Anime / Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

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Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is an Animated Adaptation of the Comic Strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay. In it, a young boy named Nemo travels to Slumberland in his dreams after receiving an invitation from Princess Camille. There he is trained to become the new prince. But, under the bad influence of the trickster clown Flip, Nemo inadvertently unleashes the Nightmare King, and has to save King Morpheus after he's kidnapped and taken to Nightmareland.

It was produced in the late Eighties by TMS Entertainment in Japan, where it was released in 1989 with limited release in the US. In 1992 a re-cut edition was released in the US. This film also served as the basis for Nemo and Little Nemo: The Dream Master, two Capcom-developed video games for the arcade and NES, respectively, in 1990. The latter ultimately became more well-known than the both the film and the comic itself.

Was released on Blu-Ray disc in 2012, this time with the original Japanese audio as an option.


This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Flip accidentally grabs Princess Camille's chest after they rescue her from water goblins in Nightmareland and gets elbowed for it. Then again, she wasn't old enough to really have much in the way of breasts.
  • Ambiguous Gender: In the original comics, Bon Bon (also known as The Candy Kid) was male. In the movie... it's a little less clear. S/he's voiced by a female, but that's quite common for young male characters as well. The longer hair and pastel clothes mean nothing in this film. Fandom tends to be split on this as well.
  • Amplifier Artifact: The Royal Scepter.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Princess Camille delivers a pretty good punch to flip.
  • Badass Adorable: Icarus puts up a pretty good fight against the gargoyles despite how tiny he is.
  • Berserk Button: Do not call Icarus a ''rat", especially in front of Nemo. Princess Camille learned this the hard way.
  • Big Good: King Morpheus, who incidentally shares the name of another Big Good.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: King Morpheus is as jolly and loving as they come. But anything or anyone that threatens his kingdom or its people with face the \wrath of him and his powerful scepter. Both Nemo and Princess Camille qualify as well, they're well-mannered and sweet kids, but it is not smart to make either of them mad.
  • Big "NO!": Many times, mostly by Nemo.
  • The Big Guy: One of the five Boomps is quite a lot larger than the others.
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: Nemo sees people very similar in appearance and mannerisms to the characters he meets in Slumberland at the beginning when he goes to watch a circus parade.
  • Canon Foreigner: Professor Genius, who seems partly based on Dr. Pill from the comics though his appearance is different. Also, Icarus, Nightmareland and the Nightmare King are unique to the film. The Boomps are also more or less based on the Imp from the comic, but split into five, and changed into friendly goblins instead of a single racist caricature.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Coupled with a Big "NO!". And it turns out to be a Dream Within a Dream.
  • Chair Reveal: Professor Genius takes Nemo to the throne room to be "properly" introduced to the king, but the throne turns out to be empty. Judging by the Professor's reaction, the king pulls this type of vanishing act a lot.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, Flip accidentally pulls a map of Nightmare Land out of his coat, hastily switching it out for a Slumberland one. After the king is kidnapped, Flip's map is used for a rescue mission to Nightmare Land.
  • Cigar Chomper: Flip. See also Must Have Nicotine below.
  • The Collector: The Nightmare King traps his prisoners in pillars of crystal, and refers to them as his "collection."
  • Coming-of-Age Story: More or less for Nemo.
  • Compressed Adaptation: It took Nemo months to finally reach the Princess in the comics, and yet in the film Nemo dreams everything that happens to him in Slumberland in a single night. Of course, doing a plot like the movie has as a weekly comic would probably translate to about one or two years worth of storyline.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Execution in Slumberland is carried out by firing the convicted into space from a giant cannon.
  • Cool Crown: Princess Camille dons one of these for Nemo's coronation ceremony.
  • Cool Key: The key to the Forbidden Door is gold, and the handle is a stylized dragon.
  • Cool Train: King Morpheus rides around on a toy one.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: King Morpheus first appears to be a childish, slightly bumbling figure but don't get the wrong idea about him. This knows when to serious and nothing is more important to him besides his daughter and protecting his beloved kingdom.
  • Cute Bruiser: Princess Camille, seen when she punches Flip straight in the jaw and holds her own against water goblins.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Camille, twice. The first time was light when she was attacked by water goblins but manage to put up a fight before the others joined in to help her. The second time however was much more serious. She didn't stand a chance against the gargoyles when they captured her along with the Professor and Flip. Naturally, Nemo feels pretty bad about failing to protect her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Flip
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Princess Camille. Subverted though, she's not really cold or cruel at first, just a bit rude and stuffy. She quickly shows her true, sweet self after Nemo calls her out on it.
  • Dirty Coward: Flip, who doesn't hesitate to sell out his friends at the drop of a hat (usually Nemo) in order to cover his own ass.
  • Disney Death: Nemo at the end.
  • Disneyesque: Rare for an anime film. It's very similar to TMS's work for Disney's animated TV shows of the 80s (Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Ducktales and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).
  • Dream Intro: The film opens with Nemo having a dream that quickly becomes a nightmare.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Happens to Nemo twice. Both times he realizes he's still dreaming when, after waking up from a Catapult Nightmare, he finds the Royal Scepter in his bed.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Nemo breaks his promise not to open the Forbidden Door, releasing the Nightmare King and getting King Morpheus kidnapped.
  • Failure Knight: Nemo feels this way when King Morpheus and later Camille are captured by the by the Knightmare King and his minions. Makes up for it in the final battle though.
  • Fantasy World Map: Flip is the only one who has a map of both Slumberland and Nightmareland. Not only that but he's also the only one who can understand it.
  • Flat Character: Nemo is pretty much the blandest character in the movie. He's really not all that different from how he was in the comics, though.
  • Fun Personified: Flip thinks he is.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • So, Princess Camille orders Nemo to her palace from his bed in order to become her "playmate"?
    • The "sitting in a tree inside cloud/dandelion/cotton candy puffs with clothes strewn about" snippet is certainly worth mentioning, as Nemo and Camille would probably have had to have seen each other naked at some point for them to end up like that. (Which also means they at least know what gender Bon Bon is!)
    • When Nemo "wakes up" the first time he sits up in bed, then looks under the covers with a shocked expression to find the royal sceptre.
    • Flip accidentally grabbing Camille's chest. See Thanks for the Mammary.
  • Good Parents: Besides looking for an heir, the reason King Morpheus invites Nemo to Slumberland is so his daughter will have someone to play with because she's lonely.
  • The Good King: Shown in the coronation ball, King Morpheus is very beloved by the people of Slumberland
  • Harp of Femininity: Princess Camille is playing one when Nemo meets her.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Despite initially being reluctant to befriend her, Nemo gets very close to Camille throughout the story.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Nemo knew full well he'd likely die if used the scepter's full power, but he did so anyway to save King Morpheus and the Princess. Thankfully He Gets Better soon after, thanks to the former.
  • Heroism Incentive: Nemo initially refuses to go with the Professor to Slumberland because the Princess being a girl makes him uneasy. But when he gets the Princess' gift of cookies, he gladly accepts the invitation.
  • The Hero's Journey: Follows it quite closely, actually.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Nemo when it comes to Flip.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Nemo is NOT in his underwear. He's in his pajamas.
    • And Icarus is not a rat.
  • It's All My Fault: Nemo for opening the door. It was partially Flip's fault too.
  • Jerkass: Flip
  • Last Minute Hookup: Nemo and the Princess finally kiss at the end... too bad Nemo wakes up from his dream immediately afterward.
  • Like a Son to Me: Nemo quickly becomes this to King Morpheus.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: She might be royalty, but Princess Camille is this in spades.
  • Magical Incantation: "Jazama Pajama! Pajama Jazama!!"
    The Nightmare King: Ooo, pajamas do scare me so! Mwahahaha!
  • Male Gaze: Flip eyeing and attempting to flirt with the obviously underage Princess Camille.
  • Man Child: Nemo first meets King Morpheus while the king is playing with a toy train in a playroom.
  • Marshmallow Hell: A dance teacher pushes Nemo into her buxom bosom (twice), much to his dismay.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nemo.
  • The Millstone: Flip pretty much causes everything bad that happens.
  • Missing Mom: Princess Camille's mother or what happened to her is never explored. But we can naturally guess the likely reason.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Nemo's dream at the beginning of the movie quickly becomes a nightmare.
    • Also, when the Nightmare King invades Nemo's coronation ceremony and kidnaps the King.
  • Mood-Swinger: The Nightmare King is quite temperamental. TO say the least.
  • Mordor: Nightmare Land.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Flip continues to sneak cigars even after the princess banned him from smoking any.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Boomps, who are "good goblins" and are just misunderstood by the other residents of Nightmareland.
  • Never Say "Die": One reason scenes were deleted from the VHS release was that the plot point of Nemo possibly dying if he used the scepter was censored, which necessitated even his Disney Death being shortened.
  • Nice Hat: Both Flip and the Professor have nice top hats.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nemo is the one who unleashes the Nightmare King, after Flip talks him into opening the forbidden door.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Pretty much the whole second half of the movie, plus the first dream he has.
  • Not So Above It All: The Professor. Sure he has a serious, gentlemanly, and general no-nonsense personality, but whenever the opportunity to dance presents itself...
  • Oh, No... Not Again!:
    • This is the Professor's reaction when he finds King Morpheus is not on his throne when Nemo first arrives in Slumberland.
    • During the song about training Nemo to be a prince, the horse that Nemo tries riding on flips him off his seat and onto the fat dancing lady from a few minutes before, who catches him, and he says, "Not again!"
  • Or Was It a Dream?: A couple times Nemo wakes up in his bed, thinking that the whole adventure was a dream; only to find the Royal Scepter under the covers of his bed.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: The Boomps.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Nemo spends most of his adventure clad in plain white pajamas.
  • The Professor: Professor Genius, though only in name.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • King Morpheus has frequently protected Slumberland from the Nightmares of Nightmareland. He even sealed their king away years ago.
    • Princess Camille goes with Nemo to Nightmareland to rescue her father.
  • Say My Name: By Nemo most of the time, although Princess Camille does her share of it too.
  • Scenery Porn: If you like Studio Ghibli's penchant for prettiness, you'll like this.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Slight variation. Flip and Nemo run between two rows of large pillars while being chased by guards.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Nightmare King was imprisoned behind a giant door beneath Slumberland, and King Morpheus decides to entrust the only key that can open the door to Nemo. Guess what happens....
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Slight variation, as it isn't the end of the film, just the end of the dream.
  • Small Annoying Creature: Icarus, the flying squirrel.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Icarus
  • Stationary Wings: Icarus, the flying squirrel, who can hover and stay aloft while gesticulating wildly.
  • Technicolor Death: The Nightmare King's death is very colorful.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Flip accidentally grabs Princess Camille's chest shortly after they rescue her from water goblins in Nightmareland and gets elbowed for it. Then again, she isn't old enough to really have much in the way of breasts (probably making this worse, not better).
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    Nemo: Hey don't a apologize to me, apologize to my rat, OOPS!.
  • Through His Stomach: Nemo initially doesn't care to meet Princess Camille... until Bon Bon presents the cookies she'd prepared as a gift for him, at which point he's all for it.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Princess Camille, daughter of King Morpheus, who looks rather old to be her father.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Icarus, the speech-impaired flying squirrel with goggles is never remarked upon by anyone in the real world.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The movie seems pretty lighthearted and happy until the Nightmare King is unleashed.
  • Villain Protagonist: Flip, somewhat.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When Nemo and the Boomps finally reach his lair, Nightmare King tortures Camille to lure Nemo out of hiding. It works. Since she's locked in a crystal pillar we never find out what effect the torture was having on her, but perhaps it is best we don't.

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