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Western Animation / Boo Boom! The Long Way Home

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From left to right: Boo-Boom, riding Boldsteed, Cristopher, Jack and Aurelia.

Boo Boom! The Long Way Home, original title Bu-Bum! La strada verso casa, is an Italian animation series created by Maurizio Forestieri. It consists of 26 episodes.

It's set in Italy circa 1944, near the end of World War II. A young boy and his family are forced to flee their home when the fights between the Germans and the Allied forces reach their village in central Italy. Due to an air attack on the truck transporting them, the boy is separated from his parents. The shock also renders him mostly mute. He is found by a group of animals consisting of the Sicilian horse Boldsteed (Leoncavallo), the Roman cat Aurelia, a talkative Tuscan rooster named Christopher (Cristoforo), an American military bulldog named Jack, and a bee named B-17. The five animals nickname the boy Boo-Boom, after the only 2 words he can still speak, and set out to try and find his parents, only helped by a photograph that Boo-Boom still carries.

Along the way, they encounter several other problems while they navigate war torn Italy, and meet various characters like the resistance fighter Mario, a teenage street urchin named Viola, and an old teacher named Mr. Rossellini.

All episodes in the English dub can be found on this Youtube channel, while the original Italian dub can be seen on rayplay.

The series provides examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Jack wears a pair of pilot goggles and a parachute harness. Boldsteed wears a cap.
  • Adults Are Useless: Played with. Most of the adults they meet along the way who are not associated with the Germans are willing to help Boo-Boom when they run into him, like providing him with information, food or tools, but somehow they never seem to have any qualms about letting Boo-Boom continue his travels alone with just his animals for company, or even consider if it would be safer for the boy to stay with them. Two notable exceptions are Mr. Rossellini (who actually accompanies Boo-Boom for a few episodes until a broken ankle forces him to quit the search), and Officer Landolfi, a police officer allied with the Italian Resistance, who allows Boo-Boom to stay with him, his wife and his daughter while sending out a message to all refugee camps for Boo-Booms' parents. (Unfortunately, Boo-Boom and his friends must flee the house when a group of German soldiers comes looking for them).
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Officer Landolfi's young daughter takes an instant liking to Boo Boom and his animals, but Boldsteed most of all.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: All five animal characters are clearly more intelligent than their real life counterparts, from being able to understand what humans say, to willingly helping Boo-Boom to find his parents. They also protect him from harm, since they know he won't make it on his own.
  • Arms Dealer: Boo-Boom and the animals encounter an arms smuggler in episode 22 when they try to escape from a group of German soldiers, and hide in a cave which the arms dealer was also using as a hideout. When the man realizes Boo-Boom unintentionally led the Germans to his lair, he forces the group to help him move his weapons elsewhere by threatening to tear up Boo-Boom's photograph of his parents if they don’t comply.
  • Artificial Limbs: Christopher lost his tail some time ago, so he uses a broom as an improvised replacement.
  • Animal Talk: All animals save B-17 can talk with each other. Boo-Boom also appears to understand them, but other humans cannot.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Discussed in episode 25, when two German soldiers are in doubt if Boo Boom's dad is a fugitive they were looking for, and decide to arrest him just to be sure.
    Soldier #1: Could it be him?
    Soldier #2: The description said he had a thick beard, I think. But a beard can always be shaved off.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In Episode 23, while searching for a parachute shipment of supplies dropped by the Allies, Boo-Boom and the animals encounter a bear and are forced to hide in a tree. Later, a group of German soldiers also looking for the shipment (and the paratrooper that also landed nearby) have a run-in with the same bear.
  • Bee Afraid: Despite being alone, and being a honeybee (who in real life would die after stinging), B-17 occasionally pulls this off against enemies.
  • Beware of Vicious Dog: A pack of really mean street dogs attack the protagonists in the first episode, forcing Boldsteed, Christopher, and Aurelia to fight them off. Dogs used by the German soldiers also fall under this trope. Averted of course with Jack and with Mr. Rossellini’s dog.
  • Big Dam Plot: Episode 16 features Boo-Boom and his animals stopping the Germans from blowing up a dam.
  • The Big Guy: Being a horse, Boldsteed is easily the biggest and strongest member of the group. He frequently carries all his teammates at once, and is the most useful in a fight. However, he is also very much a Gentle Giant who often acts as the voice of reason within the group.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his 5 animal friends.
  • Bully Bulldog: Averted (despite being set in the 1940's). Jack is a friendly and heroic dog who is firmly on the side of the good guys.
  • The Cassandra: Episode 16 features a story teller who knows the Germans are planning to blow up a nearby dam, but is not believed by the villagers due to being considered an absent-minded fool.
  • Cain and Abel: Mario and his identical twin John (Giovanni in the Italian dub) are like this, since Mario is a member of the Italian resistance while John is allied with the Germans. In episode 7, John shows up with 2 German soldiers at Rossellini’s school, where an injured Mario is being nursed to health, to arrest his brother. However, he pulls a Heel–Face Turn when he realizes the Germans want to execute Mario, rather than just arrest him.
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted with Aurelia, who is firmly on the side of the protagonists. Played straight with a group of street cats who Christopher encounters in episode 12.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Aurelia, especially towards Christopher.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The series doesn't have a constant tone; it frequently switches between lighthearted and comedic plots in one episode, and Darker and Edgier plots in others.
  • Cheerful Child: Boo-Boom remains optimistic most of the time, in spite of his situation.
  • Christmas Episode: Episode 24, which is set on Christmas Eve. Boo-Boom and the animals, a group of German soldiers, and a group of Allied soldiers all end up lost in the same woods, and through sheer coincidence, they run into each other at a cave Boo-Boom and his friends were using as shelter. When they notice Boo-Boom is in a bad condition due to the cold, both groups of soldiers put their differences aside to help him, which leads to all soldiers realizing they are not that different. After celebrating Christmas Eve together, they part ways on friendly terms. Meanwhile in a nearby village, Boo-Boom's parents help the villagers set up their own Christmas celebration.
  • Circus Episode:
    • In episode 6 the heroes encounter a traveling circus in a largely abandoned town, that has been caught in a bombardment. As such, most of the staff has fled. Only the ringmaster and the animals stayed behind. They help the ringmaster locate his trained lion, who has wandered off into town to look for her lost cub. They also get a private performance from the circus animals.
    • Episode 9, the protagonists themselves form a traveling circus for a while in order to raise some money, but are forced to quit again when they become wanted by the military for assisting a deserter (see Friendly Enemy below) and being a circus would attract too much attention.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Jack, twice. Both times involving members of his army division:
    • Episode 3 the group discovers that the 2 pilots of the plane that brought Jack to Italy are being held captive nearby, and free them. The men fix their plane and leave Italy, with Jack initially deciding to go with them. However, he changes his mind since he wants to help Boo-Boom first.
    • In Episode 23, the group encounters a paratrooper from Jack's army division, who landed in the area along with some crates of supplies but got injured during the landing, forcing him to seek shelter in an abandoned mountain hut. Jack is forced to choose between staying with the man (who fondly remembers Jack), or continuing his journey with his new friends. He eventually picks the latter. Fortunately, the paratrooper understands his decision.
  • Cool Teacher: Mr. Rossellini qualifies.
  • Cute Mute: Boo-Boom.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Boldsteed is revealed to have one right in the first episode. He was a farmers horse who led a happy life on the island of Sicily, until he was confiscated by the army and brought to mainland Italy to serve as a war horse. Now in a strange land and with no way of ever getting home again, he spent months working for the military and witnessing the horrors of the war first hand before he escaped and found Boo-Boom.
    • Viola as well; her parents were killed in the war, after which she became a Street Urchin, fending for herself and growing to distrust everyone else.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Although his name is in the title and the search for his parents is what drives the plot, it’s actually Boo-Boom's animal companions who do most of the work and get the most screen time.
  • Disney Death: Twice in the series finale; first Jack apparently dies when he falls into the ravine along with a tank (he gets out in time), and later Boo-Boom is seemingly killed by an explosion (it just send him into a tree).
  • Dub Name Change: The changes between the original Italian version and the English version are:
    • Bu-Bum - Boo-Boom.
    • Leoncavallo - Boldsteed.
    • Cristoforo - Christopher.
  • Ear Notch: Aurelia has a notch in her right ear and is completely missng the top half of her left ear.
  • Evil Orphanage Lady: The Orphanage of Fear from episode 20 is led by a military version of this named Hilda. She returns again in episode 22 to try and take revenge on Boo-Boom for destroying her orphanage.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Although the shows intro is an Instrumental Theme Tune with no dialogue or lyrics, it still manages to play this trope straight by showing a compilation of clips from the first 2 episodes that effectively tell the viewer how Boo Boom ended up in his current position.
  • False Friend: Episode 5 the heroes befriend 3 travelling musicians and accompany them to the next village, but once there the 3 reveal themselves to be German soldiers, travelling incognito to track down members of the resistance. Fortunately, Boo-Boom met Mario earlier, who thought him a tune to whistle in case of danger, and he uses this to warn them, resulting in the 3 soldiers getting captured.
  • The Fagin: Episode 11 resolves around a husband and wife couple of smugglers, who force orphans to help them with their business. Boo-Boom is also drafted into their group, despite attempts from Viola (who, at the time, was also working for them after abandoning the others) to prevent this, but in the end both villains are arrested and all orphans freed from their clutches.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Aurelia, the cat, is female, while Jack, the dog, is male.
  • The Fettered: In episode 19 Boo-Boom and his animals encounter a retired general who fought in World War I. He fondly remembers that war, in which (according to him at least) honor, discipline and following military protocol were considered high ideals that he still holds on to, and loathes the current generation of the military that lacks these qualities.
  • Friendly Enemy: Although most Germans in the series are clearly the bad guys, this trope does pop up from time to time:
    • Episode 9, the group encounters a soldier who deserted after he got in trouble with his commanding officer for letting a group of prisoners escape. Boo-Boom and his friends allow him to join their travelling circus for a while, but when this lands them in hot water with the German soldiers as well he decides to leave the group again, not wanting to put their lives at risk.
    • Episode 17 features a German medic who, despite technically being a Nazi, gives the sick Boo-Boom the medicine that he needs and keeps the boy’s presence secret from his fellow soldiers.
    • In the Christmas Episode (see above), the German and British soldiers become this to each other respectively.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Jack always wears a pair of pilot goggles, but they are more for the show than anything else. In episodes 23 and 24 he uses them as protection during a snow storm, but it doesn’t really seem to give him any advantage over the others, who don’t wear eye protection.
  • The Heart: Boo-Booms main role in the group.
  • Heroic Dog: Jack is an army dog brought to Italy by the Allied forces.
  • Holiday Ceasefire: Episode 24, which is the show's Christmas Episode, a group of German soldiers and a group of Allied soldiers both end up lost in the same woods, and through sheer coincidence, they run into each other at a cave Boo-Boom and his friends were using as shelter. When they notice Boo-Boom is in a bad condition due to the cold, both groups of soldiers put their differences aside to help him, which leads to all soldiers realizing they are Not So Different. After celebrating Christmas Eve together, they part ways on friendly terms.
  • The Homeward Journey: It’s even in the show's title.
  • Hope Spot: Episode 9 provides one for Boo-Booms parents when they run into the Prima Donna Director from episode 4, and see his movie, which stars Boo-Boom. It’s the first concrete evidence they get that their son is still alive, and out there searching for them.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The animals in the series have no high opinion about humans, especially not because they're the ones that started the war. Several times the protagonists encounter other animals who wonder why in the world the 4 main characters are even assisting a human boy, citing this trope as the reason.
  • The Klutz: Christopher is quite prone to causing accidents.
  • Limited Wardrobe: See that oversized military uniform Boo-Boom wears in the page image? He found it in episode 1 and it became his sole garment for the entire series, regardless of the weather or season. Justified since it's war time and the characters are constantly on the move.
  • Lovable Coward: Christopher is easily frightened and prefers to stay far away from trouble; however, he will fight if pushed too far.
  • Love Redeems: For Viola, falling in love with Mario fully completes her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Christopher has shades of this; he really likes to see himself as the hero and most important member of the group, and constantly brags about his many skills, but his cowardly nature and being the comic relief makes it impossible for him to live up to these claims.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Several times Boo-Boom comes very close to being reunited with his parents, but circumstances always prevent their paths from crossing and neither he nor they ever realize how close they were.
  • Missing Child: Your young son is lost in the middle of a war, possibly all on his own now, and you have no idea where he is or if he’s even alive. Quite a nightmare for any parent.
  • Narrator All Along: The narrator that opens each episode with a quick recap of the previous episodes is in the closing narration of episode 26 revealed to be the now adult Boo Boom reflecting back on his adventure.
  • Nice Mice: A large group of mice helps Jack, Boldsteed, Aurelia and Christopher to bust Boo-Boom out of an Orphanage of Fear, in return for Aurelia’s promise not to eat them.
  • No One Could Survive That!: In Episode 22, Boo-Boom and the animals pull off one of these when being pursuit by some Germans, led by the Evil Orphanage Lady Hilda, in the mountains. They leap down a cliff during a mud slide, leading the Germans to believe they died while in fact all six of them end up with just some scratches.
  • Noodle Incident: How Christopher lost his tail and ended up practically bald is left a mystery. He only ever states that it's "a war wound", but never goes into details.
  • Off Bridge, onto Vehicle: In Episode 25, Boo-Boom does this in order to get onto the train transporting his parents to a prison camp, after the original plan to keep the train from departing in the first place fails.
  • Official Couple: Viola and Mario towards the end of the series.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: For pretty much the entire series, the boy is solely addressed by the name Boo-Boom, but that is just a nickname his animal companions made up for him since they don’t know his real name, and he is unable to tell them. His real name is eventually revealed to be Phillip (Filippo in the Itialian dub).
  • Orphanage of Fear: In episode 20, Boo-Boom and a group of war orphans are forcefully taken from a red cross camp and placed in one of these. The place, a partly destroyed rundown building, is run by a group of very strict female soldiers who enforce an iron discipline (that includes taking away the kids' toys and other personal possessions), and the building houses an industrial laundromat where the kids are put to work. Fortunately, thanks to Boo-Boom's animal friends, they are all able to escape and the place itself is burned to the ground.
  • Out of Focus: B-17 doesn’t get nearly as much focus as the other 4 animals. In fact, in some episodes he is even inexplicably absent as if the script writers completely forgot about him.
  • Parental Abandonment: Though unintentional on their part; Boo-Boom is separated from his parents in an air attack.
  • Parents in Distress: In episode 25, Boo-Booms parents, while on their way to finally meet up with him, are arrested by the Germans and put on a train that will transport them to a labor camp outside Italy, suddenly turning Boo-Boom’s quest to find them into a rescue mission. This leads straight to the series finale where Boo-Boom and the animals have to stop the train.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: Due to being trained by the military, Jack has a lot of knowledge about military weapons and tactics, and even knows how to operate a tank. Other than that however, he is still very much a dog.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Christopher mostly serves this role.
  • Pokémon Speak: Boo-Boom is reduced to this due to the shock of losing his parents in the air attack. From that moment on he is only able to say the words "Boo-Boom" (after the sound of the explosion), and since his animal companions don't know his real name, they decide to make this his nickname.
  • Prank Call: An unintentional example. In episode 13, the animals steal a military transmitter from a German camp for Boo-Boom to play with, without even knowing what it is (they thought it just made funny sounds when you hit the buttons). Hilarity Ensues when the Germans try to make sense of the absurd and contradictory “orders” they suddenly start receiving due to Boo-Boom playing with the transmitter.
  • Precious Photo: Boo-Boom carries with him a family photo of him and his parents. He can get quite upset if someone takes it from him.
  • Previously on…: Each episode starts with a recap of the previous episode. These scenes are intentionally animated to look like a 1940's era sepia colored film.
  • Prima Donna Director: One of these shows up in episode 4. He drafts Boo-Boom into his movie without even bothering to learn if the boy is interested or not, changes scenes on a whim whenever he gets a better idea, isn’t above applying Enforced Method Acting invoked (like taking away Boo-Boom’s Precious Photo since he wants real tears for a scene), and even puts his actors in danger by forcing them to shoot a scene in a partly destroyed building that is about to collapse.
  • The Quest: Boo-Boom and his animals are on one to try and reunite Boo-Boom with his parents.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The main group.
  • Raised by Wolves: Downplayed; Boo-Boom was not raised by the five animals, nor do they intend to try and raise him themselves, but they do look after him as if he were one of their own until his parents can be found.
  • La Résistance: The heroes frequently encounter, and occasionally help, members of the Italian resistance. The most prominent member throughout the series is Mario, whose father leads a resistance group named the Apennine Wolves.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Episode 12, one of the members of Mario's resistance group tries to betray them to the Germans in an attempt to save his own skin. Naturally, as soon as he has told the Germans everything he knows, they promptly arrest him.
  • Runaway Train: In Episode 26 Boo-Boom and his friends have to stop a train transporting prisoners, including Boo-Boom's parents. They do so by unhooking the carriages that contain the prisoners. Unfortunately, since the train was going up a mountain at the time, the now unhooked carriages immediately go back down again, straight for a blown up bridge, forcing the heroes to come up with a way to stop them before the carriages reach the ravine. They succeed by deploying the brakes of a tank that was also being transported by the same train.
  • Sapient Steed: Boldsteed.
  • Savage Wolves: The heroes are attacked by a pack of these in episode 12, but rescued in time by Mario.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: In episode 3, Christopher mistakes a wasp nest for an abandoned bee hive, and breaks it open in hopes of finding some honey, with predictable results.
  • Scenery Porn: The animation is quite stunning.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Episode 18 resolves around an old mill that, according to the local villagers, is haunted. However, this is just a rumor made up by the mill owner and the villagers to keep the German soldiers away from the mill, since members of the Italian resistance movement and their families are using it as a hideout. When the Germans threaten to investigate the mill anyway, Boo-Boom and his friends fully make it this trope by disguising themselves as ghosts to chase the Germans away.
  • Short-Runners: The series consists of just one 26-episode season, however this was the intention of the production team all along since the story is brought to an conclusion in the final episode.
  • Sick Episode: Episode 17, Boo-Boom gets sick after falling into a river, forcing his animal friends to try and steal some medicine from a group of German soldiers. When that fails, they are forced to alert a German medic to Boo-Boom’s presence instead in hopes that he can, and will, help him.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Two additional characters temporarily join Boo-Boom and his animals:
    • The first one is Mr. Rossellini, who joins the group in episode 7, along with his dog, until episode 10, when he hurts his ankle while helping to defend the castle of his friend (see Storming the Castle below), and is thus forced to stay behind at the castle to recover. He is not seen again afterwards, but he is mentioned occasionally, and the closing narration in episode 26 reveals that he started a new school after the war ended.
    • The second one is Viola, who joins them from episode 8 till episode 12. At first she borders on a Sixth Ranger Traitor who is motivated by greed and not afraid to double cross her friends if it benefits her, but she gets better. After meeting and falling in love with Mario, Boo-Boom urges her to stay with him and his resistance group. Unlike Mr. Rossellini, she comes Back for the Finale in episode 25 to assisst Boo-Boom in rescuing his parents.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Aurelia is the only female member of the animals, and for most of the series also the only female in the whole group. Averted during the episodes with Viola, in which it becomes a case of Two Girls to a Team.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Boo-Boom has apparently no trouble understanding his animal companions.
  • The Speechless: The shock of losing his parents turns Boo-Boom into one of these, rendering him only able to say “Boo-Boom”. He gets better after being reunited with them.
  • Spoiler Opening: Since Jack doesn't appear yet in the first episode, the intro, which does feature him, spoils that he will become a main character later on. Mr. Rossellini and especially Viola are likewise foreshadowed by the opening. It also contains some scenes from later episodes, like Boo-Boom falling into a river and being rescued by Jack.
  • Stop Drowning and Stand Up: Happens with Christopher when the group crosses a shallow stream in episode 21.
  • The Storyteller: Boo-Boom and the animals encounter one in episode 16.
  • Storming the Castle: In Episode 10, the heroes arrive at a castle that belongs to a count who is good friends with Mr. Rosselini, but find the place under siege by the Germans, who want to loot the place. They help the count and his staff fight off the attack, leading to several Home Alone-esque antics. In the end, they are able to trap all Germans in the castle’s dungeon, except for their captain.
  • Street Urchin: Viola zigzags between this trope and The Artful Dodger. She didn’t chose a live on the streets, having to steal in order to surive, but was forced into this after her parents died and her house destroyed. On the other hand, there is no denying that she became quite skilled at fending for herself and has no qualms about misusing people’s trust to get what she wants.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Since the series is set in WWII, Nazis are naturally the main enemies the heroes face. It strongly varies from episode to episode how competent or threatening they are, often depending on the overall atmosphere of the episode, so this trope mostly shows up in the more comedy oriented episodes.
  • Traintop Battle: Episode 26, Jack, Aurelia and even Christopher attack the German soldiers on the train in order to give Boo-Boom and Viola more time to unhook the carriages, and actually defeat them.
  • Twin Switch: In Episode 7, when his twin brother John and 2 German soldiers show up at Mr. Rossellini’s school to arrest him, Mario attempts an escape by having Boo-Boom, Rossellini, and the animals lure John into the school and capture him, so Mario can take his clothes and pretend to be John. It almost works, but unfortunately, John escapes and gives the whole plan away.
  • The Unintelligible: Unlike the other animals, B-17 can only talk in buzzes (which only Jack seems to understand).
  • Unstoppable Mailman: In episode 21 Boo-Boom and the animals befriend and help out 3 men from the Italian Resistance who are determined to deliver letters written by captured soldiers to their families and loved ones, and won't let anything stop them.
  • Virtuous Bees: B-17 is a bee and firmly on the side of the good guys.
  • Walking the Earth: Boo-Boom and his animal companions travel through Italy.
  • War Is Hell: The series doesn’t try to glorify the war in any way, or try to hide how it ruined the lives of civilians who never wanted anything to do with it. Episode 19 does feature a retired general who believes that War Is Glorious, or at least World War I was, but a military attack on his house that puts both him and Boo-Boom in danger makes him realize otherwise.
  • War Refugees: Boo-Boom himself is one, and so are his parents. Others are also seen throughout the series.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Mario's father, who leads a group of resistance fighters in the Apennine Mountains, is very much this trope. Mario is determined to prove himself to him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Several of the Germans, and other villains they encounter, don’t hold back just because Boo-Boom is still a kid.
  • You Are Number 6: B-17.

Alternative Title(s): Bu Bum La Strada Verso Casa