Anime / Adventures of the Little Koala
An anime from The '80s
, originally titled Koala Boy Kokki
in Japan, depicting the day-to-day adventures of Roobear, his family and his friends in a village somewhere in Australia
. Originally airing on TV Tokyo
from 4 October 1984 to 28 March 1985, it was the final series animated by Topcraft
before they were merged into former employee Hayao Miyazaki
's Studio Ghibli
Like The Noozles
, it was made as the result of a koala craze. In 1984, the Tama Zoo in western Tokyo welcomed its first koala, and the government of Australia sent six koalas to Japan as a token of goodwill. These koalas induced a huge craze among the Japanese for anything koala-related (such as merchandise). Also like The Noozles
, Adventures of the Little Koala
ran on Nickelodeon
from 1987 to 1993.
Roobear, a smart and athletic koala, had various adventures along with his sister, Laura, and his many friends. Among them were his love interest Betty, brother/sister pair Floppy and Mimi Rabbit, brother/sister pair Nick and Pamie Penguin, aspiring photographer Kiwi, and sugar glider Mingle.
This anime provides examples of:
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The English language dub was given a new theme song ("Brand new day, time to play with Roobear and his friends...") which played over a montage of scenes from the series. The original Japanese credits were... a bit more bizarre. The Italian dub also features a montage of scenes but yet another different song. The Arabic dub uses an adaptation of the Japanese song.
- Artistic License – Geography: The prominence of the Breadknife rock formation overlooking the village places it somewhere in New South Wales, about 350 miles from Sydney. However, in "Heavenly Fireworks", Weather journeys on foot to Ayers Rock to research the likelihood of a spectacular meteor shower, a journey which appears to take a day at most. The Breadknife and Ayers Rock are actually over 1,000 miles apart, so to make that journey on foot would take over a month; the writers evidently decided to set the distance aside in the interest of having an excuse to depict Ayers Rock's visual splendour.
- Badly Battered Babysitter: In "Roobear the Babysitter", Roobear agrees to babysit Nick and Pamie's identical triplet younger brothers to earn some extra money to buy a toy railway engine. The triplets insist on cranking the air conditioning to maximum, challenge Roobear to a hundred-lap swimming race during which he almost drowns and has to be rescued by the triplets, and force him to buy their silence on the drowning incident with ice cream (thereby wiping out his savings and then some). Fortunately for Roobear, Nick, Pamie, and their parents are aware how much of a handful the triplets can be when they work together, and they buy him a toy engine as a thank you gift.
- Big Eater: There's a reason Pamie Penguin and Roobear's Papa are the subjects of the series' Diet Episodes.
- When Pamie's ploy to arrange a picnic with Roobear in "Pamie Falls in Love" falls apart, she eats the entire picnic herself.
- Papa Koala routinely eats three or four helpings of whatever eucalyptus dish Mommy Koala has prepared. In "The Mysterious Moa Bird", Mommy laments that surely eating four helpings of eucalyptus cake can't be good for him.
- In "The McGillicuddy Vase", Roobear, when he gets the titular vase stuck on his finger, ends up essentially starving himself (because he is forced to hide his hand to avoid getting caught, and therefore can't use his hands to eat). At the end of the episode, with the vase finally off his finger, Mommy cooks up a gigantic feast for Roobear, which the koala boy happily devours.
- Blind Without 'Em: "Grandpa/Uncle" Mailman in "Any Mail Today?" can barely read the addresses on the envelopes he delivers without glasses, but he refuses to wear them and thereby admit that he is getting old until after he accidentally rides his bicycle into an open manhole.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: A number of episodes discouraged cheating to get ahead.
- During the orienteering competition in "Lost in a Race", Walter and his brothers change one of the signs on the course to point down the wrong path to fool the other teams. Roobear, Laura, and Betty follow the arrow and get lost, but then Walter and his brothers are forced to backtrack to the altered sign, forget which path is correct, and also get lost. Floppy, Mimi, Nick, and Pamie rely instead on their map and compass to follow the trail and end up winning the race. However, the other two teams stumble on a previously undiscovered cave, and as a reward, Roobear's team is allowed to share the prize of a helicopter ride with Floppy's team (Walter's team, meanwhile, is disqualified for cheating).
- Walter cheats yet again in "Roobear's Invention". As part of an invention contest/showcase, Walter claims to have built a life-size robot that only needs verbal commands to work. The robot is actually exposed as one of Walter's brothers in disguise during a dancing demonstration.
- Clear My Name: The reason Roobear and Floppy don the mantles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in "Detective Roobear"; a plate Papa Koala gave to Mommy as a wedding present is smashed, and as Roobear had been playing soccer inside the house moments before, Mommy accuses him of being the vandal. He decides to find the real vandal to clear his name.
- Clingy MacGuffin: In "The Secret of the McGillicuddy Vase", Roobear gets his finger stuck in the titular vase. Trying to hide his hand with the stuck vase from his parents, Roobear is unable to eat anything as that would reveal the vase on his finger. Roobear's friends try to remove the vase with oil, soap, and hot water, but nothing works. Roobear's parents eventually find out and tell the museum, which leads to Roobear standing on display alongside the vase. The vase manages to come off his finger at last; Papa Koala explains that Roobear not eating anything caused him to lose weight and made his finger shrink enough.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Roobear ends up stuck in an example of this near the beginning of "Who Will Be the Flower Queen?". With Weather predicting an outstanding eucalyptus blossom display for the year's eucalyptus blossom festival, the village decides to hold an election for the queen of the festival. But as both Laura and Betty plan to enter the competition, Roobear is caught between promising to vote for his sister and wanting to vote for his would-be girlfriend. Luckily for Roobear, it becomes a moot point when the rules of the contest are changed to award the crown to whoever produces the most beautiful eucalyptus blossoms - which ends up being a joint award to all of the girls in the primary cast.
- Continuity Nod: Although the episodes can mostly be watched in any order (aside from those which clearly introduce minor characters, as "Monster Scoop" does for Miss Lewis' excitable assistant Maki-Maki and "Save That Junk" does for Bill the junk-collecting platypus), a few episodes contain references to other episodes.
- In "The Flying Doctor", Roobear and his friends band together to re-build Dr. Flight's aeroplane after it crashes; though the result is a rather strange plane/boat hybrid with a coffee pot on the nose, it still flies. Dr. Flight is later seen flying the re-built craft in "Ghost Ship".
- In "The Writing on the Wall", Roobear and Floppy dress up as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to track down the vandals who have scrawled paint all over the town hall. Pamie recalls that they have dressed up as the characters before, a reference to the episode "Detective Roobear".
- Description Cut: In "Hang-Gliding with Roobear", once Roobear manages to take off on his hang glider, everyone watching him comments on how easy he makes it look, and how much he must be enjoying soaring through the air. Cut to an absolutely terrified Roobear exclaiming that he has no idea how to control the hang glider.
- Diet Episode: Not one, but two. Papa Koala is put on a diet in "Papa on Stilts" and in "Balloon Pamie", Pamie goes on a crash diet after being teased by Walter and his brothers. Neither diet is particularly successful - Pamie goes too far and becomes borderline anorexic, and Papa, although he gets plenty of exercise walking on stilts, doesn't do all that well in controlling his overeating.
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Papa Koala is frequently shown smoking a pipe. In fact, he goes crazy when his pipe vanishes in "Roobear's Invention", only to find out later that his son took it to use as a hood ornament on his sail-powered car.
- A Dog Named "Dog": The recurring cast members include a kiwi bird named Kiwi and a duck-billed platypus named Duckbill (though he goes by Bill).
- Dub Name Change: The most notable example is the main character being re-named from Kokki (usually romanized as "Kocky" on merchandise) to Roobear, while his parents didn't so much have their names changed as have them removed (see Unnamed Parent for details). However, most other characters' names, at least in English, weren't changed quite as drastically - for example, Laura is "Lala" in Japanese. In the Italian adaptation, which came a year before the English dub, the main character's name is Colby (sometimes spelled Kolbi).
- Egg MacGuffin: The episode "Laura Finds an Egg" had Laura Koala finding an egg while playing baseball. The egg turns out to be that of a sea turtle and Laura chooses to set the turtle free rather than keep it. Of course, when you consider the fact that few baby sea turtles grow up to be adults...
- Enforced Method Acting: "Snow White and the Seven Koalas" features an in-universe example. Betty, playing the role of Snow White in the cast's production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, is told by director Roobear to make her fainting at taking a bite of the poisoned apple look realistic. When she takes a bite of the apple, she sees a worm inside it, screams, and actually does faint.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: The children in the primary cast include three koalas, three kangaroos, two rabbits - all animals that spring immediately to mind when thinking of Australia - and... two penguins. Though there are penguins in Australia (see Misplaced Wildlife for details), even many Australians probably wouldn't name them as obvious examples of Australian wildlife, and their inclusion in Adventures of the Little Koala is likely a deliberate use of this trope.
- Everything's Better with Platypi: The episode "Save That Junk" introduces recurring character Duckbill (Bill for short), a duck-billed platypus - as closely associated with Australian wildlife as koalas and kangaroos, so the series could hardly not have a platypus character.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Roobear built a sail-powered car in the episode "Roobear's Invention", while "The Flying Doctor" even has Roobear and his friends rebuilding the local doctor's plane.
- The Good Guys Always Win: If an episode features some sort of prize up for grabs, there's a good chance the prize will go to a member of the Koala family (sometimes as a member of a team). Examples include Roobear's sail-powered car winning the invention contest in "Roobear's Invention", Roobear, Floppy, and Nick's boat winning the sailing race in "The Winner", Mommy Koala inadvertently winning the aeroplane race in "Mommy Can Fly", Papa Koala winning the Golden Bird award for his picture of a baby moa in "The Mysterious Moa Bird", and Roobear, Laura, and Mingle winning the sandcastle competition in "The King of the Castle". Even in "Lost in a Race", though Floppy's team crosses the finish line first, Roobear's team gets a share of the helicopter ride awarded to the winners for their role in finding a previously undiscovered cave.
- Hair Decorations: Pamie and Laura both wore ribbons.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In "Lost in a Race", Walter and his brothers have taken the lead in the orienteering race, and when they reach one of the markers indicating the correct path at a fork in the trail, they point it at the wrong path to mislead the other teams. However, when they lose their bearings later on the trail, they decide to backtrack to the fork... and forget which way the sign was originally pointing and fall into their own trap by taking the wrong path.
- Honor Before Reason: The main cast end up trapped in an example of this at the end of "A Hundred-Year-Old Camera". After Kiwi's attempts to take pictures of Laura, Roobear and Floppy, Nick and Pamie, and Walter and his brothers with the title camera end in failure as they all involve situations where they cannot hold a pose for the required ten minutes, they all agree to pose for a group picture, and promise to hold still for ten minutes. Then a swarm of bees shows up... but the distraught Kiwi prevents the group from running for cover by reminding them of their promise, and in the finished photo, the characters are covered in bee stings and sporting very forced smiles.
- House Wife: Roobear's mom is a homemaker, although in "Mommy Can Fly" we learn that she used to be a skilled pilot, and takes to the controls of her aircraft again for an emergency medicine delivery.
- Hypocritical Humor: At the beginning of "A Whale of a Ride", Roobear falls off his surfboard while attempting to impress Betty, who falls off her own surfboard when distracted by Roobear's plight, followed by Laura falling off her board when she accuses Betty of just trying to make Roobear feel better about falling off by doing so herself. Floppy and Mimi appear over the next wave and laugh at the koalas for falling off their boards, noting that surfing requires paying attention rather than getting distracted by talking... which is exactly what they are doing as their boards crash into each other, sending them toppling into the sea.
- Ignored Confession: In "The Dinosaur Egg", Walter and his brothers chip and sand a boulder into an egg shape, bury it near the base of Mt. Breadknife, and get Roobear, Laura, and Floppy interested in the possibility that there might be a dinosaur egg buried nearby. When Roobear and co. present their find to the museum curator, he is delighted to announce that it is the biggest dinosaur egg ever discovered. However, when Walter and his brothers decide the joke has gone far enough and try to admit the deceit, the curator chases them away angrily. In fact, Roobear, Laura, and Floppy were not fooled by the fake egg, and had found a real egg buried further up the mountain.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Walter and his brothers, Horsey and Colt. Though they admit to getting laughs out of pranks and teasing (with Pamie and Mingle being their favourite targets), they're generally more mischievous than outright malicious, and in some episodes are genuinely helpful; for example, Walter uses his boomerang in a bid to help Roobear catch the title object in "The Runaway Hat". They also try to make amends if they feel their mischief has gone too far; for example, when Mingle runs away in "Is Mingle a Nuisance?" after they tease him for relying so heavily on Weather, they form a search party to look for him (although by this time Mingle has been found anyway).
- "Just Joking" Justification: In "Hang-Gliding with Roobear", Floppy's first three attempts to take off in his hang glider all end in failure. Mingle, being naturally suited for gliding, offers to accompany him to give advice. Floppy asks what good that would do, and has to issue a hasty "just joking" justification when the indignant Mingle suggests he try flying alone again.
- Karmic Jackpot: In "The Winner", Roobear, Floppy, and Nick find the ideal tree to use in building a boat for a sailing race, but they are forced to give it to Walter and his brothers when they threaten to chop down a tree housing a family of birds, and instead they assemble their boat from an assortment of junk scavenged by Bill the platypus. They quickly fall into last place in the race until a strong wind causes the other boats to capsize, and although the wind soon dies down completely, the bird whose tree they saved repays their kindness by rounding up an entire flock to flap their wings and create enough wind to push the boat over the finish line in first place.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In "Roobear's Invention", Roobear's sail-powered car has been assembled from a variety of Papa, Mommy, and Laura's possessions, which Roobear has used without permission and passes off as junk no-one was using (to his family's anger). Although he wins first prize in the competition in which he enters the car, he forgets to put the brakes on after the demonstration, and a gust of wind blows the car into a nearby tree and smashes it to bits (allowing Papa, Mommy, and Laura to recover their possessions), leaving Roobear sobbing over the wreckage.
- Lethal Chef: Inverted in "Papa Makes a Pie". Roobear and Laura don't like the eucalyptus pie Papa made for breakfast - and go so far as to run away from home when they're scolded for their rudeness. They meet up with Pamie and Nick, who are also running away for similar reasons, and once they've set up camp, Pamie and Laura try their hand at making cookies, which also turn out awful (Nick actually remarks he'd rather eat a rubber tire), but Laura rightly points out they did the best they could without sugar or butter. When the kids are back home after being rescued by their parents, they try Papa's pie again and remark it's the best they've ever tasted. Apparently it just had to sit.
- Lost Food Grievance: Happens to Laura in both of the "moa bird" episodes.
- Laura helps out in the kitchen in "The Mysterious Moa Bird" and actually makes her own eucalyptus cakes. Nobody gets to try it however; the cakes are destroyed when Roobear crashes his hot air balloon into the house. Laura is very upset over her wrecked cakes. (Although as she had just boasted to Miss Lewis that her cakes were twice as heavy as her mother's cakes, Laura may be the only person who is upset over the lost cakes!)
- And in "Love That Baby Moa!", the moa is scavenging food wherever he can find it - including the Koala family's dining room table. While the Koalas' backs are turned, he races in, grabs the food from every plate on the table, and races out again. Laura is especially upset over the loss of her eucalyptus salad.
- Love Triangle:
- Pamie has feelings for Roobear, who loves Betty; this triangle causes a pileup of misunderstandings among all involved in "Pamie Falls in Love".
- Walter also loves Betty, but is too shy to tell her; he comes close to telling her in "Any Mail Today?" until Betty tells him the love letter he thinks he had received from her was actually addressed to Roobear.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: At the end of "A Ride in a Spaceship", when the three koalas, two rabbits, and two penguins wake up on the hillside where they supposedly first encountered the friendly extraterrestrial Cosmo, they wonder if they simply dreamt their space adventure, until Floppy notices his headphones are missing, apparently exchanged for the Key of Friendship. However, the key Roobear produces for a sceptical Walter and his brothers looks like an ordinary rusty key rather than the golden artifact we saw Cosmo give him earlier in the episode. And yet holding the key does make Walter more amiable toward the others, and in the episode's final shot, as Roobear holds the key aloft, it transforms back into its golden version.
- Meaningful Name: Weather the dingo is an infallible weather forecaster; the suitability of his name is even Lampshaded by the other characters.
- Miles Gloriosus: Mingle has a moment of this in "Mingle Takes a Dive". While the main cast are at the top of Mt. Breadknife, Mingle boasts of looking down on the world while riding a kite many times, but when a forest fire breaks out and the quickest way to get word to the village is to have Mingle dive into the village from a kite, he panics and admits that he's never been on a kite before in his life and was just trying to impress them.
- Misplaced Wildlife:
- Averted with Nick and Pamie Penguin. The little penguin (also known as the fairy penguin in Australia or the little blue penguin in New Zealand) is a species of penguin native to the south coast of Australia. As their New Zealand nickname suggests, their plumage has a deep blue sheen, meaning Nick and Pamie also avert Amazing Technicolor Wildlife.
- Played straight with the baby moa from the two-part episode "The Mysterious Moa Bird"/"Love That Baby Moa!"; setting aside the artistic license (lampshaded in-universe) of having a moa still alive centuries after they are believed to have gone extinct,note they were native to New Zealand, not Australia.
- Moon Rabbit: "The Moon Goddess" has the moon rabbit appear on Earth as a green-haired female rabbit on whom Roobear and Floppy both develop crushes.
- No Antagonist: Although Walter and his brothers fill antagonist roles in a number of episodes, most episodes feature no antagonist. In such episodes, if the three kangaroos appear at all, they are either neutral (e.g., in "Hang-Gliding with Roobear", they appear in a single scene in which they flee a panic-stricken Roobear's out of control hang glider) or working with Roobear and co. to a common end (e.g., in "The Amazing Boomerang", Walter uses his boomerang to save Mimi from drowning).
- Ocular Gushers: Particularly with Pamie.
- Or Was It a Dream?: During the title journey in "A Ride in a Spaceship", the primary cast are shaken into unconsciousness when mysterious yet friendly extraterrestrial Cosmo has to navigate his ship through an asteroid field. When they wake up, they are back on the hillside where they first met Cosmo, and wonder if they simply imagined what had happened. However, Floppy's usually everpresent earphones are gone, apparently given to Cosmo in exchange for the Key of Friendship. Walter and his brothers show up and laugh off the story, saying Floppy probably lost his earphones somewhere and the "Key of Friendship" is just a rusty old key - although when Roobear gives them the key to hold, they suddenly feel much more amicable toward the supposed spacefarers...
- Panty Shot: Laura, from time to time during the series and especially noticeable during the Japanese OP sequence. However, this being a show for very young kids, there's no intent to titillate.
- Parental Substitute: Weather appears to be one of these for Mingle. In "Is Mingle a Nuisance?", after Walter and his brothers have teased Mingle for relying so heavily on Weather, Weather points out that they all rely heavily on their parents, but Mingle is all alone - as is Weather himself.
- Pie in the Face: Or actually cake in the face in "The Old Clock Tower". To rebuild the local clock tower, a bazaar and bake sale is held to raise funds. One of the cakes at the bake sale is a birthday cake made in honor of the clock tower's birthday. Walter and his brothers spot the cake, offering to buy it since they think it's for Walter's birthday (which falls on the same day as the clock tower's birthday). After being refused, Walter tries to claim the cake anyway, only for it to be ruined after it falls on the ground in a struggle. In anger, Walter starts flinging chunks of cake at everyone, triggering a Food Fight. In the end, Roobear and friends learn about Walter's birthday and bring Walter his very own birthday cake.
- Police Are Useless: Played with in "The Koala Bear Gang". A pair of masked thieves race through the village with Roobear and Floppy in hot pursuit, while the police officers who are supposed to be on duty are nowhere to be found. However, the thieves don't seem to have actually stolen anything, and are strangely concerned for Roobear and Floppy's safety as they pursue them... because the "thieves" are the police officers, and the "theft" was an experiment to see if any villagers would avert Bystander Syndrome in the event of a real crime (of which the village has very few, if any).
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Although most of the adults have their irrational moments, they generally fall into this category. For example, in "Save the Butterflies", the mayor initially declines the children's plea to move the flowers from the botanical gardens to Mt. Breadknife to sustain the mountain's butterfly population, explaining that as the flowers belong to the village, he can't make a unilateral decision to move them. However, when the children collect the signatures of almost everyone in the village on a petition to move the flowers, the mayor is more than willing to accept their request.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mingle. Big eyes? Check. Small? Check. Huggable? Check. High pitched voice and cry? Check.
- The Rival: Walter Kangaroo and his brothers, Horsey and Colt, to Roobear and friends. However, at times all three are friendly toward Roobear, and in "Conquering Mt. Breadknife", Walter joins Roobear and Floppy on their attempt to climb the mountain's sheer eastern side.
- Sequel Episode: "Love That Baby Moa!" is implied to take place almost immediately after "The Mysterious Moa Bird".
- Shown Their Work: The production staff did their research. Many of the species that appear in the show do live in Australia, and the Breadknife rock formation is prominently shown in the background.
- Sleeping Single: A brief shot of Mommy and Papa Koala's bedroom at the beginning of "Papa Makes a Pie" reveals that they sleep in twin beds, despite having been married for at least ten years.
- Slice of Life: The episodes mostly revolve around the characters finding or creating adventure in their daily lives, although some episodes are a bit more fanciful (such as Roobear and Laura's odyssey inside a whale in "A Whale of a Ride", or the entire primary cast going for "A Ride in a Spaceship", although the latter journey may or may not have been a dream).
- Speak in Unison: Nick and Pamie's identical triplet younger brothers, seen in "Roobear the Babysitter", always speak in unison, whether counting the laps during a hundred-lap swimming race, ordering ice cream, or threatening to tell their parents that they had to save Roobear from drowning during the swimming race unless he buys them more ice cream.
- Species Surname: Most of the central characters' family names are the same as their species; Roobear and Laura are the Koala siblings, Nick and Pamie are the Penguin siblings, and Floppy and Mimi are the Rabbit siblings. So, for example, the previously-undiscovered title species in "The Koala Butterfly" is not named after the koala in general, but specifically after its discoverer, Papa Koala.
- Techno Wizard: Floppy, who was handy with electronics. He built a pair of walkie-talkies in "The Koala Bear Gang" and even a small robot (if a temperamental one) in "Roobear's Invention".
- Toilet Humour: A very mild example; in "Is Weather a Frog?" Roobear and Laura are trying to bathe the frog they believe to be Weather when he leaps out of their grasp. Roobear makes a jump for the frog... and lands in the toilet. Head first. (We can presume it had been flushed after its last use!)
- Trademark Favorite Food: Like real koalas, the entire Koala family subsist almost entirely on eucalyptus. Unlike real koalas, they find lots of ways to prepare it - salads, cakes, stews, on steak...
- Tsundere: Betty actually falls somewhere between this and Lovable Alpha Bitch at times. Despite being Roobear's girlfriend, she doesn't think twice of insulting his skills as a babysitter in "Roobear the Babysitter" or making fun of him along with the other kids in "The McGillicuddy Vase", and won't even hear him out when he tries to explain the misunderstandings at the end of "Pamie Falls in Love". In addition, she's unnecessarily nasty to the other kids at times - for example, she cheerfully insults Pamie for having short legs in "Back to Nature".
- Unnamed Parent: Roobear and Laura's parents are universally referred to as "Mommy Koala" and "Papa Koala", even by other adults. (This only applies to the English dub; in the Japanese version, their names are Vera and Mel.)
- We Need to Get Proof: In "Detective Roobear", Laura sees Walter and his brothers running away from the Koala house shortly after Mommy's favourite decorative plate is smashed, but when Roobear and Floppy accuse them of being the vandals, the three kangaroos point out that they are basing their accusation on purely circumstantial evidence. Roobear and Floppy mention this trope almost word-for-word. (Instead, they ultimately find proof that Walter wasn't the vandal, and he and his brothers were running away after Walter had broken a branch in one of the Koala family's trees while retrieving his wayward boomerang; the broken branch is still clearly visible.)