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Anime / Romeo's Blue Skies

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Romeo's Blue Skies (ロミオの青い空) is an anime series produced by Nippon Animation and released in 1995. It was based on the 1941 novel Die schwarzen Brudër ("The Black Brothers") written by Liza Tetzner.

It tells the story of a young boy named Romeo, who lives in the village of Sonogno, Switzerland with his family. On the day of the festival during summer, the field in the village was caught on fire and the crops that Romeo's family have tended were damaged badly. Things get worse when Romeo's father has collapsed and has risk becoming blind if he isn't cured immediately. Having no money to pay for the medical treatment, Romeo is forced to sold himself to the God of Death and he has to leave the village to work as a chimney sweeper.

During his journey, he meets a mysterious boy named Alfredo and they become friends. They later met some of the boys who were also sold and attempted to escape. They're caught by God of Death and later forced to cross the lake to Milan by boat during the middle of the storm. Their boat was capsized but Romeo and Alfredo managed to survive.

When they reach Milan, they become separated and then soon met with other chimney sweepers. Meanwhile, a gang called the "Wolf Pack" is harassing other kids in the streets and the chimney sweepers are no exception. Wanting to protect themselves from the Wolf Pack, Alfredo, Romeo and some of their fellow chimney sweepers formed a secret fraternity called the "Black Brothers" and thus their adventure as a group begins.

The show is the 21st entry of World Masterpiece Theater series. At the time it was released in Japan, the series was constantly receiving poor ratings and at risk of being cancelled. Wanting to attract new audiences, Nippon Animation gives this show more emphasis on action and adventure while staying close to the series premise but it didn't do so well. It became popular thanks to internet exposure and Nippon Animation sometimes create merchandise and cameos based on it.

The full series can now be legally watched on Tubi.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Although not related, Romeo is often treated this way by Mr. Rossi's wife and her son Anzelmo because they don't trust him. She stopped being abusive after Mr. Rossi learns to stand up for himself but still she dislikes him.
    • Alfredo's padrone, Citron is a figurative example. He's very abusive towards the former and only cares when he receives money to buy drinks for himself.
  • Actionized Adaptation: Due to WMT's poor ratings at the time, this show had added more fight scenes and other action-oriented sequences than its source material in order to attract many audiences.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the novel, Alfredo and Bianca grew up in a poor family but they inherited the mansion after their paternal grandfather died. Angeletta (or Nicoletta in the novel) meanwhile is actually Mr. Rossi's daughter and she has no connections with any rich relatives.
  • Adaptation Distillation: It had to be condensed into 33 episodes due to WMT's poor ratings and budget constraints, toning down some important parts but added some original scenes and giving development to characters.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the anime, Dr. Casella shows up as one of Romeo's customers in cleaning his chimney. In the novel, the appeared when Romeo was suffering from suffocation in the mansion where he happened to stayed in.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Romeo's original name in the novel is Giorgio but that name was later mentioned in the last episode.
    • Angeletta is actually Nicoletta in the novel. Her name probably changed to suit her personality.
    • The name of Romeo's mother is Jessica in the anime but in the novel it's Anna.
    • Alfredo and Bianca's surname is Cossini in the novel but in the anime it was changed to Martini.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Mr. Rossi becomes cruel towards the main character near the end of the novel but in the anime he becomes nicer, but only neglectful.
    • Augusto is a big kid who bullied the main character in the novel. In the anime, he is shown to be nice since his first appearance.
    • Romeo's grandmother is cheerful and protective towards her family in the show but in the novel she persuades her son Roberto to sell Romeo to Luini.
  • The Alcoholic: Mr. Rossi, who is often seen drinking, drunk or suffering from hungover. This makes his wife complain that he spents more money on wine everyday than other things.
  • Canon Foreigner: Nikita, who only appears in this version. In the novel, there are no girls who join in the Wolf Pack.
    • Piccolo, Romeo's pet ermine is this. In the book, he doesn't exist.
  • Cats Are Mean: Palmo, Anzelmo's cat.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Anita, a girl who resides in the same village as Romeo, gets the unlucky treatment. She has an obvious crush on him and he seems to reciprocate her affections to an extent, even making a Childhood Marriage Promise with her of sorts. Sadly, their budding relationship comes to a halt following Roberto's accident, which prompts Romeo to make the hard decision to leave and go to Milan in order to financially support his family. Anita is never seen again after parting ways with Romeo in tears, and the Distant Finale reveals that Romeo eventually settles down with a different girl named Bianca, the lucky recipient, whom he meets and befriends during his stay in Milan.
  • Cool Teacher: Dr. Casella himself qualifies. He encourages Romeo to learn how to read and write, then allows Alfredo to borrow his books. Later he takes Romeo and Bianca to his study to help them learn about science, geography and astrology.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In the epilogue, Romeo and Bianca name their son Alfredo, after Bianca's older brother and Romeo's best friend.
  • Deal with the Devil: Any children who made a deal with Luini are under this in exchange of money. Truth in Television, there were many incidents where poor children in Europe were sold to become child laborers in the 19th to early 20th century and its novel version is based on that experience.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In Episode 30, Nikita and Dante were distraught by the news about Alfredo's passing. They met in the bridge and confessed about what they feel about it. To prove that they're not going to give up without him, both of them decided to jump and swim in the cold river. Pretty much they forget it's a bad idea to do that especially they could end up catching a disease like what happened to Alfredo even though they returned safe.
  • Distant Finale: The ending of the show takes place ten years later, with Romeo becomes a teacher, married his childhood friend Bianca and has a son named Alfredo.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: In Episode 27, The Wolf Pack joins forces with the Black Brothers in order to help Alfredo go to the King's castle on time. They later became friends in the final episode.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The Milan Cathedral is displayed prominently in the show's opening and some episodes.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For Romeo, when he accidendally bumps the statue of Virgin Mary, he decides to fix it instead of leaving it. For Alfredo, he proves to the seller that Romeo isn't responsible from stealing the apples. For the Wolf Pack, they are shown fighting against some members of Scorpion Gang.
  • Evil Uncle: Mauricio and Grazella, Alfredo and Bianca's paternal uncle and aunt, are this. They killed Alfredo and Bianca's parents in order to steal their medal which proves their royalty.
  • Frameup: Romeo is accused by Anzelmo of stealing money from and is later seen being chased by the Wolf Pack for calling the police. His name is eventually cleared when he tells the authorities that someone is attempting to destroy the police station and Mr. Rossi learns from Angeletta that Anzelmo was responsible for hiding the money in Romeo's bag.
  • A Friend in Need: This is one of the defining themes in the series.
  • Gang of Bullies: The Wolf Pack and the Scorpion Gang.
  • Hollywood Fire:
    • In the first and second episode, as Romeo is about to win the climbing competition, he saw a field burning in the mountains. He and and his father had to take it out because their crops were affected. Little he did not know that the Luini is the one who started it.
    • Alfredo and Bianca's mansion was destroyed by fire and caused their parents to be killed there.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Countess Isabella, Angeletta's grandmother.
    • Mrs. Rossi in the final episode.
  • Happily Adopted: In Episode 32, Bianca is adopted by Professor Casella, and she couldn't be happier.
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side!: The Scorpion Gang decides to join with the Wolf Pack after their strongest member Claudio was beaten by the latter's leader Giovanni.
  • Karma Houdini: In the last episode, Romeo and some of his chimney sweepers found out that Luini is at the bar and continues his crime in selling children. In the novel, he was arrested by Milan police with the help of Dr. Casella.
  • KidAnova: Dante is one of these but he fails to woo girls.
  • Market-Based Title: The show's alternate title are Spicchi di cielo tra baffi di fumo in Italian, Mga Munting Pangarap ni Romeo in Tagalog and Friend's Covenant in Arabic. The German dub uses the novel's original title.
  • Never Learned to Read: Romeo himself have never learned to read and write since he lives in poverty. Thankfully he gets better with the help of Angeletta and Professor Casella.
  • One of the Boys: Nikita is often seen hanging with the Wolf Pack. Angeletta and Bianca are this too for the Black Brothers.
  • Only in It for the Money: The only reason why Dante became a chimney sweeper is because he was promised to receive money in advance from doing that kind of job.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Luini is often known as "God of Death", mainly because he has a reputation of going in many villages searching for poor children and sold them into slaves. It is said that any children caught by him have never returned.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Countess Isabella. She gave up Angeletta to her friend Mr. Rossi because she resents her mother, who married her son Adolfo despite being a commoner. She mellowed down after she was convinced by the Black Brothers to visit her granddaughter who is dying.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Romeo found out from his mother that his biological father was killed in the war and then remarried to his stepfather Roberto. He also learns that his stepfather tried to save him from pneumonia he was a baby. Ever since then, Romeo appreciates his stepfather more.
    • Mr. Rossi took Angeletta as a request from Countess Isabella and raised her as his daughter. Angeletta even calls him "Father" despite him not being related by blood.
    • Dr. Casella essentially adopts Bianca, as a promise from Alfredo who died from tuberculosis.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of Episode 23, Angeletta moves in Paris with her grandmother to cure her illness. The show doesn't tell about what happened to her in the end though some viewers have speculated that she died between the last episode and epilogue just like in the novel version.
  • Riches to Rags: Alfredo admits to Romeo that he and his younger sister Bianca lived in aristocracy until their parents were killed from fire. He and Bianca escaped because they are hunted by his uncle Mauricio and aunt Grazella and wanted to steal their medal which belonged to their father.
  • Spared By Adaptation:
    • Romeo's mother is under this. In the novel, she broke her leg due to accident. That role was replaced by Roberto in the anime instead.
    • Angeletta. In the novel, she died from her illness while in the anime she moves in Paris to receive medical treatment.
  • Spoiled Brat: Anzelmo comes off as one, mainly due to his mother.
  • The Strategist: Alfredo himself serves as this. Wanting the Black Brothers avoid being hurt from physical violence, he often comes up with the plan first and encourages his fellow members to be resourceful like creating soot bombs and building traps.
  • Sky Face: In the last episode, Romeo who is now grown-up and has his own family with Bianca looks up in the sky and seeing the friends he met in Milan.
  • Taking Up the Mantle: Romeo becomes the new leader of the Black Brothers after Alfredo dies.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: On their way to Lucarno, Romeo thanks Alfredo from finding the real thief by giving a green apple.
  • Tomboy: Nikita and Bianca, particularly the former who dresses in boy's clothes and is even initially ashamed of being seen as girly.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The final episode doesn't mention the fates of many important characters after the time skip, particularly Angeletta and Luini.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: The ivory chess set that Grandmother Rossi has kept turned out to have no value and it was sold for few liras. She sold it many years ago to pay his son's medical treatment.