinct during the middle ages. Fleeing the werebear the unsupervised kids run off a cliff and end up washed over a waterfall.

They awake in a shack deep in the forest, the home of their rescuer Friar Tuck. A man of the cloth alone in the woods with orphans? One of the children is missing so Robin and the gang head back to the river. Not far away a carriage passing through Sherwood forest is ambushed by a young boy and two giant, club wielding barbarians. The sight of the mythical monsters sends the guards running and the scream from the female passenger alerts Robin and his Merry Minors. They might have fooled full grown men with swords but the bereaved junior archer knows a fake when he sees it. A small rock is all it takes to bring down the wooden giants. Owner and operator of Wooden Giants Ambush Co., Big John, arrives and he's not happy. "You. Wear. Fine. Clothes. But you nobles are all liars!" he declares. "You said your name was Big John. It should be Little John!" Oh no he ditn't! As always trash talking leads to a duel.

Winnifred appears in the middle of Robin and John's staff battle and reveals the Bandit King to be her savior, something he'd rather left unsaid. Before the fight can continue Lord Alwine's men show up and burn down their tree-top hideaway. These knights sure are a bunch of pyromaniacs. They came looking for the passenger of the hijacked carriage, Maid Marian - a captive in transit for the Baron - and decided the best way to extract her was to start a forest fire. Robin beats the invaders using a handy stock arrow firing sequence.

The episode closes with the mysterious, and now scarred, Knight offering Hertfort and Alwine his assistance in killing the one responsible for ruining his looks. Seems a little harsh, the fact that he looks a little like Street Fighter II's Vega may explain it.

Robin Hood Accuracy Rater
Robin Hood Accuracy Rater ™ Official Score of - Two Errols
While the high native bear population of eastern England in Medieval times is well documented the flying squirrels were brown, not gray, and spoke Latin. And it is well known that Robin Hood had an almost supernatural buoyancy so Nottinghamshire's waterfalls would have posed no problems.
Robin Hood no Daiboken
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures

Episode 2...

"Sherwood Forest is Full of Memories"

The second story opens with a blindfolded Abbot Hertfort chasing giggling women around the courtyard of his castle while the scheming lord decides that if the Abbot wants Maid Marian, he can have her. Why does a randy old Abbot want a 12 year old girl anyway?

In the woods, Robin walks Marian as close to the castle as he dares. Before parting, the noble girl names his Squirrel companion by way of a reward for saving her. She names it Fang. As Robin watches her disappear over the horizon Fang says "Don't worry Robin I'll be with you from now on!" I would have crapped myself, dropped the thing and run, Robin it seems is more accustomed to deranged looking self aware rodents talking and carries on as if this is a perfectly everyday occurrence.

By the banks of a lake Mutch, Little John's second in command, encounters a sea monster, while coveting the gold crucifix he stole from Marian.

Back at Friar Tuck's shack the man of the cloth offers Robin and his band of Merry Orphans a place to stay. "Robin, the strange man said, if we wish we can hide here with him." Barbara claims. The Friar is quick to respond; "What do you mean "The strange man"? I'm a happy man, I like good company! Stick with me and the five of us will have a lot of fun, heh heh heh". I bet somewhere on the medieval internet his shack is marked with a special circle. Friar Tuck goes on to tell the children how he believes that the forest is full of fairies and mystical creatures. "You're like a young child" Barbara blurts.

In the trees Little John and Mutch have a disagreement over his losing Marian's crucifix to a supposed lake bound monster, and Mutch quits the boy's club. He runs into Robin and pals who are more open to his tall tale thanks to the witless Friars earlier ramblings. They check out the lake for themselves only to be met there by Little John and his gang who are fleeing Alwine's soldiers.

Robin puts the girls onto a log and floats them out to the safety of the centre of the lake before teaming up with the bandits to take on the approaching swordsmen. But before battle can commence a genuine sea monster surfaces and begins to hassle the floating girls, scaring off the soldiers in the process. Robin swims out to attack the mysterious super-fish but instead removes a spear which has been troubling it and it leaves without incident.

That night, somewhere else in Sherwood Forest, Marian is ambushed by a hungry pack of wild wolves. It looks like her future lies in their digestive tract until, without warning, the mysterious Knight drops in sending one to animal heaven (or hell - after all they were about to commit murder). All this heart-stopping action is too much for young Marian who faints. Mysterious Knight picks her up and utters to himself "She is soo beautiful". This is getting suspicious - she's twelve and he must be at least seventeen, he'll get locked in the tower for that. Ye Olde Gaol Bate.

Robin Hood Accuracy Rater
Robin Hood Accuracy Rater ™ Official Score of - High Three Errols
This plot is based on a very well known section of the legend first told in the epic poem "Robin of Sherwood Vs. Mega Koi Carp of the Lake". Although the Koi in the poem is only insinuated to be around five feet long, that is still big for a Koi. The ending is very different to the source too, in the original Sherwood Arrows (as he is named) defeats Mega Koi Carp in the card game "Blacksmith's Shame" through strategic use of the Queen of Hearts. Many believe this foretold the death of Princess Diana.
Robin Hood no Daiboken
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures

Episode 3...

The Fight Between Robert and Gilbert

Robin is preoccupied and longs to return to the smoldering, corpse strewn, remains of his family home. Its got him so distracted he can't even eat his lunch of toasted mushrooms on a stick. At first Will is strongly against it but then decides that its ok, so long as he goes there alone.

In another part of the forest Maid Marian Jnr awakes to find herself under the cloak of the mysterious Knight. She doesn't seem alarmed at the situation, but finds herself speechless when asked by the foreboding swordsman why she is traveling solo. "There's no need to answer me. Everyone has a personal secret they wish to keep." I can guess what his is, and I'm sure Baron Alwine has spent a lot of gold doubloons keeping it out of the press.

On his way to the old family ruins, Robin bumps into Friar Tuck, literally - he sandwiches him into a tree. For a vast forest he keeps 'accidentally' crossing paths with our youthful hero. The Friar takes this opportunity to tell Robin of the magic spell that lies within his bow. If you are not pure of heart you will not be able to draw it back. Robin challenges the religious man to try himself and at first it seems that his checkered past is preventing him, but it soon turns out he was playing a joke. Damn it!

Back with Marian and the mysterious groomer. The moon-faced maid has assembled a flower crown for him, as thanks for her rescue. The hapless girl must be doing things like that all the time. While passing it to him, their hands touch and the pair react. It would all be so sweet and charming if she wasn't twelve and he was an adult. Fearing 'it' will soon happen again, the mysterious Knight dashes off into the woods claiming he has some hunting to do. "Will I see you again?" Marian calls after him. "God willing, we will." he replies. I'm not sure God wants any part in this relationship.

In amongst the rubble, Robin finds a portrait of his now presumably deceased father. If he looks hard enough he could probably find the pre-cremated real thing but he's content with a painting - thinking back to their good times together; learning to ride, being taught to use a bow, being slapped on his bare ass. So many happy memories. Sadly his reminiscences are cut short by the unexpected arrival of the mysterious Knight who reveals his name to be Gilbert. Gilbert of the Black Rose Chivalry. It seems fate has been unfair to poor Gilbert at least twice. He challenges Robin to a duel. Much time and cost saving is put into the following sequence of stock animation a slowly rotating stills. Eventually the battle commences and Robin's haste soon finds him in a sticky situation.

Breaking up the excitement is the clumsy Marian, wandering alone around a narrow cliff face she nearly falls to her death, saved only, once again, by a fortuitous passing man - it is Will's turn on this event - looks like she'll be making another flower crown or naming another sinister pet. She claims to have been searching for her gold cross as it is the identifier of her family.

Back at the battle, Gilbert has, as always happens with overconfident villains, given up a guaranteed kill in exchange for a lengthier, ironic victory. In this case, shooting Robert of Huntington through the heart with his own bow. Now, as we learned earlier, he not going to manage this, what with all that carrying on with minors and so on. Robin sees his chance and intercepts his enemy, but becomes trapped under some falling masonry. Unfortunately, this turn of events means that Gilbert can no longer kill his nemesis since his code prevents him from attacking an injured foe. That code must leave a lot of battles undecided.

Since death is now out of the question, Gilbert instead chooses an unforgettable humiliation instead, no rules against that finishing move, and destroys the portrait of Robin Hood Sr in front of the powerless boy.

He then leaves his quarry to die slowly of a broken heart and the common cold as the rain starts to fall.

Robin Hood Accuracy Rater
Robin Hood Accuracy Rater ™ Official Score of - Two Errols
In truth Gilbert was not of the Black Rose Chivalry but the Pink Flamingo Brigade. Presumably the original was deemed not masculine enough. Also the meeting between him and Marion could not have taken place since a past misdemeanour ruled that he must not be alone in the company of a female without the supervision of at least a talking owl or stoat with regional jurisdictional powers. Elsewhere, in the nursery rhyme "Hey Knonny, the Arson Victim Returneth Home to Rubble and Corpses" it is his fathers pipe, slippers and scorched TV Guide that prompts young Robin's memories. Finally it snowed, not rained. Otherwise, dead on.
Robin Hood no Daiboken
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures

Episode 4...

Let's Build the Cottage in the Woods

Life in the woods is beginning to lose its charm, the girls are tired of all the bugs. Robin and Will resolve to build a house in the forest but will need to find a suitable location.

At the bad guys castle Hertfort and Alwine are scheming to catch Robin and Marian. The Abbot suggests setting up a manhunt using vicious dogs. "I like the idea of hunting for men," quips Alwine with a certain gleam in his eye, "it appeals to me." To reaffirm his position, Abbot Hertfort renews his intent to capture Marian and become her guardian.

The teen team scout a number of wacky locations for their new woodland home while the vicious dogs close in. During his exercises Robin back flips over a cliff and mistakenly finds the perfect spot for their hideaway - a cavern behind a waterfall. Drama queen Marian can't even be trusted to follow in a line, slipping away without explanation or warning no doubt to be caught once more.

Sure enough she is soon cornered by the vicious dogs but rather than let her noble guts become sustenance for angry canines so chooses suicide by throat stabbing. She is just moments away from a do-it-yourself tracheotomy as Robin swings through and carries her away. If she's planning to keep up this constant cycle of distress and rescue she may need to come up with a better system of reward. Pet naming and flower crowns ain't gonna cut it. I suggest a system of points where they can be saved and redeemed for increasingly desirable prizes; from marbles and Hot Wheels all the way up to a mountain bike or telescope.

Our hero leads the blood thirsty blood hounds away from Marian and into the realm of an equally dangerous pack of mountain wolves. Soon it is quadruped vs quadruped with the domesticated being soundly massacred by the wild. Just being vicious isn't enough against a foe trained in the real world.

This horrific display of animal barbarism reminds him of his father, for some reason, and the tune he taught him on the leaf whistle. He plays it to Marian and all the animals of the forest find it enchanting. But, still, five dogs were torn apart by wolves, and that hasn't changed.

The pair return to the site of their new home to find Friar Tuck aiding in its construction. Robin attempts to help and causes what little they had made to collapse. Everyone has a good laugh. But it doesn't stop Robin seeing that horrifying scene of living desolation every time he closes his eyes. Probably.

Robin Hood Accuracy Rater
Robin Hood Accuracy Rater ™ Official Score of - Zero Errols
The origins of this episode can be found in Robin Hood's own 1955 semi-autobiographical novel "Cutting Echoes: The Colour of Vengeful Silence" where he describes lead character Robert Hoodsmith leading a pack of angry sheep to a apocalyptical confrontation with nine goats. No secondary source can be found to confirm the truth of this scenario so scholars can only resolve that this passage is complete lies.
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood no Daiboken
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Robin Hood The Boyhood Adventures
Missing videos Missing videos

Robin Hood's Intro Opening
A karaoke version of the Japanese theme.
Watch out for the creepy puppet demon.

Robin meets John, Marian meets Gilbert
Robin and the Merry Minors confront Little John's Bandits.

Good fun
Good dubbing
  Enjoyably suspect situations!
  Faithful adaptation
Uninspired character designs
Nothing amazing storywise

A perfectly adequate adaptation of the series, nothing missing, nothing added. Compared to the over-the-top modernisation of late 90's localisations like Sailor Moon, the early part of the decade was far more sedate and happy just to dub something and otherwise leave it be.

I wonder if the folks at Interfilm dubbed any more episodes than these four. It seems odd to do the first few if you aren't interested in taking on the rest. Maybe they planned it as a several volume video series and demand wasn't enough to continue.