"Dashing and daring, courageous and caring, Faithful and friendly with stories to share, All through the forest they sing out in chorus, Marching along as their song fills the air..."
Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears is a truly groundbreaking series by Walt Disney Television Animation and Tokyo Movie Shinsha (Now known as TMS Entertainment; between seasons 1 to 4, switching to Walt Disney Animation Japan in the rest of the show's run). Although The Wuzzles was Disney's first original animated TV series, that was really a trial run for this series, which almost immediately made the company a dominant force in television animation. Lasting from September, 1985 to February, 1991. A total of 94 episodes.The show was actually a major gamble for Disney, as it was a very new idea. Disney reasoned that the costs of a high-quality animated show could be recovered in syndication. The gamble worked, and a new era of unprecedented quality in western television animation was born with Disney's competitors eventually forced to raise their production standards and budgets to avoid unfavorable comparisons.The series takes place in The Theme Park Version of medieval time, centuries after the Great Gummis fled across the sea while a small caretaker colony stayed behind in Gummi Glen in the Kingdom of Dunwyn to maintain the civilization's extremely sophisticated infrastructure on the off-chance the Gummis could return to live with humans in peace.Unfortunately, when the story begins, the Glen Gummis have declined to only six descendants who have forgotten their past skills. Fortunately, they meet a friendly human boy named Cavin who has a Gummi Medallion that unlocks their library's Great Book of Gummi, the essential book of their culture's knowledge. Inspired, the colony decide to rediscover their heritage and help the boy whose kingdom is under dire threat.That threat comes in the form of Duke Igthorn of Drekmore and his army of really dumb ogres. He is out to conquer Dunwyn and upon discovering that the supposedly mythological Gummi Bears exist, he will stop at nothing to exploit their secrets, like their powerful magic and technology, for his own use. Furthermore, he is but the most frequent of a whole host of enemies that the Gummi Bears and their human allies must oppose.At the most uncharitable, you could call this series TMS' late answer to The Littl' Bits (The Little Bits coming out in 1980, this came out in 1985), but it's more accurate to call it Disney's/TMS's attempt to show how to do the premise right. Apart from obviously lavish animation, the series addressed the major complaints of Tatsunoko's series and the basic ideology of the 1980s; for instance, individuality is celebrated in proper proportion to the value of cooperation and the primary characters are far more nuanced with carefully considered flaws and strengths. Furthermore, the female characters avoid The Smurfette Principle, with multiple characters with strong well-defined personalities who bow to no one.If you're wondering how they came up with a premise for, of all things, Gummi Bears, as the story goes, Michael Eisner was inspired when he was snacking on them. True story, straight from That Other Wiki.
Cubbi is extremely cute, but he's usually very capable in their adventures, even though he's just a little bear cub. His badassery is exponentially enlarged when he takes on his "Crimson Avenger" secret identity.
All the bears are this to an extent. Would you really expect something so cute and small to be able to open up such a can of whoopass?
Badass Longcoat: Flint Shrubwood, the Bounty Hunter Igthorn hires in "For A Few Sovereigns More" to capture a Gummi Bear. Unlike most minor villains in Disney cartoons, he's actually capable. He effortlessly captures Cubbi and subdues the Duke when he refuses to pay up. With a more reliable sponsor, this man would be a Hero Killer. (Fortunately, he's clearly Only in It for the Money.)
In "When You Wish Upon A Stone" a young boy wishing to be bigger turned into giant.
Sunni takes to singing in "A Gummi In A Gilded Cage" and hopes she can sing in front of kings one day. Seconds after saying so, she's carried off by Carpies (giant vultures) who were ordered by their king to find a new "songbird". Sunni is not pleased.
Better The Devil You Know: In "Just a Tad Smarter", when the ogres kick Igthorn out and Toadwart's cousin Tadpole takes over, he treats them even worse than Igthorn did. Not only does he mistreat them the same way, he makes them take baths! After the ogres call a truce with the Gummis, who help them find Igthorn again, all the Duke has to do is promise there'll be no more baths, and he's back in charge.
Beware the Nice Ones: Gummi Bears are friendly, helpful, and loyal, but assuming they're weak is a big mistake.
Big Eater: Tummi. Gets him in trouble in at least one episode.
Bluff The Eavesdropper: In one episode, the King tries to find out a famous chef's secret recipe by listening at the door, which the chef thwarts by reciting absolute nonsense instead of his ingredients. However, this does not thwart Cubbi, Sunni, and Tummi, who are hiding in the kitchen and can write down the actual steps he's taking.
Bouncing Battler: Gummiberry Juice makes Gummi Bears incredibly bouncy and quick. They usually save it for battles or emergency situations.
Diet Episode: In "The Oracle", Tummi Gummi gets put on a diet.
Disability Immunity: Being stupid is actually a benefit for Igthorn's ogres sometimes. In one episode, Igthorn's plan involves using magical bagpipes that hypnotize people, which only work on intelligent creatures. (That leaves his men out.) In another episode, it's implied that a slumber sprite's spell might put Gruffi to sleep forever, but it only works on the ogres for about a minute, because as the sprite says, "they're so dumb!"
Elaborate Underground Base: Gummi Glen has an unusually realistic take on such a habitat and the various tasks necessary to maintain it and the consequences of neglecting it is a source of story material.
In the episode "Just A Tad Smarter", Toadwart's cousin Tadpole takes over Castle Drekmore, kicks Duke Igthorn out, and orders the ogres to destroy all the Gummiberry bushes. Neither Igthorn nor the Gummis want the bushes destroyed, so they reluctantly team up to get rid of Tadpole. (Not to mention that he makes the ogres take baths, something they really hate to do!)
In "For A Few Sovereigns More", Duke Igthorn hires a bounty hunter to catch a Gummi Bear. When the hunter returns with Cubbi and Igthorn refuses to pay, he and Cubbi are tossed into a dungeon cell and have to work together to escape.
Expy: Cavin and Calla bear more than a passing resemblance to Taran and Elionwy, in both physical appearance and role in the story.
Likewise, Toadie is a short, green, Sycophantic Servant who serves as second-in-command to the antagonist and is kicked around by larger minions. Just like Creeper
The scene in "A Gummi In A Gilded Cage" where Tummi is trying to stop two Carpies from carrying Sunni off brings to mind Taran trying to stop the dragons from taking Hen Wen. Especially since in both instances, the flying monsters are kidnapping something their king wants.
Fantastic Racism: Part of the reason Gummi Bears are now the stuff of fairy tales is they were all so mistreated by humans that they either sailed away or went into hiding as their numbers dwindled. Not surprisingly, many Gummis still distrust humans. Cavin often suffers for this.
Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Sort of. When Tummi builds a boat in "My Gummi Lies Over the Ocean," he and Gruffi are wearing what appear to be life jackets.
Fate Worse than Death: In the Season Six episode "Thornberry To The Rescue", an evil spider called the Spinster kidnaps Gummi Bears but they are rescued by Sir Thornberry and Cavin. To make sure that The Spinster never bothers them again, they leave her tied up in an underground cave, the entrance to which is later boarded up by Gruffi. It is also implied in the episode that the Spinster might be immortal as she was originally imprisoned by the ancient Great Gummis, which makes her fate even worse.
Fountain of Youth: Gummiberry juice mixed with baby powder ends up turning Igthorn's ogre army into babies.
Full-Circle Revolution: In "Just a Tad Smarter," the ogres replace Igthorn with Tadpole in the belief that a fellow ogre will be kinder to them, but once he's in power Tadpole is just as bad as or worse than Igthorn.
Gone Behind The Bend: "A Gummi A Day Keeps The Doctor Away" has a scene where Gruffi and Tummi get chased by ogres while saving a kindly doctor from Duke Igthorn. The chase scene then leads to the two Gummis and the ogres running around the top part of the castle, until only the ogres are seen running around.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: The ancient Gummis were forced into hiding because of greedy humans who wanted to take their magic and technology for themselves.
If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Cubbi's reason for rescuing Igthorn in "For a Few Sovereigns More." Cubbi makes a promise to Igthorn to rescue him, and only someone as treacherous as Igthorn would go back on a promise.
I Lied: Igthorn tries this on Flint Shrubwood, the bounty hunter, in "For a Few Sovereigns More". Big mistake.
Last of His Kind: The Gummi Glen Gummis believe they are the last remaining Gummis. They're wrong, but not by much.
Most of the Gummi Bears set off in ships to find new land where they wouldn't be persecuted by humans. A small number remained in Gummi Glen, to watch and wait for the day it was safe for the other Gummis to return. Five hundred years later, there are six left. However, by the end of Season One it's made clear that there's a thriving Gummi society across the ocean.
On a slightly smaller scale, in Season Two the group come across another Gummi Bear called Chummi, who's really desperate to find other bears. The small bits he mentions about his past indicate he was from another warren that stayed behind but, like Gummi Glen, their numbers dwindled until there was only him.
Sir Thornberry seems to be the last of the guards left behind at the ancient Gummi city of Ursalia.
Plot Hole: The first time the Carpies encounter the Gummis is when they kidnap Sunni to be the King Carpie's "songbird." He's rather obsessed with having a singer. The next time the King encounters Sunni, he doesn't recognize her at all.
Power-Up Food: Gummiberry juice. For Gummis it makes them bouncy and agile. For humans, it gives them a few minutes of super strength, but only works once a day. Ogres gets super strength too, but unlike humans, it lasts longer and can be renewed by drinking more juice. Fortunately for the world at large, the berries must be prepared in a very specific way to create an effective juice, and only the Gummis have the secret.
Shorter Means Smarter: The Gummis are both considerably smaller and considerably smarter than most of their opponents (though not their human friends and allies).
Toadwart, who is extremely short for an ogre, also happens to be the smartest of them. Mind you, that isn't saying much.
Shout-Out: The show has a lot of references to other Disney works.
You can see a Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck statue on one of the sculptor's shelves in "The Sinister Sculptor."
Princess Calla wears a dress very similar to Snow White's.
In "Queen Of The Carpies" the Carpie King says "you bet your bear necessities."
In "Sweet and Sour Gruffi", Grammi sarcastically calls Gruffi "Mr. Know-it-All" and later on exclaims "Hokey Smoke!". Since this is one of the episodes where Bill Scott voices Gruffi, this doubles as a Casting Gag.
One episode has a dimwitted thief saying "I taw I taw a Gummi Bear".
Sibling Yin-Yang: Sir Victor fights for good while his brother Duke Igthorn fights for evil.
Super Serum: Gummiberry Juice which makes the Gummis bounce and gives humans and ogres a few minutes of super strength. Not to mention it's also good as motor fuel for Gummi machines.
Swan Boats: Our gummi bears had a roller coaster-like transportation system with cars that normally were shaped like birds of prey. However, when they journey to a lost city, the cars there are shaped like swans.
Actually, Toadie too, sometimes, like the time he stole a whole keg of Gummiberry Juice and then drank the whole keg at once, with rather explosive results.
Vanishing Village: Castle Gummadoon. Gummadoon's wizards cast a spell over the whole castle to stop humans from capturing it and taking Gummi technology for themselves. To everyone outside, it's vanished and only reappears for one day every hundred years; to everyone inside, one night has passed. Presumably they'll lift the spell when they think humans have changed.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: While the Barbics' hatred and distrust of humanity is far from unjustified, their desire to destroy all of it puts them at odds with the Glen Gummis in "Return to Ursalia."
Wham Episode: The final two parter; Igthorn leaves the kingdom and after months of nothing happening, Zummi sends a message to the Great Gummis, announcing that the kingdom is finally safe and ready for their return. Then Igthorn suddenly returns, more terrible than ever, and quickly succeeds at completely destroying Gummi Glen, capturing the Gummis and stealing the secret of the Gummi Berry Juice from them, and immediately leading his army of super powerful ogres against Dunwyn castle, demolishing its defenses and crowning himself as the new king. All of this is just one episode. Sure, everything turns out all right in the end, but still.