Hols: Prince of the Sun

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Hols: Prince of the Sun (Taiyou no Ouji Horusu no Daibouken; also known as Horus: Prince of the Sun, The Little Norse Prince, and Little Norse Prince Valiant) is a 1968 anime film. It is most notable for being an early work of Studio Ghibli's most famous talents Isao Takahata (who directed) and Hayao Miyazaki (who did key animation and contributed a lot of ideas to the movie) from back when they worked at Toei Animation.

The story goes like this: In an area reminiscent of ancient Scandinavia, a young boy named Hols pulls a huge sword, the Sword of the Sun, out of the shoulder of a giant "rock golem" named Mogue (sometimes translated as Maug or Rockoar), who promises to declare the boy Prince of the Sun if he can reforge the sword.

Hols returns home to find out that his ill father is dying. Upon his deathbead, the old man tells Hols of their former hometown, which was destroyed by an evil sorcerer named Grunwald, and begs Hols to go find "[his] people". With his bear companion Coro by his side, Hols sets off to find other humans. Along the way, Grunwald captures him and offers to make Hols his brother, an offer which Hols refuses. After surviving being tossed off a cliff by Grunwald, Hols is taken in by a nearby village.

Throughout the rest of the film, Hols defends the village from Grunwald's forces, and befriends a beautiful young girl named Hilda, who is actually Grunwald's "sister", and is seriously conflicted about her part in his evil plans. Eventually, Hilda must decide whose side she's on, while Hols tries to figure out how to reforge the Sword of the Sun and defeat Grunwald once and for all.

The English version was produced by Fred Ladd (of Astro Boy and Gigantor fame), and was syndicated by American International Television in the early 70s as a TV movie. This film is fairly obscure in many parts, especially many Western countries. In fact, the biggest exposure it had in the West was probably when it appeared on TBS in the 1980s, only for it never to air in the U.S. again afterwards. So why is it worth mentioning? Well, for one thing, it was a massive influence on modern anime, including the later works of Miyazaki himself. Second, many people who've seen it agree that it's a damn good movie, with a compelling story and better-than-average animation (well, by Sixties anime standards, anyway). If you're a fan of anime (or at least the works of Studio Ghibli) and you somehow find a copy of this movie, you should definitely watch it, if only to get a look at the early work of two of the medium's greatest talents.

Now can be found on Hulu


Tropes used in Hols: Prince of the Sun include:
  • Androcles' Lion: A variation with Mogue, who not only keeps his promise to Hols, but also helps him defeat Grunwald.
  • BFS: The Sword of the Sun
  • Big Badass Wolf: Grunwald's "silver wolves"
  • Billie Lou Watt: Voiced the title character in the dub.
  • Broken Bird: Hilda occasionally acts like one of these, most notably while the village prepares for a wedding between two minor characters.
  • Burn, Baby, Burn: Hols burns his former home (a wrecked ship) after his father dies and before he sets out on his quest.
  • The Catfish: Hols kills a monstrous pike (one of Grunwald's creatures) that others in the village had died trying to defeat.
  • Crowd Song
  • Dark Action Girl: Hilda, later in the film. Subverted in that she doesn't necessarily want to be one.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Hilda
  • Disney Death, combined with Redemption Equals Death: Hilda
  • Doomed Hometown: The village where Hols (as an infant) and his father lived originally, which was destroyed before the events of the movie. Hilda also claims to be from one, though it's not clear if she's telling the truth.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Coro's an exception; he's just there to be adorable.
  • Evil Chancellor: Drago, to the village's chief. Slightly subverted in that he doesn't want to rule the village, but to warp the village's view of Hols.
  • Executive Meddling: Takahata just couldn't catch a break during this film's production. First, he originally wanted the film to center around the Ainu people of ancient Japan (today they live mostly in Northern Japan), but Toei rejected the idea (due to racial discrimination against the group). Then, the crew was forced to cut 30 minutes of footage, while whole scenes went unfinished. Finally, Toei only ran it in theaters for ten days, demoted everyone who worked on it, and told Takahata he could never direct another film there again. Ouch.
  • Ghibli Hills: Well, duh.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Although they're real (instead of the usual visual metaphor) and not angels, Chiro and Toto fill these respective roles for Hilda.
  • Heel Face Turn: Hilda
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Hilda's philosophy (thanks to Grunwald), initially.
  • An Ice Person: Grunwald
  • Immortality Seeker: Hilda, until her Heel Face Turn.
  • Like Brother and Sister: A slight variation: during their first encounter, Hilda claims that she and Hols are "twins" because of their similar backstories (see Doomed Hometown above).
  • The Mole: Hilda
  • No Export for You: As mentioned above, U.S. audiences only got to see this movie once, and a Region 1 DVD release seems highly unlikely at this point.
    • However, it is available on Hulu.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Coro the bear for Hols, Chiro the squirrel and Toto the owl for Hilda
  • Parental Abandonment: Hols' father dies in the first ten minutes, and his mother is nowhere to be seen.
  • Smug Snake: Drago and Toto
  • Spiritual Successor: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky...hell, let's just save time here and say that pretty much half of the stuff Miyazaki made as a director was influenced by this film.
  • We Can Rule Together: Grunwald's offer to Hols