The Marsupilami is a fictional animal species starring in two Belgian comic book series that got adapted twice into an animated series. Marsupilamis are monkeylike, black-spotted yellow creatures with an insanely long Prehensile Tail, from the Banana Republic of Palombia.
Marsupilamis were created by André Franquin for the Spirou and Fantasio album Spirou et les héritiers (Spirou and the Heirs) in 1956. Capturing one of these elusive and fictional critters was the goal of one the trials the title heirs were tasked to do to receive their inheritance. The captured marsupilami (nicknamed "the Marsupilami") became a Team Pet for the duration of Franquin's run, serving as Plucky Comic Relief, Big Guy and Deus ex Machina, thanks to his ever-expanding list of anatomical peculiarities. When Franquin left the series, he kept the rights to the species, and the appearances of the Marsupilami dwindled in his birth series, before finally stopping in 1970. He remains one of the most popular characters of the series.
In 1987, Franquin created his own Marsupilami comic book series, soon taken over by artist Batem (backed by numerous teams of writers, including, in the first few books, Michel Greg, the creator of Achille Talon), that is still running to this day. While readers frequently get confused, the Marsupilami seen in this series and Spirou's one aren't the same character, in spite of their being absolutely identical in appearance; a Retcon eventually showed they were twin brothers. There were two Animated Adaptations of the series, the first sticking very close to the tone and feel of the comics, and the second one bringing in a new set of human characters (who were later integrated into the comics) and adopting a slightly more angular, anime-like artstyle.
In 2012, a Franco-Belgian live-action movie, HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami (Sur la piste du Marsupilami) was released. Loosely based on the Franquin comics, it tells the story of a French reporter and his guide, who stumble upon the legendary Marsupilami.
And yes, that's two characters, one comic, one film, three cartoons and a publishing house all named Marsupilami.
The Marsupilami provides examples of:
- Applied Phlebotinum: Is there anything the Marsupilamis' tails are not good for? They can use it as a lasso, as a fist, as a big spring they can jump on... In fact, the Marsupilami himself can be categorized as an Applied Phlebotinum in the Spirou series. How many times has he conveniently revealed New Powers as the Plot Demands?
- Banana Republic: The marsupilamis live in the jungles of Palombia, a Latin-American country with a chronically unstable government.
- Breakout Character: As explained above, the Marsupilami started out as the Team Pet of Spirou and Fantasio.
- Cartoon Creature: The title characters.
- Cartoony Tail: Of course.
- Catchphrase: "Houba!" (the full phrase is "houba houba hop!"), present in both comic and animated series. Female marsupilamies go "Houbi!" and juveniles "Bi!" It's a big deal when they graduate to the adult versions. It's nearly the only syllables they can ever utter, although it depends on the material. Franquin's work on Spirou has the Marsupilami growling, roaring and making all sorts of noises beside "Houba!" He could even mimic human speech like a parrot, a trait rarely used in other adaptations. In the Disney series, his other phrase besides "HOUBA!" is "I'm Marsupilami, And this is my gorilla pal, Maurice!"
- Distaff Counterpart: The Marsupilamie.
- Green Aesop: Destroying the Amazonian rainforest is bad, mmkay?
- The Kiddie Ride: From the makers of the offensive Donald Duck ride, in the same offensive pose◊. Pass the Brain Bleach, please!
- Natural Weapon: The Marsupilami's tail is as good as one.
- Portmanteau: "Marsupilami" is one of the words "marsupial", Pilou-Pilou (the French name for Eugene the Jeep, a character Franquin loved as a kid) and "ami", French for "friend".