Tico of the Seven Seas (Nanatsu no Umi no Tiko, 七つの海のティコ), known as Tico & Friends in the English dub, is a Japanese anime series created and produced by Nippon Animation. Running from January 16th to December 18th, 1994, it was adapted from the long-running World Masterpiece Theater, and is the only original story to be spun-off into a series.
The English dub was produced by The Ocean Group. The dubbed series omits major character deaths and also edits out some violent, bloody and death scenes; one episode from the original version, which focuses on the aftermath of a major character death, is even omitted completely and replaced with a makeshift clip show episode (although some scenes from the omitted episode are included in the replacement).
The series follows 11-year-old Nanami Simpson and her life-long friendship with a female orca named Tico. Nanami lives with her father, marine biologist Scott Simpson, on their research vessel, the Peperonchino, her mother having passed on when she was young. Her friendship with Tico stretches back to when they were babies; Tico was rescued as a baby just before Nanami was born. The two have an unbreakable bond and swim with each other every day. As a result this of, Nanami has learned how to hold her breath longer and swim deeper than other humans can.
Scott has been in search of a creature known as the Luminous Whale, a whale that can glow brightly underwater, for many years and is determined to eventually see it and preserve its existence. His search soon puts him at odds with the Gaiatron Corporation, a greedy research conglomerate led by the ruthless and ambitious Adrienne Benex, who wishes to exploit the creature for a rare element it seemingly carries in its body. Aiding Benex are her right-hand man, Gaulois, and Dr. Charles LeConte, an old acquaintance of Scott's, who is obsessed with the Luminous Whale.
Together, Nanami, Scott, and Tico, along with Scott's first-mate and right-hand man, Al Andretti, seek to locate the Luminous Whale before Benex and Gaiatron can. Over time, they are joined by a few new crew members:
- Cheryl Melville, an English-American heiress looking for adventure.
- James McIntyre, Cheryl's loyal butler, who has been trusted to watch out for her.
- Thomas LeConte, Dr. LeConte's introverted and lonely, but intelligent son, who wishes to prove himself capable in the real world.
- Junior, Tico's calf, who is born about halfway through the series.
As their journey goes on, the crew of the Peperonchino encounter and make both new friends and enemies, and form bonds with each other, as they race against the corrupt Benex and Gaiatron to find the Luminous Whale first.
The series provides examples of:
- Bowdlerise: As mentioned above, many instances of violence have been edited out in the series' English dub. The most infamous is when Tico dies halfway through the series after sacrificing her life to save Al in the Arctic. The following episode in the original version shows the crew of the Peperonchino, especially Nanami, mourning her loss, before ultimately coming to terms with it, and Junior eventually taking his mother's place as Nanami's companion. Nanami and Junior later reunite with Tico's spirit in the series finale. In the dub, Tico is written to have survived but is still injured, and is reluctantly left behind by the crew to recover. She later returns during the crew's visit to Japan, and to keep things consistent as to why one orca is shown, Junior is written out to have left to join a super-pod of whales shortly before her return. As a result, the mourning episode is omitted altogether and replaced with a makeshift clipshow episode (although some clips from the original episode are used in the replacement). Additionally, the whale spirit that Nanami and Tico reunite with is rewritten as that of Tico's own long-lost mother.
- Bound and Gagged: Nanami, in an early episode after being kidnapped by a sea poacher.
- Bookworm: Thomas, due to his high intellect and ability to gather information from the internet.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Adrienne Benex, owner and CEO of Gaiatron Corporation, and her main underling Gaulois. They are shown to be reckless and ruthless in their pursuit of the Luminous Whale and are later revealed to be after it in order to harvest a rare mineral it carries (which makes it glow) in order to weaponize it.
- Family of Choice: The crew of the Peperonchino gradually become this over the course of the series.
- Friendto All Living Things: Nanami, and to a slightly lesser extent, the rest of the Peperonchino crew.
- Interspecies Friendship: Nanami and Tico. The two have been inseparable since being introduced at such a young age. In fact, Tico was rescued on the same day of Nanami's birth.
- Loyal Animal Companion: Tico, and later, her son Junior to Nanami.
- Manchild: Or rather, Womanchild in Cheryl's case on occasion due to her wealthy up bringing, although she does gradually grow out of this as the series goes on. Gayle also shows signs of this due to his scoundrelous nature.
- Parental Neglect: Thomas's father Dr. Charles LeConte often does this to his son due to his pre-occupation with his work, particularly his obsession with searching for the Luminous Whale. This neglect strains his and Thomas's relationship, and eventually causes the latter to run away and join the Peperonchino crew. He does get better near the end of the series though.
- Put on a Bus / The Bus Came Back: Tico and Junior in both versions. See Bowdlerise above for explanation.
- Retcon: Again, see Bowdlerise above for explanation.
- Strong Girl, Smart Guy: Nanami and Thomas. Also, Cheryl and her butler James on occasion.