Anime: Hamtaro

"Tottoko! Hashiru yo Hamutaro! Sumikko! Hashiru yo Hamutaro!..."(original theme song)
"It's Hamtaro time! Kush-kush ticky-ticky ho!" (dub theme)

An anime series (Tottoko Hamutaro in Japan) based on a series of children's books about hamsters, Hamtaro and his Ham-Ham buddies lead exciting adventures while his owner Laura (Hiroko / Roko-chan in the original version) is off at school having her own adventures.

It ran from 2000 to 2006 and lasted for nearly 300 episodes, only 104 of which were translated into English and aired on Cartoon Network.note  It later spawned a spin-off series of five-minute episodes known as "Tottoko Hamutaro: Norisuta Hai!".note  There were also four movies, none of which made it overseas.

It also spawned six handheld video games which, although largely obscure to those not familiar with the series, were considered to be rather good games for licensed media.

Bizarrely enough, it was initially featured on Toonami, Cartoon Network's block specifically created for action-based shows (that can be blamed on Cartoon Network's management at the time). It actually received a Lampshade Hanging in this promo. If you're not sure why this was bizarre, imagine a children's show similar in nature to something like Dragon Tales or Clifford the Big Red Dog but with hamsters and nods to certain anime conventions and you'll have a pretty good idea of the show's premise, at least in how it was presented in its English-language dub. The show also aired on Fox Kids in Europe.

A new series named Tottoko Hamtaro Dechu note  has been aired; however, it's only a rebroadcast with a handful of new scenes.

There's also a fansite called The Ham-Ham Paradise where you can watch almost all of the English episodesnote  as well as the Japanese version, foreign dubs, Japanese exclusive movies, and OVAs.

The series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Tongari / Jingle never gets Hamtaro's name right, much to Hamtaro's annoyance.
    • Laura's Grandfather also had trouble getting Hamtaro's name right. He eventually did.
  • All Just a Dream: Several episodes feature Laura in dream-adventures with the hamsters.
  • Alpha Bitch: Sparkle and her owner Glitter. Both soften up a bit and become type-A Tsundere in the later seasons.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The English version uses two opening songs different from the Japanese version. However, it does use the tune of the first Japanese ending theme.
  • American Accents: Pepper has a southern accent in the English dub.
  • An Aesop
  • All Just a Dream: There a two episodes where Laura and Hamtaro are dreaming where Laura and the Ham-Hams would play a character depending on the story. Such as the episode where Laura is a princess and Hamtaro and the other Ham-Hams are the guards and Taisho / Boss plays a villain. Another episode is based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, where Laura is Snow White and some of the Ham-Hams are the seven dwarfs. Also Laura can communicate with the other Ham-Hams including Hamtaro himself.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Mr. Yoshi went from just Laura and Kana's teacher to a character with a small spread out arc about him and Charlotte's relationship. Maria also became Laura's friend after the latter ran away from home.
    • A few characters of the day show up now and again for cameo or plot reasons.
  • Animal Talk: The hamsters are mostly seen talking with each other. Other animals can't talk. Usually the hamsters have to keep themselves silent around humans.
    • And in one episode, Koushi / Oxnard suggests that the Ham-Hams should go talk to Kana's friend about looking for Torahamu-chan / Sandy's brother, but Hamtaro tells them that she's a human and wonders how they can talk to humans.
    • This is probably averted in "Office Adventures" when Gabriel Black finds the Ham-Hams sitting on his desk and thinks he's dreaming of them rooting for him to finish his manuscript for Laura's dad.
    • Also a few times when Laura hears Hamtaro call her, but it must be her imagination.
  • Art Evolution: It is very noticeable, when you compare the first opening and the second opening of the anime series, with the opening used for the Japan-only shorts produced after the original anime ended. The hamsters went from squarish designs to peanut-shaped ones before ending up with bodies smaller than their heads.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Laura's parents when they were younger. Comes off as quite the surprise, considering how they border in Sickeningly Sweethearts.
  • Big Eater: Oxnard.
  • Berserk Button: Don't ever make Mafura / Pashmina's scarf get dirty! She doesn't take it very well, as seen in her debut episode.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Laura's dog Brandynote  is normal-sized, but he has this role in regards to the Ham-Hams. Hamtaro himself often rides on his back.
  • Blush Sticker
  • Casanova Wannabe: Torahamu-kun / Stan.
  • Cats Are Mean: They are to hamsters, anyway.
  • Conspicuous CG: In the Japan only OVA's all of the Ham-Hams are animated in CGI.
  • Chick Magnet: Ribbon / Bijou, her friend Oshare from France, and Sparkle all have crushes on Hamtaro. Unfortunately, he's far too clueless to notice. And then there is Travis on the humans' side.
  • Christmas Episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Megane / Dexter would always leave comments when ever Maido / Howdy would make a joke or gives his own ideas to the other Ham-Hams.
  • Demoted to Extra: Even though they're counted as main characters, Sandy, Stan, Noppo / Maxwell, Kaburu / Cappy, Panda and even Neteru / Snoozer shows up once in a blue moon in later seasons. Occasionally, they will have episodes and sometimes spoken lines but they're not necessary to the story other than filler.
  • Eaten Alive: One Japan-only season finale had an episode where the hamsters traveled to Lapis and Lazuli's world of candy and were eaten by a worm that lived there. Boss had to free them.
  • Everything Sounds Sweeter In French: Bijou is given a french accent in the English dub provided by the lovely actress Chantal Strand
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Ook-Ook.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Tux.
  • The Faceless: Due to her shyness, Chibimaru / Penelope is only ever seen under cover of a yellow blanket. Subverted in the intro sequence, however, as her blanket flies up to briefly reveal brown and white fur. However, it gets subverted in the official guide, which includes an illustration of how she really looks like.
  • Fantastic Racism: In the dub version only it seems like an insult to be compared to or being called a gerbil.
  • Festival Episode
  • Genki Girl: Sparkle off all characters! Was turned into this in her second appearance in one of the Japan only OVA's where she has a crush on Hamtaro and Bijou is Jealous of her.
  • Gratuitous French: In the English dub, Bijou would sometimes add various french words to her sentences such as "Oh là là" or "Bonjour".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: On Travis's birthday, one of his friends goes, "Hey, we gotta get you to the girls' bathroom, man!" but this is only suggested in the dub... and then there's Stan, of course...
  • HandyHam: Pandanote  serves this role and is usually seen repairing or fixing things in the clubhouse
  • Heel-Face Turn: Sparkle started out very mean and a little bossy in her debut episode. In the later Japan-only episodes, she's a lot less mean, more optimistic and a little bit silly.
  • Happily Married: Laura's parents.
  • Happy Birthday to You: They used an original song titled "Happy Ham-Ham Birthday."
  • Heavy Sleeper: There's Snoozer, whose name obviously lampshades it. And Laura's dog, Brandy who is almost always seen sleeping in his doggy house, until Hamtaro asks him for help.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The ham-hams usually hide in trees, bushes or high atop of buildings but sometimes they hide in places in where a person should really be easy to spot them such as on Brandy's head or on a jungle gym.
  • Iconic Item: A majority of Ham-Hams have iconic items or accessories that they are never seen without.
  • Image Song:
    • The Japanese version is full of them, mostly sung by Ham-Hams that are major characters and that are featured as such in promotional material and or events.
    • The movies give us "Tensai Let's Go! Ayayamu" for Ayayamu as an image song that gets also featured in the credits.
    • The dub has its own spin on "Kuru Kuru" (a Stan and Sandy's song), as well as a few of the songs from the Birthday OVA. Strangely enough, there's an Italian album that has image songs sung by Cristina D'Avena that features songs about several of the Ham-Hams including Panda and Snoozer that never got their own songs in the Japanese version.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Sabu has a pigeon girlfriend named Françoise
    • Penelope's first crush is Kylie's cousin, Ethan. She later moved onto a rabbit from Ethan and Mimi's kindergarten. Later in the series she started to get a crush on Jingle's pig, Herbert.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: Howdy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Boss at times can be quite temperamental, especially if he's thinking about Bijou. However, don't think for a second that he won't go out of his way to help his friends.
    • On the human side, we have Roberto.
  • Keet: Cappy gets excited very easily.
  • Kodomomuke: Only the hamsters, the humans on the other hand are more for older kids, as what Laura and Kana go through (like Laura's crush with Travis).
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The main band of hamsters is 13 strong—and plenty more side-hams show up from time to time, not to mention the humans.
  • Love Triangle: Howdy and Dexter both have a crush on Pashmina. Whenever one of them get's a chance to impress her, they always compete with each other to see who gets to her first. But they would mostly get interrupted by Penelope. Boss is in love with Bijou, who later falls for Hamtaro, who is completely Oblivious to Love.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Maria, until Laura befriends her.
  • Lovable Coward: Oxnard.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Stan is a G-rated version, always flirting with the female hamsters, much to his sister Sandy's irritation.
  • Love at First Punch: It's implied that Roberto has a crush on Laura, who actually stood up against him for acting like a jerk. She doesn't romantically like him back, however; she still prefers Travis.
  • Love Dodecahedron:
    • It's so complicated that it had to be broken down into a chart. Talk about Serious Business.
    • This is also built in the "Ham-Ham Heartbreak" game's plot that involves in fixing 21 stressed relationships among characters from the show!
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Oxnard and Hamtaro to Boss's Manly Man.
    • Hamtaro is also a Manly Man to Oxnard's Sensitive Guy
  • Magic Realism
  • Meganekko: Kana. Also, Dexter (well, they're marks on his fur that look like glasses, anyway...)
  • Mondegreen: Likely why Penelope's catchphrase was changed from "Ookyoo!" to "Ookwee!"
  • The Movie: There are four of them, in fact. None of them were ever released outside of Japan.
  • The Moving Experience:
    • Twice. Both instances very close to being averted. The first time this happens, in "Farewell Bijou!", ended with Maria's parents deciding to not move after all. The second time is in the Japan-only episode "Tottoko o Wakare! Chika Hausu", which it has Hamtaro as the one who is moving away, but, again, the Haruna family decided against moving at last minute, as well.
    • However, it is unfortunately averted with Travis, who really ended up moving in the Japan-only episode "Tottoko Tabidachi! Haru no Kaze". Poor Laura...
  • Non-Mammalian Hair:
    • Jingle has hair that resembles a tiny Mohawk.
    • Pepper has long pigtails .
    • Both Lapis and Lazuli have blond hair, while Lapis's hair is mostly covered by a hood
  • Nerd Glasses: Dexter's fur is in the shape of a pair of glasses. This is also the reason why he is called "Megane" (Glasses) in the Japanese version.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Glitter. Onstage, she's a bubbly J-pop singer with Tastes Like Diabetes lyrics. Offstage, she's a sharp-tongued, egotistical bitch, and tries to drive Travis away from Laura so he can spend time with her. Same can be said for her pet Sparkle, who also isn't fond of the Ham-Hams style or the clubhouse.
  • Nice Hat: Cappy, he really loves his hat
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Arguably Haibi from "Ham-Hams Ahoy!", due to having smaller eyes compared to the others. And the lots of the new hamsters that appear in the movies. Also Spat from "Ham-Ham Heartbreak" looks very different compared to the other Ham-Hams that appear in the game.
  • Oblivious to Love: Hamtaro is oblivious to Bijou's feelings for him... and romance in general, for that matter.
  • Ojou: Both Maria and her hamster Bijou.
  • Official Couple: Maxwell/Sandy and Oxnard/Pepper. The series finale in Japan ends with the latter couple getting married.
  • Once per Episode: Laura's journal entry followed by Hamtaro's "Heke!" at the end of every episode.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Yamihamuryuku is the main antagonist in "Adventures in Ham-Ham Land" and is some bizarre cat-looking hamster that transforms into a dragon.
  • Our Fairies Are Different:
    • Yosei-san is usually a small fairy that's smaller than baby Penelope but can transform into a doll sized human with hamster ears.
    • Crystal from movie 3 is a Snow Fairy and can also transform into a human with hamster ears.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: Panda's not a real panda, but he's got the markings of one to earn his name.
  • Parental Bonus: Lots, including pretty much everything Stan does, the beach episode if you're into that kind of thing, and many of the human characters interactions, especially Laura and Kana's.
  • Pungeon Master: Howdy.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Howdy is always smiling, ALWAYS!
  • Promotion to Parent: Pashmina is viewed as a mother figure to Penelope. She once said "Come on, Penelope dear, the play is starting!" in the episode where Sandy and the other female Ham-Hams are doing a ribbon show.
  • Punny Name: Most of the Ham-Hams' names are puns in the original Japanese version.
  • Real Ham-Hams Wear Pink: Boss is a rather strong and tough ham-ham, but on occasion, he will act disturbingly effeminate. In a later season, he becomes a nurse along with the rest of the girls, complete with fake blush and eyeliner! However, from season 5 onward, he becomes Hero-Ham!
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter And HOW!
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Jingle.
  • Ship Tease: On several occasions.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: Stan and Sandy.
  • Slice of Life
  • Tsundere: In the Japan only OVA, Sparkle has a huge crush on Hamtaro but sometimes would call him an idiot or stupid.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Bijou and Pashmina's Girly Girl to Sandy's Tomboy.
    • Compared to the other female Ham-Hams, Pepper take this Up to Eleven when she doesn't mind getting herself dirty and is a lot more outgoing compared to Sandy.
  • The Smart Guy: Maxwell.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal:
    • Mimi, Panda's owner, is young and innocent enough to be the only human who can talk to the Ham-Hams directly.
    • Laura is able to communicate with them, but only in her dreams. She also could "telepathically" communicate with Hamtaro during the times where she writes in her diary, as sometimes they respond to each other's thoughts.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Bijou. Her owner is rich thus granting her some luxuries the other ham-hams don't have and she can be somewhat vain on occasion. Most of the time, however, she is very nice and will do her best for her friends even if it means getting her paws and fur dirty.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Lapis and Lazuli in the Japan-only seasons. They were a duo of hamsters who lived in a magical world called Sweet Paradise and often invited the Ham-Hams over. Lazuli was also a scientist and often took up many an episode with an experiment of some kind.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Sunflower seeds. It's also their Trademark Favorite Food.
  • Sugar Bowl: What happens in the later, Japan-only seasons. The hamsters travel to Lapis and Lazuli's world of candy and spend several episodes revisiting it.
  • Surfer Dude:
    • Stan's radical form of speech used make him look as such in the English dub of the anime.
    • Broski, however, is too afraid of water to actually surf and just carries around a surfboard to impress the ladies.
  • Tagline: Little hamsters, big adventures!
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: How do you tell Stan and Sandy apart? At simple sight, Sandy has a bow right above her tail. But, but if you look at them clearly on a close up, Sandy's eyes are shown to be green, while Stan's are blue; and her belly is white while Stan's is beige, making them a case of Half-Identical Twins.
  • Those Two Guys/Vitriolic Best Buds: Howdy and Dexter.
  • Title Theme Drop: In both the original and the dub they use the opening theme a lot.
  • Title Theme Tune: And a second credits theme tune too.
    • And a third title theme tune, creating for the opening of the second season, but edited out of most of Cartoon Network's airings.
    • And various international ones, including a quite catchy Italian one.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Roberto.
  • True Companions: The Ham-Ham Club.
  • Twice Shy: Sandy and Maxwell.
  • The Unintelligible:
    • Penelope can only say "Ookyoo" or "Ookwee."
    • Ook-Ook, a monkey type hamster can only speak in monkey language.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: One episode involved a Floppy Disc.
  • Valley Girl: Sandy in the English dub of the anime.
  • Vocal Evolution: Pashmina's voice started getting more deeper and started sounding more monotone in later episodes of the English dub
  • Verbal Tic:
    • The entire ham-ham language is made up of them. For instance, they say "Krmpkrmp" when eating, "Ticky-ticky" while walking, "Heke" in response to something that confuses them... there's a lot. Especially in the games.
    • In Japanese, Hamtaro ends his sentences "Na no da" while Bijou ends her's with "Dechuwa".
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Cats may be mean, but you know what's worse? Chickens.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Hamtaro obviously takes place in a coastal town in Japan, but the dub takes out any references to Japan and dresses it up to be more like a generic coastal town.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Laura's teacher, Mr. Yoshi, has a crippling fear of chickens, and, of course he's in love with a girl whose father is a chicken farmer... and an Overprotective Dad, to boot.
    • The ham-ham's are also afraid of chickens as well as little chicks, but to their credit, the chickens on the show are pretty scary. One of the chickens that belongs to said Overprotective Dad has an eye patch for crying out loud.
    • A lot of the conflict between Laura and Roberto can be traced to the fact that he's deathly afraid of mice and other small rodents... like hamsters. Hamtaro twigged to it immediately but it took a while for Laura to do so.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Parodied with the teacher's girlfriend, Charlotte, who comes from a traditional family and has been raised as one... but acts like a borderline Wild Child cow girl whenever she's out of her Big Fancy House.

The games provide examples of:

  • Bag of Spilling: In the beginning of Ham-Ham Heartbreak, Hamtaro trips and falls into a bucket of water while carrying his Ham-Chat dictionary, smudging up most of the words.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Spat from Ham Ham Heartbreak is very much this.
  • Copy Protection: The second game prevents you from achieving 100% Completion and the third game will lock up at the very start if it detects that you're playing them in either an emulator or on a flash cart.
  • Edutainment Game: Hamtaro: Wake Up Snoozer for PC/Mac and Hi! Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Challenge for the DS. Also, the bunch of No Export for You games for the Sega Pico and Advanced Pico Beena.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: The second DS game which actually got a quiet US release. Apparently, Alpha Dream/Natsume thinks that no one remembers the hamsters anymore, so they threw in a reintroduction of each of the characters in the opening title cinematic. After all, the show had been off the air in the US for over two years by then, and the last game was released in the US market over 4 years prior.
  • Genre Shift: The first GBC title was a WJT title, essentially a fortune teller/love meter program with a virtual pet function threw in as an afterthought. The second GBC and first GBA titles were of the adventure/RPG genre, the second GBA title was a adventure/RPG+minigames genre game, the third GBA title was a sports title made to tie in with the 2004 olympics, the first DS title was a quiz game, and the second DS title as well as the only PC title was an edutainment title. Yeah.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The Ham-Chat words in Hamtaro Ham Hams Unite and Hamtaro Ham Ham Heartbreak.
    • The fourth game takes you into the dark and crazy world of sticker and coloring pages collecting.
  • Honest John's Dealership: A Ham-Merchant in Ham Ham Heartbreak.
  • 100% Completion: The stickers in Rainbow Rescue can potentially take players to the dark, dark world of (digital) sticker collecting.
  • Licensed Game: Well, duh!
  • The Kiddie Ride: Bandai/Banpresto made one in Japan using the same base design as one they used for an Ojamajo Doremi ride. It dispensed candies after the ride ended. Also made were about half a dozen knockoff rides from China. Those are, sadly, much more prevalent.
  • Minigame Game: Both Rainbow Rescue and Ham-Ham Games, though the former also has a story similar to Ham Ham Heartbreak.
  • The Power of Love: Ham Ham Heartbreak makes a game out of it!
  • Ship Tease: ESPECIALLY in Ham-Ham Heartbreak and Rainbow Rescue.
  • Shout-Out: To The Legend of Zelda, in two places. First, the shady Ham-Merchant says 'Buy somethin', will ya!?' like the original Zelda shopkeepers did. The second is much funnier. You collect three marbles throughout the game, one red, one green, and one blue. Then you place them in a pedestal that looks like it has a sword in it. Then you tug on the sword. The 'Opening a Treasure Chest music' from Zelda plays. And... IT'S A SPOON!
  • Toilet Humor: The Go-P verb. First time you see it? When you're facing a tree.
  • Verbal Tic: Ham Ham Heartbreak villain Deviham / Spat's "pfpth!" His angelic counterpart, Angel-chan / Harmony, has "tee hee".
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In the right circumstances the player can bite and scratch other hamsters, and even poke them in the face with a stick; this rarely accompishes anything beyond making them distressed. Bodyslamming is the only way to get certain hamsters to pay attention to you, and you have to outright knock some out of trees and off ledges or other great heights to learn their ham-chat words. The game remarks that you feel bad for it, but if you leave the area and come back they'll be right up there again, and you can keep shoving them without any consequences.