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Anime / 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother

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3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (母をたずねて三千里 Haha o Tazunete Sanzenri) is a Japanese anime television series directed by Isao Takahata and aired in 1976. It is loosely based on a small part of the novel Heart (Cuore) created by Edmondo De Amicis, i.e., a monthly tale ("racconto mensile") From the Apennines to the Andes (Dagli Appennini alle Ande)note , widely expanded into a 52-episode epic. It's also a part of the famous World Masterpiece Theater.

The story follows an 8-year-old boy named Marco Rossi, who lives with his family in the port city of Genoa during a very harsh economic crisis. His parents Pietro and Anna, plus his brother Tonio, work hard and do their best, but they barely can make it month by month... so Anna takes a fateful decision: to go to Argentina, in South America, and work there to help.

While this seems to work more or less fine at first, soon Anna's letters stop arriving, and nobody knows what's going on. Since Anna's last letters imply that she had fallen gravely sick, Marco decides to go to Argentina himself and see if Anna is fine or not. With his brother's pet monkey Amedio in tow, Marco boards a ship and leaves his homeland, determined to find his beloved mother no matter what.

3000 Leagues in Search of Mother includes these tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The basis for the series is a mere chapter of the book Cuore by the Italian writer Edmondo D'Amici, so the series itself takes the basic idea and timeline and builds a whole story from there by inserting Slice of Life episodes with Marco and his remaining family (his father Pietro and older brother Tonio) preparing for the travel, Marco befriending a nearby family and especially the middle daughter Fiorina and finding them again in Argentina, the addition of Tonio and Marco's pet monkey Amedio, etc.
    • The remainder of the novel was made into a second series by Nippon Animation in 1981, titled Ai no Gakko Cuore Monogatari (愛の学校クオレ物語, School of Love: The Cuore Story). This series aired on Tokyo Broadcasting System, not Fuji TV, and was thus not part of the World Masterpiece Theater despite sharing many of the franchise's tropes.
  • Blush Sticker: Marco is fairly plain in looks, save for his perpetually red cheeks.
  • Canon Foreigner: Amedio, Peppino and his daughters (Concetta, Fiorina and Giulietta), etc.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Peppino and his family go to Argentina first and then reappear in the story.
  • Delicate and Sickly: Anna's last letter to her family implies that she's not in good health and the Rossis very seriously fear that she will die in Argentina. When Marco finally finds her, she's so ill and so depressed that she's rejecting one last operation that could save her life, despite the pleas of her doctor and her benevolent bosses. Seeing Marco again gives Anna the strength to go through the surgery, and she's saved.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • The series itself is better known as "Marco" or, to a lesser degree, as "From the Appenines to the Andes".
    • In the second Latin-American dub, Fiorina is re-named Violetta (probably to keep the Theme Naming between her and her sisters).
  • Inter Species Friendship: Amedio has this not just with Marco, but with Fiorina's Cheerful Child baby sister Giulietta.
  • I Will Find You: Marco will freaking find his mommy, no matter where she is! It's even lampshaded in the opening song. And he does.
  • The Pampas: The Bahía Blanca arc largely consists of Marco traveling through the pampas with Fiorina's family to reach the eponymous city.
  • "Number of Objects" Title
  • Prolonged Prologue: It takes the show about 15 episodes to even get Marco on the boat that'll take him to Argentina.
  • Searching for the Lost Relative: Marco, an 8-year-old Italian boy, looks for his missing mother in Argentina.
  • Ship Tease: Marco and Fiorina, in a Puppy Love way.
  • Silly Simian: Marco's monkey companion Amedio's cute antics insert a bit of comedy in the very melodramatic story.
  • Truth in Television: The whole deal with Italians (and non-Italians) immigrating to Argentina really happened, so the Rossi family's situation was probably quite more common than one would think in modern times.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Sorta. Every time Marco gets leads on his Missing Mom's whereabouts, it turns out she and the family she works for has moved away and further into the country already. He finds her in Tucumán, located near the Andes. Meaning, he not only had to go from Italy to Argentina but track her down through Argentina itself..