I'm going to explain this the way I was introduced to it. It's the late 1980's, the summer before my 6th grade year. Because it was summer, I had issues going to sleep at proper times for an 11 year old ^_^; My parents were rather lenient and honestly didn't care when I slept or waked, as long as I was happy. I was one of the fortunate kids, I imagine. Anywhos, there's only so much on after midnight. This was a period in my life when I would watch late night horror/suspense shows (Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Dark Side, Friday the 13th The Series, etc.), but they all ended around 2 am or so. This is when I discovered "The Mysterious Cities of Gold". Nickelodeon was on Eastern Standard Time, so in other words, even though it's playing at 3AM where I live, it's playing at 6AM over on the East Coast. This seemed to make sense in my sleep deprived head. Anyways, this also was at a time where Nickelodeon wasn't as cool as it is now. No Rugrats, no Blues Clues, even You Can't do that on television had been gone for a year or 5 at this point. A great deal of their programming was childrens shows that no one had decided to pick up due to low quality or low interest. There were a few gems among them. Some were even anime series that had been dubbed (Like Belle and Sebastian, etc) and were geared toward children audiences. Anywhos, I digress. I was awake at that early hour and caught the last 10 episodes or so. Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th episode that had been playing, I realized how awesome the potential for this show was. I was young and naive, but I knew that a show like this may not be around for much longer. I began recording it in SLP on the VHS tapes I had laying around. I piqued my interested in history accompanied by the beauty of animation to drive me forward into appreciating the little used genre for a 'cartoon', the serial. Everything I had seen before was not in a serial - it had been each episode contained within another, with no real continuity to make reference to before. This was different. This was something I really liked, and made me want to watch the rest of the series all the way through - despite catching it from the end. This is how I discovered The Mysterious Cities of Gold.
Now that I've bored you with that part of the story, here's some information
on the series. The storyline takes place around the early 1500's
when the Spanish were conquering a great deal of "The New World", or to
be more precise, South America. The whole entire drive of the series
initially is greed. The wishful thinking sailors hoping to discover
the wonderful cities of gold so that they can grow old rich. This
apparently was a really popular notion back in those times. The story
follows a young boy, Esteban, who everyone is introduced to in the first
episode. See the episode summaries for a good description on how
that happens. Knowing what I know now, this series is geared toward
a younger audience. It just told a story. There isn't any internal
struggle and mental anguish in this series - it's just plain fun.
With Canadian dubbing to round out the series feel, who could really ask
From what I understand of the series history, it was created with the collaboration of NHK Japan and DIC France, made for a French audience as "Les Mystérieuses Cités d'Or". Later, it was dubbed in English and distributed to UK and American markets as "Mysterious Cities of Gold", and also being dubbed into Japanese with the title of "Esteban" (If anyone has this series on tape, let me know! I'll trade!). Somewhere in the course of recent history the french version of the series has been released to video tape in a set. What I would like to see is the series re-released here in the states on DVD in a nice set - 4 episodes per disc and with all language features. With some history and maybe a few screenshots/stills like old LDs used to feature. It would be even more fantastic if there was a soundtrack included in the bundle. There was only one soundtrack released in France, and it was available I believe on tape and vinyl (Done by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy to boot! The folks who brought us Power Rangers, DigiMon, and a lot of other weird shit). This is, of course, just wishful thinking. It would be nice, but it wouldn't happen anytime soon. Maybe when I'm rich I'll do it and tell you all about it here, in the meantime, enjoy this crappy webpage as a substitute.