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The Mysterious Cities of Gold 

Taiyô no ko Esteban (original title)
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A trio of kids must search throughout 16th Century South America for personal answers linked to the legendary El Dorado.




1983   1982  



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Series cast summary:
Janice Chaikelson ...
Adrian Knight ...
Michael Rudder ...
Terrence Labrosse ...
 Kokapetl / ... 39 episodes, 1982-1983
 Captain Gomez 39 episodes, 1982-1983
Maurice Podbrey ...
 Governor Pizarro 39 episodes, 1982-1983
Anick Faris ...
Shiraz Adam ...
Kelly Ricard ...
Walter Massey ...
Dean Hagopian ...
 Menator / ... 39 episodes, 1982-1983
A.J. Henderson ...
 Captain Gaspard / ... 39 episodes, 1982-1983
Tomoko Ai ...
Isabelle Ganz ...
 General Gomez 39 episodes, 1982-1983
Haruna Ikezawa ...
Rokurô Naya ...
 Subcommander Gaspard 39 episodes, 1982-1983
Sachiko Saitô ...
Evelyne Séléna ...
 Narrator / ... 39 episodes, 1982-1983
Jean Topart ...
 Narrator / ... 39 episodes, 1982-1983
Mahito Tsujimura ...
Hideyuki Umezu ...
Kiyoyuki Yanada ...
Jean-Claude Ballard ...
Jacques Ferrière ...
Francis Lax ...
Odile Schmitt ...
Hubert Noël ...
Pierre Garin ...


The year is 1532. Esteban, a young boy, is told that he was saved by Mendoza, a navigator on a Spanish ship from a ship wreck in a storm at sea. The only clue to his identity is a medal that Esteban wears about his neck. Esteban joins Mendoza on a trip from Spain to the new world - the Americas - where on route he meets two other children - Zia - an Inca girl and Tao, the last member of a highly advanced race. All three are looking for different things - Esteban to find his father and his identity, Zia for her father and Tao for remains of his race. The clues for all three quests however all point to the seven Cities of Gold and so the children, Mendoza, Sancho and Pedro - two other sailors and friends of Mendoza start searching in a massive treasure hunt for the Cities Of Gold... Written by Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

1 May 1982 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Esteban and the Seven Cities of Gold  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(39 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In an early draft of the concept, SOLARIS, the solar vessel was a much more simplistic wood sailing boat with oars activated by a steam engine. Bernard Deyries made a few changes to make to vessel more technologically advanced: he made the boat metallic and came up with the idea of a solar sail. The Japanese team accepted and added the "cube" mechanism that activates the system. See more »


During the opening credits, Esteban is seen controlling the golden condor using 2 control levers. However, during the episodes proper, he only uses one (the condor just has one, shaped like a cobra). See more »


English Opening Titles Narrator: It is the Sixteenth Century. From all over Europe great ships sail west to conquer the New World - the Americas; the men eager to seek their fortune, to find new adventures in new lands. They long to cross uncharted seas and discover unknown countries; to find secret gold on a mountain trail high in the Andes. They dream of following the path of the setting sun, that leads to El Dorado and The Mysterious Cities of Gold.
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Referenced in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps: Vomit (2002) See more »


Itsuka Dokokade Anatani Atta
(Japanese Ending song)
Music by Katsuo Ôno (as Katsuo Ono)
Arrangements by Jun Satou
Lyrics by Yû Aku
Performed by Pal
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the best television shows ever.
23 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

This was such a wonderful and inspirational series for children in the 80s. Now they're all grown up and the show still captivates them - In fact I enjoy it even more now (at 24) than I did when I was little! There is so much in it to love and appreciate - rich characters and scenery, and such a deep story rooted in historical accuracy and the culture of the South American people. This is the kind of series a person can become fully engrossed in, because the story is such a grand epic and the characters are so memorable. The juxtaposition of the three adult characters with the three children, each with their own unique gifts and personality, lends to a great humanity in this show.

Esteban and Zia are the children of the sun who set off from Spain to the new world in search of their parentage, but end up on a fantastic quest for the "Seven Cities of Gold," fabled to be hidden among the deserts and jungles of South America. They are accompanied by two bumbling sailors, Pedro and Sancho, and a boy named Tao, a descendant of the Heva, a people of remarkable insight and advanced technology. The unsung hero of the group is Mendoza, the dashing, cape-clad ship's navigator who seems solely bent on finding his fortune in gold, but eventually comes to care for the children and appreciate their special talents. (Even though he is often too proud to admit it!)

The entire cast is spectacular and fully believable. After this show left Nickelodeon, the voices of Mendoza and Esteban rang in my mind for an entire decade, as did the imagery of the magical golden condor and the gold medallions of the sun. It took me ten years to acquire this series on video, and now I get to watch it whenever I want and relive all the splendor.

The stories in this show are ultimately moral, as they are told from the child perspective. These are children in a time when Spanish soldiers are trying to conquer the native cultures of the New World, and Esteban and his friends think nothing of risking their lives to help these native people and fight alongside them. They see the world with an honesty and goodheartedness that withstands whatever trials they must endure. There is such loyalty and friendship, (sometimes unspoken) within the ranks of this unlikely group of adventurers, and they are so likable and sympathetic that you can't help but be drawn into their journeys. After 39 episodes, Esteban, Zia, Tao and Mendoza are not characters in a cartoon, but old friends you love and admire.

Shows like Pokemon and Spongebob are entertaining and well-crafted in their own right, but modern cartoons as a whole have nothing on a show like "The Mysterious Cities of Gold."

Kudos to the creators of this series, and especially to the cast voices who brought it to life for a generation of American children to relish. I hope they realize what good they have done and just how much they are appreciated. We the fans are grown now, adults who are better people for having watched "The Mysterious Cities of Gold." To the actors, artists, and producers, we say THANK YOU !!

Because of you, we all dream in gold.

Score: 10.0

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