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Western Animation / Dot and the Kangaroo

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The Dot series an Australian film series featuring animation placed over live-action backgrounds. The first film, Dot and the Kangaroo, was released in 1977. It was based on an 1899 novel by Ethel C. Pedley. The first film was an early success for Yoram Gross' studio and led to many sequels (diverging further and further from the original source material), with the last (Dot in Space) being released in 1994. The original film tells the story of a little girl who gets lost in the forest, but is helped by a kindly mommy kangaroo.

Character sheet in progress.


Tropes in Dot and the Kangaroo:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In Pedley's original novel, the kangaroo stays to meet Dot's parents and be thanked for protecting her. As this is going on, a joey emerges from the cottage which was being looked after by Dot's mother during the time Dot was lost. The kangaroo is stunned but overjoyed upon recognising that it is her joey. And although Dot does gradually lose the ability to talk to animals, the kangaroo and her joey stay near the homestead and frequently visit Dot and her family.
  • Animated Musical
  • Art Shift: During the Bunyip Song, the movie switches to more surreal character art based around Aboriginal-style depictions of the titular beast.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dot makes it home safely in the end, but she's clearly devastated at the sudden departure of the kangaroo. Dot even sobs as she cries out for the kangaroo to come back at the end credits roll. Also, the kangaroo doesn't find her joey.
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  • Crosscast Role: The Kangaroo is clearly played by a male in the live action footage.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The Bunyip Song ("Bunyip Moon").
  • Disney Villain Death: This happens to one of the dingoes.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Dot is always barefoot in all the movies.
    • Averted with her live-action appearance in Around the World with Dot.
  • Earthy Barefoot Character: Going hand-in-hand with the above, Dot's perpetual lack of footwear helps to establish that she's closer to nature than most people.
  • Free-Range Children: Dot, even though she gets lost as a result here, she becomes increasingly so in the sequels.
  • "I Am" Song: "I'm a Frog".
  • Intellectual Animal
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: There's even a song about it.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: The kangaroo does this after jumping a chasm.
  • Mood Whiplash: A, brief, upbeat ('Clickity-Click') song by that bird... followed immediately by the ending!
  • Nobody Poops: Averted; Dot whispers to the kangaroo, which she responds with "Anywhere you like, dear". It's very obvious what she means.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: The first six films are all based around this visually, with the characters in the foreground being animated to interact with a filmed live-action background— as seen here in Dot Goes To Hollywood. Averted in some of the later ones (starting with Dot and the Smugglers), which use traditional painted backgrounds.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: In the book, Dot does after eating some berries the mother kangaroo offers her, which Dot had to keep eating in order to prolong the effects. In the movie, this was achieved by eating a root, and the effect was permanent— though the sequels offered several different explanations for Dot's ability to understand animals, and sometimes didn't even bother.
  • Thunder Equals Downpour:
    • Not what you want when lost in the forest.
    • Happens again in Dot and the Bunny. She has to take refuge in a wallaby cave.

Tropes the sequels have:

  • Agony of the Feet: A near-fatal example in Dot and the Whale, Dot steps on live coral and gets a venomous sting lodged in the sole of her foot, an octopus has to pull it out to save her.
    • Averted in Dot and the Bunny, when a numbat narrowly prevents Dot from stepping on an echidna.
  • Animesque: For Dot Goes to Hollywood and Dot in Space, Dot was designed by a Japanese artist— who gave her a very Tezuka-esque design, being slightly shorter with bigger eyes and a more expressive face.
  • Art Shift: The animation tended to vary a fair bit over the course of each film, with them generally using different variations of the same basic formula. Eventually, it completely changed to a mostly anime-influenced look.
  • Badass Adorable: A somewhat-downplayed example, but Dot definitely becomes this over time with her determination and the lengths she goes to in order to help her animal friends and protect the environment— especially considering she's a young girl who can't be any older than nine or ten. By the time of Dot in Space, she's seen stowing away aboard an American rocket and going into Space, all to rescue a Soviet space dog who's trapped in orbit.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The nightmarish Bunyip mentioned in the first film finally appears near the end of Dot and the Smugglers, but it was designed to look like a typical wooly, tall, big and fat humanoid beast that somehow can live underwater. Kind of disappointing.
  • Bound and Gagged: How Dot is captured in Dot in Space.
    • Several wombats and dog-cops in Dot and the Koala.
  • Brother Chuck: Dot's parents and grandfather.
  • But Now I Must Go: Danny the Swagman in Around the World with Dot.
  • Darker and Edgier: Dot and the Whale was noticeably more somber in overall tone and had fewer songs than most of the other sequels, and even has a point where Dot nearly dies after accidentally treading on poisonous live coral— though it could still be considered Lighter and Softer compared to the original.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dot to a certain degree in Dot and the Koala.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Rounds against the Squares in Dot in Space. Dot herself is arrested for not being round enough.
  • Fat and Skinny: The fish store owners in Dot and the Whale.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Dot, sometimes as a result of Off-Model.
  • Humans Are Bastards: In Dot And the Koala, the animal-like townspeople acted no different when they and their mayor wanted to build a hydro-electric dam over the native animal's homes.
    • The two fishermen in Dot and the Whale, who wanted to sell the whale as food.
    • How Funny-Bunny was orphaned in Dot and the Bunny. His parents were shot by hunters.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Dot and the Koala has animals acting and dressing more like humans and even having houses, jobs and their own city. Curiously, it was only for this instalment— with them reverted to being more like real ones and living in the outback again for the rest of the series.
  • Living Macguffin: The Bunyip is this in Dot and the Smugglers, with the titular antagonists trying to capture it for a circus that Dot later discovers to be a front for an international wildlife-smuggling operation.
    • Gorgo in Dot in Space is this to the Roundies, they question his existence until he scares them away while they're trying to recapture Dot.
  • Nature Hero: Dot becomes this in the sequels, with her frequently being able to communicate with animals like people and having much more of a connection to them than before, as well as being very proactive (see Badass Adorable) in helping or protecting them when she has to— among other feats, she ends up bringing down an international wildlife-smuggling ring in Dot and the Smugglers, and sneaks aboard an American space rocket to rescue a Soviet space dog and helps to overthrow a tyrannical empire of Scary Dogmatic Aliens along the way in Dot in Space.
  • Made a Slave: Dot is subjected to this in Dot and Keeto and Dot in Space, though she escapes in both instances.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Dot has to pose in front of a roadsign in order to infiltrate the Space Center in Dot in Space.
  • Oddball in the Series: While most of the films are about protecting animals or the environment, Dot in Space is instead about racism— and to a lesser extent, the use of animals in space missions. Dot's motivation for going there was to rescue Whyka, a Soviet space dog who acts as an expy of Laika, and was trapped on a broken-down satellite in orbit.
  • Off-Model: Sometimes going hand-in-hand with Four-Fingered Hands above as Dot occasionally has an odd number of digits.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In Dot and the Bunny, said bunny adopts a series of unconvincing disguises to convince Dot that he is the lost kangaroo joey she is looking for.
  • Punny Name: Pie-Arr-Squared, the name of the planet Dot and Whyka crash-land on in Dot in Space, is a reference to π × r2— the mathematical formula used to measure the area of a circle.
    • It doubles as a Genius Bonus, given that everything's round on said planet.
  • Recycled INSPACE: Dot in Space (1994), the last film in the series.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Dot's brother in Around the World with Dot.
  • Replacement Goldfish: At the end of Dot and the Bunny the mommy kangaroo, who never did find her joey, adopts the orphaned bunny.
  • Retcon: The first movie appears to take place in the turn of the 20th century, much like the book. But the sequels seem to take place in the 1970s (the then-Present Day).
    • Dot's mother and brother in Dot and Keeto
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Papa Drop and the Roundies in Dot in Space
  • Shout-Out: To Goldiliocks in Around the World with Dot.
    • Sherlock Bones and Doctor Watson in Dot and the Koala.
    • Dot pleads to Moby Dick for help after reading about him in Dot and the Whale.
  • Shown Their Work: Dot and Keeto correctly identifies male mosquitoes as sap suckers and female mosquitoes as the blood suckers.
  • Slave Race: Anyone who isn't round in Dot in Space.
  • Snap Back: In the first sequel Dot found the kangaroo's missing joey and brought him back to her. In the next sequel her joey is still gone.
    • Though it is set up as more of an Alternate Continuity, as a dream by a girl who's just started reading the book.
  • Those Two Guys: The two boys in Dot and the Whale.
    • Also the two boys from Dot and the Smugglers.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The girl having the dream in Dot and the Bunny.


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