A 3-episode 3DCGI Original Video Animation in 2007 based on the Franchise of the same name, Sylvanian Families is what you get when you combine Slice of Life stories with Talking Animals and a helping of sugar. Basically made in a different concept than the Western Animation counterpart but also made (at least in part) to cash in with the franchise it's based on, each of the stories were done accurately to the series's original concept, with a little deep surreal moments and regarding magic in between. The plot of the series varies from silly to being serious. This is the first anime to be based on the franchise (despite its Japanese origins) although the 1987 DiC TV series had been made with Japanese staff.
The series is animated by Dyna Method and directed by Akira Takamura of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! and (believe it or not) Neon Genesis Evangelion, written by Hiroko Okada, produced by both Koji Kawaguchi of Doki Doki! PreCure and Yumiko Murai and songs composed by Koichiro Kameyama. All three episodes were released in the same date of June 20, 2007. Two years later, on Febuary 16, 2009, HiT Entertainment released a compilation of all three episodes on a single DVD in the UK.
Each episodes as follows (official English title in square brackets):
Heart Pounding Mischief Magic [Magic Tricks]The first OVA episode. It focuses on Rebecca and her friends trying to do a revenge prank on Buster, a fox whose magic causes trouble to the other Sylvanian friends. Thought he fell for it, he soon helps everyone to amend his mistakes.
The Longingly Princess [Dreaming of Princess]The second OVA episode. This one involves Saffron's disagreement with her father's inventions driving her nuts. And also being a princess for the school's annual school play, in which she had problems. But she had a little help.
The Gift of the Shooting Star [Legend of the Comet]The third and final OVA episode. It involves Rebecca and her friends finding the fragments of the Silvery Comet which landed on Acorn Mountain. Thought hilarity ensures that this is more of an expedition.
In late 2017 and through early 2018, two ONAs as well as a series of shorts were produced specifically for Netflix. The localization work put into the series can be said to be extremely overboard - not only was the series' name and episode titles changed by region, but even the character names differed by region- the show appears on Netflix as Calico Critters in the US but Sylvanian Families in the rest of the world. Additionally, the chocolate rabbit girl goes by the name of "Bell" in the US dubs but is known as "Freya" elsewhere, and that's just one example and not even getting into their original names in the Japanese localization. And the changes to the name were reflected in the episode's title card. They even made two separate English dubs- the US one uses talent from Bang Zoom! Entertainment while the International English dub uses British talents from an unknown agency handpicked by HALF HˇP STUDIO.
A Town of DreamsThe first of the two OVAs, the special has Bell/Freya visiting town to visit her big sister, who designed a dress for a fashion show.
The Treasure of [Sylvanian|Calico] VillageThe second half of the OVA set. The mayor puts on a competition to pick the loveliest thing in the village.
Sylvanian Families (2018)A set of 12 shorts showcasing the daily life of the children of the village.
A second set of shorts were produced in late 2018, but those were published to Youtube instead. So far there are 12 episodes, All have been localized to International English. They have not yet been localized to US English.
Better hurry, tho- as of January 10, 2019, the episodes are being moved to Amazon Prime Video... who is only making it available to countries that have a dedicated Prime Video site for the country, and not on the Global site. Yeah, prepare to proverbially circulate tapes if you treasure your memories of the episodes, and you live in a dump of a country that only gets Prime Video Global.
A third set of shorts were produced in early 2020. Now called Sylvanian Families ~ Clover, the short marks the move back to Netflix from Amazon Prime. This was accompanied by one more ONA. As of 2022, the videos and ONAs have disappeared off Netflix and are returning to YouTube.
Tropes appearing include, but are not limited to:
- Aerith and Bob: The International English version, good grief. On one hand you have names like Piers, Créme, Stella, Freya and Rhys, who are hardly common names. Then on the other hand you have name like Lulu, Tiffany, Ralph, Sabrina and Laura.
- A Dog Named "Dog": Their Japanese names. Averted with the International English dub and the US English dub tho.
- All-CGI Cartoon: The anime series are completely done in CGI
- All There in the Manual: Were thankful that the Japanese released the series with English Subtitles, but yet the character's names in English is different to the ones in the original version itself.
- An Aesop: With all three episodes having one hidden aesop each.
- Badass Adorable: The kids were this in varying degrees, basically the OVAs were focused on them.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The characters do not wear shoes of any kind
- Cheerful Child: All of the kids, especially Piers.
- Character Development: Going in the lines of being dark sometimes, the kids were fleshed out even thought the series is just short.
- Compilation Rerelease: The UK was lucky to later see a DVD release where all three 2007 OVAs were combined into a single DVD (even if it meant losing the Japanese audio track and waiting two years). The other regions were not lucky.
- Conveniently Seated: The homeroom in Rebecca's class were this. Some of her friend were seated beside each other or in front.
- Cosmetic Catastrophe: in the short Getting Ready. What do you expect when some kids get their hands on their mom's cosmetics set? Kudos to the animation studio for managing to make it hilarious and terrifying at the same time thanks to a combination of a sudden reveal and strategic use of the vertigo effectnote .
- Darker and Edgier
- In the end of the first OVA, the kids pretended that they were invisble and Buster thinks they were in trouble. In reality they're just hiding from him, and pretending they're hurt or injured. Until Peirs got to scared on being invisible that he blew their cover.
- The entire third OVA is this, basically an expedition for the fragments of the comet turned a little grim.
- Dub Name Change: No doubt the series is guilty of this, to the extent where a lot of the characters have different names in different regions. Even in the International English version, they can't seem to make up their minds on whether to use the International English names or English transliterations of the Japanese names (ie. in some of the International English shorts, Freya is referred to as Chocolate Rabbit Girl).
- Explosive Breeder: As of the Season 2 Mini-Episodes short "The Baby Is Coming!". Bell's/Freya's Mother gave birth to five baby rabbits. As a result, they now have seven siblings in the family.
- Feelies: The UK release of the 2007 OVAs also shipped with a Saffron Walnut figure to sweeten the deal.
- Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Everyone in Sylvania were this.
- Funny Animal: A variety of species to boot, including porcupines for some reason.
- Good Parents: All the kids come from loving and healthy households that offer legitimately good advice and any punishments they dish out are almost always warranted.
- Gratuitous English: Due to the anime being animated in Japan but set in a quaint English countryside, everything in the show has English as written by a non-native speaker.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Bell's older sister Stella has a crush on a male rabbit. However, when Stella's crush shows up, his face isn't allowed to be seen. Only his arms, ears, hands, and feet are visible. Finally averted in a Season 2 episode where he is fully revealed.
- Kawaiiko: Series, the character designs are cutesy and Moe all the way
- Lighter and Softer: The entity of the OVAs were this softer and lighter compared to the 80's cartoon. However it sometimes crosses to being dark in some moments.
- Meaningful Name / Theme Naming: A few characters in the OVAs had some. Especially Rebecca's Japanese and English names.
- The title itself is this. The word Sylvanian means "People Of The Forest".
- Merchandise-Driven: The settings in the animation were even based around the dollhouses of the franchise. Unsurprisingly, this is because the anime is supposed to be a vehicle for selling little plush figurines.
- No Name Given: The male rabbit that Stella has a crush on is never given a name. Finally averted in a Season 2 episode. His name is William Cinnamon
- No Antagonist: As opposed to the Western Animation series, the Japanese productions are all Slice of Life and devoid completely of villains.
- Now Which One Was That Voice?: The English dub of the 2007 OVA series made use of many unknown British voice actors.
- No Communities Were Harmed: The OVAs were still set in the 1970's Great Britain countryside.
- Quirky Town: Sylvania.
- Parental Favoritism: Completely averted. The parents are Good Parents that love their children equally.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Pretty much all the parents shown.
- Scenery Porn: Compared to the western TV series, the OVA's background were well done in 3D, even the houses.
- Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: From Barefoot Cartoon Animal to Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal.
- Sugar Bowl: Sylvania is a cozy, safe and friendly place devoid of villains.
- Talking Animal: The animals in the series can talk.
- ĄThree Amigos!: For the core marketing materials from 2010 onwards. Interesting how they managed to take the trope and do a opposite gender version of the trope:
- The Leader: Bell Hopscotch/Freya Chocolate
- The Lancer: Tiffany Golightly/Susie Silk
- The Smurfette Principle: Dominic Hazelnut/Ralph Walnut