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Back in 1977, anime anthology series World Masterpiece Theater made history with Rascal the Raccoon. Based on Sterling North‘s 1963 autobiographical novel Rascal, a Memoir of a Better Era, the literary adaptation enchanted audiences of all ages — and would go on to have a lasting impact on Japan as a whole, in more ways than one.


To celebrate the charming coming-of-age series, the Nippon Animation Theater YouTube Channel is releasing all 52 episodes free to watch for a limited time. The episodes are region-free at the time of this writing, meaning you can watch them pretty much wherever you are. Be warned, though, there are no subtitles or closed-captions available.


Here’s episode 1 to get you started:




RELATED: Classic Literature Meets Fashion in World Masterpiece Theater Clothing Line


The series relates North’s own experiences growing up at a time when the world was changing rapidly around him, in particular his adoption of a baby raccoon. As Rascal grew up, though, it became more apparent that he wasn’t meant to be a pet; and eventually young Sterling had to return his furry friend to the wild.


For a time, Rascal was the most popular mascot character in Japan, even overshadowing Mickey Mouse. This adoration for the series resulted in many people importing raccoons to keep as pets. Eventually, whether because they witnessed Rascal’s own release in the final episode or because they learned for themselves that raccoons make terrible pets, these owners released their imported animals into the wild. As a result, raccoons are an invasive species in Japan.


Fortunately for our nostalgia, though, the fictional Rascal has fared better than his real-world cousins in the public eye. He remains something of a mascot for World Masterpiece Theater, and you can find him in crossovers with Fate/Grand OrderAttack on TitanDemon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, and just about anything else you can imagine.


RELATED: Rascal the Raccoon Is at It Again with a Haikyu!! Crossover


Rascal the Raccoon will be available to watch on YouTube until June 30, 2022.




Source: Anime! Anime!




Kara Dennison is the book reviewer for Sci-Fi Magazine and a regular features writer for Otaku USA Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @RubyCosmos, and read more at KaraDennison.com.