An old 80s anime that thanks to its showing made me accept anime a little better since I could hardly deny I like anime when I watched this as a kid.
Adventure and Mystery!
Well I can't remember a thing about each story despite watching it a dozen times but I can remember why I watched it. The intro is burned into my memories, it was the best show on at the time and it was a great storyline.
Essentially, a man saves a kid (Sebastian I think his name was) at sea from drowning at the plea of his father. Years later he and his two cronies are looking for the 7 cities of gold, the kid is left wondering what happened to his father. On their first trip to find the cities, they comes across a Native American Indian girl on board who can read the ancient rope knots that tell details on the cities. Events happen, the kids end up meeting another kid, etc, etc they find a city of gold.
So why the hype? Well the series was long and for a show portraying itself as a kids show, in depth. The mysteries of the seven cities grew as the series went on. Sebastian's guardian and his cronies are seeking them for the gold, Sebastian's doing it to find out about the man his father was (if dead or alive). Its a kind of thing in One Piece that Cricket described as a "Romance", and right through to the end it doesn't give up on that. They find the golden ship... Then the condor when they loose that, and art wise it was beautifully drawn on top of that.
I was too young to remember all but the music now, which is a shame because I owe this series too much as a anime fan. I can however remember the ending, so spoilers ahoy.
Sebastian and co find a city of gold where ape-faced people are occupying it (I recall they wore masks to hide their appearance). I think it their presence was something like they weren't from this world or something, but either way most of the populace was actually asleep in a stasis, a great disaster occurs and the city is destroyed. Turns out the main priest of the people was the kid's father but only his guardian knows about it and decides not to tell the kid after the priest dies and tells him in his final moments. After the destruction of the city, Sebastian's guardian gets his gold, but the city they find is destroyed and now gone (I think a volcano flooded it with lava can't remember). At the end of the series the group parts with adults going off since they found enough gold to set them up for life and thats all they needed (originally they wanted a lot more then they got) and the kids go off in the golden condor to find the remaining cities of gold as well as more adventure.
I think out of the 7 cities they found just 2 of the 7. However the first was a "false" golden city (it only appeared golden when the light hit it). The series was basically a way of looking at the greed of the Spanish in the Americans when white settlers were originally visiting the Americas (I think the guardian was also a Spanish man but can't remember). Most of the mysteries in the series were linked to the sunlight (like the city that was only golden in the light). The contrast between the greed of the adults and children was constantly being brought up every few episodes (I seem to remember as well at one point it leaving the kid and his guardian at odds with each other) and in the end the matter is settled for all parties anyway. There was a villain as such; I VAGUELY recall the guardian had a rival who was after the cities also, but unlike him was prepared to shed a little blood doing so and while both of them were after the Indian girl for the same reason, he didn't always view her as just a means to find the gold wherein the other guy did.
At the time it was a show that likes of had rarely, if ever, been shown for a kids audience and there were some very deep issues within the show. Even amongst the kids, they were at odds with each other. Sebastian saved the girl because she was more or less a slave, the girl repays her by staying with him out of loyalty, the third kid was a bit of a problem maker, the golden ship they used at first was his and he was annoyed when they lost it. He and Sebastian had a few moments where they were divided against each other, at one point I can vaguely remember over the girl and her abilities to read the knots in the ropes.
And thee seemed to be a fair level of research put into the series, the knots in the ropes for example was a REAL written method that folks today know about but nobody is left with the knowledge how to decipher them now. The golden condor was heavy linked to the Spanish and Aztec people etc, etc. I liken to a kind of One Piece without the Devil Fruits and the fighting... And pirates. Then again there may have been pirates I can't really remember and I know most of the show took place on land and in the sky (see giant bird).
They did speak of remaking it, as a movie or something... Its fate I don't have a clue on. All I know is in the UK a generation of kids grew up amazed by this show and thats enough for me.