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Western Animation / Exchange Student Zero

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Exchange Student Zero is an Australian television film on Cartoon Network that premiered on 16 December 2012. It is the first animated Australian made production to be commissioned by the Cartoon Network.

John and Max are two school friends, obsessed with a fantasy card game called Battle Day Zero, who inadvertently bring one of the game’s characters, Hiro, to life. Hiro is passed off for an exchange student at school and so his peculiarities are somewhat overlooked while John and Max figure out how to get him home. That is until the game that brought Hiro pours even more exotic creatures into the sleepy little Perth town. Life will never be the same, but then as John and Max discover, it is far more exciting this way.


Tropes that apply in general:

Tropes specific to the TV movie:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Happy Peach Flower to Max, which he calls out on her for though he felt bad after. They eventually become a couple seeing that Max already admired her even before officially meeting her.
  • Alice and Bob: Hiro's parents and Avere's parents. If you hear them about to engage in battle, saying each other's names, spitefully, you'll notice they're...oddly standard.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Seemed to be this way in the beginning but it's eventually averted for everyone's case (see Surprisingly Happy Ending). John manages to get his crush to finally like him in the end.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Turns out Hiro was in an Arranged Marriage with Avere as a part of a peace treaty between their tribes.
  • Always Save the Girl: Whenever Charity is about to get crushed or be somewhere in the middle of harm's way, Hiro would always save her. This happens several times which causes her constant denial to his advances start to fade more and more.
  • Bound and Gagged: John and Charity's parents after Avere breaks into their home. And they remain that way for some time, because the kids just either ignored or forgot them which becomes a Running Gag.
  • Bridezilla: Avere is understandably upset over Hiro leaving her at the altar.
  • British Teeth: Despite having no Britons around, John's friend, Max has notably crooked incisors and buck teeth.
  • Cargo Ship: In-universe. Amonsun falls in love with one of Charity's stuffed toys, a doll specifically.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Looking closely at some crowd shots, there are faces aplenty in the school.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Downplayed in the sense that he isn't given much focus in the movie, but Principal Rogerson's son, Leroy, gets the shortest end of the stick out of everyone else, especially compared to the actual Japanese exchange student, Hiro Tanada. Leroy is probably the only one who doesn't get a piece of the Surprisingly Happy Ending.
  • Dance Party Ending: Courtesy of Totally Hot (a band, consisting of Happy Peach Flower's friends).
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Charity. The more she gets to know Hiro, she becomes less mean especially when they finally got together.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Principal Rogerson, since he doesn't seem to have much hair around his head.
  • Double Entendre: Max disparages on Denmead by saying, "trying to score with a bunch of dudes". See, because he plays football and his teammates are all guys!
  • Faint in Shock: Lucinda faints after seeing a large wave plunge down on John.
  • Flash Animation/Thick-Line Animation
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The kanji "交換留学生 零" written below the title logo is actually the literal Japanese translation of said title.
  • Ironic Name: In an official character profile, Charity is described as the complete antithesis of her name. This is true at first when she was somewhat the alpha bitch cheerleader dating the equally popular jerk jock before meeting Hiro.
  • Japanese Visual Arts Tropes: Why of course! And these include:
  • Jerk/Dumb Jock: Denmead. And he's probably one of the most exaggerated examples ever, complete with a Simpleton Voice and Dumb Blond. He also defects more than once to Avere's side.
  • Kiss of Life: Denmead crashed in the waves after falling from his surfboard and when he's washed ashore, Max does this to him. After he wakes up, he's shown to be quite unappreciative.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Variation with a website rather than a building, which admittedly would be easier to pull off.
  • Love Hurts: Charity and Max fall in love with Hiro and Happy Peach Flower respectively, and once they leave, it had some pretty hard emotional repercussions for the both of them. Principal Rogerson as well with Avere.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Principal Rogerson who falls in love with Avere. He tries to bring her back by summoning various monsters from the cards until he can find her again.
  • Made-for-TV Movie
  • No Accounting for Taste: Aside from Happy Peach Flower herself (who takes a strange liking to Max), her three like-minded friends also share the same habit of fawning over the boys in school who are at best, average.
    • Subverted with Avere's sudden attraction to Principal Rogerson near the end. She never found him to be handsome at all (even lampshaded by her parents), and only wanted to marry him instead of Hiro was when he was crowned king in the grad ball and witnesses the student body chanting "all hail the king", taking it as how much "his subjects fear him".
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. When Hiro arrived for the first time in school, he was simply passed on as the Japanese exchange student the school was expecting. But the real exchange student they were supposed to welcome was a guy named Hiro Tanaga.
  • Running Gag: A few, including:
    • The school receiving collateral damage from Hiro's battles with whatever monster attacking them, much to the Principal's annoyance.
    • John and Charity's parents still bound and gagged. When Charity was talking to them in one scene, she didn't even bother to notice their plight nor even free them, for that matter. Also counts as a Brick Joke since it seemed that a few days had to pass before they're seen out of their binds (though it still remains unexplained how....)
    • Rogerson referring to Avere as one of the cleaners just because they first met at night inside the school. To that end, he even sulks in a janitor's closet when she disappeared.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Rival in a sense, but Denmead aligns himself with Avere twice, including going to her world in the end, on the grounds that "he's no brainiac and henchman is a pretty sweet gig". Oh, and because he thinks Avere's hot.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Lucinda has no major role in the movie other than crushing on John. Luckily for them, they feel the same way towards each other.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Charity and Hiro. Played for Laughs variant with Amonsun and Charity's stuffed doll.
  • Sexophone: Done by Hiro Tanaga of all people, over a shot of Rogerson leering at Avere.
  • Shout-Out: Among the ones to anime, Hiro mentions hell mouths as potential interference with an interdimensional communication device.
  • Stripperific: Avere's overall outfit. Even her wedding dress when she was about to marry Hiro.
  • Summon Magic: How the cards work, with some element of Equivalent Exchange, as long as there aren't a full set of cards the pathway will remain open and beings will randomly appear from Hiro's reality.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: The battle now done, Hiro, Amonsun, and Happy Peach Flower must leave their world so everything will be at peace. But since Principal Rogerson and his son Leroy, along with Denmead, are also transported into the world of Battle Day Zero when everyone/everything else was going back, the number of cards with the characters in them are complete, and them as the remaining three are now allowed to stay.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: The chaos and fighting just stop the moment Charity takes the mike on stage to announce the grad ball king.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Denmead's long-winded insult that leads to a tangent about taking his (John's) crush to his funeral who he'll probably marry and as they lie around kissing all day, he'll be thinking about him. Instead of offending John, he just made him confused.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Hiro goes completely catatonic at the realization that water is wet.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The result of Avere and Principal Rogerson's marriage, which is why his son is very much against it.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Charity throwing the cards out of the car window at the beginning is what opens the portal to their world, immediately starting the plot.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Happy Peach Flower. Anyone who seems to be hanging around with or threatening Max would force her to beat up whoever person does so.
  • Weirdness Censor: From how the people simply just stood there in shock or pure confusion, probably none of them would be scarred for life.
  • Wham Line: Avere's first line when she spots Hiro with Charity:

Tropes specific to the animated TV series:

  • Alternate Continuity: This is established right away in the first episode, with Principal Rogerson and Denmead, who were taken to the world of Battle Day Zero by the end of the TV movie, being present in the real world, apparently to serve as recurring characters/antagonists to the protagonists.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Cartoon Network's Japanese dub has "Change my world" by FUNCTION6ch as its opening theme.
  • Animation Bump: The TV show's animation looks more polished thanks to higher production values and a bit of tweaking on character designs. Take a look at the sneak peek here.
  • Big Sister Bully: Charity, who, in stark contrast to her Character Developed Movie version, actually condones her boyfriend's bullying of Max and her brother.
  • Cloning Blues: The episode "Denmead For Denmead" after Max accidentally brings back two Denmeads from abusing the power of a card that can send away anything to another dimension one too many times, resulting in the two becoming smitten with each other, disturbingly so.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The episode title "Sweet Potato" is the name of a character.
  • Narcissist: It's shown that Denmead's so self-absorbed that he ignored Charity, his girlfriend, just to hang out with...himself. Just roll with it.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The theme song is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh and Bob Mothersbaugh of Devo fame.
  • Snap Back: A possible interpretation of the cartoon series' Alternate Continuity, specifically regarding some of the Character Development. Also somewhat mixed with Broad Strokes with regards to what is and is not the same.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "Dead Cute"
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Setting changes hints the school is now located in a city called South Port, possibly to avoid Creator Provincialism which the TV movie—set in South Perth evidenced by the high school of the same name—was chock full of. The opening intro also hints that the city is located in the US, specifically the West Coast.