Rainbow Cat and Blue Rabbit (虹猫蓝兔, pinyin: Hóng Māo Lán Tù) is a popular Chinese animated television franchise that started in 2004. The franchise comprises several series with various premises, usually centered around the eponymous Hongmao ("Rainbow Cat") and Lantu ("Blue Rabbit"), as well as their friends Sally, Daben, Doudou, Tiaotiao, and Dada. These various entries span many different time periods and settings, typically with a comedy or action focus.
However, the franchise is nearly synonymous with its best-known incarnation, Rainbow Cat and Blue Rabbit: Legend of the Seven Swordsmen (虹猫蓝兔七侠传, pinyin: Hóng Maō Lán Tù Qī Xiá Zhuàn), a dark and dramatic wuxia tale and the subject of this page. The series follows Hongmao as he embarks on a journey prevent Black Tiger's conquest and destruction of his homeland by uniting the heirs of the seven swordsmen who first defeated him half a century ago. It received four follow-up series: Amu Star (虹冒藍兔阿木星), Wielding a Sword to Distant Lands (虹猫仗剑走天涯), Bright Sword (虹猫蓝兔光明剑), and Return of the Brave (虹猫蓝兔勇者归来), as well as a movie called Fire Phoenix (虹猫蓝兔火凤凰, lit: "Fire Fenghuang"). The Seven Warriors line has attracted much attention and some controversy for its mature themes and situations as well as its depictions of blood, violence, and self-sacrifice.
The series is currently badly in need of an English translation.
Rainbow Cat and Blue Rabbit contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Lantu and Sally fit the bill, as well as Ma Sanniang.
- Back from the Dead: Ma Sanniang is killed by Sally at the end of Legend of the Seven Swordsmen, but returns in the follow-up series Amu Star focused around her son.
- Blood Magic: In a scene which got the show banned for a week, Lantu must sacrifice her own blood to a crystal flower to help cure Sally.
- Brainwashed: Ma Sanniang force-feeds brainwashing drugs to Sally for much of the first series, turning her against the other heroes.
- Brainwash Residue: After Sally recovers from brainwashing, she still shows some hostility to her old friends.
- Break the Cutie: Sally and Lantu are both sweet and adorable yet suffer often; Sally in particular undergoes a lot of abuse in the first series.
- Call to Adventure: In the first episode of the series, Hongmao's father informs him that evil has overtaken the land, and that it is Hongmao's responsibility to find the heirs of the remaining six swords and thwart Black Tiger's plans.
- Driven to Suicide: Sally attempts suicide while under Ma Sanniang's influence but is stopped short by Lantu.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Daben gets silly drunk and starts hallucinating after Bull Whirlwind dies and Sally goes missing.
- Heroic Sacrifice: A recurring subject in this series, meant to promote dedication towards one's country and peers, according to the creators.
- MacGuffin Super Person: Qilin, whose blood provides tremendous strength to the drinker, is the primary target of Black Tiger's campaign.
- The Mole: Ma Sanniang steals Sally's sword and pretends to be its rightful heir, attemping to turn the other heroes against Sally.
- Reverse Mole: Tiatiao the monkey is one of Bull Whirlwind's comrades at the beginning of the series, but he works to protect Hongmao and Lantu from Bull Whirlwind's attempts to capture them.
- Unicorns Are Sacred: Qilin's presence keeps the peace of the land in balance.note