Have you ever watched a movie in your childhood that meant so much to you, but while you grew up it disappeared from your thoughts, only to return in full nostalgia overload when you finally rediscover it again? That’s what this movie is to me. When I was a kid, there were these magical places called video rental stores, and I would go there constantly to get my favorite cartoons on VHS and having a blast at watching them, rewinding them, and then watching them again. The Secret of the Seal was one of those special films that just hit me in that special place as a kid, and I watched it over and over and probably rented it more times than I can remember.
The Secret of the Seal is about a young boy, Antonio, living with his baby sister and father, who move to Italy after their mother dies. There, Antonio meets meets his cousin and the local kids who quickly take a liking to him. Although, he is renamed Totoi early in the film. During a fun trip to the local caves Totoi discovers a Mediterranean seal, which were thought to be extinct. Totoi quickly takes a liking to the baby seal and starts meeting with them everyday, but as his secret is let loose upon the town drastic measures are taken to secure the seals.
This film is from 1992, and one of the first thoughts I had about watching this was “Damn this looks dated!” But, as the film went along I was starting to get sucked into it just like I was as a kid and stopped thinking about that. The animation is over twenty years old, so if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like old animation this may not be for you, but this brought me back right to that special place where this type of animation just makes me feel like I’m home.
Now, this film was extremely hard to find. It took me years to figure out the name of this movie, and a few months to figure out how to watch it. As far as I know, the only way you can watch this is if you own the VHS, or watch it on youtube. Because of this, however, you can only watch it in dub. Yes, the dub isn’t that good, but it’s decent. There’s actually lots of scenes where people would be talking, but no one was speaking, which brought me a whole new level of joy. It sounded like they may have dumbed the actual story down for translations, and if that’s the case I’me very curious about the actual Japanese version. I think you won’t tear your hair out listening to this dub, but be warned that it’s not great, if anything you can sort of think of it as a laughable dub that is enjoyable.
The reason I absolutely loved this movie as a kid, and again as an adult, is the fact that the story is so innocent with its characters, and the overall feel of this story is adventure. You have this kid who just moved to another country, and he finds a rare species of animal that only he knows about, and they live deep in the caves off the shore where the water, when at the right time, could flood the cavers and sweep you away into the ocean really makes my blood pump in excitement.
Just like the kids being innocent, this film shows you a lot of cute seal action. Too many times I was swooning at the cuteness this film presents. You see a baby seal get stuck on his back and fail to get up, you see a baby seal learn how to swim with his mother, you see the kid swimming with the seals and playing tag for goodness sake! This film had me at cuteness overload!
Overall, this is an old film that may not interest a lot of people, but in the end I found this treasure of my childhood to still be entertaining nearly fifteen years later. If you just want a quiet evening at home, and your not sure what to watch, give this a try. I can’t guarantee that you’ll love it, but I think a lot of people will be surprised at how watchable this film is. For me, it gave me a wonderful evening down memory lane, and flooded my emotions with a good needed nostalgia that reminded me of the simple days of childhood.
+ Uber Cuteness!!
+ A wonderfully serene plot
+ Intense ending
+ Some actually frightful scenes
– Super hard to find