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Literature / Barbapapa

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"Here is the star, it's Barbapapa
He'll introduuuce...
All of the other Barbapapas
They've got a lot of wild disguises
They can change their shapes and sizes
Very easily!"

If you live in France, chances are you've heard of Barbapapa, a series of children's books from the 1970's that were created by the French-American couple Annette Tison and Talus Taylor. Since then, the series has become popular worldwide with many books being sold in different languages, and it has gained three animated series. The title itself is based on a child's mispronunciation of the French term for cotton candy, "Barbe à papa" (literally: daddy's beard).

Barbapapa himself is a generally papaya-shaped, pink shapeshifting Blob Monster who grew from the ground in two humans, Cindy and Frank'snote  garden. The shapeshifting is usually accompanied by the saying "Clickety click—Barbatrick!"note  (or in the 1970s British dub, "All change!", and in the 2019 reboot, "Click clack click, Barbatrick!"). He tries to fit in with the human world while using his shapeshifting ability to help those around him.

After travelling around the world in order to find himself a mate, Barbapapa finally comes across a female of his species (more shapely and black-coloured) named Barbamama. They start a big family together and produce seven children; four sons -

  • Barbabravonote , a sports fan and amateur Kid Detective (red)
  • Barbabrightnote , a scientist (blue)
  • Barbazoonote , a nature enthusiast (yellow)
  • and Barbabeaunote , a painter (black, and the only one with fur),
as well as three daughters -
  • Barbalala, a musician (green)
  • Barbabellenote , a narcissistic beauty queen (purple/magenta)
  • and Barbalibnote , an intelligent bookworm (orange).


After the success of the book series, an animated series of the same name began airing on ORTF Télévision and TF1 in France in 1974, and would help the franchise gain more popularity. Originally animated by PolyScope BV in the Netherlands, the second season saw a switch to Japan with the studios KSS and Topcraft. Every single character was voiced by the narrator, Ricet Barrier in the first season, while they're Suddenly Voiced in the second. Two seasons of the series were produced with 100 episodes in total, and every episode was also 5 minutes long. It gained a Dutch dub, and two Japanese dubs; one of which aired on TV Tokyo in Japan, and the other was released by Sony Music Entertainment on home media.

This series has five English dubs: a British English dub that premiered on January 17, 1975 on BBC One (and was narrated by Michael Flanders), an American English dub narrated by Allen Swift that aired in syndication from 1977 to 1983 (and also goes for a more Gag Dub vibe), a Canadian English dub that premiered shortly after the American one that premiered on TVOntario on September 17, 1977, and a Japanese English dub that was released on home media in Japan. In 2006, another American English dub was made by Centauro Comunicaciones, and it was primarily released on home media in South Korea in order to teach Korean kids English. Beginning November 2022, it can be viewed officially on YouTube.

In 1999, an anime series known as Barbapapa Around the Worldnote  that was produced by Kodansha premiered on NHK Educational TV. The series continued the adventures of the Barbapapa family as they travelled around the world. Lolita, a dalmatian dog that the family brings along on their trips that first appeared in the books would become a series regular.note  The anime was very short-lived in comparison to the 70s series as only one 50-episode season was made, and it wasn't distributed to many countries (although like the original, it still did receive an English dub under Centauro). However, in 2001 it received a Play Station Licensed Game in Japan.

In June 2017, TF1 announced the production of a reboot of the series entitled Barbapapa: One Big Happy Family! (also known as Barbapapa and Family)note , that would later premiere in France in November 2019, and would be distributed to many Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. channels the following year. Other than being distributed to many more countries in various languages, what made this series stand out from the other two is that now each episode is 11-minutes long as opposed to five.

Barbapapa contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Location Change: Strangely, the 2019 reboot changes the location of the show from France to the United States (although not much changes besides that, and it's only ever indicated in passing once). Oh, the irony.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The Israeli song made in the 1978 based on the series starts with Barbapapa growing up and being shunned by everyone for looking weird. Then he meets Barbamama and it's Love at First Sight and Happily Ever After.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song:
    • In Japan, the original series was originally given an entirely different intro sequence ("Barbafamily no uta"), as well as a different outro. The re-dub of the series went back to dubbing the original intro.
    • In the United States, the intro that aired was a remix of the original theme, taken from one of the scores of the series. It also skips the roll call. The dub also has a different outro that was based off the "Barbapapa Rock" song.
  • Art Evolution: Went through this at least thrice with the TV shows:
    • The switch from the first season being animated in the Netherlands, to the second being animated in Japan, has lead to key differences in the design and animation of the show, such as lighter colors, lip flaps suddenly being animated and Barbamama and Barbapapa being skinnier. The movements of the characters are more stiff.
    • Around the World, being completely animated in Japan, has much more of an art style one would expect from anime. Additionally, the movement is more smooth, but the colors are paler than usual.
    • As animation technology has changed greatly in the 2010's, the 2019 reboot, being animated in France, is now puppet animated (instead of traditionally), and has a more refined and consistent art style, while still looking faithful to the old series and retaining its general charm.
  • Beach Episode: There is one early in the original series' run, aptly titled, well, "Beach". Frank and Cindy take Barbapapa to a public beach, where they have an underwater trip in the ocean.
  • Birthday Episode: Two in the original series for Barbapapa and baby Alice, and another in the 2019 reboot for the Barbababies.
  • Blob Monster: Essentially what the Barbapapas are; blob creatures with no feet (at their native form) that can turn into anything they want while remaining their color.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lolita is treated like this a lot in Around the World, despite the anime being her first major appearance in animation. It isn't that the other Barbapapas don't like her (and she still remains very loyal to Barbabravo), but she suffers through a lot no mater where it may be.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Whenever the Barbapapas shapeshift into something in the animated series, they usually say the phrase "Hup hup hup, Barbatruc !". This changes depending on the English dub:
    • The most popular phrase is "Clickety click, Barbatrick!", which was used in the Canadian English dub.
    • In the Centauro American English, they simply say "Barbatrick!".
    • In the 70s British English dub, they say "All change!".
    • In the Magno American English dub, they don't exactly have a transformation phrase, but rather, they make up a quick rhyme that matches whatever they're transforming into.
    • In the Japanese English dub, they don't say anything specific when they shapeshift, other than situational responses.
    • This phrase is dropped completely in Around the World.
    • In One Big Happy Family! (which was also dubbed in the UK), the English phrase was changed to "Click clack click, Barbatrick!". It is also used less often.
  • Character in the Logo: There are two variants on the series' logo that feature the Barbapapa family in them. One of them has the Barbas holding the letters forming the show's title, while the other features them as the letters. The latter of which is done in both the 1974 and 2019 TV series.
  • Christmas Episode: The "Christmas" episode of the 70s series.
  • Color-Coded Characters: As all of the Barbapapas and Barbamamas have similar shapes, aside from a few other features that help them stand out, the characters are color-coded so you can easily tell who's who.
    • Barbapapa is pink.
    • Both Barbamama and Barbabeau are black.
    • Barbabravo is red.
    • Barbalib is orange.
    • Barbazoo is yellow.
    • Barbabelle is purple (magenta in the 70s series).
    • Barbabright is blue.
    • Barbalala is green.
  • Compilation Movie:
    • In 1973 (which predates when the show premiered in France by a year), episodes of the original series were re-packaged into a full-length film in Italy titled "Le avventure di Barbapapà". When the full series aired a few years later on TV, it would be re-dubbed (and then re-dubbed once again in 2006).
    • This happened again in French theaters in 2021, with One Big Happy Family! episodes being repackaged into a film.
  • Creator Provincialism: In one of the books, when Barbapapa returns from a space trip looking for a partner, we are shown Europe with only one point of reference: the Eiffel Tower. Three guesses where the authors lived...
    Harry: All my stuff is there.
  • Denser and Wackier: Although it's not the most drastic tone shift, the 2019 reboot is definitely this when compared to what the original series was known for.
  • Dub Name Change: Now has its own page.
  • Gag Dub: When compared to the other English dubs, the American English dub of the 70s series by Magno counts as this. A lot of the dialogue was re-written to be more witty and funny, and the accents of all the Barbababies were changed to be more accurate to typical accents; such as Barbabeau and Barbabravo having obvious New Yorker accents, Barbabright being British, and Barbabelle resembling a Southern Belle.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: In Iceland, the episode titles to the 70s series all start with "Barba-" (e.g. "Barbaegg", "Barbapress" and so on).
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: The theme song to the 70s series in the Japanese English dub.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Quite literally, as Ricet Barrier voiced everyone in the 70s series.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Barbapapa and Barbamama have seven children together, who are all septuplets.
  • Same Language Dub: As mentioned, the 70s series was dubbed in English for five markets; the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, and South Korea.note  Just as well, the series received two Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Latin American and European Spanish dubs, and three Finnish and Swedish dubs.
  • Serious Business: In an episode of the 2019 reboot, Barbabright and Barbabravo insult each other by calling each other a vegetable. But once the former calls the latter a "brussels sprout", Barbabravo instantly tells him to take it back.
  • Shout-Out: In one episode of One Big Happy Family!, Barbabright sings a song that vaguely parodies Pikotaro's "Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen".
  • The Show of the Books: The show Barbapapa was adapted from the book series of the same name by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor. Even the 2019 reboot was based on the Barbapapa en famille ! books that were produced a few years prior.
  • Signature Sound Effect: That one sound effect whenever the Barbapapas shapeshift into whatever they want to, used most frequently in the 70s series.
  • The Song Remains the Same: There are a few cases where the Theme Tune in the original series was left undubbed. One of the Arabic dubs left it undubbed from the Dutch intro, and typically the Albanian dub left it undubbed from the Italian intro (with subtitles).
  • Spin-Off: Two of them. Barbapapa Around the World, a 1999 anime that was produced some years after the 70s series, and the 2019 reboot Barbapapa: One Big Happy Family!.
  • Suddenly Voiced: A literal case of this trope. Originally, the first Barbapapa TV series was done in the same vein as Thomas & Friends, with all of the characters being voiced by the narrator, Ricet Barrier. Some dubs would do the same, others would give them all unique voices or a male voice actor does the men while the female voice actor does the women. By season two however, it would become a standard that all of the Barbapapas and the narrator would have their own separate voices performed by different actors, which started to make a lot of sense when one considers that this season was when they started to give characters' mouths lip flaps. This practice would continue with the two other Spin-Offs that would come out.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: All of the girls have flowers on their head. Since the Barbafamily consists of amorphous blobs, it's one of the only signs, other than the shape of their body. Interestingly, they all have eyelashes.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call:
    • One of the most iconic things about the original theme song is that it roll called all of the Barbapapas. It only made sense that the 2019 reboot would follow suit. Only the 1999 anime does not do this.
    • The British English dub decides to take a new spin on the roll call; instead of singing the names, a person quickly lists all of the Barbapapas, and then does it again just in case you missed it. And then does it thrice in the album version. Averted in the American English dub by Magno, as it ditches the roll call completely.
  • Title, Please!:
    • The classical episodes do not have a title card normally; in some French broadcasts, a title actually is shown on screen for the old episodes. The 2019 reboot is the only series to avert this completely, as a rather trippy title card is shown at the start of every episode.
    • The 1999 anime spin-off, Barbapapa Around the World, was not given an official English title at all. The dub itself uses a master which does not even show a title card. This title was instead given by the fans as a direct translation of the original.
  • Title Theme Tune: All three series, although only the first is simply titled "Barbapapa".
    • "Here is the star, it's Barbapapa!"
    • "Let’s Barbafly all together with Barbapapa!"
    • "Here come all the Barbapapas! Welcome all the Barbapapas!"
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Barbabravo loves eating popcorn in Around the World.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Barbapapas can all shapeshift into anything they want at will.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: Weirdly done at least two times in the Centauro dub of the original with Barbabeau. In one instance, he yells at Barbabelle for this.


Video Example(s):


You brussels sprout!

In one episode of One Big Happy Family!, Barbabright and Barbabravo get into an argument and insult each other with the names of vegetables. The latter takes offense to the former calling him a brussels sprout as if it's some kind of terrible crime.

How well does it match the trope?

4.64 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ITakeOffenseToThatLastOne

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