Miyazaki Riffs #6
Here is another one of those Miyazaki Riffs that has appeared more than once: the deathbed confession. Horus, Prince of the Sun is where is all starts, with the somber scene of the death of Horus' father. It's a somber moment, and it's very effective, because it not only establishes the emotional drive for the main character - "Horus, go to your people!" - but that it underscores the seriousness of the film.
In Future Boy Conan, Miyazaki pays tribute early on, with the death of Conan's grandfather in episode 2. As before, Conan is told the story of how they arrived at their current home on Remnant Island. As before, the grandfather implores the boy to leave and find his true calling among his people.
Also, note the surroundings. In both instances, the escape vehicle (in Horus, a boat; in Conan, a spaceship) has been converted into a makeshift home. At least this time, Conan doesn't burn down the place like Horus does.
Now here's a third and lesser-known appearance of the deathbed confession. It appears in the 1969 Toei Doga film, "The Flying Ghost Ship." It's a low-budget picture, one of many the studio started churning out during its period of decline. The reason we remember it is because Miyazaki worked on it as a key animator, and contributed many ideas.
Again, we same the same setup. Only this time, the boy has lost both his parents. The father also reveals that he is not the boy's real father; the father turns out to be the mysterious Ghost Ship captain. The fadeout is a little similar to the fish-eye lens shot at the end of the scene from Horus.
It's interesting to note that several bits and pieces from The Flying Ghost Ship reappear in Future Boy Conan. If it weren't for that, and Miyazaki's scene depicting a tank battle in downtown Tokyo (which, also, is recreated in the second Lupin III series finale, "Farewell, Beloved Lupin," in 1979), this picture would be relegated to the b-movie status it deserves.