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Western Animation / Sandokan – The Tiger of Malaysia

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Sandokan - The Tiger of Malaysia (Sandokan - La Tigre della Malesia) is a 1998 animated series produced by Italian companies RAI and Mondo TV. It is based on the eponymous Sandokan novel series penned by Emilio Salgari.

Sandokan is a young man living on an island of Singapur along with his mentor Macassar, who has taken care of him since he was a baby. But after the death of the old man, Sandokan receives shocking news: he is the son of the rajah of the lost kingdom of Kiltar, which was killed in an invasion by Dayak warriors. Seeking for the truth and the key to his origins, Sandokan travels to Labuan and meets the British governor James Brooke, who soon proves to know more than he says...

This is the beginning of Sandokan’s adventures as a pirate leader in the search of bringing Brooke to justice and getting back his kingdom. He will be aided in this perilous task by the Portuguese adventurer Yañez (and his lizard pet Paco!), the Indian shaman Tremal-Naik, the street urchin Kammamuri and of course Brooke’s own niece Marianna, Sandokan’s love interest.

The series, originally of 26 episodes, was followed in 2001 by a second season, Sandokan - The Tiger Roars Again (Sandokan II - La tigre ruggisce ancora), and yet a third one in 2008, Sandokan, The Two Tigers (Sandokan III - Le due tigri).

The first season was fairly popular in Spain, even if it clashes in collective memory with another Sandokan cartoon produced by Spanish company BRB International some years before (though they are pretty easy to tell apart, as the Spanish series was a more kid-friendly cartoon whose characters were antropomorphic animals). Both cartoons's identical opening themes are well remembered, not only for being catchy, but also for being peformed by the De Angelis brothers, who reprised their theme from the 1976 TV series starring Kabir Bedy as the eponymous hero.


  • Action Girl: Marianna is a crackshot with guns and is never shy about using them.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: The show does have a lot of action, but some battles featured in the opening either don't happen (like the bit with Suyodhana summoning a living Kali statue) or happen differently (the sequencce where they jump on the buffalos, which in the series is done without Sandokan).
  • Animesque: The realistic drawing style owes a lot to Japanese animation, even although the rest of the action is more clearly based on the western adventure film genre.
  • Badass Crew: Sandokan's crew, down to their smallest member, Kammamuri.
  • Bad Boss: Brooke generally doesn't have much consideration towards his underlings, particularly Guillonk.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Sandokan starts the story wearing no footwear due to being poor.
  • Battle Couple: Sandokan and Marianna, as well as Yáñez and Surama.
  • Big Bad: James Brooke, later with priest Suyodhana.
  • Blow Gun: Kammamuri's signature weapon is a blow gun.
  • The Brute: Mati for Brooke in the second season.
  • Cain and Abel: Hindi brothers Nasumbata and Hyrundo; the former betrayed the latter to get his throne.
  • Canon Foreigner: While Reginald Guillonk's surname is taken from the character James Guillonk from the original books, the character is so different that it can be considered one completely different.
  • Composite Character: As usual in Sandokan adaptations, James Brooke is Marianna's uncle in the place of lord James Guillonk.
  • Chef of Iron: Sambigliong, who is not only a excellent cook and a wise man, but also a great fighter.
  • Cool Mask: Suyodhana is introduced wearing a golden mask, and later Brooke himself dons a sinister porcelain mask as the White Rajah.
  • Defecting for Love: Marianna, as in every incarnation of the story.
  • Disney Villain Death: Shockingly averted with Nasumbata – he falls down from a high balcony, but we are presented with a clear, rather graphic sequence of his body crashing and going limp.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The series's fighting scenes feature martial arts moves surprisingly well researched for this kind of cartoon, including kicks from Southeast Asian fighting styles and throws from Judo for good measure. Both good and bad guys are skilled fighters, specially Sandokan, who is implied to be a practitioner of the Malaysian art of Silat (although in a pretty acrobatic variation, of course).
  • Facial Markings: Tremal-Naik and the Dayaks wear facepaint.
  • Fiery Redhead: Yañez is a male example.
  • Guyliner: Word of God says Sandokan wears kajal makeup. A bit of an Informed Attribute given the art style.
  • Hard Head: Mati's main trait, aside from his raw strength.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Guillonk later in the series.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: In Sandokan's case, a parang sword.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Every character who is good with weapons demonstrates this in some occasion.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: The brahman they contact in Calcutta is found floating in lotus position. As it could not be otherwise, he falls down when Dharma bites him and breaks his focus. He claims to have trained for two lives so to be able to fly some day.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Yañez has Paco, a lizard, while Kammamuri has Dharma, a tigress.
  • Magical Barefooter: Ada remains barefoot in her ritual dress throughout the first season, although she gets shoes for the rest.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Pretty much every male character is well muscled and spends a lot of time (if not all the time, as with Tremal-Naik) barechested.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Sandokan's lion medalion, which was given to him by Macassar.
  • Prisoner's Last Meal: In one episode, Sandokan and crew have been arrested by a local noble who sentences them to death, but nonetheless has his personal cook prepare a sumptuous last meal for them, including a huge cake. Sandokan's still-free ally visits the cook, and once the latter's back is turned, discreetly inserts a pair of files and a message in the cake.
  • The Quiet One: Kien Koa, who unlike his partner Mati can speak but chooses not to most of the time.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lady Carradine. It's only thanks to her aid that Sandokan and company manage to take Brooke out his seat.
  • Religion of Evil: The thugs.
  • Spirit Advisor: Macassar appears later as such.
  • Street Urchin: Kammamuri grew up as one before finding Tremal-Naik.
  • Teens Are Short: Hard to pin down due to Kammamuri's Vague Age, but it's implied he is around 13 years old around the third season, yet he is still much shorter than most adult characters.
  • The Voiceless: Mati, who had his tongue cut out as part of his background.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Kammamuri and Tremal-Naik lack upper body clothing in their regular attire.