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Anime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a Japanese animated series that adapted four of L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz books, including the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The 52-episode series was produced by Panmedia under the title Oz no Mahōtsukai and debuted in 1986. It has a visual style resembling Nippon Animation's World Masterpiece Theater productions; character designer Shuichi Seki worked on both.

It consists of four story arcs, based respectively on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (episodes 1-17), The Marvelous Land of Oz (18-30), Ozma of Oz (31-41), and The Emerald City of Oz (42-52). The first story arc is one of the most faithful adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in existence; the later story arcs diverge more from the source material.

The English-language adaptation was produced by Cinar and aired on HBO in the United States. In addition to re-dubbing all the dialogue, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has new titles and credits, which contrive to disguise the fact that it's not a native English-language product (none of the Japanese cast or crew are credited in the Cinar version). Cinar also re-edited each of the four story arcs into movie-length versions for home video release. As of this writing, only the movie-length versions are available on DVD.

This series provides examples of:

(Note: Unless otherwise specified, examples involving dialogue and background music are taken from the Cinar version.)

  • Adaptation Distillation: The quest to rescue the Prince of Ev from the Nome King — in the book, it's nearly the entire royal family that needs rescuing (and the rescue party has more people in it, too).
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • There's nearly an episode of extra Kansas material at the beginning, so that Dorothy's meeting with the Good Witch of the North comes at the end of the first episode.
    • Several incidents that are only briefly described in the book are depicted in more detail, such as the Winkie army's attempt to capture Dorothy and her friends, which is about ten minutes of the anime and three sentences in the book.
    • One episode of the first story arc involves Tip and Mombi from The Marvelous Land of Oz, setting up their importance in the second arc.
  • Agitated Item Stomping: At one point, when the Nome King's chancellor loses his temper, he throws his own hat on the ground and stomps on it.
  • Alien Lunch: When Dorothy's a slave in the Wicked Witch of the West's kitchen, mention is made of the Witch's meals being composed of things like scrambled spider's eggs ("the part I really hate is mixing in the dead flies") and pickled snake.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: The Deadly Desert has cacti, at least to begin with. Deeper in, it's a sandy wasteland with no plant or animal life.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Guph, while scouting in advance of the invading Nome Army, drinks some water drawn from the pool at the heart of the Emerald City, which wipes his memory and gives him a friendly though somewhat absent-minded personality in place of the mean and quick-witted person he was before.
  • Answer Cut: When Dorothy and her friends arrive in Winkieland, they find deserted houses and wonder where all the Winkies are. Cut to all the Winkies slaving away at the Wicked Witch's palace.
  • Antlion Monster: The characters encounter a giant antlion while crossing the Deadly Desert.
  • Audible Sharpness: The Tin Man's axe has audible sharpness when he threatens the Nome King's chancellor in an attempt to make him reveal the location of the Prince of Ev.
  • Banister Slide: The Scarecrow does one while being chased by the invading Nomes.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At one point, the Scarecrow goes for a walk by himself to consider his current concerns (mysterious noises in the night, Ozma's upcoming coronation, etc.). His thinking-out-loud gradually morphs into a series of comments addressed directly to the camera, ending with him winking at the audience before heading back to the Emerald City.
  • Bridge Logic:
    • As in the original novel, the Tin Man cuts down a tall tree to bridge a chasm, then chops through it while the Kalidahs are following them across.
    • The Nomes trap Dorothy and friends between a river of lava and a deep crevasse, then start catapulting large rocks at them — and accidentally knock over a stone pillar, bridging the crevasse and providing an escape route.
  • Conspicuous CG: In the Cinar title sequence. Including several blatantly anachronistic objects floating around in the tornado, presumably because they had the models on hand.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Any scene with molten lava in the underground kingdom of the Nomes, but especially the sequence where the Nome King diverts a river of lava after Dorothy and her friends: multiple characters stand on the banks of the lava river without harm, and Dorothy and friends escape by climbing up above the lava without getting broiled by the rising heat or choking on noxious fumes.
  • Costume Test Montage: The Princess of Ev, trying to choose a suitable hat for her meeting with Princess Ozma. "...too bossy ...too childish ..."
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: The nomes have this problem, due to spending their lives underground.
  • Determinator: Dorothy is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. Ozma learnt this the hard way when Dorothy and the Scarecrow chased her down twice in one episode when she refused to study for her upcoming rise to queen.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Mombi takes a transformation potion, she drops the flask the potion was in and it shatters.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Dorothy's dream in the first episode (featuring lots of actual footage from later in the series).
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Mombi and Tip, who don't appear in the first book at all, show up in episode 11, just after the defeat of the Wicked Witch of the West; Mombi has come to visit the Witch, but on learning she's dead settles for trying to steal the magic cap that controls the Winged Monkeys.
    • Episode 16 has an early-bird reference to the Nomes.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: The "secret weapon" used against General Jinjur's army.
  • Empathic Environment: A forest being menaced by a giant spider is dark, sinister, and foggy until the spider is killed, then the very next scene shows it bright and sunny. Justified because Dorothy and her friends arrive when night is falling, and the scene after the spider's death is the following morning when they're preparing to leave.
  • Evil Laugh: The Wizard breaks out an impressively scary Mwa-ha-ha when he's trying to get Dorothy and her friends to go away and not forget about making him keep his side of the bargain.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Growleywog
  • The Exit Is That Way: When the Wicked Witch sends her rather hapless Winkie Warriors to deal with Dorothy and her friends, she has to tell them which direction east is. (This results in them reversing direction and marching out backwards, allowing the animators to reverse and recycle the footage of them marching in — which may have been the whole point of the gag.)
    • It also may be a Mythology Gag reference to directional inconsistencies within the original Oz books.
  • Expressive Mask: Tiktok has a very flexible mouth set in an otherwise immobile metal face.
  • Facefault: Mombi, when she learns the Wicked Witch of the West is dead.
  • Fainting: Mombi, when the Lion catches her trying to steal the Golden Cap.
  • Flashback: Several, including one when Dorothy is telling the Scarecrow about meeting the Witch of the North (in which, oddly, the dialogue is different from what it was when it happened in the previous episode), and when the Tin Man is telling Dorothy his story.
  • Fruit Cart: Scarecrow and Jack Pumpkinhead riding a runaway horse through the main square of the Emerald City clip a fruit cart in passing, knocking it over, and plough straight through a balloon cart, setting all the balloons free except one which gets hooked on and trails after them for the rest of the scene.
  • Giving Them the Strip: When the Tin Man takes the Nome King's chancellor captive, he escapes by slipping out of his official robe. (Underneath, he's wearing ISO standard cartoon long johns.)
  • Glad I Thought of It: It occurs to the Nome King that, considering how lucky Dorothy and friends have been so far, it would be a good idea to have a backup plan in case they somehow escape the inescapable death trap they're about to walk into. It occurs to him just after he slaps down his chancellor's attempt to suggest the same thing.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Wicked Witch of the West's eyes glow when she does magic.
  • Gold Fever: The Gnome King, Guph and The Growleywog act are affected this way by the emeralds of the Emerald City.
  • Heavy Sleeper: The people of the Emerald City, who apparently won't wake up before dawn for anything, even an invading army marching through the city and carrying them off beds and all.
  • Heel-Face Brainwashing: When Mombi and Jinjur prove to be unrepentant, Glinda casts spells on them to turn them into "model citizens" (with vacant-eyed expressions), then laughs and remarks that "Magic can work wonders when used properly".
  • Hulk Speak: The Growliwog.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You: When Dorothy first meets Tiktok, he's on a secret mission, and when she asks what it is he explains that he can't tell her because it's a secret — then he gets flustered and winds up explaining in considerable detail precisely what he's not allowed to tell her.
  • Impact Silhouette: During the escape from the Nome King, Tik-Tok panics and runs straight through a door, leaving a Tik-Tok-shaped hole.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Averted in the episode where they go down the river on a raft, although they do have to shoot some rapids.
  • I Would Say If I Could Say:
    • The Scarecrow is very prone to making remarks about what he thinks he'd be thinking if he had a brain and could think (as well as, on one occasion, remarking that he'd be scared out of his wits if he had any).
    • The Tin Man says he's so excited about getting to see the Wizard that his heart would be pounding if he had one.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: When the Growliwog goes on an omnivorous rampage through the land of the Winkies, the tally of things he's eaten ends with an entire kitchen bench, including the sink.
  • Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: The river of lava in the underground kingdom of the Nomes is opaque, but otherwise acts just like water.
  • Lighter and Softer: Some parts of the books were toned down.
    • The Tin Man was transformed into tin by a single spell instead of the Serial Prostheses origin story he had in the book.
    • When the Tin Man fights the Wicked Witch's wolves, he does so barehanded, and knocks them unconscious instead of chopping them up.
    • When the Scarecrow fights the Wicked Witch's crows, he is able to scare them away, and doesn't have to kill them.
    • The attack by the Wicked Witch's bees is skipped entirely.
    • The Princess of Ev has a collection of hats that she changes according to her mood — in the original book version of Ozma of Oz, it was heads.
  • Long List: Ozma's preparation to be crowned Queen of Oz includes "smiling and waving lessons, royal posture training, tiara balancing, red carpet walking, proper fork usage..."
  • Lull Destruction: The narration in the English-language dub is sometimes guilty of this. Particularly noticeable in episode 31 (the first part of "Ozma of Oz"), which begins with an eerie sequence several minutes long with no dialogue at all — apart, of course, from the chattering of the narrator.
  • Magic Mirror: The Wicked Witch of the West has one, which she uses to track the progress of Dorothy and her friends.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: When the Wizard's guards refuse to let Dorothy and her friends in to see him, the Witch of the North's protective kiss on Dorothy's forehead glows, and they get Mind-Control Eyes and become much more co-operative.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Guph and the Growliwog, during the Nome invasion.
  • Never Say "Die": Particularly noticeable when the Wicked Witch of the West is sending successive waves of minions to destroy Dorothy and her friends.
    • The Deadly Desert becomes the Dangerous Desert in dialogue, although it's still "The Deadly Desert" in the episode title.
    • Averted in episode five, Scarecrow calls the flowers deadly in the english dub and in the german dub Lion even fears the the flowers will "kill them all" and that "Dorothy will die".
  • No Ontological Inertia: When the Wicked Witch of the West is destroyed, all the people she's turned to stone are released, her magic mirror shatters, and her palace collapses. (The stone people and the mirror fit with the common idea of a witch's magic ending when she does, but there's no previous indication that magic was used in constructing the palace, only lots of Winkie slaves hauling stone around.)
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: Jinjur, when she's considering trying one of Mombi's spells for herself.
  • Pepper Sneeze: Used on a magically-disguised Mombi to force her to resume her real form.
  • Power Floats: The Good Witch of the North levitates around instead of walking.
  • Power Glows: The silver shoes.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: When Tik-Tok is telling Dorothy about the Princess of Ev's hat collection, he mentions that she has a magician hat, and that every time she wears it she keeps pulling rabbits out of it.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: During the Tin Man's battle with the Growliwog.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: Dorothy and friends.
  • Rebellious Princess: Princess Ozma keeps running away from her royalty lessons to climb trees and play in fields.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: When General Jinjur's army attacks the palace to capture King Scarecrow, he digs a pistol out of the stuff the Wizard left behind and gives it to the palace guard to threaten them with. One of Jinjur's soldiers takes the gun off the guard, squints down the barrel, announces that she can't see anything so she doesn't think it's loaded, and throws it away. When it hits the ground, it goes off.
  • Ribcage Ridge: In the Deadly Desert, the travellers encounter the skeleton of an enormous fish, shortly before discovering a Saharan Shipwreck.
  • Royalty Super Power: Princess Ozma turns out to have several.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: The travellers in the Deadly Desert find one surrounded by fish skeletons, shells, and other evidences that the desert was once an ocean.
  • Scaled Up: In the final confrontation with the sorceress Mombi, she turns into a dragon.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Guph encounters some while exploring the Palace at the Emerald City.
  • Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum!: When the Scarecrow gets his new brain from the Wizard, he starts reeling off random facts (from "one and one is two" to "vinegar cleans piano keys") to show that he's intelligent.
  • Skintone Sclerae: General Jinjur and her soldiers.
  • Sneeze of Doom: When the Lion is sniffing out the location of the Prince of Ev, the Nome King's chancellor tries to throw him off the scent by dropping a powder in front of him that makes him sneeze. His first sneeze blows the chancellor clear across the room.
  • Staircase Tumble:
    • When General Jinjur and her army are trying to break into the throne room of the Emerald City in episode 25, the guy who guards the throne room takes a tumble down the very long flight of steps leading up to the door. He doesn't seem to get hurt.
    • The King of the Nomes takes several long staircase tumbles during the invasion of the Emerald City, again without apparent damage.
  • Standard Snippet: When they encounter the field of flowers that puts people to sleep, in the English-language version the incidental music quotes a couple of bars of the lullaby "Rock-a-bye Baby". Later in the same episode, there's a group of mice who sing a wordless version of "Three Blind Mice" as they scurry away.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: The Wicked Witch of the West (who at one point complains of being "surrounded by incompetents") — though, to be fair to her underlings, the problem is not so much that they're stupid or incompetent as that they're all slaves and don't actually want to do most of the tasks she gives them.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: General Jinjur's army. All five of them.
  • Take My Hand:
    • During the adventure in the underground kingdom of the Nomes, the Scarecrow nearly falls into a crevasse, and Dorothy catches him this way.
    • After they escape to the surface, the Nomes try to suck them back underground, and a Take My Hand moment turns into a Chain of People.
    • Inverted when the Wizard's hot-air balloon starts to take off without Dorothy: instead of one person being about to fall, it's the other person about to float away, but otherwise it plays out the same.
  • Taken for Granite: One of the Wicked Witch of the West's punishments for people who disobey her.
  • Talking Animal: Many. The first is a squirrel that tells Toto to scram when he barks at it, prefiguring the talking Lion later the same episode.
  • Team Hand Stack: Dorothy and her friends do one when they agree to tackle the Wicked Witch of the West together.
  • Technicolor Science: Invoked by the Wizard when he brews up a batch of Magic Feather "eau de courage" for the Lion out of an array of colorful liquids.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • While they're crossing a river on the way to the Emerald City, the Scarecrow remarks on what good progress they're making and how calm the river is. Immediately the river current rises and they're swept away.
    • While they're crossing a stone bridge on the way to see Glinda, the Scarecrow warns them to be careful in case their feet slip on the wet stone — though of course he doesn't have to worry because his feet never slip when they're wet. As soon as the words are out, his feet slip and he falls off the bridge.
  • That Was Not A Dream: After Tik-Tok is rescued from being transformed into an inanimate object, his first comment is "What a strange dream I was having!"
  • Time for Plan B: After the Nome King's plan to trap Dorothy and friends fails, and the back-up plan also fails, his chancellor announces that it's time for Plan C, and then has to ask for time to think of a Plan C.
  • Tomboy Princess: Ozma. Despite it being justified by Tip/Ozma undergoing a Gender Bender, the original books and most other versions of the series completely avert this.
  • Too Important to Walk: When the Nome army marches to Oz, the King gets carried.
  • Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth:
    • A giant bug eats the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, but after a minute it realises neither of them is particularly edible and spits them both out.
    • Tin Man later turned out to be this for The Groliwog.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: When the Winged Monkeys attack, they start carrying the Tin Man off. He demands that they let him go, and they cheerfully acquiesce — letting him fall from the great height they've flown to.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: At one point, Ozma tries out her royal magic by creating and enchanting an enormous paper crane. When she tells Dorothy what she's attempting she whispers it in Dorothy's ear, for no apparent reason other than to preserve the surprise for the audience.
  • Verbal Backspace: In the sequence where the Wizard gives the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion their magic feathers, he keeps accidentally saying what he's really doing and then backpedalling to change it to something more impressive-sounding.
  • Visible Invisibility: When the Wicked Witch of the West tries to trick Dorothy into tripping over an invisible obstacle to make her silver shoes fall off, the obstacle is partly transparent but still visible to the audience.
  • Weird Moon: In the flashback to the Witch of the East cursing the Tin Man.
  • Weird Sun: The first day that Dorothy and her friends spend in the lands ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West, the setting sun has clouds in front of it that make it look like a skull.
  • When Trees Attack: There's a prehensile tree guarding the approach to the Kingdom of Glass.
  • Wicked Witch:
    • The Witch of the East is as wicked as they come.
    • The Witch of the West is wicked through and through.
  • With Catlike Tread: The Nomes make an enormous amount of noise sneaking into the Emerald City under cover of darkness, and noisiest of all is the King, reminding them at the top of his voice that they're sneaking in under cover of darkness and need to be quiet. Fortunately for them, the people of the Emerald City are very heavy sleepers.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair:
    • Glinda's hair is green.
    • Mombi's hair is purple.
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