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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 the posthumous 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 mother 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 who open an animal sanctuary.
  • Adapted Out: Kangaroo never finds her joey (whereas in the book by strange coincidence he was found by Dot's parents).
    • Dot searching for the Joey is what drives the plots of Around the World with Dot and Dot and the Bunny, the latter explicitly mentions he was sent a zoo overseas.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Chasing a Butterfly: How Dot gets lost in the book and film.
  • 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.
    • A recurring theme with most of the animals Dot meets.
  • 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 Willy Wagtail... followed immediately by the ending!
    • Also, a scene where Dot's parents are mourning her is sandwiched between Clickity-Click and its reprise.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted; Dot whispers to the kangaroo, which she responds with "Anywhere you like, dear", followed by Dot making a Potty Dance gesture.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: The first eight 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, the berries were replaced by roots, 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.
    • It's implied that the roots aren't permanent either in the first film. When Willy Wagtail says "Kangaroo must have her freedom" to Dot when Kangaroo leaves at the end, the last word of his sentence echos until it becomes the sound of a bird chirping.
      • Dot has to take the roots of understanding again in Dot and Keeto in order to talk to animals, further implying that they're not permanent. But she didn't in Dot and Santa Claus or Dot and the Bunny, so who knows if they're permanent or not?
      • Dot in Space implies that Dot is only able to communicate with animals native to Australia.
  • Thunder = 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:

  • Adults Are Useless: Human ones especially, with the odd exception.
    • This is particularly emphasized in Dot and the Whale.
  • 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 switching places with monkey in order to commandeer 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 can live underwater. It's kind of disappointing for those who expected the original terrifying, mysterious creature of the first film.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Downplayed but Funny-Bunny suffers no loss of mobility or any visible injury after his hind leg is bitten by a crocodile in Dot and the Bunny.
    • Dot's foot just gets a poisonous barb stuck in it with no bleeding or lasting injury in Dot and the Whale.
    • Dot remains unscathed throughout Dot in Space despite metal piping falling on her, her rocket crash-landing, being tied-up, thrown to the ground and whipped and attacked by alien trees.
  • Bound and Gagged: In Dot and the Koala, a family of wombats are just bound then after Dot and her animal friends rescue them, they do this to the dog-cops and stuff logs in their mouths.
    • In Dot in Space, this is how the Roundies capture Dot.
  • Brother Chuck: Dot's parents and grandfather.
  • But Now I Must Go: Danny the Swagman in Around the World with Dot.
  • The Cameo: Dot goes to Hollywood has Dot meet such famous names as Laurel and Hardy, Shirley Temple, James Cagney, among others. Of course, Dot is either animated into clips of their films, or the stars themselves become animated.
  • Completely Different Title: Around the World with Dot is alternatively known as Dot and Santa Claus.
  • 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.
    • Dot in Space is the least musical film of the series and certainly one of the darkest.
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing: The whale who transports Dot and her friends to as close to Japan as he dares to venture in Around the World with Dot, given what happens four sequels later...
  • Great Escape: Dot from the Prison for Squares in Dot in Space.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: 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.
  • Made a Slave: Dot is subjected to this in Dot and Keeto and Dot in Space, though she escapes in both instances.
  • 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.
  • 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: Dot and other human characters don't always have the right number of fingers and toes.
  • 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 IN SPACE!: 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 mid-20th century at the earliest.
    • Dot's mother and brother in Dot and Keeto.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Most of the later films are more lighthearted than the first three instalments.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Papa Drop and the Roundies in Dot in Space
  • Shout-Out: To Goldilocks 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.
  • 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: Alex and Owen in Dot and the Whale.
    • Also the two boys from Dot and the Smugglers.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Dot herself in Dot and Keeto, she gets the roots confused and eats the red one, shrinking herself down to bug-size. She has to spend the rest of the day trying to find the green root that will restore her to her normal size while trying to avoid being crushed, eaten and enslaved by an ant colony and finding whatever creepy-crawlies she can rely on like Keeto and Butterwalk.
    • The Russians in Dot in Space.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The girl having the dream in Dot and the Bunny.


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