One of the earliest anime I watched as a kid in the early 80s was a family drama called 母をたずねて三千里 (Haha o Tazunete Sanzenri, lit. 30,000 Leagues in Search of Mother) but the English title used by RTM was From the Apennines to the Andes. Little did I know then that this was made by Takahata Isao, before he founded Studio Ghibli with Miyazaki Hayao.

I watched this cartoon (there, I said it!) on RTM channel 2, and it was broadcasted every Saturday at 3:30pm. The anime was dubbed in BM, and due to how life was, I never got to watch this in its entirety (it ran for 52 episodes!) until a few years ago when I found the entire tale in a DVD set. The story revolves around a 10-year old Genoese lad named Marco Rossi whose mom, Anna, left for Argentina[1] to find work as a maid as the money was good. Marco’s dad was working as a doctor’s assistant in a poor house, working really long hours. Marco also has a brother named Tonio who is training to be a locomotive driver in Milan. Marco also tries to help with the household and worked cleaning glass bottles. Anna would write regularly to her family until one day the letter stopped coming. Fearing for Anna’s health, Marco decided to look for her in Argentina himself. Despite obvious resistance from his dad, Marco was not giving up, boarding a ship that brought him to Buenos Aires from where his long and arduous journey to find his mother begins.

「草原のマルコ」sung by Ōsugi Kumiko (she also sang the famous an an an Doraemon theme song) – the anime’s opening theme.

This anime does tug on your heart strings even on rewatching it (onion ninjas even came to pay visit when I watched a particular scene on YouTube very recently) but I’ve to admit that all I could then remember as a 10 year old was the protagonist’s pet monkey (possibly a white capuchin) named Amedeo (my late mom said I misheard it as she thought it was Amigo!). Interesting fact that I found from the Japanese Wikipedia page was that Amedeo’s chatter (krik!) was recreated by rubbing two pieces of styrofoam together!

Ending theme 「かあさんおはよう」/ Good morning, mother, also sung by Ōsugi Kumiko.

I remembered watching this after work during the fasting month of Ramadhan while waiting for breaking my fast with ayah, although he said that I kept drifting off to sleep on the sofa. Ayah’s not too keen on sad tales, but he admitted that Marco’s story was captivating enough for him to follow till the end.

Highly recommended!

[1]A bit on the Italian population in Argentina –