Calabash Brothers ("Hu Lu Xiong Di", "Bottle Gourd Brothers", "Seven Brothers" or "Hulu Brothers") is a Chinese animated series that was produced by Shanghai Animation Film Studio in 1987. It is notable for its use of paper cut-outs. The animation style evokes that of a traditional watercolor.
The plot revolves around seven super-powered brothers born out of gourds. The primary villain is the Snake Queen (and later, her twin sister).
Calabash Brothers exhibits the following tropes:
- All Your Colors Combined:
- The seven brothers eventually combine into one to seal away the Snake Queen.
- The sequel had all the brothers fusing together into the "Diamond Brother" with the help of a magic lotus given by a mountain spirit.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Exactly what the Snake Queen's strategies against each individual Calabash Brother consist of.
- Bad Boss: The Scorpion Demon behaves like this towards his underlings.
- Bittersweet Ending: The evil demons are defeated and sealed again, but Grandpa is killed, and the seven brothers have to transform into seven peaks to prevent the demons from escaping again.
- Face–Heel Turn: The last calabash was taken by the villains and mind-wiped so that when the last Brother was born from it, he thought the Snake Demon and Scorpion Demon were his parents and turned against the others at their command.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted. One episode has the Snake Demon throwing a banquet for two of the Calabash Brothers and openly serving them alcohol, which she later uses to defeat them both.
- Ineffectual Loner: Pretty much the entire Aesop of the series. Each Calabash Brother begins by attempting to take down the demons' lair alone, and each one ends up failing this way. Only the entire seven working together manage to seal the villains again.
- Jobber: Every one of the main Calabash Brothers. They lose every battle they are in until they don't. Makes an observant Troper wonder why they're even the name of the show.
- Personality Powers: All the seven brothers have a personality corresponding to their powers. For example:
- Big Brother: Lives up to his name. He can grow to titanic proportions, and has immense strength.
- Second Brother: Smartest of the brothers. He possesses Super-Senses in the form of telescopic vision and Super-Hearing.
- Third Brother: Most impulsive of the brothers. His whole body except his butt is indestructible.
- Fourth and Fifth Brother: They are twins, and have control over fire and water, respectively.
- Sixth Brother: Most mischievous of the brothers. He can become Invisible and incorporeal.
- Little Brother: Youngest and most trusting brother. He has a magic gourd that can vacuum up anything, even objects much bigger than it.
- Rainbow Motif: The brothers are indeed rainbow color-coded.
- The Strategist: Both Snake Demons are highly good at figuring out the effective counter to each Calabash Brother's individual weakness and trapping them with it. The sixth Calabash Brother, who can become invisible, also has some of this in him and is the only one whose plan of attack almost manages to free the brothers that she has already trapped.