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Western Animation: Clémentine

Clémentine is an animated series from the 1980s co-produced by French and Japanese studios.

Clémentine Dument is the 10-year-old daughter of a French aviator and former World War I Ace Pilot, Alex Dumant. She becomes wheelchair-bound following an airplane accident caused by the demonic entity Malmoth, who seeks to capture her soul and make her his plaything. As she travels the world with her father and younger brother Petit-Boy, looking for a cure that will restore the use of her legs, she meets famous figures from legend and literature in her dreams, and with the help of the fairy Hemera, foils Malmoth's evil schemes in both the dreaming and waking worlds.

Created by Bruno René Huchez, Clémentine was inspired both by Huchez' love of Anime - he was one of the producers responsible for bringing anime dubs to French television - and by his own childhood, as his mother used to tell him stories about a young girl and her fantastic journeys when he was ill. The first and best-loved season, 26 episodes long, featured Clémentine's adventures in various literary, legendary and historical settings, accompanied by Hemera and her pet kitten, Hélice.

A second season was based more on contemporary (1920s) figures, but its weaker plot line and the poor quality of the artwork made it significantly less memorable.


Clémentine provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Dad: Clémentine's father, Alex Dumat. He was a veteran of World War I, has won several prizes for his aviation skills, and often puts them to use for a good cause, such as delivering medicines to sick children in Africa, or searching for Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
  • Action Girl: Clémentine, in the adventures she leads during her dreams.
  • Adorkable: Monsieur Pluche, Clémentine's schoolmaster, especially when he tries to court the Dumats' housekeeper, Léonie.
  • Ancient Egypt: Clémentine's penultimate adventure, in the first season, has her travelling back in time to meet Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, better known to history as Akhenaton, and his son-in-law Tutankhamon.
  • Animal Talk: Most of the show's animals communicate this way.
  • Animesque
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Petit Boy can sometimes be one, especially when he's teasing Clémentine about her having to stay in bed. The rest of the time, though, they seem to get on fine.
  • Badass Adorable: Hélice. For a cute little kitten, he can be remarkably heroic and combative.
    • Clementine herself grows into one.
  • Big Bad: Malmoth
  • Book Dumb: Clémentine's little brother, only referred to as "Petit Boy", isn't too good at schoolwork, and often ends up wearing the dunce's cap.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Naturally, this being a French series, the Catholic Church makes a couple of appearances. In Clémentine's Spanish adventure, Chief Inquisitor El Draco is a villain, but he is clearly shown to be a tool of the demon Malmoth rather than a "true" Catholic. A far more positive portrayal is of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, a young Iroquois girl who is victimized for being a Catholic convert, but finally ends up saving the day and winning the respect of her tribe's chief.
  • Circus Brat: Eole, the trapeze artist whom Clémentine befriends, and who eventually falls in love with and marries Alex Dumat.
  • Cute Kitten: When hospitalized following her accident, Clémentine falls into a pond while trying to save a kitten, and both of them are saved by a kindly nurse. She later adopts the kitten and names him Hélice, which is French for "propeller".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many of the show's animals, with special honours going to Hélice.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Towards the end of the first arc, poor Clémentine falls prey to this, as she thinks she'll never be able to walk again. Hemera will have none of this, and shocks her out of it by showing her a young girl whose life is far more miserable than hers.
  • Dream Sequence: Extended and recurring ones.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Hemera says this to Clémentine outright, in the episode where Malmoth attacks her father, causing him to crash in Africa.
  • Fat Bastard: Mollache, the greedy circus owner, who starves his animals to death and tries to extort money from Alex Dumat.
  • Funny Animal: A cast full of them, whose adventures sometimes form side-plots to the main arc:
    • Hélice, Clémentine's pet kitten and inseparable companion.
    • Gontrand, a partly deaf, cranky, philosophical old cat who lives on the airfield at Villacoublay.
    • Starlett O'Wawa, an acrobatic circus dog who falls in love with Gontrand.
    • Ginette, a performing circus flea who can write, and who acts as Gontrand's hearing aid.
    • A few other circus animals, including a performing elephant, an acrobatic monkey, and a goat.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Hemera's color is blue, while Malmoth's is red.
  • Guardian Angel: Hemera to Clémentine.
  • Heroic BSOD: Both Clémentine and her father have one when they learn that she may not be able to walk again.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Eole is a sweet circus girl, and her hair is light blond.
  • Historical-Domain Character:
    • Kateri Tekakwitha really lived, and was a Catholic convert from a Canadian Indian tribe; however, she wasn't the White Magician Girl that the series portrays. Incidentally, she was very recently canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, and is now Saint Kateri.
    • Antoine de Saint-Exupery was an adventurous aviator and storyteller, best known for The Little Prince. He puts in an appearance at the beginning of Clémentine's Egyptian adventure, having crashed in the desert and being rescued by Alex Dumat.
    • Clémentine's first dream adventure is set in Venice, and features Leonardo Da Vinci, portrayed as a Renaissance man and genius, but also the inventor of the Italian gelato.
    • Pharaoh Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV), his queen Nefertiti, and his son-in-law Tutankhamon are all real people from ancient Egyptian history, though the historical Akhenaton was by no means the saint-like, idealistic monarch portrayed in the series; and Tutankhamon certainly did not marry Clémentine.
  • Hollywood History: The beliefs and reign of Akhenaton, during Clémentine's Egyptian adventure, are romanticized, almost to the point of Artistic License - History. Akhenaton was actually quite a terrible ruler, and he didn't exactly "give his people a God of love, years before Christianity"; he was just an early monotheist who wanted all his people to worship the Sun God, Aton.
  • Ill Girl: Clémentine spends most of the series wheelchair-bound.
  • The Ingenue: Eole.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Starlett, to Gontrand; he's a grumpy old cat, but she awakens his hidden romantic side, with hilarious consequences. For example, when she's captured by Mollache, he dresses up as Zorro to save her, and later, he sings her a hilariously terrible version of Edith Piaf's classic love song, La Vie en Rose.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Clémentine's implacable demonic enemy is called Malmoth; mal means "evil" in French.
    • Hélice, Clémentine's kitten, originally gets his name because the tuft of hair on his head looks like a propeller (hélice, in French). Later, during Clémentine's adventures, Hemera gives him an aviator's cap with a real propeller on top, enabling him to fly for real.
    • Hemera, Clémentine's guardian angel, has a name that means "dawn" (or "day") in Greek.
    • Mollache, the cowardly, villainous circus owner, has a name that evokes both his physique (molle could be translated as "soft" or "weak", as in the slang phrase chiffe molle - literally "wet rag", but idiomatically "wuss" or "weakling") and his personality (lache means "coward" in French.) Also, the name sounds suspiciously like Moloch, a mythological demon.
    • Engelhardt, Alex's Worthy Opponent from World War I, has a name that literally means "angel heart" in German. By the time we meet him, he's living in cozy domesticity, and his wife puts Clémentine to bed after their journey.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Mollache, the first of Malmoth's lackeys, is a comically inept villain who gets a beating (or, more accurately, a sweeping) even from Clémentine's housekeeper.
  • Missing Mom: Clémentine and her brother are raised by their father, who is a widower, with a little help from their housekeeper, Léonie.
  • No Export for You: Averted mostly. The closest the U.S. ever came to getting an English version of the show was two compilation movies released direct-to-video by Celebrity Home Entertainment under their "Just For Kids" imprint: "Clémentine's Enchanted Journey", and "Clémentine: a Young Girl and Her Dreams".note .
  • Opposites Attract: Gontrand, a curmudgeonly philosopher of a cat, and Starlett O'Wawa, a vain and flirtatious circus dog, end up being a couple quite early on in Season One. They often fight like cats and dogs, but are also genuinely fond of each other.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: In the beginning, it seems as if Clémentine's adventures with Hemera are just the dreams of an imaginative young girl. However, at the end of Clémentine's African adventure, she is shown to have a small burn that she acquired while escaping from a volcanic eruption in her "dream", and at the very end of the first season, when Malmoth is defeated in her dream, she is cured and is able to walk again.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Clémentine's father, Alex Dumat, meets Eole, a pretty circus girl, in the very first episode. They are married by end of the first season. This counts as a Type 1: Clémentine and Eole generally get on well note , and she's a Parental Substitute when Alex isn't around.
  • Real Place Background: Clémentine's hometown is Villacoublay, a suburb of Paris notable for being the location of a lot of pioneering work in French aviation.
  • The Roaring Twenties: The story is set in 1925, and Clémentine gets to meet historical figures from that era such as Charles Lindbergh.
  • Sailor Fuku: Clémentine's default outfit. Not as surprising as one might think, since such clothing was sometimes worn by young girls in the Western world during the interwar years.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Clémentine.
  • Talking Animal: Hélice, but only during his dream-journeys with Clémentine.
  • Worthy Opponent: Engelhardt, a German World War I ace who had many confrontations with Alex Dumat in combat. When they meet after the war, they're on much friendlier terms; the Dumats stay in his house as guests, and his wife Lieselotte tells Clémentine a bedtime story.

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