Western Animation: Around the World with Willy Fog
"Fog: I'm the one who made the bet, and I know I'll be exactly right on time. Fog is my name and I can play with my life in many ways, that's what they say."
If the phrase "Round, all around the world, round, all around the world" is now going round, all around your head, you probably grew up in Europe in the 1980s and early 1990s, specially Spain and the UK.
From the same stable as Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds
, this Spanish cartoon (whose original title is La vuelta al mundo de Willy Fog
) did for Jules Verne
's Around the World in 80 Days
what its predecessor did for The Three Musketeers
, namely populated it with Funny Animals
and put it on at teatime.
The basic plot of Jules Verne
's novel remains intact: dull, wealthy gentlelion
Willy Fog (Phileas Fogg in the book) gives up his orderly lifestyle when he accepts a wager that he can travel around the world in eighty days. On his journey he faces opponents who have followed him from London, as well as the constant struggle to catch boats and trains on time and all the perils foreign countries, climates and people can throw at him.
Other characters include Rigodon (Passepartout in the novel), Tico their mascot-a
, and Romy (Aouda in the novel), the gentle touch (they all love her so much).
Rigodon, a cat, is a circus acrobat who hoped for a quiet retirement when he applied for a position as Fog's valet but now finds himself dragged into adventure. He is accompanied by Tico, a hamster-thing
in red dungarees.
Romy, a cat, is an Indian princess rescued by the travellers from a suttee, who falls quickly into the role of group chick
, and Love Interest
(Fix in the novel) and Bully
(original character), canine detectives from Scotland Yard
, believe that Willy Fog is a bank robber using an unlikely cover to flee from justice. They pursue Fog and his party unrelentingly and do their best to obstruct them. Fortunately for Fog they're a pretty incompetent pair, especially bulldog Bully.
Transfer (original character) is a sinister Master of Disguise
hired by the members of Fog's London club who have bet against him, to ensure Fog cannot win. His true form appears to be a wolf but he can disguise himself as any character, though viewers can spot him from the way one eye gleams red
at suitably dramatic moments. Unlike Dix and Bully, who just want Fog under arrest, Transfer is actively out to kill or incapacitate him.
The show's theme song was so popular that when the presenter of Children's BBC offered viewers a Willy Fog Song Sheet printed with the lyrics, demand was overwhelming. The same can be said about Spain, which version was performed by the famous band Mocedades.
In the 1990s, the series was followed by Willy Fog 2
which has Willy, Romy (now his wife) and friends having new adventures directly adapted from Verne's most famous science fiction novels, Journey to the Center of the Earth
and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
- Adaptation Expansion: The series includes new characters, a bigger development of Romy/Aouda and two extra stops in Hawaii and Mexico that weren't in the original novel.
- Adaptation Name Change: Aouda becomes Romy, Passpartout is Rigodon, Fix is changed to Dix, and Mr Fogg's first name is changed from Phileas to Willy.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has a different opening theme and ending theme.
- Animal Stereotypes:
- Fog is a lion, appropriately for an English aristocrat. In the original novel, Fog was actually compared to a lion in appearance. The same crew also made a series from Sandokan, who was, surprise, a tiger.
- Rigodon and Romy have lots of connotations of Cute Kitten stereotype.
- Dim detectives Dix and Bully are both dogs.
- Evil Transfer is a wolf — a big evil vicious wolf.
- Annoying Arrows: For Koa the Elephant at least.
- Art Evolution: Much like Dogtanian's follow up, the animation studios changed from Nippon Animation to Wang Film Productions.
- Bag of Holding: Rigodon's suitcase. There is everything they might need from money in small notes to a teapot and several cups.
- Bail Equals Freedom: In one episode Rigadon gets an actual prison sentence, and Fog gets him completely freed by paying the bail. As in, Fog explicitly states they're going to leave the country and he can't spare his manservant to do time.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The entire cast.
- Battle Butler: Rigodon. So much.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Rigodon to Willy, Bully to Dix.
- Big Eater: Tico, despite his diminute size.
- Bridal Carry: Princess Romy occasionally gets carried in Mr Fog's or Rigodon's arms.
- Butt Monkey: Dix and Bully throughout the travels, getting the short end of the stick of traveling in the lowest class possible while Willy's group travels in style.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Willy has problem trying to express his feelings for Romy, but Romy expresses hers first in the end.
- Canon Foreigner: Three very central ones, compared to the original novel — Tico, Bully and Transfer. Tico and Bully seem to be included mainly for comedy relief, so that Rigodon and Dix can have someone to talk to, and — in the case of Tico — include a Spanish character in the cast, given that there were none in the novel. Transfer, on the other hand, presents a recurring antagonist who's actually a threat (which can't really be said of Dix and Bully), as well as neatly taking over some of Phileas Fogg's more morally-questionable actions from the book, so that Willy Fog becomes more of an unquestioned hero.
- Cartoon Creature: What on earth is Tico supposed to be?
- Chekhov's Gun: Rigodon refuses to fix his grandfather's clock each time they enter a new time zone, but has the time right when they finally make it to London. This makes Fog realize that they have gained an extra day by travelling eastward.
- Clock King: Willy Fog. Explained best by Tico: "This is not a person, it's a chronometer!"
- Criminal Doppelgänger: Mr Fog has one. He's a lion but not at all as handsome.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
- You really don't want to engage Rigodon in a fight.
- Fog, especially if he has his walking stick with him.
- Even Tico has his moments of badassery, usually if someone's threatening Rigodon.
- Damsel in Distress: Princess Romy upon first meeting. She was about to be burned alive.
- Dub Name Change: Rigodon, Dix and Willy Fog himself all have their original novel names in the Finnish dub.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Specifically, Princess Romy. She's not an aristocrat by birth, but she gain her title by marriage.
- Expository Theme Tune: "Hey, now the story must go on, 'cause a lot of time has gone, we must be ready to go away. Eighty days around the world..."
- Four-Fingered Hands: The entire cast.
- Funny Foreigner: Rigodon (French) and Tico (Italian—although he was Spanish in the original Spanish version). An attempt to make a But Not Too Foreign main cast in the original Spanish version in fact, since there aren't Spanish characters in the novel. In the Portuguese version, he is Portuguese (and voiced by a woman).
- Gentleman Adventurer: Fog, utterly against his previous character.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- What, attempting to mention gambling and gaming on a supposedly children's show??
- The fanatical sacrificial ritual via burning the victim alive.
- Transfer's clear attempts at outright murdering Fog and his traveling companions, with little to no disregard for whether or not innocent bystanders are also hurt or not.
- In one episode where Transfer is thrown across the jungle by an elephant, he curses "The devil take that bastard elephant!". In a kids show!
- Hammerspace: Transfer's various disguises must come from something like this. Almost like Brain in Inspector Gadget who utilises this trope to the nth degree.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rigodon and Tico.
- Inspector Javert: Dix and Bully. Their unusually determined efforts are lampshaded when a local police chief complains that they're blowing more of Scotland Yard's budget on this intercontinental chase than he makes in a year.
- Interspecies Romance: Willy (a lion), and Princess Romy (a cat). They even get married in the end.
- King of Beasts: Willy, of course.
- Knife-Throwing Act: While Rigodon and Tico work in a circus while penniless in Yokohama, Rigodon almost gets killed in a knife act thrown by villain and Master of Disguise Transfer. Willy Fog steps up and saves him.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- Sullivan was fired from his position as governor of the bank for misappropriation of funds, from his attempts to make sure Willy Fog loses the bet.
- Dix and Bully get demoted to common traffic cops from their wrongful arrest of Willy and Rigodon, which nearly cost him the bet.
- Latex Perfection/Master of Disguise: Transfer. How did he hide those huge ears? Hammerspace ears? In addition, he's unusually quick in making the outfit and mask, sometimes specifically resembling a concrete person who the group previously hired.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Played straight by Fog; avoided by Rigodon, Tico and Transfer.
- Lighter and Softer: Surprisingly, not as much as you'd think; on the whole this is a very faithful adaptation of Jules Verne's novel, with good things and bad things happening to the characters throughout — though there are a few aspects that have been softened a little. Most notably, there's Willy Fog himself, who compared to the Phileas Fogg of the novel is a far more jovial and friendly fellow (even if he is still obsessed with punctuality).
- Local Reference: The inclusion of Spanish character Tico.
- Lost in Translation:
- Tico's not only Spanish in the original version - he has a very thick Andalusian accent and uses a lot of Andalusian slang.
- In the Japanese version, they try the "kawaii" effect for Tico with a high-pitched voice. In the Spanish version, he has a rather deep voice.
- Mirrored Confrontation Shot: In the first episode, there is a rather longish shot of Mr Fog facing Mr Sullivan after they agreed on the bet.
- The Musical: In 2008, a Willy Fog stage musical (featuring actors in Funny Animal makeup) opened in Spain to commemorate the series' 25th anniversary.
- Nice Hat: Willy's top hat.
- Over-the-Shoulder Carry: When Rigodon was saving Princess Romy, he put her over his shoulder at first, but then he carried her in his arms.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The series neatly sidesteps some of Phileas Fogg's ethically questionable actions in the book by transferring events to Transfer and his sabotage attempts in order to make Fog the unblemished hero. Dix benefits from this as well.
- Prospector: The gang meet an old one in San Francisco who has gone mad over the years and carries a bag of dirt thinking it's gold dust.
- Psycho for Hire: Transfer.
- Quintessential British Gentleman: Willy Fog, obsessed with punctuality, clubs, Spot of Tea and values the fame of the British Empire. His species is even Britain's heraldic animal!
- Race Against the Clock: Fog and co. race to make London before Big Ben strikes.
- The Raj: In the Indian part of the story.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Fog is only interested in winning the bet for the sake of sportsmanship; he spends almost as much money on his journey as success will win him.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
- Need to get through the Indian jungle? Buy an elephant! Ship running out of coal? Buy the ship and burn the furnishings! Sometimes they have to force some people into helping them.
- Sullivan doesn't care about the bet money as long as Willy loses it. He even promises his 5000 pounds to Transfer if his sabotage attempts are successful, and he sponsors Transfer's travel expenses.
- Single-Minded Twins: Dr. Frik and Dr. Frok, German twin archaeologists working at the same excavation in Egypt.
- Small Annoying Creature/Team Pet: Tico, though unlike most examples, he has a role and character that extends a bit beyond comic relief.
- Spiritual Successor: to a little-known Australian animated series from 1972.
- Those Two Animals: Rigodon and Tico, and Dix and Bully
- Trigger Happy: Most of the population of 1872 San Francisco is pictured this way.
- Vague Age: Tico is old enough to work and (technically) live on his own, but often acts childish and is treated by Romy in a rather motherly fashion. The vagueness of just what he is supposed to be probably doesn't help.
- Victorian London: Mr Fog's home; however, he has a comfortable life as a member of the upper-middle class.
- Westminster Chimes: Big Ben is heard very often, especially at the beginning of the episodes which always shows the audience what is happening in London in the Reform Club.
- The Wild West: In the United states, they visit a typical American town, rough cowboys, salloon owner, eccentric American businessman, Indians, and they travel in a very cool train.