Western Animation: Super Why!
Hip hip hooray! The Super Readers saved the day!Super Why!
is an educational animated children's show
aimed at very young children (young enough to still be practicing their abcs). Despite this, it features a few clever concepts, such as starring Fairy Tale
characters who turn into superheroes
known as the "Super Readers", who can literally enter into books
to help solve problems. They are:
The show is also interactive in that the viewer
is also assumed to part of the group, as the unseen Super You
, "with the Power to Help!"
whom the other heroes address directly
The show is produced by the same people who made Blue's Clues
, and can be seen in PBS
The series is highly formulaic
, following the same pattern in virtually every episode: One of the main characters has a problem (the kind of problem little kids have- like not being able to play the game he or she wanted) and the group sets out to find a solution to it by changing into their heroic selves
and entering a book. There they try to help the story's characters with their problems, eventually changing the story (by replacing words in the text) to give it a different ending. In the process, they find special "super letters"
that Super Why collects in his "super duper computer"
which eventually spell out a word that is the solution to the original problem. After that too is resolved, the Super Readers, now back in their normal forms, dance a little victory dance
to the show's tune, and the episode ends.
It should be noted that not all the books the kids enter are the typical fairy tales most children know; some are from other countries (such as the Japanese fairy tale of Momotaro, the Peach Boy
), others are folk tales instead (such as Juan Bobo and the Pig
, a Puerto Rican folk tale) and some are modern books such as Doctor Dolittle
. The stories are usually changed to make them simpler and safer
for a very young audience.
Another curiosity is that while the Super Readers are animated in 3D
, the storybook characters are all two-dimensional, resembling the type of pictures you see in such books. As you can imagine, since so many scenes are the same from episode to episode, a lot of the animation is recycled
Super Why! is a fun way for kids to learn reading and writing, though older audiences might find it repetitive after a while.
A wiki is currently in works, which can be found here: http://superwhybettersite.wikia.com/wiki/Super_Why!_Wiki
Other tropes in the show:
- Alphabet Soup Cans
- An Aesop: Every episode has one, though sometimes it is different from the one the traditional tale told. For example, in the Ugly Duckling episode, the problem was that the duckling couldn't swim, but should keep trying!
- Anatomy Anomaly: The blue-skinned witch from the "Hansel and Gretel" story has a nose that looks awfully like an elephant's trunk.
- Art Shift: When entering the books. Note that the Super Readers remain 3D characters while everybody else is flat.
- Because Destiny Says So: Pinocchio uses this as an excuse for continuing to lie before Whyatt zaps a word into his story.
- Captain Ersatz: Pig's brothers' clothes are clearly based on Mario and Luigi.
- Catchphrase: several, the ones above are just examples.
- Cool Plane: The "Why-fliers"- every hero has got one, except Woofster who becomes a passenger for Super Why's.
- Derailed Fairy Tale: Doing this is the whole point of the missions.
- Darker and Edgier: Opposed to the usual Lighter And Softer concept, in Humpty Dumpty, the Super Readers have to save Humpty Dumpty from falling off his wall, which is a lot Darker And Edgier than most premises of the stories the Super Reader's travel in. Even the background music that plays when Humpty Dumpty cries for help makes it Darker And Edgier.
- Deadpan Snarker: In one episode, the characters go into Red's story. When they meet the Big Bad Wolf both times, although her tone doesn't reveal it, Red's expression as she delivers her well-known lines to the wolf just screams this.
- Disneyfication: All the Fairy Tales with any potentially disturbing content are made much Lighter and Softer, oftentimes well into Political Correctness Gone Mad territory. For instance, in the "Hansel and Gretel" episode, the kids eat the witch's roof, the witch says "how dare you eat my roof!", the heroes help H&G say sorry, and the witch accepts the apology and gives them house-shaped cookies. The end!
- A Dog Named Dog: Woofster is merely called "Puppy" when outside of the books.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The heroes' "Book Club" headquarters.
- Excited Show Title!
- Fingerless Gloves: Wonder Red.
- Five-Man Band: The Super Readers solidified the trope by adding Woofster in season 2.
- Five-Token Band: A borderline example. Red is white, Whyatt is (maybe) Hispanic, Princess Pea is of mixed race, Pig is, well, a pig, and You has a tiny head.
- Foregone Conclusion: Of course the Super Readers will solve all the problems! Played with, however, in that sometimes they guess wrong, and Super You must make the correct choices for them.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: The tales often are changed to be Lighter and Softer.
- Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: Pig
- Girlish Pigtails: Red wears her hair like this. They get longer when she turns into Wonder Red.
- Hyperspace Wardrobe: The super readers transform by spinning to work around having to show how super-deformed people dress and undress.
- Intrepid Fictioneer: What the whole show is about.
- Leotard of Power: Wonder Red
- Little Red Fighting Hood: Red.
- Opera Gloves: Princess Presto
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: See above under Disneyfication, but the champion here may be "The Little Mermaid" episode. The title character is afraid to play with the kids on the island because she has a tail. This serves to make an Anvilicious point in the frame story about "being different."
- Pinocchio Nose: An episode takes place in Geppetto's workshop in The Adventures of Pinocchio.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: Alpha Pig, Wonder Red, Princess Presto and Super Why always help in every episode, and in that exact order too. "Super You" also helps each and every one of them.
- Punch Clock Villain: The antagonists in the storybooks will point out that the only reason they're being evil is because the book says that's what they're supposed to do.
- Reality Warper: In the books they enter, Super Why's pen can zap words into a story.
- Scooby Stack: In the Jack and the Beanstalk episode, the team does this around a door when they first enter the giant's castle.
- Short-Distance Phone Call: Occurs quite often as Whyatt uses his Super Duper Computer to call the other team members, even if they're all in the same area.
- Show Within a Show: There seem to be two fairy tale worlds (Or rather, two layers of fairy tale worlds), the one the characters share and the one in the books they enter.
- Super-Deformed: The art style is super stuck this way.
- Take Your Time: Despite resolving real life problems, the characters have to leave for the clubhouse, travel through the book, insert the letters they found on the computer, then go back to where they need to before they can solve the problem. No one else seems to notice the length of their absence.
- The Unseen: Super You.
- Subverted. Turn off the TV and stare into it.
- Double subverted. Antiglare screen with a matte finish.
- Token Non-Human: Alpha Pig, until Woofster joins the team.
- No longer the case starting in Season 2 as a super puppy named Woofster joins the team.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Wonder Red and Princess Presto.
- Too Dumb to Live: Snow White in the version of the fairy tale the Super Readers enter. Even her friends are telling her repeatedly not to trust the Obviously Evil Queen. But she always does.
- Tyop on the Cover: As the super readers enter the story of Pinocchio, Pinocchio's name is misspelled on one of the pages.
- Transformation Sequence
- Two Girls to a Team: One of the few examples with an even split between the two genders. (With the addition of Woofster who is a boy puppy, the gender scale is tipped.)
- Team Hand Stack: The team does this when going off to solve the problem, with Super You (the viewer) invited to put out a hand too.
- Underwear of Power: Super Why
- Vocal Evolution: Wonder Red's voice gets a bit more mature throughout the series.
- Also, Alpha Pig's voice gets deeper in the second season.
- Youthful Freckles: Red has these.