"Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips" is a 1944 Looney Tunes War Time Cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng. It features Bugs Bunny floating in a box in the Pacific Ocean, until he spots "the island that inevitably turns up in this kind of picture." When he lands there he discovers it's full of Japanese soldiers, which he takes down throughout the rest of the cartoon.
Because of its anti-Japanese sentiment, it's been banned from public viewing since the end of World War II. It was released as part of the Golden Age of Looney Tunes VHS and Laserdisc set, but, due to Japanese-American advocacy groups complaining about the stereotypes, the copies selling were recalled, destroyed, and replaced with one where "Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips" is replaced with "Racketeer Rabbit".
The short aired on Cartoon Network's ToonHeads special about World War II-era cartoons in clips, all with show announcer, Leslie Framm, reminding viewers that the Japanese stereotypes in World War II cartoons such as this one were cruel and outdated.
"Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips" provides examples of:
- Alliterative Title: "Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips".
- America Won World War II: Bugs, representing the US, singlehandedly outwits and defeats an entire Japanese army.
- Asian and Nerdy and Asian Buck Teeth: All Japanese soldiers are depicted as short guys, with huge glasses and buck teeth, true to the racial stereotypes used in anti-Japanese propaganda at the time.
- Asian Speekee Engrish and Japanese Ranguage: Mel Blanc impersonates the Japanese by having them speak gibberish or replace their "l" 's with their "r" 's.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
Soldier: [to us] Honolable a-haaa! That no Japanese general...that Bugs Bunny! I see him in Warner Bros./Reon Schresinger/Mellie Merodies cartoon picture! Oh, he no fool me!
- Bugs tells the audience that he is waiting for the "inevitable island" that naturally comes up in these pictures.
- When the Japanese soldier has a hunch that it's not the real Hideki Tojo standing in front of him he turns to the audience and whispers:
- Department of Redundancy Department:Bugs: Eh, just killin' time 'till the island that inevitably toins up in this kind of picture inevitably toins up!
- Deserted Island: Bugs assumes the island is deserted, until he realizes it is occupied by Japanese soldiers.
- Eat the Bomb: Bugs disguises Hand Grenades as Ice Cream, and serves them to the Japanese.
- Even Evil Has Standards: After the sumo wrestler has been defeated, he at least acknowledges being the loser by wiping his score from the tree.
- Eye Pop: Done when Bugs spots the female rabbit.
- Geisha: Bugs dresses up as a geisha to fool the sumo wrestler he tries to defeat.
- Genre Savvy:
- Bugs has no worries over the fact that he is floating in a box on the ocean, because as he says it: "Just killing time before the inevitable island turns up."
- The soldier recognizes Bugs, whose antics he remembers from watching him in a Merrie Melodies cartoon.
- Japan Takes Over the World: This cartoon was made when the Japanese army had conquered most of South East Asia. Bugs accidentally lands on a Japanese mandate island. He manages to get rid of all the soldiers who are stationed there.
- Left Hanging: We never learn why Bugs was floating in a box in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the first place.
- National Stereotypes: The Japanese are all pint-sized, nerdy little men with huge glasses and buck teeth who replace their "l" 's with "r"'s. Their verbal tics are the words "honorable" and "regrettable". At one point Bugs comes across a sumo wrestler too, because ... well, apparently they are recruited in the Japanese army too. To seduce him Bugs dresses up as a geisha. The most racist content happens near the end when Bugs blows up an entire Japanese army by handing out hand grenades disguised as ice cream and saying things like: "Here you go, slant eyes" and "don't push, monkey face."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Bugs at point dresses himself up as Hideki Tojo making the Japanese soldier instantly bow to him.
- Non-Fatal Explosions: The first Japanese soldier receives a bomb from Bugs, but is still alive after exploding. Yet all the other Japanese soldiers near the end are never seen again after exploding.
- Propaganda Piece: This is a US wartime propaganda cartoon.
- Pun-Based Title: The "nip" in the title refers to the verb "to bite" as well as the slur "nip" for people from Japan ("Nippon" is Japanese for Japan.)
- Pun: The ice cream truck is called "Good Rumor", a pun on the "Good Humor" ice cream trucks.
- Recognition Failure: When Bugs disguises himself as Hideki Tojo the Japanese soldier at first fails to recognize its Bugs... until he blows his cover by eating a carrot.
- While in the crate Bugs hums "Someone's Rocking My Dream Boat". "Trade Winds", Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries and the Japanese national anthem "Kimigayo" are also heard.
- When Bugs arrives on the island he calls it "a garden of Eden" and "a Shangri-La".
- The Japanese soldier recognizes Bugs from "Warner Brothers Leon Schlesinger Merrie Melodies pictures".
- When Bugs drops an anvil on the lap of the Japanese pilot he calls him "Mr. Moto", a character from the Mr Moto detective novels by John P Marquand.
- When Bugs' ice cream truck arrives we hear "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja" from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute.
- When Bugs asks: "Do they think I want to spend the rest of my life on this island?" a female rabbit appears who says: "It's a possibility!" This often used catchphrase in cartoons is a reference to Artie Auerbach's character Mr. Kitzle in the radio shows of Al Pearce.
- Standard Snippet:
- When bombs start going off, "The Storm" from Gioachino Rossini's "William Tell Overture" is heard in the background.
- Stuff Blowing Up: When Bugs says the island is peaceful and quiet gunfire and explosions break loose. Near the end he also blows up an entire Japanese regiment.
- Time Marches On: This film is typical of the era it was made in and it goes without saying it's extremely dated today.
- Too Dumb to Live: Even after all the other Japanese soldiers have exploded due to the ice creams actually being hand grenades, there is still one soldier who demands his right to receive a "free one".
- War Time Cartoon: The only one where Bugs fights against the Japanese.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Bugs dresses up as a Geisha to fool the sumo wrestler.
- Wolf Whistle: Bugs lets out an appreciative whistle when he spots the female rabbit.
- Yellow Peril: Bugs defeats an entire Japanese army whom he sees as a threat.