Thumbelina: A Magical Story (おやゆび姫物語 Oyayubi Hime Monogatari, lit. The Story of Princess Thumbelina) is a Japanese anime series produced by Enoki Films and adapted from the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "Thumbelina" by Akiyoshi Sakai. It premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo on March 31, 1992 and ran for twenty-six episodes until its conclusion on September 30, 1992.
The series was edited into an eighty-minute film and released in North America on VHS by Starmaker Entertainment in 1993. In 2006, Digiview Entertainment re-released the Starmaker film to DVD.
The plot is as follows: Unable to control her mischievous young daughter Maya, an exhausted mother seeks the guidance of an old witch living on the edge of town. The witch gives this mother a magical copy of the fairy tale "Thumbelina" and tells her to read this to Maya. Later, when her mother falls asleep, Maya shrinks and is pulled inside the world of the book. A good witch appears and tells her that she is in her mother's dream world and that in order to return to normal, she must find a way to wake up her mother. To do this, she must travel to a far away southern land to talk to the Crystal Prince, who will help her reach home. During her journey Maya faces many trials and hardships; along the way she befriends members of the dream world, who band together to help her reach the land of the South.
Unrelated to the older anime adaptation Thumbelina.
Contains the following tropes:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Downplayed. Hoppy is a frog who wants a wife, and his parents try to force Maya to marry him. Although Maya is disgusted by the fact that he's a frog, Hoppy is actually very sweet and gladly lets her go when she explains her situation to him. Played straight with Mr. Mora however, who seeks Maya as his wife to be despite her being a child and refusing multiple times, even resorting to threats of harming her friends if she doesn't comply.
- And Now You Must Marry Me:
- Hoppy's parents try to force Maya into a marriage with their son. Luckily for her, Hoppy is a Nice Guy who wises up and decides he doesn't want her to be his wife against her will.
- In the original series, a character known as Mr. Mora conspires to forcefully make Maya his wife, using deception to trick her into trusting him.
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: The frogs and the swallow all wear clothing of some sort.
- Big Bad: Cassandra and her henchman Croven are the villains of the story, doing everything they can to stop Maya from achieving her goals. Towards the end, it's revealed that Cassandra was Good All Along and was testing Maya's character.
- Capture and Replicate: In "Don't Give up Walking Billy", Cassandra encases the insect queen in stone and steals her identity so that she could get her subjects to poison Maya with tainted pollen.
- Character Development: A key element to the whole story; in order for Maya to escape the world she ended up in, she has to grow out of her problematic behavior and become a caring, selfless individual.
- Compilation Movie: In its original form, Thumbelina: A Magical Story is a series consisting of 26 episodes in total. It was later edited into an eighty-minute movie, cutting out a lot of the original footage - some of which can be seen in the credits and, in tiny traces, at some parts in the movie itself.
- Disappeared Dad: Maya's father is nowhere to be seen. While the movie never even brings it up, the original version reveals in a late episode that he had died at some point before the series began.
- Disney Death:
- Noble, though technically he didn't die. He fell into water and melted, but got washed up onto a shore and dried out by the sun, allowing him to come back. This happens again later when he is eaten alive and still manages to come back.
- In the series, Hoppy seemingly falls to his demise when a bridge he's walking on collapses when the ropes are severed by an evil snake that lures him there, specifically to take him out of the equation for his master's plan. He returns alive after a while.
- Dream Land: Most of the story takes place within Maya's mother's dream.
- Dub-Induced Plotline Change: The English release heavily modified the story due to being cut down from an episodic series into a movie. As a result, many of the characters from the original never make an appearance and various parts of the story were stitched together to make up for what was removed. Example:
- Evil Counterpart: Cassandra is this to Angela. Or so it would seem. In the end it is revealed that she was good all along.
- Fairy Companion: Noble the sugar fairy. He's one of the first people that Maya meets and he accompanies her for most of the journey.
- Forced Transformation: Magical strawberries grown by an elderly frog lady (who, as the original version reveals, is actually Cassandra in disguise) do this to the eater upon consumption; one gives them the heart of a frog, a second one morphs their face into that of a frog, and a third one completes the process and leaves the eater as the aforementioned animal, leaving no trace of their former form. We can see it happen with a grasshopper who eats the strawberries that were meant for Maya.
- Good Witch Versus Bad Witch: Angela and Cassandra appear to be this at first, but it turns out that Cassandra was good all along.
- In Name Only: The story resembles The Wizard of Oz more than it resembles "Thumbelina". There are also elements reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.
- Killed Off for Real: At the end of one of the episodes, Toruru the fairy passes away because her kind only lives for half a day.
- Kill It with Water: Noble melts when he comes in contact with water; he falls into a lake for instance and dissolves (but is revived once he washes ashore and dries off), and another time he's Swallowed Whole and has to escape as soon as possible due to the hostile and damp environment around him. Justified since Noble is made of sugar.
- Morphic Resonance: When Croven transforms into a fox, he still has the same color scheme and eye markings.
- Opinion-Changing Dream: Of sorts; Maya starts out as a bratty girl and ends up a well-behaved child after her adventure in a dreamland, which was fabricated by her mother's dreams as opposed to Maya having her own dream.
- Save the Villain: Maya grabs Cassandra's hand to prevent her from falling to her death, which leads her to decide that Maya has learned her lesson and reveals that, as stated elsewhere on this page, she was good all along.
- Swallowed Whole:
- In the episode "Don't Give up Walking Billy", Cassandra turns into a flower monster and devours some of the insect people whole, intending to do the same to Maya and the titular Billy as well. The two take advantage of this by tossing a ball of poisoned pollen into her mouth as she pursues them.
- Noble is swallowed by Croven in fox form at one point. Maya is devastated, but Hoppy reassures her that Noble is tough and will come back somehow; surely enough, he turns up completely fine and even tells of his escape.
- Secret Test of Character: Cassandra turns out to be helping Angela give one of these to Maya.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: At one point in the series, Cassandra disguises herself as an insect queen and tries to trick the queen's subjects into giving Maya poisoned food, claiming that she's secretly evil and wants to destroy them. It ultimately fails when the food makes it into Billy's hands and he tries to carry out the deed, only to slap it out of Maya's hands at the last possible moment.
- Too Good to be True: In the episode "Mama of the Magic Castle" of the original series, Maya and Noble are taken to a big castle by a seemingly kind woman. Noble is very suspicious about it from the start but Maya doesn't believe him... up until Noble gets locked out of the castle and Maya finds out the hard way that the "friendly" woman is actually Croven.
- Trapped in Another World: Maya gets trapped in her mother's dream.