Maple Town (Maple Town Monogatari) was an animated television series, created by Chifude Asakura, produced by Toei Animation and Asahi Broadcasting Corporation of Japan and originally broadcast on that country's TV Asahi network in 1986 and 1987. The show centered on a community of anthropomorphic animals; its main characters were Patty Rabbit and her friend, Bobby Bear. The town was an impossibly friendly, cheerful place, with the only trouble being caused by the thieving swindler, Wild Wolf, and occasionally by the bratty but generally good-hearted Fanny Fox.
In the U.S., Saban Entertainment produced a partial English dub of the series (the first 26 episodes) and added a live-action segment focusing on the moral of each episode, starring Janice Adams as Mrs. Maple. This version aired in syndication and on Nickelodeon and later The Family Channel from 1987 to 1993, and the accompanying toy line was released in the United States by Tonka. In Canada, the series aired in the late '80s on YTV.
After 50 episodes, the series underwent a format change and changed its name to "New Maple Town Stories: Palm Town Chapter." In this new series, Patty Rabbit moves away from the forested Maple Town (thus making the title rather misleading, although the arc actually started in the last episode of the original series) and to a new setting, the tropical Palm Town. Waiting for her there are a new group of friends and troublemakers. None of the other Maple Town denizens tag along, making Patty the only regular character in both series. This move proved unpopular, and the series ended about a year after the change. Note that none of the Palm Town episodes were ever dubbed into English. However Palm Town arc has been aired in several countries such as Italy and Arabic speaking markets where the entire 50 episode run was translated and where it trumps Maple Town in popularity.
Maple Town's setting is based on Canada around the 1920s, while the setting of Palm Town is based on the West Coast of the United States around the 1980s.
The show aired in many other countries, too, including France, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Netherlands. It's also noteworthy for being directed by Junichi Sato, who would go on to greater fame as director of anime like Goldfish Warning!, Sergeant Frog, Kaleido Star, Junkers Come Here, and most famously, Sailor Moon (which even included a Shout-Out to Maple Town in the form of a stuffed Patty-like rabbit owned by heroine Usagi Tsukino◊). Kunihiko Ikuhara, who would direct the later seasons of Sailor Moon, also cut his teeth on Mapletown as assistant director.
Maple Town contains examples of:
- Alliterative Name: In the American version, this applied for almost every character (save for Patty): Danny Dog, Fanny Fox, Barney Bulldog, Suzie Squirrel, Roxie Raccoon...
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Every country has its own unique theme song. The original Japanese version had "Maple Town Monogatari" for Maple Town (translated lyrics from this song are found in the picture caption above) and "Minami No Kuni No Palm Town" for Palm Town. The Spanish dub, La Aldea Del Arce, got a song called "Shamalele Shamala". The Italian dubs of both Maple Town and Palm Town had their songs performed by Italian pop singer Cristina D'Avena.
- Artifact Title: When season 2 rolled around, the series moved to Palm Town, which rendered the title somewhat misleading as they chose to retain the Maple Town name .
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The Title Sequence is far more cutesy and surreal than the show itself.
- Beach Episode:
- Maple Town has "The Beaver Family's Swimming Hole" and "High Tide", where Patty and friends visit Patty's grandparents in an oceanside town.
- Palm Town plays with this trope. The town is located by the sea and there are multiple scenes by the beach with even the characters going there. However, a lot of episodes also take place off the beach, either within town or a handful of episodes set outside of Palm Town.
- Bittersweet Ending: In both series. Patty is happy that she can live with her auntie in Palm Town however, this means goodbye for her close friend Bobby. The good thing is she promised to return someday. This is taken a bit further in the Palm Town Chapter where she has to return to Maple Town and leave her Palm Town friends behind.
- Bowdlerization: The North American English dub had scenes cut due to network standards & practices. One example was Wilde Wolf's flintlock pistol; scenes of him using it to threaten others or actually firing the weapon were cut. Another involved parents striking their children as punishment for bad behavior; the original Japanese production and many foreign dubs had these scenes. The North American dub took most of these scenes out. note
- Broke Episode: The Maple Town episode "Rotten Fruit" (titled that in the English dub) has the wealthy Fox Family losing a lot of money when they invest in a fruit shipment to town but it entirely spoils by arrival. They risk completely going broke and maybe even having to leave Maple Town. But things get better by the end of the episode.
- The Bus Came Back: It seems that the show was ready to return the Maple Town characters and mothball the Palm Town ones with all the Maple Town characters making a cameo and Patty leaving Palm Town for Maple Town at the end of the second season. However, for better or for worse, the series ended right after Patty boards the boat.
- Cheerful Child: Patty, as well as several other cast members.
- Compilation Movie: Played straight with the Palm Town movie, which was just the first episode of the series with footage from the final episodes of Maple Town spliced in. Averted with the Maple Town movie, which was an original story.
- Dolled-Up Installment: The French dub of the show is played up by its opening song as a cartoon based on Gabby Bear, a Teddy Ruxpin-like toy produced by French company Vulli. Other than the theme song itself, which focuses entirely on Gabby and features newly made footage of him interacting with Patty and the other characters on life-sized versions of various other Vulli toys, the actual cartoon is the exact same.
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Patty gets spanked by her older sister in one episode and in Palm Town, Rolley's mother spanks her. In another episode, Patty herself threatens a bratty younger kid whom she is supposed to be watching with a spanking.
- Dub Name Change: Patty "Rabbit" was originally called Patty "Hope-Rabbit" in the original Japanese version, with Bobby "Bear" being called Bobby "Kumanoff".note Most of the other characters' names were changed more drastically (i.e. Patty's sister Anne to Rachel, Diana the fox girl to Fanny, etc.) or even removed (Patty's parents have proper names - Marcel and Christine - in the original).
- Maple Town itself is renamed "Malinville" in the French dub, despite English text on signs (even on the French 45 single release of the theme song) plainly reading "Maple Town."
- Elevator School: Maple Town's school is this as it seems the primary grade level students like Patty, Bobby, etc are in the same building and even the same class as Patty's sister Rachel, a teenager. Justified as Maple Town is a rural area, and the series is apparently set in the 1920s, a time when one-room schoolhouses housing all grades were still very common in North America.
- Forged Message: One episode dealt with Mayor Dandy Lion making himself sick over not getting an answer from a letter he sent to his estranged daughter. Patty Rabbit and her big sister write their own letter (writing it as if the mayor's daughter sent it) and send it to Mayor Lion in order to make him feel better.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: One episode had wine referred to as "grape juice", but shortly after, one of the voice actors slipped up and called it "wine".
- Furry Female Mane: Averted for the most part, but zigzagged for Lamb and Sue Sheep's family from Palm Town. The entire family's wool doubles as hair, even their father and grandpa.
- Ghibli Hills: The late Kazuo Komatsubara, character designer for Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind, was an animation director on this show.
- Gender-Blender Name: Wild Wolf's original name is Gretel.
- Here We Go Again!: "The Children's Forest Patrol" (episode 7) deals with the kids impetuously deciding they want to be Forest Rangers after witnessing the Rangers at work, and then finding out what hard work it really is when they save Wild Wolf from drowning. In the ending scene of the episode, Patty and Bobby gaze longingly at a train in the distance and then impetuously decide they want to be train conductors...
- Lethal Chef: Patty's aunt Jane from Palm Town is...very out of practice when it comes to cooking.
- Looped Lyrics: The English dub theme only has two verses, with the second one repeated throughout.
- Market-Based Title:
- The Japanese version is called Maple Town "Monogatari" ("Story" / "Stories")
- The Spanish (Spain) version is called "La Aldea de Arce" (literally, "Maple 'Village'").
- In France, it's called "Les Petits Malins" (referring to the characters, rather than where they live).
- Merchandise-Driven: Figures of the characters along with playsets and vehicles were available during the initial run of the series. This was towards the end of The '80s when economic downturn and a market already saturated with licensed toys were present. In fact, this even led to a theory about why the later episodes of Maple Town and the sequel series were not released in the USA - the merchandise simply didn't live up to expectations. The show itself was seemingly more popular than the toys, and certainly more popular than the American Sylvanian Families animated series, although the Sylvanian toys sold better.
- Being a merchandise-driven show made it a surprising choice for Nickelodeon in the late 1980s, as the network had previously made a point to stay away from shows like the toy tie-ins common on mainstream network TV of the era. On the other hand, the quality of the show itself arguably made it a good fit in the Nickelodeon lineup alongside the other Japanese imports the network was airing at the time, such as Belle and Sebastian and Adventures of the Little Koala.
- No Cartoon Fish: Or birds, for that matter.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Grandpa Charlie Sheep in Palm Town was a pretty blatant expy for Charlie Chaplin in his youth.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Wilde Wolf, Barney Bulldog and The Cat Brothers are some of the only characters with visible pupils and sclera.
- Out of Focus: Mrs. Maple was this in the English dub. Early dubbed episodes had Mrs. Maple introducing and ending each episode by having her involved in an activity or recounting an anecdote that tied into said episode. Later episodes shortened Mrs. Maple's role; instead of the above, she'd briefly summarize what today's episode would be about.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Rolley from Palm Town. Literally... she's a cocker spaniel.
- Put on the Bus: Every one of the Maple Town arc characters at the end of the first season.
- Quarter Hour Short: Palm Town, in the last 12 episodes.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent : Zig-zagged. There are no notable lizard or other reptile characters, but they do exist as background characters.
- Retro Universe: Wardrobes of the characters resemble the first half of the 20th century as does the technology. Old-fashioned automobiles, phones, radios, and microphones appear plus there's a noticeable lack of television, computers, video games, etc. Some sources claim the first series is set in 1920s Canada, but it does end up being established that both Maple Town and its sequel, Palm Town, are indeed set in the later half of The '80s - in spite of the retro setting of Maple Town. During an episode of Palm Town, Patty Rabbit even received a letter dated 1987!
- Schoolmarm: Played straight with Miss Deer. She was the sole teacher in Maple Town, teaching students of various ages (including Patty's older sister, implied to be older than everyone else) and located in a small schoolhouse.
- Sequel Series: Palm Town was this to Maple Town.
- Ship Tease:
- Though Patty and Bobby officially consider each other really good friends, there are some moments where they vaguely crush on each other. Patty even admits to her father in the first episode that she thinks Bobby is cute.
- Rolley and Joey from Palm Town get a few moments. Heck, there's even a scene of them dancing in the ending sequence!
- Short Film: Two of them, released theatrically. The one for Palm Town had an extended flashback sequence edited from the original series' finale.
- Species Surname: The original Japanese version was clever in this respect: many character surnames are formed from Japanese words associated with said species, plus European roots. For example: Bobby Kumanoff (Japanese kuma, or bear + Russian noff (nov).
- Stay in the Kitchen: Defied. It's made clear from the very first episode of Palm Town that Patty's Aunt Jane is the superior doctor between her and her husband George. It's also made clear that George's cooking is way better than Jane's.
- Supreme Chef: Patty's uncle George is very adept at cooking. It's hinted the only reason he doesn't do it full time is he was pretty much pushed into becoming a doctor by his own parents.
- Title Theme Tune: In both versions.
- Uncle Pennybags:
- The Fox Family in Maple Town are said many times within the show to be rich. This is further reinforced by the fact they have a fancy car, servants and a Big Fancy House.
- Downplayed with Rolley Cocker's family in Palm Town. In the first episode, she is kidnapped by the Cat Brothers for ransom as they know her family has money. The Cocker Family is also shown to own a store that does lots of business and Rolley's father even owns the apartment building they live in! However, the whole family is shown to be living more of a middle class lifestyle in contrast to the Foxes.
- Vocal Dissonance: Bobby and Johnny, at least in the Japanese version, sound more like they're in their 20s...
- Walking Swimsuit Scene: The aforementioned Maple Town Beach Episode entries and much of Palm Town do show characters in swimsuits when by the water. Unlike other examples of this trope, it is not played for Fanservice; many of the characters are shown wearing one-piece swimwear, this being a children's anime.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Played With. Maple Town Fantasy World, a Japanese photo book from 1986 featuring the toys and supplemental information, confirms that Maple Town is located in North America. Where exactly in North America is still unclear, although given the presence of the Canadian flag, many assumed its the far north. Palm Town's location is more ambiguous; Fanon places it either in Florida or California because of its warm climate and seaside location.
Down South is Palm Town!