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Anime / Hana no Ko Lunlun

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Hana no Ko Lunlun (花の子ルンルン), meaning The Flower Child Lunlun, is a Magical Girl series from 1979 focusing on a theme of flowers.

Long ago, plant spirits and fairy-like creatures lived in harmony with mankind, but gradually humans began to rise toward greed and cruelty and the plant spirits emigrated to another world they dubbed the "Flower Star". However, their legacy remained in people who truly knew the meaning of love and kindness, and not to mention some plant spirits that still believed in humanity remained on Earth and married human people, thus leaving some blood descendants scattered around the world. A talking dog and cat pair, Nubo and Cato, are sent to Earth to find one such descendant to find the magical Flower of Seven Colors, the symbol of the Flower Star's ruling family, so that a new ruler can ascend the throne.

In France they meet Lunlun, a young orphan who lives with her paternal grandparents who own a flower shop. She turns out to be a descendant of the Plant spirits from her mother's side, so on Lunlun's 15th birthday party, they ask her to join them, and she accepts. They travel all over Europe in search of the flower, helping people every step of the way, while being pursued by a bumbling pair of villains, the selfish fairy Togenishia and her servant Yabooki, who want to steal the flower and rule the Flower Star. Lunlun is also aided by Serge, a mysterious photographer who gives the people Lunlun helps packets of flower seeds which symbolize the lesson they've learned in the "language of flowers."

Owing to its Western setting, the series achieved a great deal of popularity in Europe and Latin America as well as in Japan. In the early 1980s, it was also one of the first magical girl anime series to reach the United States (if not the first) by way of a dubbed version produced by ZIV International titled Angel and broadcast on HBO. At the Tencent Video Animation Festival in August 2023 a revival of the show developed for the Chinese Market was announced.

This series provides examples of:

  • Artistic License: Everywhere. Sometimes the writers did their research to some point, in others you have to stretch your suspension of belief quite a bit.
  • Back from the Dead: During the Switzerland arc, Lunlun plummets to her death while climbing a mountain where the Flower was supposed to be, and her magical pin is crushed. A Flower spirit revives her and gives her a new and more powerful pin so she can continue her mission. It later turns out that said spirit was actually Serge.
  • Bathtub Scene: Togenishia has one. There is also one in episode 48 with Lunlun.
  • Berserk Button: Being an orphan, Lunlun does not react well to children talking ill of or acting mean towards their parents. Specially seen when she confronts Bianca in Venice.
    • She also doesn't really like it when parents refuse to meet up with their kids, as seen in the deal with the sea captain in Germany.
    • And please, neither lie to her nor be ungrateful. Did you hear it, Sophia and Pete?
  • Bifauxnen: Briefly. When we first meet Lunlun, she's dressed in boyish clothes with her hair tucked under a cap.
    • Some of Lunlun's magical disguises also invoke the look. Specially the sailor boy outfit from the Spain arc (in which she did have to crossdress so a boat crew would take her from Spain to Netherlands), the Medieval armor she donned to save Margot from the Scarpia Ultimatum on her, the Prince outfit she got to play Romeo as Alitta's replacement in Netherlands, and the swordswoman outfit she used to save Sonia from the gangsters in Sweden.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Nubo's real form
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: When Lunlun uses her pin, she says what is supposed to be "Fleur, Fleur, Fleur" (French for "flower" three times), but the writer messed it up and it sounds more like she's saying "Frère, Frère, Frère" (French for "brother" three times).
  • Cain and Abel: In the Lapland episode, Lunlun meets two brothers and sled racers who became bitter rivals. Lunlun supports the Abel in the relationship since he's a Nice Guy who laments what has been going on, while Togenishia manipulates the conflicted and insecure Cain into hating his brother more. They make amends in the end.
  • Career Versus Man: Genderflipped with Serge, who gives up his throne so he can stay on Earth and marry Lunlun.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Featured in the Japan mini OAV, since the goal there is to save the cherry trees from Mount Yoshino.
  • Circus Brat: Sophia from the Norway arc is a girl who's been raised by her Fortune Teller mother in a circus.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The clothes that Lunlun gets via her Transformation Trinket are imbued with magic that temporarily give her amazing skills.
  • Cool Old Lady: The grandma from the vineyard episode.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Serge, and HOW. The flower seeds he gave to Lunlun's new friends as he dealed the Aesop? He also asked them to send some to Lunlun's grandparents so they'd cultivate a flower valley and grow the blossoms with love and care. So much that the Flower of the Seven Colors actually grew there.
  • Dance of Romance: In the Netherlands arc there's a dance contest where Lunlun is supposed to participate to counter the influence of a corrupt Dutch clog maker, but she has no partner. In comes Serge, who agrees to dance with her.
  • Darkest Africa: Averted, the Africa episodes are set in Morocco and Egypt.
  • Death by Childbirth: Lunlun's mother.
  • Distress Ball: Caught once or twice by Lunlun, and once is spectacularly grabbed by Serge.
  • Evil Redhead: Togenishia.
  • Fallen Princess: Margot
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Cato and Nubo. To be fair, they're actually people from the Flowern Star who are just taking animal forms.
  • Flower From The Mountain Top: Many sightings of the Seven Colors Flower take place in mountainous areas. One of them is almost fatal to Lunlun, who has to be brought Back from the Dead.
  • Flower Motifs: And HOW.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Episode 2 features a young man from a farming family whose parents disapprove of his desire to be a painter.
  • Forgotten Childhood Friend: Sonia from the Sweden arc. She has also become a delinquent, so Lunlun has to convince her to give up her bad girl ways.
  • Green Aesop: The Japan mini OAV which is very much about the pollution problems afflicting Japan.
  • Green Thumb: Inverted. Rather than Lunlun having power over flowers, they have power over her, or at least over her clothing and the skills she adquires with them.
  • Healthcare Motivation: The driving force behind Dario's Dark and Troubled Past in the Italy arc.
  • Hostage Situation: Lunlun finds herself caught in more than one of those.
  • Identical Stranger: Lunlun and the Dutch actress Alitta, who basically is Lunlun with long hair.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Margot and her father.
  • Innocent Flower Girl: Lunlun is something of an aversion, since she loves flowers and even has magic powers themed around them, but despite her naivete, she's far from being shy, reserved, or frail.
  • Kick the Dog: While Togenishia and Yabooki are usually a pair of Goldfish Poop Gang, sometimes they'd do shockingly terrible acts. An example occurs in the Netherlands arc when they kidnap Nubo and almost kill him by drowning in order to force Lunlun, who's tempted to come back home for a while, to get back on track. Another takes place in the Italy arc where Yabooki almost blows up an Orphanage of Love that Lunlun's trying to help via attempting to activate a World War II bomb in its yard that the kids are trying to use to convince people about saving their home.
  • King Incognito: Lunlun's Mysterious Protector, Serge, turns out to be the prince of the Flowern Star.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Invoked by Lunlun to save Margot and Sonia.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Yabooki has a raccoon tail and raccoon-ish markings on his face.
    • In fact, the best way to actually blow his covers is to reveal his raccoon tail. Lunlun does it more than once.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: A whole episode has Lunlun working as a tutor to one of these.
  • MacGuffin: The Flower of Seven Colors
  • Magical Girl Queenliness Test: Sort of, although Lunlun's quest is to help someone else ascend the throne. On the other hand, she could end up as Queen of Flower Star by marrying the "someone else" in question... but when he asked her to, she rejected his proposal despite loving him back. Then her beau renounced the throne for her sake and they ended up getting together anyway.
  • Magical Land: Flowern Star
  • Mama Bear: A literal one in the Norway arc, with two cubbies included. Bad thing? A human Papa Wolf wants to hunt the three down, blaming them for his son's death. The kid, however, was alive - and with Trauma-Induced Amnesia. It takes Lunlun quite the effort to help them all.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Togenishia is very good in convincing people to do her bidding. And Isabel from the Spain arc, who lies to Lunlun about the Flower of Seven Colors being in a nearby cave, in her despair to keep her around.
  • Mad Scientist: Lunlun meets one in England. In a subversion, he's the less crazy one. His Deceptive Disciple is the real crazy guy... poor Nubo!
  • Mentor Mascot: Nubo and Cato
  • Missing Mom: Aside of Lunlun, there's Walter from the Germany arc (mother died when he was young) and Bianca from the Italy arc (distanced from mother for years).
  • Mysterious Protector: Serge
  • Mystical White Hair: Cato's fairy form is an adorable-looking young girl with both white hair and white clothes.
  • The Ojou: Elizabeth, the flutist from Episode 4, is the snobby variety. She competes with Anna, a Girl Next Door. Anna wins.
    • Margot from the Germany story arc and Alitta from the Netherlands one are both the sweet and kind type. Though Margot is more of a Fallen Princess.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Lunlun meets two girls named Anna in her travels: one if a French Shrinking Violet and the other is a Swiss ill girl.
  • Orphanage of Love: Lunlun drops by one in the South Italian countryside (it's not specified where, but considering she has just left Sicily, it's likely to be in the Calabria region).
  • Parental Marriage Veto: In episode 3, Lunlun befriends a man named Julien whose girlfriend Elaine got one of these from her father. He's so over-the-top in his refusal that he even tries to shoot Julien to death at some point, despite a risky Go Through Me from Elaine. And then he gets a Hollywood Heart Attack that almost kills him, then makes him reconsider his position.
    • In the Italy arc Lunlun meets a woman named Giovanna, who ran away with her husband Santi when given another from her dad. They've just had their first baby, so they want to try making Giovanna's father change his mind and meet his grandson. He's so pissed at this (and at Yabooki, but that's another story) that he even beats up Santi with a stick until Giovanna tells him to hit her too... but Lunlun quickly tucks the old man's newborn grandson in his arms and manages to calm him down.
  • Parent with New Paramour: The reason why Bianca from the Italy arc cut ties with her mother.
  • Pet the Dog: Togenisha and Yabooki can occasionally help to do good.
  • Pimped-Out Dress
  • Plucky Girl: Lunlun. In the first episode alone, we see her sled down a grassy hill into a mud puddle, jump out the window of a train, and rescue a kid from a burning house.
    • Lampshaded by Nubo, who tries to help a dispirited Lunlun in the Andorra mini-arc after Togenishia steals her magical pin and mentions how her strong will was what drew him and Cato to her.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Lunlun lost her parents at an early age ( Mom died in childbirth, Dad perished of an Incurable Cough of Death when she was five), so her paternal grandparents raised her.
    • Also more than one person that Lunlun aids, specially Isabel from the Spain arc and Sayid from the Africa two-parter.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Lunlun's mother was in this situation in the past, choosing a French sea captain over a rich Italian count. And of course, 17 years later Lunlun meets the man who could've become her dad while travelling.
  • Sad Clown: Rare Female Example. Sophia the Norwegian Circus Brat is embarrassed about working as a clown in a circus (despite having the talent to do so, inherited from her Disappeared Dad) and lies to Lunlun about actually being a Cute Monster Girl instead. With Lunlun's help she discovers that it's actually fun to make people laugh.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Margot from the Germany arc is an Impoverished Patrician, and a filthy rich Dirty Old Man tries to force her into this. Lunlun resolves it by challenging the old man and Yabooki, who has fallen for Margot at first sight, to a Medieval-style duel.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: In Episode 1, when Lunlun changes out of her muddy clothes and appears at the top of the stairs in a pretty pink dress. Strangely, the male character who has the standard Jaw Drop and Heart-Shaped Eyes reaction is Nubo, the talking dog. Who, let's be fair, is more of a Flower Person temporarily disguised as a dog, and his real form is of a human with butterfly wings.
    • She also invokes this more than once as a part of her plans to get the Flower, transforming her clothes into nice dresses to go to more elegant places. In the Japan OAV, she even dons a kimono!
    • Also, at the end of the series Serge cleans up nicely too... when he's revealed to be the Prince.
  • Shout-Out: The Sicily episode finishes in a huge one to O. Henry's short story, "A Retrieved Reformation", since both Dario and the protagonist of the story are Let Off by the Detective for showing up to save an innocent (though technically Dario would've been let go anyway: the Statute of Limitations caducated when he was working to save Lunlun).
  • Shrinking Violet: Anna from the France arc.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Serge is kind and gentle to Lunlun and gives her a helping hand. No wonder Lunlun has a huge crush on him, though it thankfully doesn't distract her too much from her mission. (Give her a break, she is fifteen.)
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Julien and Elaine. They get their happy ending with Lunlun's help.
    • Serge and Lunlun, when they're faced with the Career Versus Man dichotomy. They get better, too: Serge decides to stay on Earth.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: More than one of the persons whom Lunlun aids are good people on the wrong side of the law, so policemen who follow this trope are bound to come in too. Though sometimes they also veer into Inspector Javert territory, specially if the person is very woobie-ish.
  • Talking Animal: Nubo and Cato, who sometimes have to feign muteness so as not to freak people out.
  • Tokyo Tower: Of course seen in the Japan mini OAV.
  • Toros y Flamenco: Played with: around four episodes of the series happen in Spain, but only one involves the toros y flamenco stereotype. (One even takes place in a desertic area, which can be either Bardenas Reales, Monegros or Tabernas.) In a further subversion, Lunlun had to disguise herself as a bullfighter to save herself and her companions from a bull, instead of meeting/befriending/helping a matador.
  • Transformation Sequence: A very brief one, but still containing the requisite Magical Girl quota of pretty, sparkly, colorful lights.
  • Transformation Trinket: Lunlun is gifted with a magical pin that can change her outfit to suit whichever task is at hand. She activates it by pointing it at a nearby flower, which in turn emits magical rays that transform her clothes... and then she gains the abilities that the people wearing said clothes would have. I.e., when Lunlun needs to climb a mountain, she "asks" the flowers for a climber outfit and once she'a suited up she temporarily adquires the skills of a professional climber.
  • Tsurime Eyes: Togenishia, contrasting with Lunlun's Tareme Eyes
  • Uncanny Village: Lunlun visits a village that seems nice, pleasant, and ordinary, until she finds out that flowers are forbidden there, and anyone caught breaking that law gets dragged off by police and thrown in jail. Even children. They actually get so fed up that they end up jailing the mayor and culprit.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Lunlun's flower pin gives her access to an unlimited range of outfits. Yabooki also has this ability thanks to his magic umbrella.
  • Unwanted Harem: In the Netherlands arc, Lunlun befriends three brothers. The three fall for her and propose to her at the same time. She runs away as soon as she can to continue her mission, much to the three's dismay, and a lesson about shallowness is delivered by Serge.
  • Vain Sorceress: Togenishia, and how! She can summon powerful winds, but doing so drains her of energy and brings lots of temporary wrinkles to her face. Therefore she whines a LOT about using her powers and relies more on trickery, manipulation and Yabooki's antics.
  • Walking the Earth: Or in this case, Europe.
    • There's a miniarc that happens in North Africa: more exactly in Morocco (dealing with the Moroccan boy Sayid and his grandfather Scharo and with Lunlun helping Sayid to win a traditional horse race that will let him be accepted in his parents's village) and Egypt (where she gets roped into the deals of a Gentleman Thief and his Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist Adversary).
    • And there's also a short OAV that has Lunlun going to Japan, spending time in both Tokyo and Nara, and helping her friends Midori and Yashiro to protect Mount Yoshino and its famous cherry trees from pollution.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: The series is set in Europe so the sweet, quiet and strongwilled girls tend to go for Proper Lady instead. Midori from the Japan OAV, however, is basically a Yamato Nadeshiko in training.