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Western Animation / Nocturna

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Nocturna is a French/Spanish (but produced in English) 2007 traditionally-animated fantasy film. The film was produced by Filmax Animation.

In the aging orphanage the days pass very uneventfully, but the nights are something quite different; at least for Tim they are. The light reflected from the stars is the only cure for his fear of the dark. One night this fear leads him to the orphanage rooftop. Where he discovers that his favorite star has disappeared, and unfortunately it's not going to be the last one. Tim also discovers a peculiar character that goes by the name of the Cat Shepherd; together with his faithful cat Tobermory, that will become Tim's personal guardian, the Shepherd is in charge of making children sleep peacefully.

But Tim is not about to go to bed. He needs his star more than anything in the world, and will do what it takes to see it shine in the night sky once again. Tim convinces the Shepherd to take him to see Moka, the guardian of the night within the Night World, and pleads for him to return the stars to the night sky. Moka pays scarce attention to the boys pleas, so Tim asks the Cat Shepherd to take him to the Lighthouse of the Stars, where he thinks he may find the answer to the strange phenomena. Tim, the Shepherd, and Tobermory race against the clock through the streets of Nocturna, a world in which hundreds of the most diverse creatures work to create the night as we all know it. Little by little our friends will discover something strange is happening. An ominous threat is putting in danger the night and the inhabitants of Nocturna, and Tim is unknowingly the one behind it all.

The film was eventually released in the United States on Blu-Ray and DVD by GKIDS Films.

No relation to the horror game Nocturne (1999). Or the other Nocturne, which is a freeware RPG that was released in 2002.

This animated film provies examples of:

  • Acro Fatic: Cat Shepherd. Despite being an incredibly Top-Heavy Guy, he's able bound across rooftops with ease and outrun the Shadow.
  • Ambiguously Human: Moka. While Moka resembles a human more than the other midnight sprites, it is unclear whether or not he is actually a human.
  • Badass Adorable: Tobermory. He even stands up to the Shadow!
  • Batman Gambit: Aside from the coffee, everything Moka does or tries to do over the course of the movie is finely calculated to force Tim to overcome his fear of the dark and thereby save the day. Er...night.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Tim and all the other children at the orphanage are drawn with these eyes.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: The Doorkeeper to the tower sports a pair that covers his own eyes when lowered.
  • Brick Joke: When Tim first see Nocturna, we get a brief scene of a dream-writing sprite being chewed out by an editor because his "standing in class in underwear" dream is lackluster. A few minutes later we see another sprite whose job is to read said dreams to children; she's reading that very one and actually stops to groan and mutter "The dreams they're writing these days..."
  • Brown Note:
    • Specifically, one that causes kids to wet the bed.
    • On that subject, the little sprite who produces said note is entirely too enthusiastic about his job.
  • Cats Are Magic: The cats under Cat Shepherd’s watch act as guardians to each and every child and help them get to sleep by meowing through the night.
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted. All of the cats are quite tame and cause no trouble. Even Tobermory’s incompetence is out of laziness than aloofness.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Two of them! Murray’s broken filament, and the emergency switch, on stars.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Mr Pee smiles like this when he finally gets the opportunity to do his job, which is to make children pee in their sheets.
  • Cosmic Keystone: Well, keystones. If every Star goes dark, Nocturna disappears entirely.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Shadow is a dark monstrous entity.
  • Disney Death: Played with. The Cat Shepherd appears to die after fending off the evil shadow, and Tim accepts his death by saying he'll always live on in his heart. Right before the end of the movie, we see a herd of cats run by, with the Cat Shepard's familiar legs and gait among them. Tim doesn't, though.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: One scene has one of the dew-spreading creatures acting blatantly drunk (on water), asking for "one more for the road" and stating that they "know [their] limit" when it's suggested that they've had enough. Later on, we see them drunkenly splatter against a window.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Cat Shepherd is only referred to by his job position.
  • Evil Detecting Cats: The cats in the packnote  hiss at a wall, whereupon the Shadow emerges... out of the shadows.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: A majority of the movie takes place in just 6-7 hours during a single night.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: The little street lamp sprites all wear hats that cover their eyes most of the time.
  • Familiar: Although the masters aren't aware of it. Every cat in the Cat Shepherd's pack (and it should be noted that his pack essentially includes every cat in the city) is assigned to a particular child, and is responsible for seeing to it that their given child sleeps through the night according to plan. Tobermory is the cat assigned to Tim, and the Cat Shepherd gripes that it's very appropriate that it should be "a comatose cat for an insomniac infant".
  • Father Time: The Doorkeeper seems to assume a similar role.
  • Foreshadowing: When Tim is struggling to open the windows without his door knob, a mysterious shadowy presence briefly creeps into the room. On the surface, this simply alerts the audience to the Shadow that will make the stars go out. As it turns out, this is meant to clue in the audience that Tim's fear of darkness created the Shadow.
  • I'm Not Afraid of You: How Tim finally conquers his fear of The Shadow, which in turn, stops him from being afraid of the dark.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Moka's comment about how children are troublemakers who are "only good for sniveling and eating chocolate" may come across as callous and insensitive, especially when he's saying it right in front of Tim. But he's speaking from experience that children unwittingly have the ability to create mayhem in Nocturna if they remain awake for too long. In Tim's case, his fear of the dark has manifested into the Shadow that's causing the stars to go dark.
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality: Everything that happens at night, everything, is thanks to sprites and fairies who do it.
  • Meaningful Appearance: Cat Shepherd and some of the other workers of the night have soft fabric-like bodies with seams. Their designs are meant to evoke pillows, which makes a lot of sense considering they help the people in the town fall asleep.
  • Meaningful Name: Moka (pronounced the same as 'mocha'), who spends most of the film drinking coffee.
    • Mr. Pee is a little sprite who’s job is to make children wet their beds.
  • Messy Hair: Around the beginning of the movie, three girls wake up from their sleep with very messy hair. The movie later reveals there are sprites called hair messers, who exist solely to mess up children’s hair while they sleep.
  • Missing Mom: Tim talks about his mother in one scene, although given that he's now in an orphanage...
  • Must Have Caffeine: Moka, who spends the film drinking coffee, and even eating coffee beans in one scene.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The shadow that is snuffing out the stars is a physical manifestation of Tim's fear of the dark. Tim hears Moka say so and thinks he's being condemned for it, but he misses the next part of Moka's speech, telling the people of Nocturna that because it's Tim's fear, only Tim can stop it and save the night, and he needs their hope and prayers.
  • Serendipitous Symphony:
    • The nighttime orchestra, made of noises like tree branches scratching at window panes.
    • Subverted, because it's not serendipitous at all-it's carefully composed and conducted each night.
  • There Are No Adults: As far as humans go, only a single adult is present at the orphanage in the beginning of the movie. Most of the attention is put on Tim and the other kids.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Good grief, the Cat Shepherd, to the point where he spends most of the time on all fours.
  • Stealth Pun: There is an old saying about taking on a difficult task being 'like trying to herd cats'. Make of that what you will.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Tim doesn't know it, but his fearing the darkness is what brought about the evil shadow in the first place. Generally, any child who stays up late is capable of causing chaos and mayhem to Nocturna, which is why the Cat Shepherd and his cats work so hard to keep them all asleep.
    • The children at the orphanage are also a slightly malicious variety. They took away the door knob that allows Tim the means to open his window. They only did it to simply spite him out of petty vengeance for losing their ball. Setting off the chain of events that endangered all of Nocturna was the furthest thing from their minds.
  • Weird Trade Union: Nocturna, essentially. Although it's spoken of as an entirely separate world from the daytime with its own culture and whatnot, it operates more like an overseeing corporation; every one of the myriad and sundry creatures of Nocturna has a vital role to play to make sure the night happens the way us daytime folk expect it to, and things like bedhead, the morning dew, and even bedwetting are stringently regulated.