Maurice Maeterlinck’s children’s play The Blue Bird (1908) was crucial in winning him the Nobel Prize for Literature. It deals with the adventures of two poor children, Tyltyl and Mytyl, who meet a fairy on Christmas Eve and use magic to travel through several allegorical scenes in search of the otherworldly Blue Bird of Happiness. They are joined by their two pets, the loyal dog Tylō and the sly trickster cat Tylette.
The anime version, produced by Office Academy appeared in 1980. The studio had already achieved success with its sci-fi adventure series Space Battleship Yamato and Space Pirate Captain Harlock. It dramatically expands on Maeterlinck’s spare, allegorical tableaux, generating a more event-filled journey and enlarging The Night (a minor part in the original) into a central villain, whom the children must confront and defeat in order to save the life of their ailing mother. The anime is well known in Europe, where dubbed versions continue to be shown on nostalgia TV channels in France and Italy.
This image comes from the opening credits, shown at the start of each episode, and it shows the central group riding to the next stage of their journey on a slipper that their magical patron has enlarged and given the power of flight.