Just because something is intended for kids doesn’t mean it can’t potentially scar them for life in an enjoyable way. It’s in this spirit of kindertrauma that we here at Fandom would like to highlight films, TV shows, and video games that seem kid-friendly but are full of nightmare fuel. Often, they are the ones that stick with us the most. Today on Parental Guidance Suggested we have a look at the 1967 Japanese anime Jack and the Witch.
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A little kid and his animal friends go on an adventure. While they joyride through the woods in Jack’s tiny toy car, the gang winds up in a Hell-world ruled by a witch. Children from around the area are getting kidnapped and turned into demons. This is the basic plot of the Japanese children’s anime Jack and the Witch.
Jack and the Witch is a Toei production. Anime fans know Toei for their decades of films and series that are some of the most popular in the world. Jack and the Witch came long before the days of Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon and One Piece, and it’s a true example of the golden age of anime.
When Jack and his pals jump in the car and go out for the day, they have a run-in with a girl who serves an evil master. Beyond the forest lies a dark realm ruled by an evil witch queen. She steals kids and turns them into harpies. Every synopsis you read will say the children are transformed into demons or devils, but the English dub from American International says otherwise.
This movie gets really dark and very weird. Jack gets duped into almost becoming a minion of the witch, and in the process, he falls for one of her slaves. Allegra is a girl who is now a harpy. Just like all the rest, she is a hot-tempered demon bent on sacrificing kids to her master. If she fails, the punishment is eternity trapped in a frozen cave filled with monsters.
There are some definite connections to The Wizard of Oz here, but this witch might be even more evil and wicked. One of the most shocking moments of the film is when an entire group of minions gets sucked into the transformation machine. Their bones get spit out and the film continues on without skipping a beat. Needless to say, as far as golden age anime goes you’d be hard pressed to find one with more genuine moments of kindertrauma.
Should parents be cautious?
Jack and the Witch is tough to find, but Viacom does have a standard format transfer available now on Amazon Video. Anime fans with little ones should screen this one beforehand just to make sure it’s not too scary for the kids. The animation style gets a bit rough at times, but for what it is Jack and the Witch is a unique time capsule of twisted fantasy unlike anything else out there.