The Mysterious Cities of Gold-The Complete Series (Taiyô no ko Esteban) (1982)

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Released 4-Aug-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation-16x9 enhanced
Featurette-39 Original Live Action Documentaries
Synopsis-Series Synopsis (DISC 1)
Deleted Scenes-Episode 1(Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3) Episode 4 (Scene 1)
Alternative Version-Alternate Introduction Sequence (Episode 1)
Storyboard Comparisons-Realtime Storyboard (Episode 1)
Storyboard Comparisons-Realtime Storyboard (Episode 2)
Gallery-Original Episode Production Drawings
Interviews-Cast-Interview with Dubbing Cast (29:32) (DISC 2)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Dubbing Scene Recreation (1:48)
Notes-Dubbing Cast List
Storyboard Comparisons-Realtime Storyboard (Episode 13)
Notes-Character Biographies for the Cast
Gallery-Original Character Drawings
Notes-Voice-Over Cast Biographies
Notes-Interview with Mitsuru Kaneko (DISC 3)
Storyboard Comparisons-Realtime Storyboard (Episode 19)
Gallery-Episode Stills Gallery
Gallery-Opening Sequence Gallery
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 907:48 (Case: 1120)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Howard Ryshpan
Edouard David
Bernard Deyriès
Kenichi Maruyama
Shock Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $99.95 Music Shuki Levy
Haim Saban
Ryuji Sasai

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"It is the sixteenth century. From all over Europe, great ships sail west to conquer the New World, the Americas.

The men are eager to seek their fortune, to find new adventures in new lands.

They long to cross uncharted seas and discover unknown countries; to find secret gold on a mountain trail high in the Andes.

They dream of following the path of the setting sun that leads to El Dorado, and the Mysterious Cities of Gold"

The beloved animation series The Mysterious Cities of Gold, recounts the tale of Spanish orphan Esteban, and his search for his father, who he was separated from as an infant. The people of Barcelona believe young Esteban is a 'child of the sun,' and he is often unwillingly hoisted up high (despite his fear of heights) to call out the sun and help aid the departing ships. One day, Esteban meets Mendoza, a navigator for the Spanish fleet, who tells Esteban, it was he who saved Esteban as an infant from certain death, as Esteban's father struggled to abandon his sinking ship.

Mendoza tells young Esteban, he believes Esteban's father still lives, in the 'New World', and he asks Esteban to leave Barcelona and join him as he, along with his eager crew; the awkward Sandro and the loud-mouth Pedro, journey to the 'New World' in search of the lost 'Cities of Gold'. Unbeknownst to Esteban, Mendoza has also abducted Zia, the daughter of an Incan high priest, under orders from Commander Gomez, commander of the Spanish armed forces.

Esteban and Zia both wear the same 'sun' medallions and like Esteban, Zia hopes to find her father, who she was taken from as an infant. While Esteban trusts Mendoza, Zia is unsure of where Mendoza's loyalties lie, as he, Sandro and Pedro are all obviously motivated by the search for gold. As Mendoza, a proficient swordsman and experienced sailor, leads Sandro and Pedro and the two children on their voyage, they also meet another child, named Tao, the last living descendant of the sunken empire of Mu. Tao lives alone on the Galapagos islands and although he at first distrusts Esteban, Mendoza, Sandro and Pedro when they washed up on his island, he eventually joins them in order to find out more about his ancestors and their lost technology.

As the group make their way towards the 'Cities of Gold', they are relentlessly followed by the greedy and villainous Commander Gomez and Captain Gaspard, as well as Governor Pizarro and his Spanish armies, a Spanish Doctor who is also obsessively searching for the 'Cities of Gold' with his advisor Marinche, and the aging Olmec leader Menator, who wishes to harness the power of the sun to save his race from extinction.

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Transfer Quality


All 39 episodes of the series have restored picture and sound. Presented in it's original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 Full Frame, the transfer is considerately solid and pleasing, particularly considering the age of the series.

The 39 episodes, which are approximately 24 minutes in length, have been encoded over 6 Dual-Layer DVDs. The sharpness of the transfer is average as are black levels. There are no incidences of MPEG compression artefacts but low level noise is visible.

Also heavy telecine wobble is evident in the first two episodes. Numerous film artefacts aswell as assorted positive and negative film grain are also noticeable. The colour often remains bright and vivid but can appear quite dark or overly bright for a few frames on occasion. There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


There is a single audio soundtrack option: English Dolby Digital 2.0. This restored English dubbed soundtrack includes an English version of the original French language theme song. Dialogue remains clear and the soundtrack is free from distortion.

As the animated television show was distributed internationally and redubbed from French into English, Spanish, Swedish, Breton, Polish, Arabic, Korean and Bulgarian, lip-synching errors are apparent, however as this is a vintage animation series, this can be forgiven.

The memorable score was composed by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy. Each character has their own unique theme song, as do the individual landscapes, from the sounds of Barcelona, to the light tones which suit the comic relief characters Sandro and Pedro, to the epic sweeping sounds which accompany Esteban's plight, to the darker electronic synthesizer notes which accompany the antagonists.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Animation and Audio.

    The CG animated main menu (16x9 enhanced) is an animated image of an ancient tomb. The animated image is accompanied with a section of the score. The main menu offers access to the episodes aswell as the various extra features. There is a Play All option, and while the episodes are not broken into traditional chapters, there is the handy option of accessing each episode from the:

Disc One (Episode 1-7)

Series Synopsis

    Three pages of text detailing the plot of the animated television series. (Text)

Deleted Scenes - Episode 1 (Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3) and Episode 4 (Scene 1).

    Various live-action shots which were to be integrated into the animation.

Alternate Introduction Sequence (Episode 1).

Realtime Storyboard (Episode 1 and Episode 2).

    View the storyboards side-by-side an excerpt of the final animation.

Original Episode Production Drawings.

    One hundred pencil line art drawings from the first five episode of the series. (Gallery)

Disc Two (Episode 8-13)

Interview with Dubbing Cast (29:32).

    Produced in 2007, this documentary focuses on how the English dubbed soundtrack was produced. The English dubbing cast each contribute to the documentary including the voices of Esteban (Shiraz Adam), Zia (Janice Chakelson), Tao (Adrian Knight) and Mendoza (Howard Ryshpan). Also the documentary explores why the English dub, which was directed by Howard Ryshpan in Montreal, Canada, was develop from the French script and not the Japanese script.

Dubbing Scene Recreation (1:48).

    The original cast return back to the studio.

Realtime Storyboard (Episode 13).

    View the storyboards side-by-side an excerpt of the final animation.

Dubbing Cast List and Voice-Over Cast Biographies.

    The English voice cast were never credited, as the end credits always remained in the original French language. This extra feature names the English voice cast and gives a short biography of four cast members. (Text)

Original Character Drawings.

    Sixty-eight pencil-art stills of the main characters. (Gallery)

Character Biographies for the Cast.

    The text of this extra feature is reprinted in the characters biography booklet. (Text)

Disc Three (Episode 14-20)

Interview with Mitsuru Kaneko

    Eight page text interview with the creator of The Mysterious Cities of Gold, who discusses the thematic concerns of the animated television show in detail. (Text)

Realtime Storyboard (Episode 19)

    View the storyboards side-by-side an excerpt of the final animation.

Episode Stills Gallery

    Two hundred and fifty-six stills of cel-art. (Gallery)

Opening Sequence Gallery

    Twelve stills from the opening sequence. (Gallery)

Disc Four (Episode 21-26)

The Story of Production (36:29).

    In this recently produced documentary writer and producer Jean Chalopin, recalls how the series was funded and the collaborative effort between Mitsuru Kaneko and the Japanese production team. Bernard Deyriès and Composer Shuki Levy also feature in the documentary and the thematic differences between the French and Japanese versions of the animation series are explored. The feature film which is currently in development in also acknowledged.

Production Crew Biographies

    Information on Jean Chalopin, Bernard Deyriès, Mitsuru Kaneko, Hisayuki Toriumi (Chief Animation Director), Toshiyasu Okada (Character Design), Hiroshi Kawabata (Animation Supervisor), Mitsuki Nakamura (Art Director), composers Shuki Levy and Haim Saban, and author Scott O’Dell. (Text)

Original Drawings - Machine Props

    A gallery of ten sketches of the Solaris and the Golden Condor. (Gallery)

Various Images

    Additional images of promotional art material and miscellaneous cel-art. (Gallery)

Disc Five (Episode 27-33)

Deleted Scene - (Episode 32).

This deleted scene is presented in poor VHS quality. The scene in question has extended violence which was omitted.

Original Episode Production Drawings.

        Fifty-Six designs taken from episodes 29-33. (Gallery)

Original French Sales Brochure

    Two pages (Gallery)

Original Japanese/English Sales Brochure.

    Eight pages (Gallery)

Disc Six (Episode 34-39)

Realtime Storyboard - (Episode 35).

    View the storyboards side-by-side an excerpt of the final animation.

Original Episode Drawings.

    Fifty designs taken from episodes 34-39.(Gallery)

The Opening Theme Karaoke.

    Includes computer generated subtitle track of the opening theme song.

DVD credits.

Colour Booklet (32 Pages)

    A booklet containing detailed episode synopses and extensive character profiles.

Colour Booklet (12 Pages)

    A historical facts booklet which accompanies the odd three minute live-action documentary which appears after each episode of The Mysterious Cities of Gold and details the history and locations of the respective episode.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The content and technical specifications of the R2 UK Boxset and the R4 boxset remain the same, except the R2 Uk release includes 'The Phillip Schofield Broom Cupboard Singalong'

The local R4 boxset can also be purchased with an Original Soundtrack Album at JB HI-FI while stocks last ($79.98 AUD)

The Original Soundtrack Album has the following tracklisting:

While the R2 UK HMV Release included a double-sided poster and 6 Collectors postcards.

The Mysterious Cities of Gold has also been released on DVD in France, Belgium and Canada in the French language version: Les Mystérieuses Cités d'Or also in a six disc boxset (Note: There are no English subtitles on these DVD releases). There have been similar 6 DVD boxset releases in Japan and Germany.

A R1 US 6 DVD boxset will be released in late 2008. Rumoured to be included in this set is a physical replica of the 'sun' medallion, a double-sided A3 poster and 6 Collectors postcards.


An excellent release of the celebrated children's animated television show.

The vintage and recently produced extras are extensive and informative and the television show itself has been restored for this anticipated DVD release.

This is a perfect release for fans of The Mysterious Cities of Gold.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOPPO DV-980H, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Packaging - James O REPLY POSTED
A shame there's no Japanese option - REPLY POSTED