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Anime / Bannertail: The Adventures of Gray Squirrel

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Bannertail: The Adventures of Gray Squirrel is a 1979 Nippon Animation anime based on the novel Bannertail: The Story of a Gray Squirrel by Canadian author Ernest Thompson Seton.

It follows the birth, life and eventual old age of Banner, a young squirrel in what appears to be Europe. Orphaned as a baby when the tree his nest is in is cut down, he is adopted by a kindly farm cat, who raises him as if he were her own kitten. When a fire destroys the farm, Banner, separated from his mother, has to flee into the woods to escape.

On his own, he has to come to terms with the fact he is a squirrel and not a cat, while joining his own kind, a community of wild squirrels.

This anime provides examples of:

  • All-Loving Hero: Banner, most of the time. How nice is he? He frequently goes out of his way to save the lives of characters who are mean to him, and doesn't ever seem to expect anything in return, even for them to change or even thank him.
  • An Aesop: Several.
    • The one with the rabbit teaches how it's better to tell the truth, as horrible as it may be, than to lie to avoid upsetting someone. Even if the truth is devastating, it's always better for everyone in the long run.
    • In another episode, a particularly arrogant chipmunk takes credit for the death of a marauding fox, even though it was completely an accident. His supposed bravery makes him a local hero and his tale keeps getting more improbably grandiose with each telling - which gets him into hot water when another fox begins terrorizing the squirrels and everyone (of course) turns to him. Banner ends up needing to defeat the fox and save him.
  • Blush Sticker: Banner has permanent blushy face, as does Clay, a young squirrel whom he befriends.
  • Break the Cutie: Banner especially his reaction to seeing Uncle Owl getting shot right in front of him and is later seen running to a tree and punching it as he starts wailing in agony over his death.
  • Babies Ever After: The last episode.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: The mother rabbit.
  • Badass Adorable: Banner. Raised as he was by a cat, he is very brave and can usually outwit and defeat larger predators, provided he has time to think and plan.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Gocha has some huge bushy orange eyebrows.
  • Break the Haughty: Frequently. First with Radōru, who has to be saved from a particularly ornery turtle, and then the chipmunk, and eventually Akācho who is left stunned and (momentarily) humbled after almost being shot by a lumberjack. Even Banner himself occasionally needs being knocked down a peg or two.
  • Cats Are Mean: Utterly averted with Banner's adoptive mother. She is the sweetest kitty you could ask for.
    • In the first episode, though, there are two other cats on the farm who are mean to Banner. They even go as far as to Kick the Dog when Banner loses his mother.
  • Clear My Name: The plot of the fourth episode, wherein Banner is accused of stealing nuts. It turns out that it was two rats.
  • Dogs Hate Squirrels: Banner is playing in a tree when a big mean dog starts barking at him. Far above the dog's reach, he fools around on the branches, taunting the hound, only for the branch to break. Fortunately his mom, an adoptive cat, comes to his rescue.
  • Downer Ending: The ending to the episode with the mother rabbit where she just leaves with a sad expression. After finding out truth about what happened to her baby bunny.
  • Disney Death: Banner's adoptive mother makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save him from the fire in the first episode, however, Banner eventually finds her alive and well again at the end of the series.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Towards the end of the series, the squirrels must abandon the forest due to loggers, and undertake a grueling journey to a new forest. Along the way they deal with loss and hardship, but in the end it's all worth it as they find their new home.
  • Engineered Heroics: In an effort to get Clay's mother Lori to like him, Banner concocts a scheme of the "Scooby-Doo" Hoax variety, wherein he "saves" her from a monster (actually Radōru and Gocha in disguise). In the German dub, he even invents his own heroic theme music - "Da-ta-taaa! Hier kommt Puschel!" ("Here comes Puschel!"). It actually works... until Banner overdoes it and punches the "monster" so hard that Radōru and Gocha get fed up and take the costume off, exposing the lie.
  • Gossipy Hens: The squirrel community as a whole, even though they're almost entirely comprised of males. Many early episodes involve someone (usually Radōru) spreading a nasty rumor and everyone repeating it.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Almost the entire cast. Some wear shirts, others wear vest. Another wears a tie. Sue is naked except for a flower in her hair. Banner himself wears a green vest a bell around his neck which was a gift from his adoptive mother.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Who else but Banner?
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the first episode, Banner is trapped in the burning barn, pinned underneath a piece of wood. His adoptive mother saves him, but at the cost of getting herself pinned accidentally, instead. She tells him to escape and save himself, which he does. He never sees her again after that and assumes she was killed. Until the end of the show, where it turns out she was alive. Later, Uncle Owl ends up taking a lumberjack's bullet to save Banner.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Averted for the most part. Even the lumberjacks who threaten the forest are just doing their jobs and earning a living, and are portrayed neither positively nor negatively.
    • Played straight with the the guy who shoots Uncle Owl. He and another guy are just wandering through the forest, blasting away at everything that moves, and upon killing Uncle Owl, he just sort of pokes at him and then he and his friend walk off, leaving him there to die. For the Evulz, indeed.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: The animals are mystified at every turn by humans. In one episode, a music box is treated as if it's some kind of ancient, mystical artifact. Even Banner, who lived with them on a farm for much of his life and knows more about them than the other squirrels, can sometimes find them mysterious and intimidating.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The rabbit mother ends up leaving the forest because upon learning that her son has been killed by hunters, she realizes she can't keep allowing Banner to take the place of her son. She's deeply moved by his kindness but ultimately leaves the forest because if she stays, then Banner will continue the act to keep her happy which will only make it harder for him to survive himself.
  • Jerkass: Radōru. He mellows out eventually, though, at least with regards to how he treats Banner. He and Gocha can still be quite mean sometimes even after they bury the hatchet with Banner.
  • Karma Houdini: Akācho never receives any punishment for getting Banner doped up on mushrooms.
  • Killed Off for Real: Uncle Owl to the dismay of Banner and the rest of the squirrel characters.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Akācho, who wants to marry Sue and will do any ruthless thing he can think of to get her.
  • One-Shot Character: The mother bunny only shows up in one episode where she's searching for her missing baby. She is never seen again after she learns the truth.
  • Mama Bear: Clay's mother Lori. Although she can be annoyingly overprotective at times, when her precious little baby is in trouble, she can become quite brave and fierce.
  • Missing Child: In one episode, Banner tries helping a mother rabbit find her lost son and ultimately gets his whole squirrel troop on the search. Eventually Banner asks Uncle Owl if he knows what happened to her son and he reveals to him that human hunters from a nearby village killed her son while she was picking berries...
  • Mushroom Samba: In one episode, Akācho tricks Banner into eating some red mushrooms, causing him to hallucinate and attack the other squirrels.
  • My Beloved Smother: How Clay sees Lori. Whenever he wants to run off and do something interesting, she calls him back sternly and gives him some reason why he can't, most of which seem to amount to "Because I said so."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In one episode, Banner is afraid to tell a mother rabbit her baby has been killed, so he lies and impersonates the baby with a Paper-Thin Disguise. When the disguise falls off and the rabbit learns the truth about her dead son, she is so hurt that she flees the forest and never reappears. She deeply appreciates Banner's sacrifice for her sake but can't bring herself to let him continue risking his own life to make her happy.
  • The Not Secret: Banner decides to disguise himself as a mother rabbit's lost son to make her happy. Even when the disguise puts him in danger, he's adamant on maintaing this lie. Eventually Grandpa Squirrel and Uncle Owl both make it clear that mother rabbit all but surely knew he was pretending to be her son the whole time and was just going along with it as she was moved by his kindness. What she didn't know was that her real son was dead and never coming back. Realizing the ramifications, she leaves the forest so Banner can resume his life as a squirrel.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: Wise old Uncle Owl.
  • Those Two Guys: Radōru and Gocha.
  • Took A Level In Jerk Ass: In the fourteenth episode, pretty much the entire supporting cast. An egotistical chipmunk takes credit for killing a fox (it was an accident) and becomes a local hero. When a second fox appears, Radōru and Gocha goad him into confronting it, and he runs away. Their reaction, to laugh at him as the fox chases and corners him, is expected of them, but when they relay the tale to the others, everyone, even Sue and her grandfather, laughs. It's a little disconcerting. Only Banner, who ironically had been jealous of the chipmunk's newfound celebrity, finds it in him to go and rescue the poor guy.
  • Two Girls to a Team: In the entire squirrel community, there are only two confirmed females: Sue and Lori. The latter is Clay's mother, meaning Sue is the only eligible female (unless there's a squirrel who likes MILFs).
  • Wicked Cultured: Akācho has impeccable manners, wears impressive bowties, and carries fancy walking sticks.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Non and Nen, although they're fairly mellow. They are thieves, but otherwise inoffensive and quite friendly.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Clay's voice in the German dub sounds pretty odd since he's the youngest character in the series but has a deep male voice.
    • In the Spanish dub, Gocha, who is physically the largest male squirrel, is given a very high-pitched, whiny voice nearly indistinguishable from Radōru's.