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Anime / Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

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Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is an Animated Adaptation of the Comic Strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay. In it, a young boy named Nemo travels to Slumberland in his dreams after receiving an invitation from Princess Camille. There he is trained to become the new prince. But, under the bad influence of the trickster clown Flip, Nemo inadvertently unleashes the Nightmare King, and has to save King Morpheus after he's kidnapped and taken to Nightmareland.

It was produced in the late Eighties by TMS Entertainment in Japan, where it was released in 1989 with limited release in the US. In 1992, a re-cut edition was released in the US, which was re-released in 2005 as part of the Biggs' Adventurenote  matinee series. This film also served as the basis for Nemo and Little Nemo: The Dream Master, two Capcom-developed video games for the arcade and NES, respectively, in 1990. The latter ultimately became more well-known than the both the film and the comic itself.

Was released on Blu-Ray Disc in 2012, this time with the original Japanese audio as an option. It also has an official upload on YouTube posted by TMS, and this is the uncut version on the DVD and Blu-Ray.

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Flip accidentally grabs Princess Camille's chest after they rescue her from water goblins in Nightmareland and gets elbowed for it. Then again, she wasn't old enough to really have much in the way of breasts.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: Its implied in the beginning that Nemo's reoccurring nightmares are due to him sneaking some of his mother's pies before bedtime.
  • Advertising by Association: The American poster combines this with Covers Always Lie. The text boasted, "From the director of Home Alone and the director of Fantasia," referring to co-screenwriter Chris Columbus and either Frank Thomas or Ollie Johnston, both of whom advised the animators. None of them directed Little Nemo, or Fantasia for that matter.
  • All Just a Dream: The entire adventure takes place in Nemo's dream. It's implied that the dream came from his desire to see the circus, as well as his guilt over breaking his promise to his mother to stay away from her pies.
  • Ambiguous Gender: In the original comics, Bon Bon (also known as The Candy Kid) was unquestionably male. In the movie... it's far less clear. S/he's voiced by a female, but that's quite common for young male characters as well. The longer hair and pastel clothes mean nothing in this film.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: No mention is made of Princess Camille's mother.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Zigzagged with the Royal Scepter, an all-powerful magical artifact that can disintegrate any creature of Nightmareland with a single blast of its laser at full power. The downside is the long list of magic words its user needs to chant to activate that full power, which is easily interruptible, and the incantation itself puts so much strain on the human body that it will kill the person unless used by a trained adult. Despite all these setbacks, chanting just a few verses causes the scepter to emit a Hard Light that essentially turns it into a Laser Blade, strong enough to cut through even the Nightmare King's limbs with a single slash.
  • Badass Adorable: Icarus puts up a pretty good fight against the gargoyles despite how tiny he is.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: King Morpheus is as jolly and loving as they come. But anything or anyone that threatens his kingdom or its people will face the wrath of him and his powerful scepter. Both Nemo and Princess Camille qualify as well; they're well-mannered and sweet kids, but it is not smart to make either of them mad.
  • The Big Guy: One of the five Boomps is quite a lot larger than the others.
  • Big "NO!": Many times, mostly by Nemo.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While Nemo does learn the importance of both keeping promises and taking responsibility for them if he breaks them, the friends he made in Slumberland are not real as everything was just part of his dream.
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: Nemo bases many of Slumberland's residents on people he saw at the parade in the beginning of the film. For example, he bases Professor Genius from the piano player, Princess Camille from the girl who gave him a rose, Flip from the clown who knocked him over, and King Morpheus from the kindly ringleader who gave him a ride.
  • The Cameo: Gertie the Dinosaur (another Winsor McCay creation and one of the earliest animated characters) makes an appearance during Nemo and Flip’s escape into Slumberland, where the two of them make her sneeze with one of Flap’s feathers.
  • Canon Foreigner: Professor Genius, who seems partly based on Dr. Pill from the comics though his appearance is different. Also, Icarus, Nightmareland and the Nightmare King are unique to the film. The Boomps are also more or less based on the Imp from the comic, but split into five, and changed into friendly goblins instead of a single racist caricature.
  • Cast from Hit Points: It's implied that the Royal Scepter can do this if its user isn't strong enough. When Morpheus announces that he will pass it on to Nemo, the crowd becomes extremely worried for the boy's safety until the king mentions that Nemo will have to grow in both wisdom and bodily strength to use it. Later, Icarus reminds the Boomps that the scepter will kill Nemo if he attempts to use the full incantation to defeat the Nightmare King. When Nemo does use it, it does seem to have consumed his life before Morpheus revives him.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Coupled with a Big "NO!". And it turns out to be a Dream Within a Dream.
  • Central Theme: Promises and responsibility to both keeping them and making up for broken ones.
  • Chair Reveal: Professor Genius takes Nemo to the throne room to be "properly" introduced to the king, but the throne turns out to be empty. Judging by the Professor's reaction, the king pulls this type of vanishing act a lot.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, Flip accidentally pulls a map of Nightmare Land out of his coat, hastily switching it out for a Slumberland one. After the king is kidnapped, Flip's map is used for a rescue mission to Nightmare Land.
  • Cigar Chomper: Flip. See also Must Have Nicotine below.
  • The Collector: The Nightmare King traps his prisoners in pillars of crystal, and refers to them as his "collection."
  • Coming of Age Story: More or less for Nemo.
  • Compressed Adaptation: It took Nemo months to finally reach the Princess in the comics, and yet in the film Nemo dreams everything that happens to him in Slumberland in a single night. Of course, doing a plot like the movie has as a weekly comic would probably translate to about one or two years worth of storyline.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Execution in Slumberland is carried out by firing the convicted into space from a giant cannon.
  • Cool Crown: For Nemo's coronation ceremony, Princess Camille wears a jewel-encrusted headpiece with two large golden ornaments hanging down on either side. The effect almost makes it look like she's wearing headphones.
  • Cool Key: The key to the Forbidden Door is gold, and the handle is a stylized dragon.
  • Cool Train: King Morpheus rides around on a toy one.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: King Morpheus first appears to be a childish, slightly bumbling figure but don't get the wrong idea about him. He knows when to be serious and nothing is more important to him than his daughter and protecting his beloved kingdom.
  • Cute Bruiser: Princess Camille, seen when she punches Flip straight in the jaw and holds her own against water goblins.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Camille, twice. The first time was light when she was attacked by water goblins but manage to put up a fight before the others joined in to help her. The second time however was much more serious. She didn't stand a chance against the gargoyles when they captured her along with the Professor and Flip. Naturally, Nemo feels pretty bad about failing to protect her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Flip
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Princess Camille. Subverted though, she's not really cold or cruel at first, just a bit rude and stuffy. She quickly shows her true, sweet self after Nemo calls her out on it.
  • Dirty Coward: Flip, who doesn't hesitate to sell out his friends at the drop of a hat (usually Nemo) in order to cover his own ass.
  • Disneyesque: Rare for an anime film. It's very similar to TMS's work for Disney's animated TV shows of the 80's (Adventures of the Gummi Bears, DuckTales and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).
  • Dream Intro: The film opens with Nemo having a dream that quickly becomes a nightmare.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Happens to Nemo twice. Both times he realizes he's still dreaming when, after waking up from a Catapult Nightmare, he finds the Royal Scepter in his bed.
  • Dreams vs. Nightmares: The film pits Slumberland against the evil Nightmareland, as Nemo has to go on a quest to rescue King Morpheus from the Nightmare King.
  • Easily Forgiven: Even though Nemo breaks his promise to not opening the door, no one holds a grudge against him. Although saving King Morpheus certainly helps.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Nemo breaks his promise not to open the Forbidden Door, releasing the Nightmare King and getting King Morpheus kidnapped.
  • Failure Knight: Nemo feels this way when King Morpheus and later Camille are captured by the by the Knightmare King and his minions. Makes up for it in the final battle though.
  • Fantasy World Map: Flip is the only one who has a map of both Slumberland and Nightmareland. Not only that but he's also the only one who can understand it.
  • Good Parents: Besides looking for an heir, the reason King Morpheus invites Nemo to Slumberland is so his lonely daughter will have someone to play with.
  • The Good King: Shown in the coronation ball, King Morpheus is very beloved by the people of Slumberland
  • Got Me Doing It: When Nemo and Icarus first meet Camille, she repeatedly mistakes Icarus, the flying squirrel, for a rat. It gets to the point where Nemo accidentally slips up and refers to him as a rat too, much to Icarus' annoyance.
  • Harp of Femininity: Princess Camille is playing one when Nemo meets her.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Despite initially being reluctant to befriend her, Nemo gets very close to Camille throughout the story.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Nemo knew full well he'd likely die if used the scepter's full power, but he did so anyway to save King Morpheus and the Princess. Thankfully, Morpheus repays this heroic deed by reviving him.
  • Heroism Incentive: Nemo initially refuses to go with the Professor to Slumberland because the Princess being a girl makes him uneasy. But when he gets the Princess' gift of cookies, he gladly accepts the invitation.
  • Human Pack Mule: Flip is demoted to carrying luggage after his map of Nightmareland is ruined and the gang finds better and more knowledgeable guides to escort them through the realm.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Royal Scepter certainly counts. Saying the whole incantation required allows it to fire a Wave-Motion Gun that can take down even the Nightmare King, and spouting just a fraction of the chant turns the scepter into a Laser Blade.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Nemo is NOT in his underwear. He's in his pajamas.
    • And Icarus is not a rat.
  • It's All My Fault: Nemo for opening the door. It was partially Flip's fault too. Or going back further, it was also King Morpheus’ fault for not only entrusting a clueless child with such an important key in the first place, but not even telling him why he shouldn’t open the door.
  • Jerkass: Flip
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Nemo and the Princess finally kiss at the end... too bad Nemo wakes up from his dream immediately afterward.
  • Like a Son to Me: Nemo quickly becomes this to King Morpheus.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: She might be royalty, but Princess Camille is this in spades.
  • Magical Incantation: "Jazama Pajama! Pajama Jazama!!"
    The Nightmare King: Ooo, pajamas do scare me so! Mwahahaha!
  • Male Gaze: Flip eyeing and attempting to flirt with the obviously underage Princess Camille.
  • Manchild: Nemo first meets King Morpheus while the king is playing with a toy train in a playroom.
  • Marshmallow Hell: A dance teacher pushes Nemo into her buxom bosom (twice), much to his dismay.
  • The Millstone: Flip pretty much causes everything bad that happens.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Nemo's dream at the beginning of the movie quickly becomes a nightmare.
    • Also, when the Nightmare King invades Nemo's coronation ceremony and kidnaps the King.
  • Mood-Swinger: The Nightmare King is quite temperamental, to say the least.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Flip continues to sneak cigars even after the princess banned him from smoking any.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nemo, after his carelessness leads to the release of the Nightmare King from his prison and the capture of King Morpheus..
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Boomps, who are "good goblins" and are just misunderstood by the other residents of Nightmareland.
  • Never Say "Die": One reason scenes were deleted from the VHS release was that the plot point of Nemo possibly dying if he used the scepter was censored, which necessitated even his Disney Death being shortened.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nemo is the one who unleashes the Nightmare King, after Flip talks him into opening the forbidden door.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Pretty much the whole second half of the movie, plus the first dream he has.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The Nightmare King's crystal pillars vanish when he dies, freeing the prisoners inside of them.
  • Not So Above It All: The Professor. Sure, he has a serious, gentlemanly, and general no-nonsense personality, but whenever the opportunity to dance presents itself...
  • Oh, Crap!: Flip briefly panics when he realized he accidentally showed Nemo his map of Nightmareland before producing the map for Slumberland.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!:
    • This is the Professor's reaction when he finds King Morpheus is not on his throne when Nemo first arrives in Slumberland.
    • During the song about training Nemo to be a prince, the horse that Nemo tries riding on flips him off his seat and onto the fat dancing lady from a few minutes before, who catches him, and he says, "Not again!"
  • Or Was It a Dream?: A couple times Nemo wakes up in his bed, thinking that the whole adventure was a dream; only to find the Royal Scepter under the covers of his bed and realize he's still not awake.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: The Boomps.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Nemo spends most of his adventure clad in plain white pajamas. He does occasionally get the chance to change out of them, but just ends up back in them again at the start of each new dream.
  • The Professor: Professor Genius, though only in name.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Nearly the case for Nemo, who makes up for releasing the Nightmare King by using the Royal Scepter against him, despite knowing doing so could kill him. Fortunately, thanks to Morpheus, he gets better.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • King Morpheus has frequently protected Slumberland from the Nightmares of Nightmareland. He even sealed their king away years ago.
    • Princess Camille goes with Nemo to Nightmareland to rescue her father.
  • Say My Name: By Nemo most of the time, although Princess Camille does her share of it too.
  • Scenery Porn: If you like Studio Ghibli's penchant for prettiness, you'll like this. Hardly surprising, since one of the creative minds behind the project was the legendary comics artist Mœbius. To say nothing of the guy who created the original Little Nemo comics. Scenery Porn hardly begins to describe Winsor McCay.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Slight variation. Flip and Nemo run between two rows of large pillars while being chased by guards.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Nightmare King was imprisoned behind a giant door beneath Slumberland, and King Morpheus decides to entrust the only key that can open the door to Nemo. Guess what happens....
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Slight variation, as it isn't the end of the film, just the end of the dream.
  • Sinister Stingrays: The Nightmare King has a large flying stingray who serves as his right-hand man. This manta ray is easily the most dangerous of the Nightmare King's servants; spying on the heroes when they enter Nightmare Land, nearly killing Nemo multiple times in the final battle, and in its dying actions manages to destroy Nemo's flying bed.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Heavily idealistic. Theres a sense of childlike wonder and imagination present throughout the entire film.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Flip shows off his wanted poster to Nemo while they're hanging out, claiming he'll be as famous as Flip if they keep palling around.
    Nemo: Say, what are you wanted for?
    Flip: For having fun.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When Nemo and the Boomps finally reach his lair, Nightmare King tortures Camille to lure Nemo out of hiding. It works. Since she's locked in a crystal pillar in a suspended-animated state, we never find out what effect the torture was having on her, but maybe it's for the best that we don't.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Little Nemo


Nemo and the Princess kiss

Slight variation, as it isn't the end of the film, just the end of the dream.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SealedWithAKiss

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