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Web Animation / The Rhino And The Redbill

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Red: I'll be on the lookout. Everything's completely safe.

In the wild, Rhinos and Red-Billed Oxpeckers have a very unique symbiotic relationship. The oxpeckers spend their day nestled on top of the rhino for food and protection, and in return they help to alert the often visually-impaired rhinos if there is danger in the area. They can however, be a nuisance to their hosts, often picking at wounds when searching for food, and their bond can quickly turn parasitic

The Rhino and The Redbill (also known as Tales from Scorchwater Valley) is a canadian CGI web animation pilot by Alex Henderson. Originally funded by Kickstarter in 2020 (even before that, it had a failed campaign in 2018, when the project was called "The Rhino and The Oxpecker"), it was released on Youtube and Newgrounds on February 15, 2022.

The story, based off the symbiotic relationship between the two titular species in real life, follows Niles, a blind but kickass rhinoceros, and Red, a flightless red-billed oxpecker, working together to survive the drought-ravaged wasteland that is Scorchwater Valley and find somewhere safe to live on it. Their deal is it as follows: Red serves as the guide and navigator for Niles, and in return the rhino promises to help his bird friend to traverse the dangerous valley and possibly raise an unhatched egg together. However, with their respective physical disablities, their conflicting personalities and the fact that EVERYONE is out to get them, this will prove to be a difficult task.


Currently the only episode avaiable it's the pilot (which can be viewed here and here), but the creator has stated that it would serve as a proof of concept for producing more content with the characters in the future.

The Rhino and The Redbill provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: An interesting inversion: the entire short is animated in cel-shaded CGI, but some backgrounds (mostly static ones) were actually drawn in 2D with the 3D characters and elements added later.
  • All There in the Manual: Some lore about the series was only revealed in concept art and promotional material, such as Niles' job as a mercenary or Red's real name being Redford.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The pilot ends with Niles and Red heading towards the eponymous Valley, suggesting that Rolo most likely won't be the last danger the duo might encounter in their journey.
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  • Appropriate Animal Attire: Niles and Rolo are fully dressed (although Niles doesn't wear any footwear) while Red is always naked, possibly because he's a bit closer to his real-life counterpart compared to the former two.
  • The Big Guy: Niles definitely applies, not just for his species, but his badassery in general.
  • Crapsack World: Scorchwater Valley (formerly Springwater) is this in spades. Thanks to a drought, the Valley has become overrun with many dangerous factions that do unspeakable things to survive, with Rolo's scavenger gang just being one of them.
  • Chromosome Casting: Currently there's no female characters in the main cast, other than one of Rolo's henchmen, who only has a few lines of dialogue.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: During the minecart scene, Niles easily puts many scavengers out of commission with his fists, with a little help of Red guiding him to where to aim.
  • Egg MacGuffin: Niles (relunctantly) and Red are taking care of an unhatched egg named "Sam". Whether the baby is Red's biological child or not hasn't been clarified yet.
  • Face of a Thug: Niles can easily be mistaken for a bad guy thanks to his appearance and overall demeanor, but he's a pretty gentle fella nonetheless.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Niles does this to Red often as a Dope Slap of sorts. Considering their size difference and the former's strenght is enough to break the bones of such a tiny bird, this is Justified.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Even though Red has apologized for getting them into trouble, Niles actively states that he will have to earn the his trust back if he wants to continue with their partnership, as well as any help on raising Sam.
  • Handicapped Badass: Niles is completely blind, but that doesn't stop him from being a force to be recknoned with, taking down enemies with his bare fists or his walking stick. To an extent, Red has a broken wing and can't fly for very long, and yet he often puts himself in danger in order to save his friend and unhatched child, including pecking Rolo's face.
  • Heinous Hyena: Rolo Redstone, the main antagonist of the pilot, has all of the negative traits of hyenas in fitcion, although he also seems to be an Evil Genius considering he has built a Humongous Mecha out of spare parts.
  • How Many Fingers?: When Red notices that Niles seems to be about to pass out from dehydration, he uses his Feather Fingers to conduct this test... forgetting that his friend is blind.
    Niles: You know, I never get tired of that joke. How many fingers am I holding up? (it shows him about to raise his middle finger before it cuts to Red's reaction)
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: A non-injury example. Niles instructs Red to go on without him twice in the pilot: once in the beginning when he's too tired and dehydrated to keep moving, and at the climax, as the duo finds themselves cornered by Rolo's giant robot. In both cases, Red sticks by his friend and encourages him to continue their journey together.
  • Low Clearance: While the main duo are having a Casual Danger Dialogue during the minecart scene, Niles gets bumped in the back of his head by a low obstacle, leaving him unconscious for a while, long enough that Red worringly thinks his friend has died.
  • Missing Mom: If Sam is indeed Red's biological child, we currently have no clue to what happened to the mother.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The entire conflict of the pilot is set because Red tricks Niles into taking an uncharted route in order for them to make it to an outpost faster. This backfires as the route was filled with a gang of mentally unstable scavengers that want to harvest Niles' horn.
  • Oh, Crap!: Niles has this reaction after realizing that Red tricked him into taking the shortcut. Red himself also has this reaction upon seeing the mutltitude of skeletons around the mine.
    • Later, Rolo has the exact reaction when he finds out that his robot is about to explode after the main duo manages to jam its exhaust pipe.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Niles spends the majority of the pilot with a frown on his face. The closest he's been to smiling is near the end, when he and Red let out a bit of Mirthless Laughter to each other after surviving the explosion of Rolo's robot.
  • Reflectionless Useless Eyes: Niles' blind eyes are given grey pupils (as if they were clouded) to differentiate them from Red's and Rolo's eyes, which work normally. Although, the couple of times his face is zoomed in, he does indeed have light reflecting on them.
  • Rollercoaster Mine: Since most of the pilot takes place in a mine, it was pretty predictable that Niles and Red would end up in a minecart at one point.
  • Rhino Rampage: Niles is a downplayed example. While he does have the strenght and bad eyesight characteristic of the media portrayal of rhinos, he's not overly violent and is shown to be intelligent and compassionate, if a bit of a Dead Pan Snarker.
  • Run or Die: Once the main duo is surrounded by Mooks after breaking free, Niles, despite being able to knock the down easily earlier, quickly gets overwhelmed by them due to the fact that his blindness makes them more terryfing and decides to run away instead of fighting them, much to Red's disappointment.
  • Sinister Switchblade: Zig-zagged. Niles, one of the good guys, did had a switchblade to defend himself when the main duo first meet Rolo. After being captured, though, the rhino drops the knife and it's shown not long after that Rolo took possession of it.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Red notices that there's a trail in the middle of a trench that's not on the map, and despite Niles' skeptcism, he gets tricked by his oxpecker friend into taking the route anyway. Turns out, there was a good reason why the route was uncharted: the trench was infested with scavengers, and probably until that point, nobody made it out alive.
  • Spider Tank: Rolo's gigantic mecha has some spider-like qualities.
  • Stronger Than They Look: Red, despite being the size of Niles' ears, somehow is still able to move his friend's heavy body effortlessly after the rhino is made unconscious during the end of the minecart scene.
  • Toothy Bird: A rare CGI example, Red bares his teeth when awkwardly smiling after realizing that the shortcut he chose wasn't safe after all.
  • The Stinger: After the credits roll, a scene is played that features a shady-looking Cape Buffalo that seems to be hunting Niles and Red, for currently unknown reasons.
  • The Symbiote: Of the mutualism type: Red cannot fly for very long thanks to an injured wing, as well as having an unhatched child on the way, so he enlists Niles' help for transportation, in exchange for help the blind rhino navigate through the Valley. Although, considering how often the two argue, it may also be a bit parasitic on a psychological level.
  • Too Much Information: Red, in order to regain Niles' trust, lets out many stuff he's been hiding from his blind friend... including the fact that he has been naked the entire time. Niles' reaction suggests he wishes he didn't knew about that.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: When Niles and Red are first captured, you can see multiple other prisoners trapped in cages in the same room they are in, presumably to also be harvested, like how it was intended to be done with Niles' horn. After the main duo escape, they leave these other prisoners behind (not that they would be able to help them out in the first place), and we never learn their fates for the rest of the episode.
  • World of Funny Animals: Considering that the series IS named after the main characters' species, this seems pretty obvious. However, the premise makes it clear that the world they live in is anything but funny.