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Literature / Jumanji

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"Monkeys steal food, miss one turn."

"A young people's jungle adventure especially designed for the bored and restless."
Jumanji Instruction Manual

A Caldecott-winning 1981 book written by Chris Van Allsburg.

It involves two children named Judy and Peter playing a game about a perilous journey into Darkest Africa, but the game begins bringing its events into their home. Can they finish the game before it turns their home into a literal urban jungle?

Made into a film adaption in 1995 (starring Robin Williams as new character Alan Parrish, with Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce portraying Judy and Peter) and an animated series from 1996-1998.

Includes examples of:

  • Action Survivor: You have to become one if you want any hope of surviving Jumanji.
  • Adults Are Useless: The one adult that comes out of the game, a so-called jungle guide, manages to get lost in the kids' living room, and never helps them fend off the animals.
  • Adventurer Outfit: The aforementioned jungle guide wears a classic safari-style getup complete with pith helmet.
  • Animal Stampede: Rhinos stampede through the living room after being freed by a dice roll. They are even on the updated cover!
  • Antagonist Title: Jumanji is the name of the board-game that is causing all the trouble. More specifically, it's the name of the city adjacent to the jungle where everything comes from - the board game itself is just a portal between the jungle and our own world.
  • Artifact of Doom: Though it is not specifically malevolent, the Jumanji board game has the power to release appropriately-themed hazards into the real world.
  • Audio Adaptation: The 30th anniversary edition of the book comes with a CD of Robin Williams reading the story.
  • Bad Vibrations: The kids feel some building up to a rhino stampede. They even awaken Peter from a sleeping sickness contracted by an insect bite.
  • Big Bad: Jumanji. All the animals, natural disasters and other stuff that comes out of the game are just parts of it. The board game is ultimately responsible for every bad thing that happens in the story, and it all goes away once the game is finished.
  • Caps Lock: The instructions have rule D written in such a manner:
  • Cassandra Truth: When Peter suggests asking the zookeeper to take the lion out of the parents' bedroom, Judy informs him that the zookeeper probably wouldn't believe their story. Indeed, when Peter later recounts the events of the game to his and Judy's parents, they seem to believe that the children imagined the events.
  • City of Gold: Jumanji, the city at the end of the game's path, has golden buildings.
  • Climactic Volcano Backdrop: Peter's last turn transforms the fireplace into a volcano, requiring Judy to try and reach the finish in the midst of lava and steam.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: It's illustrated in black and white.
  • Deep Sleep: After Judy and Peter complete and return the game, they start a jigsaw puzzle, then fall asleep until their parents come home.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: The magical game board causes all kinds of animals to break loose from the game and rampage through the house.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The book takes place in one day.
  • The Faceless: None of the adults show their faces in the pictures.
  • Forced Sleep: Peter succumbs to a temporary "sleeping sickness" after getting bitten by a tsetse fly.
  • The Game Come to Life: Everything the game describes comes out of it and attacks.
  • Irony: Peter remarks, before starting the game, that maybe its last players didn't want to keep it because they got bored with it.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The board game itself. It's all dice rolls. The "skill" comes in avoiding the various creatures released by the game.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Some raid the kitchen on Judy's first turn.
  • Meaningful Name: The name "Jumanji" means "many effects" in the Zulu language, referring to the game's reality warping magic.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Justified. The jungle that the Jumanji world is composed of is not a real-world environment, but a fantastical, magical creation of the game that seems based on a 19th Century, pop-culture, Common Knowledge understanding of the jungle, hence all sorts of misplaced wildlife spring from it. For instance, lions and black rhinos don't live in the jungle.
  • No Ontological Inertia: After Judy's piece reaches the city of Jumanji, not only does everything the game put forth disappear, but the damage the animals, storm, and volcano caused becomes undone.
  • Oh, Crap!: How Judy and Peter react to the first and last animals the game conjures up (a lion and a python, respectively).
  • One-Word Title
  • Panthera Awesome: The game conjures a huge male lion to menace the protagonists. Peter traps it in a bedroom.
  • Point of No Return: As soon as you begin playing the game. The game rules even warn you that the wonders of Jumanji will never cease until the game is won, and therefore you must not start the game unless you fully intend to finish it.
  • Reality Warper: The Jumanji board is capable of taking people and creatures of the pseudo-African dimension that exists inside it and even causing floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
  • Reset Button: Finishing the game is so powerful it can even repair collateral damage.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Who made Jumanji? What sort of magic did they use? Are the jungle and the city real places (alternate dimension or otherwise) to which the game is merely a portal or a fictional world of the game's creation? We'll never know, and, in-universe, characters who've played the game don't want to know.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: Happens when the game unleashes a monsoon inside the house.
  • Sequel Hook: Two more children, Danny and Walter, find the game at the end. While Chris Van Allsburg didn't have a story for them in mind yet, their adventure eventually became shared in Zathura.
  • Serial Escalation: The game's danger compounds rapidly until the end.
  • Sibling Team: Judy and Peter.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: One of Peter's last turns causes an eight-foot python to appear on the mantel.
  • Title Drop/Say My Name: The winner is the first player to reach Jumanji and call out its name.
  • Trash the Set: Almost any time a creature from Jumanji appears on-scene.
  • When Dimensions Collide: Things that come from Jumanji seem quite able to continue to work on the rules of their homeworld.
  • Yellow Brick Road: Once the players start down the road, they must play the game all the way through in order to escape and undo the damage done.