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Western Animation / Gallavants

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An animated film from 1984, Gallavants follows the adventures of a member of a species of anthropomorphic ants called Gallavants, who live in a colony called Ganterville.

Like real ants, they have a highly structured society where every individual has a role to play in the colony. Also, like real ants, they are ruled by a queen. All Gallavants are born from eggs and raised by the Attend-ants (if you're not prepared for a lot of bad ant puns, stop reading now), the resident nanny ants. Once they reach a certain age, they are taught by the local Major Mentor, who makes it his job to teach them the ins and outs of Gallavant society. A Gallavant is considered to be an adult when he or she receives a 'kabump'. This takes place at a large ceremony where all Gallavants of a certain generation receive their kabumps. Or so that's how it's supposed to go...

One certain Gallavant, named Shando, is convinced that he doesn't need lessons to find his place in the colony. He desires to be a music ant but is too lazy to put any effort into learning what he's supposed to learn.

He gets into a series of misadventures, which include a failed attempt at getting a kabump and nearly getting eaten by a Vanterviper. Ultimately, he is able to earn his kabump and fulfill his dream of being a music ant.

A staple of mom-and-pop VHS rental stores and of Nickelodeon's "Special Delivery", the Gallavants are still much-loved in their native Scandinavia but are known in America only for this movie. Which is, in case the plot description didn't clue you in, really weird.

Also, there's a website.

Not to be confused with that similarly named live-action musical/comedy by Alan Menken.

Gallavants provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Eegee, a female Gallavant, eventually joins the N-Force-ants, the group that protects the colony from Vantervipers and other outside threats.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: Possibly. The website mentions that the latest batch of Gallavants are born from one of the thousands of eggs the (recent) queen lays, like real ants. This would make each generation related to each other, like brothers and sisters. However, in this film, the classmates only refer to each other as friends, and no one ever seems to talk about siblinghood or anything like that. In fact it's not mentioned that the queen has anything to do with eggs at all in the film, and she certainly doesn't treat Shando and so forth in a particularly motherly fashion. Of course, the website also doesn't talk about the Gallavants all being related somehow, nor does any of the viewpoint characters on the website talk about the queen as any being a mother figure or anything but their queen (who lays a bunch of eggs), so who knows.
  • Affably Evil: Fice, the blue head of the Vanterviper, does intend on eating Shando, though he's a lot more polite and articulate than his harsh and hot-headed opposite end Edil.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Orange ants (with colored arms denoting their gender/position)? A purple amphisbaena? Yup!
  • Ambiguous Situation: ....Okay, here's the deal, and this isn't going to make any sense if you're reading this up here at the top of the page before anything else, so you may want to come back or watch the movie. Shando stumbles upon an orange bouncy thing while searching for the egg and (perhaps half-joking) says it must be his ka-bump that developed and fell off. He eventually attaches the thing to his butt, and it shows a few interesting properties like being able to allow him to bounce on it, which he uses to save the day by bouncing high enough to grab a root and pull the ceiling down on the Vanterviper. He's a hero to the town, etc., but Teetor knows the "ka-bump"'s not real and tells Shando the tale of an apparently sapient egg which got lost ages ago and rolled itself into the sunlight where it stayed for so ridiculously long that rather than hatch into a proper Gallavant it became magical, and Shando must have accidentally found it. After the celebration, Shando's bummed because technically the magic egg was responsible for saving the town and he feels dishonest taking the credit. He also doesn't know what to do about the wayward egg (he's holding it in his arms right now) or not having a ka-bump. Teetor congratulates him on his integrity and suggests trying to grow a ka-bump again after all his experiences. Shando concentrates, and the egg shrinks down into nothing. He checks and he has his ka-bump. So was the "egg" really his (strangely-powered) ka-bump after all and Teetor was wrong or was it the egg that pulled some manner of Fusion Dance or Heroic Sacrifice to give him the ka-bump he wanted? Did it always know it would become a kabump someday and that's why it went to that spot?
  • Amicable Ants: The Gallavants are a peaceful, benevolent colony of ants and very hard-working. Each one has a specific job, and they place great importance on knowing one's place in the colony. The protagonist, Shando, is lazy, and expects everything to fall into place for him easily. He ends up going on an adventure and earning his dream job.
  • Anti-Villain: Teetor states that he's fearful of what Antonim would turn the colony into if he were in charge of educating ants. In practice, Antonim openly dislikes Teetor and thinks he's a poor teacher whose soft-hearted methods make the colony weak, but it's made clear he wants only what he thinks is best for the colony and and the queen as well as having a sense of honor at the end of the day.
  • Armies Are Evil: Antonim has a militaristic appearance and believes that educating young Gallavants must be done with discipline instead of the gentle encouragement Teetor espouses. This is implied to be a threat to the future of the colony, but we aren't actually given the opportunity to see if there are any merits to his point of view, and he turns out to be a decent enough person under his bad attitude.
  • An Aesop:
    • Anything is possible, if you want it enough. But wanting it enough means actually trying to get it instead of expecting it to happen on its own.
    • If you screw up, don't give up and walk away. Fix it or try to do better next time.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The baby Gallavants hatch as tiny versions of the adults, instead of as larvae, which pupate before becoming full-grown as with real ants.
  • Beneath the Mask: Shando's seeming confidence and easygoing attitude quickly crumble when faced with adversity, revealing a less-confident person who writes off anything that isn't already easy for him.
  • Big Eater: Bok, who at one point downs four drinks at one time.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Gallavants have blue and pink arms and legs for males and females respectively, grow a bump on their backsides which may possibly be physically analogous to genitalia and is definitely socially analagous to adulthood, don't hatch from their eggs unless exposed to sunlight. Also, on one occasion, an egg was apparently created sapient and rolled itself into the sunlight for so long it gains magical powers. Sure!
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Shando is established early on as being clever and a naturally-talented musician who wants to train this skill, but he's shown not to be motivated to do anything that doesn't come to him naturally. Part of his Character Development is learning that doing things you don't want to do matters just as much as doing things you love.
  • BSoD Song: Shando goes blind and sings a creepy song on how he'll never see the light of day or anyone he loves again.
  • Buried Alive: Thanks to his ka-bump altering itself to allow him to bounce, Shando grabs a root at the top of an underground tunnel to collapse it on the Vanterviper.
  • Butt-Monkey: Shando keeps getting himself into all kind of fixes, sometimes because his ideas have flaws he can't see until too late, or just sheer bad luck.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp":
    • "Nunk" is the term for a head, "Habs" for hands, and "Pods" for feet along with various other different anatomy terms.
    • A "Grant" is a guild which performs a service for the colony (Radi-ants collect solar energy, Hydra-nts work with manipulating water, etc.)
  • Catchphrase: "Anything is possible!" is apparently one of Teetor's, and Shando quotes it constantly to explain why he's attempting something or as an excuse. Notably, within the movie when Shando quotes it to Teetor himself, Teetor chides him by saying that it doesn't mean everything is. Some anythings take effort to accomplish.
  • Coming of Age Story: Shando comes to recognize that he has to accept failure and work hard to make anything possible and that there are more important things than having fun, while also discovering that what he really wants to do with his life is something slightly outside the established norm.
  • Cool Teacher / Cool Old Guy: Major Mentor Teetor
  • Crystal Ball: Teetor has the Glossy Frossy, a flower with a permanent bead of water within, which he can use to magically view faraway events in this fashion. Oh, and it's sapient (if unable to speak).
  • Darkest Hour: After trying numerous Grants, messing up his first day and giving up on all of them and ending up taking care of eggs, Shando's idea to quickly sort them ends up accidentally causing one egg to roll away into the deepest parts of the caverns the colony is built on. Shando's about to give up, but a pep song from Eegee motivates him to keep searching for the egg, and finds a ball which emits an incredibly bright light that blinds him.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Antonim seems to be this, as Teetor worries about the G.I.Ts if Antonim was ever to become their teacher, as well as the colony at large.
  • Educational Song:
    • Close to the beginning of the movie, Shando teaches a very young GIT about Gallavant anatomy with an improvised song. This helps the kid learn easily, demonstrates Shando's musical talent, and foreshadows his true role in Gallavant society—a Musicant and educator.
    • Teetor also uses a very long and detailed song to explain all the many Grants (guilds/occupations) within the Gallavant colony, then when he's finished has to brace himself and breathe for a bit—he's not as young as he used to be.
  • Epiphany Therapy:
    • After being blinded (by the strange sphere), Shando reflects on his diffident life and it fully sinks in for him that the poor decisions which put him here mean he may never be able to find his way back to his loved ones again. As he breaks into sobs, his eyes recover their sight. (Symbolism!)
    • After a period when his confidence was at its lowest ebb, Shando manages to trick the Vanterviper into tying itself into a knot and realizes that he's smarter and more capable than he thought he was.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: After Nesse points out how Shando and Teetor are basically cut from the same cloth, he starts to consider that Shando might be a good replacement for himself as Major Mentor.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Inverted and played straight. Even with his decades of successfully educating children, one failure—Shando's inability to get a ka-bump—could cost Teetor his job and have the more-militarisic Antonim replace him.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Grants are roles which every Gallavant takes in serving the colony. While still a Gallavant In Training, they receive a recommendation to a Grant, but it seems Gallavants are able to switch jobs at will, so long as they have a job. At one point the Giggers/Musicants lament that they had to get permission from the council to actually make performing into an accepted occupation for themselves, and then they had to find a place which would be willing to employ full-time musicians and say things would be easier if they could form an official musical Grant. There are also a few jobs which exist outside the Grant system, like Teetor's position as Major Mentor or Antic's position as Court Jester.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Babags wears a bow on one antenna.
  • Feather Fingers: The Vanterviper's pointed noses are surprisingly expressive, and at one point Fice even uses his nose to accusingly point at Edil, like an index finger!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Teetor's exhaustion after singing the long and complex Musical Exposition song about the Grants and their roles in the colony shows that while he's a good teacher, he's not in his prime and eventually not going to be able to do his job anymore.
    • Shando's educational song to Koosh about Gallavant anatomy shows that he's intelligent, skilled at music, and enjoys helping kids learn. That fact that he's not in class where he's supposed to be demonstrates the lack of dedication to developing the knowledge and skills he needs in adulthood which come to haunt him.
    • All the weird powers Shando's alleged ka-bump has foreshadow that it ain't no ka-bump.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The Gallavants have four of them.
  • Friendship Song: "I'll Follow" (guessing at the title), is a promise from Eegee to be by Shando's side and a musical Get A Hold Of Yourself Man and "The Reason You Suck" Speech, too.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The term for young Gallavants is GIT, or Gallavant-In-Training, at one point a very young ant wishes to be a big GIT like Shando.
  • Gender Bender: Played with the Vanterviper- Edil, the red head has a female voice, while Fice, the blue head, has a male voice. However, Fice does address Edil as a 'he', so it may just be that both are indeed male, Edil just has a more feminine voice.
  • Get Out!: Shando, has washed out of getting his ka-bump (making him ineligible for the Musicant job he wants since GITS aren't allowed in the tavern) and left several jobs which might have earned him a ka-bump after screwing up on the first day. He eventually ends up spending a night sleeping in Teetor's garden (unbeknownst to Teetor) and gets awakened by being accidentally watered. He asks Teetor if he might be able to stay in the garden until he figures out how to get a ka-bump. Teetor tells him, politely but firmly, to get a damn job.
  • G-Rated Sex: Although no act associated with mating is shown, the song when the kids initially enter the Ka-Bumpers tavern extolls the virtues of "double hugging" and "double (ka?)-bumping" at night, which will apparently make you feel good all over.
  • A Head at Each End: The vanterviper.
  • Heroes' Frontier Step: Shando, tasked with the responsibility of moving the colony's precious eggs from one spot to another without supervision, comes up with a labor-saving measure which accidentally causes one egg to roll free of the others. He runs into his friend Eegee who helps him chase it, but it rolls out of sight and into dangerous no-ants-land. Shando considers giving up, and Eegee calls him out for always quitting when things got tough instead of trying to stick it out, but also says she'll support him no matter what. Since no one was watching when he lost the egg and Eegee won't rat him out, all Shando has to do is go back to the Ova Sanctum and finish his job with no one the wiser. He starts chasing the egg again, on his own.
  • The High Queen: Queen Mallikam.
  • Informed Flaw: Shando is supposed to be very lazy, but he actually applies himself quite rigorously to his music. In addition to constantly practicing his instrument, he actually takes the initiative to join a band and is shown to be rather proficient at the instrument they give him, thanks to a combination of talent and practice. While it makes sense that an industrial society like the Gallavants would frown upon having the arts as a life goal (the music ants are even stated to have gotten a special permit to be allowed to practice their craft), it doesn't make him seem lazy from an outsider's perspective. (There's also the fact that he uses his free time not spent practicing to tutor young GITs.)
    • It's easy to do and work at things you enjoy, it's harder to stick with things that aren't as fun for you but are just as import-ant.
  • Insect Gender-Bender: Unlike real ants, both male and female Gallavants contribute to society.
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
    • Shando and his teacher were close throughout Shando's school life, but upon his graduation, they reflect upon the fact that Shando's adulthood lets them be proper friends without the separation of the school system.
    • If you want to be absolutely strict, Shando maintaining his friendships with his classmates after they get ka-bumps and he doesn't might count as this.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Antonim says his N-Force-Ants have assured him that there are no Vantervipers in the colony, then notices the Vanterviper in the tunnel behind him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Antonim's right that Shando shouldn't deceive the town, especially given the significance developing a ka-bump has to the culture and the fact that the sapient egg/ka-bump is, well, sapient and thus deserves credit.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Shando decides to do the responsible thing and risk being lost chasing down the lost egg. As a result, he becomes hailed as a hero and discovers a sapient mutant egg in the depths of the colony which helps him subdue a monster and rescue both the egg and the colony, and becomes regarded as a hero, receiving a personal compliment and reward from the queen. Plus, he becomes a confident and responsible adult who finds out what he really wants to do with his life, which is more than a lot of actual human beings can say.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: A variant. After both proving himself a hero and seemingly getting his ka-bump (actually a sapient magical egg, long story), Shando's playing during the celebration at the end when the false ka-bump starts moving around independently of his own movements. As the band notices, they each stop playing their instrument, and Shando is left playing alone before he realizes what's going on.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Edil & Fice, the Vanterviper's heads. Edil is the angry, dominating one while Fice is like a Henpecked Husband.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Teetor has told no one else in the colony about the Glossy Frossy because he's worried what someone like Antonim would use it for. He does let Shando in on the secret.
  • List Song: "Every Grant Serves Us All" lists the different roles of Gallavant society and gives a brief synopsis of what they do.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The vanterviper's heads, Edil & Fice. Edelweiss, get it? Inverted: They're far from sweet.
    • There’s also Antonim, "the complete opposite to Teetor", and Antik, "the Queen’s court jester".
    • Teetor is an educator, that is a tutor.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Inverted. Gallavants don't grow their ka-bumps, signifying adulthood, until they've securely figured out their purpose in life.
  • Mouse World: Being about a society of ants, this is expected.
  • Multiple Head Case: The Vanterviper. They even have their own Villain Song contemplating their miserable existence.
  • Mutant: Many antons ago, one egg appeared to have been sapient, rolled out of its cart into the depths of the nest, and laid underneath sunlight for so long it got magical powers and developed a hard shell, which Shando broke when he fell on it after getting lost and mistook for his kabump. Eventually it becomes a sort of pet/ally to him.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Antonim hopes to use Shando's fake ka-bump to "prove" that Teetor was deceiving the queen, but when she sees Shando's ka-bump bouncing around crazily to the beat of the song the queen simply compliments it. Antonim grudgingly says to Antic that if the Queen accepts it as a ka-bump, then he must do so himself.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Shando's mutant egg pet/possible ka-bump proves capable of performing feats like attaching itself to him to masquerade as a conventional ka-bump, detaching itself to move independently, shining brightly, bouncing, and allowing Shando to bounce. Why it can do likely relates to the personal journey which allowed him to discover it.
  • Organ Autonomy: Shando's kabump, though justified that it's really an enchanted egg that pretends to be his kabump, before he gets it for real.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Teetor has no idea what the hell the bouncing orange thing Shandor brought back from the caves is, but he speculates it might have been an egg said to have been lost ages ago and exposed to sunlight for eons until Shando fell onto it and hatched whatever it became. All he can say is he's never seen anything like it.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Played straight for most Gallavants
  • Passing the Torch: By the end of the movie, Teetor plans to have Shando take his place as Major Mentor when he finally retires, with Shando being a Musicant and learning from him in the interim.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Vanterviper, a two-headed thing whose personalities are Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Vanterviper does have some features of snakes, and is named after one, but overall looks more like a two-headed earthworm.
  • Rite of Passage:
    • The Granting, where a GIT receives a recommendation for a Grant (guild, basically) they might be suited for, and the following day various Grants recruit potential members and show them the ropes.
    • Ka-Bumping Day, where after one has found the Grant which satisfies them best, they concentrate hard, focus, and grow a ka-bump.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Averted with the Vanterviper, who is as close to the mythical amphisbaena as it can be- right down to being an ant-eater!
  • Saying Too Much: Antic the jester almost gives away Antonim's plan to humiliate and replace Teetor at the celebration of Shando's rescue of the egg and (alleged) ka-bumping, but the antagonistic advisor stifles him.
  • Ship Tease: Shando has this with Eegee, who provides support and companionship throughout the picture.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Teetor and Antonim. Teetor tries to nurture and care for the young Gallavants, hoping that they will be inspired to work in the colony. Antonim, however, thinks that the youngsters are too soft and lazy, and need strict discipline to be made into functional citizens.
  • Theme Naming: Nearly every occupation in Ganterville conveniently ends with the suffix '-ant'
  • Villain Song: "Two Heads Ain't Better Than One"
    • Antonim sings a song about Teetor being old and unfit for teaching.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After giving up on numerous Grants, that is, jobs, due to screwing up his first day and failing his Rite of Passage into adulthood as a result, Shando eventually gets put in charge of moving eggs, but one rolls into the maze-like depths of the colony. While pursuing it, he runs into Eegee who joins the pursuit, but he gives up when he loses sight of the egg. Eegee (musically) reminds him that while she cares about him and will stay by his side no matter what, he got himself into this mess by being unable to dedicate himself to anything but playing around when he needed to be serious and taking the easy way out when he should have persevered. This makes him realize that the life of a child is more important than worrying about his ka-bump and he re-dedicates himself to running after it.
  • So Proud of You: Teetor tells Shando so in the end.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Once he re-dedicates himself to hunting down the lost egg, Shando politely declines Eegee's help, saying it's his responsibility. She proudly watches him start running after the egg. Of course, if she had been along, maybe she could helped at a few important parts.
  • White Gloves: All Gallavants wear them. It's actually shown that they receive them at birth.