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Western Animation / Shaolin Wuzang

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Counter-clockwise from bottom left: Cheng, Tang, Hua, Sanzang, Heihu.

A French-produced animated series. Also known as Shaolin Kids.

Many centuries ago, in imperial China, a demon named Heihu is terrorizing the province of Henan. His followers, thugs calling themselves the "Black Foxes", plunder and raze villages, making life miserable. The population turns to the three knights of Shaolin for help, who succeed in sealing Heihu away in a magical prison. The Black Foxes eventually break up, and the land is at peace once more.

Fast forward a thousand years to the early 17th century, where Heihu's prison has finally weakened, allowing him to escape. He possesses a nearby woman who happens to come across his prison, then immediately sets out to restore his power. Gathering a new legion of Black Foxes, he turns his sights to the Books of Power — sacred artifacts containing the secrets of the gods. Nobody knows where the Second Book of Power is located, but the first is kept at the Temple of Shaolin. He succeeds in stealing it away, despite attempts to stop him.

Well aware of the situation's graveness, the grand master Sanzang consults the spirits of the past grand masters of Shaolin. They tell him that only three people will be able to defeat Heihu for good: the reincarnations of the three Shaolin knights who succeeded against him one thousand years ago. Sanzang finds the three of them — and they're just kids. They're going to need years of training before they're ready to take on Heihu, but it's the only way. Their names are Hua, Tang, and Cheng; they are the Shaolin Wuzang.

The entire French dub is officially available on YouTube here.

This show provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Wuzang have accessed special abilities when they're in distress. Cheng and Tang have manifested Animal Battle Auras, and Hua has manifested a pink force field bubble and control over water.
  • Action Girl: Hua is skilled enough in kung fu to fight off a large group of opponents.
  • All There in the Manual: It's never actually mentioned in-series when the show takes place, but the official website (which is in French) says that it takes place in the 17th century, that Heihu was active during the Sui Dynasty, and that he escaped during the Ming Dynasty. Given his thousand year imprisonment, that puts his escape at somewhere from 1600-1618. We don't know how long after that till he makes off with the First Book of Power, but it's mentioned that he'd been gathering followers at an alarming rate, so at the very least, he's not one to dally.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The Mystic Bow of Yi makes any arrow strike its mark, even another arrow shot from it.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Tang's sword. His father presents it to him before he departs with Sanzang, saying that it was used by his ancestors.
  • Animal Battle Aura: A rare and advanced ki ability involves manifesting an animal made of energy from your aura, which can then attack your enemies. It is demonstrated by Master Sanzang, who manifests a lion, and by Tang and Cheng, who manifest a dragon and tiger, respectively. Another master creates a bull from his aura.
  • Big Bad: Heihu. He is an ancient, evil and powerful demon and the direct or indirect cause of most of the adversities the heroes face.
  • Big Good: Sanzang. He's the head of the temple and the one who set the three kids on track to their destiny.
  • Big Eater: Cheng eats a lot whenever he's given the opportunity, given that food is not always abundant in his community with so many mouths to feed.
  • The Chosen One: The three main characters, as reincarnations of the three Shaolin knights of legend, are said to be the only ones with a hope of defeating Heihu for good.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Master Luong-Doi. Incredibly absent-minded, but a powerful warrior when he's got his act together.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Tang has done this against Black Foxes a couple of times by cutting their belts and making their pants fall down.
  • Demonic Possession: The woman who becomes possessed by Heihu.
  • Distant Prologue: The first episode opens with a montage of paintings depicting Heihu's first reign of terror and his subsequent defeat and sealing, which take place a thousand years prior to the rest of the series.
  • Disturbed Doves: When Heihu's prison breaks, the birds in the surrounding forest take off.
  • Dramatic High Perching: Near the end of the trailer, Heihu is seen perching on the corner spike of the roof of a tower, overlooking the battle below. Adding to the spectacle, he is completely silhouetted by a gigantic moon and his cloak is blowing in the wind.
  • Ensemble Cast: There are three protagonists, all of whom get equal focus throughout the series.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Heihu's voice is much deeper than any human's, making him sound appropriately monstrous.
  • Exactly Exty Years Ago: Heihu's prison breaks after being disturbed by chance 1000 years after his sealing.
  • Eye Catch: The show has two commercial bumpers, both of which feature Cheng making the show's title appear by throwing flames around. (Note: nowhere in the actual series does he demonstrate this ability.) In one, Tang and Hua brandish their weapons, followed by Cheng throwing a ball of fire at the screen with both hands. In the other, Cheng spins his staff and then shoots flames to the side with one hand.
  • Faceless Goons: The Black Foxes, Heihu's goons who all wear identical clothes and masks.
  • Faint in Shock: In episode 1, when Heihu grabs Hua to wrest the book from her grasp, Hua's grandmother, watching from the courtyard below, faints.
  • Farm Boy: Cheng and Hua are leading peasant/working class lives when they receive the Call to Adventure; Cheng is living in a farming village and Hua is accompanying her grandmother to the temple for laundry duty.
  • Fatal Flaw: "Your Worst Enemy" is about the trio facing theirs. Tang's is Pride and being quick to make judgments based on surface appearances. Hua's is recklessness and charging ahead without thinking. Cheng, not thinking about long-term consequences, fails to take his studies seriously.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Tang. The trio regularly encounters mystical stuff, which he writes off as "scientifically impossible".
  • Flynning: Tang, whether he's fighting an enemy or an ally. Is probably strongly tied to the fact that it's a kid's show, and good guys aren't allowed to actually hurt anyone.
    • He even goes so far as to correct his opponents form while fighting them.
    Tang: Too high, too low, too slow, too soft- your form is appalling!
  • Full Moon Silhouette: In the trailer and opening, Heihu appears silhouetted against the full moon as his Black Foxes charge forward around him. Near the end of the trailer, he perches on the edge of a roof, the moon behind him completely surrounding his silhouette. The main characters attack and end up dangling in a chain off the edge of the roof; the camera zooms out to show them swinging in front of the moon, which completely surrounds them.
  • Future Badass: In "The Wheel of Time", Tang and Cheng end up in a possible future where their adult selves are tall, ripped, skilled fighters who have mastered their animal aura abilities. Future Hua, meanwhile, has mastered her water powers to become a truly formidable force, but has also become an enemy in this timeline.
  • Future Me Scares Me: In "The Wheel of Time", Tang and Cheng end up in a possible future where Hua was captured by Heihu's forces and turned onto their side.
  • Game Face: When Heihu gets really angry, the black mask that forms his face will contract and turn yellow-green.
  • Gigantic Moon: In the trailer and opening, the moon appears huge for the sake of Full Moon Silhouettes. Especially apparent in the two instances unique to the trailer, where the moon completely surrounds the characters.
  • Hall of Mirrors: In "Deep Within the Mirror", Tang and Cheng fight Black Foxes in a room of mirrors. Tang's reflection appears in many mirrors around the Black Foxes, confusing them.
  • Have We Met?: When Heihu corners Hua on the roof in the first episode, he pauses to muse, "It's strange. I believe I know you." Unbeknownst to both of them, Hua is the reincarnation of one of the Shaolin knights who defeated Heihu a thousand years ago.
  • Hime Cut: Hua, although she wears it up most of the time.
  • Ki Manipulation: As an incredibly advanced ability.
  • Kid Hero: The main characters are teenagers and battle against the forces of Heihu.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: When Hua is thrown off the temple roof by Heihu, Hua's grandmother turns away and covers her eyes.
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: In "Deep Within the Mirror", when Hua tries to sneak away with the mirror, the smoke from the nearby fire makes her cough, alerting Heihu to her presence.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Tang, in most fights. He purposefully cuts opponents' clothes while not cutting their bodies, either to invoke Defeat by Modesty or just to show off, and cuts cleanly through solid objects.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Both averted and played straight.
    • The Mystic Bow of Yi makes any arrow strike its mark, even another arrow shot from it.
    • Cheng averts this, being a notoriously bad shot.
      Tang: Well if your arrow hadn't hit his backside—
      Cheng: It. Was. The. Wind.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Hua taught herself whip-fighting using sheets of laundry, and uses a sheet twisted into a rope to fight the Black Foxes in the first episode before she gets her whip.
    • In the first episode, Cheng fights the Black Foxes with a broom before he gets his staff.
  • Instant Expert: Cheng instantly gets the hang of fighting with his staff upon receiving it. Unlike Tang, who was in a position to receive training growing up, and Hua, who is shown to be self-taught through observation and experimentation, there's no indication that Cheng ever engaged in anything similar before the start of the series.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: In the credits. There's a picture of Tang and Hua dueling with swords in a bamboo forest and standing on the sides of the bamboo. There's another picture of Cheng and Tang dueling on the top of rock columns.
  • Jumped at the Call: Hua jumped at the chance to become a knight of Shaolin and learn kung fu.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The kids don't know about their Secret Legacy or their status as the Chosen Ones. Sanzang does, and chooses not to burden them with it. He's even brought a few others into the loop, who have promised to keep it secret.
  • Love Triangle: One episode has an upcoming dance — both Tang and Cheng get the idea to ask Hua to it, and they spend the rest of the episode competing against each other to see who gets to ask her first. Later it turns out she already agreed to go with someone else.
  • MacGuffin: The Books of Power. Many an episode concerns Heihu trying to find the Second Book of Power, and there are a couple episodes with attempted retrievals of the stolen First Book of Power. Despite their importance, they are never used for anything.
  • Making a Splash: Hua has controlled water when under great stress. Her evil future self is shown to have great control over this power, even being able to spy remotely through water.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Black Foxes wear black face-concealing masks with fox ears.
  • Martial Arts Staff: Cheng is a martial artist. His weapon is a staff given to him by Sanzang. It can be used as a simple staff, or pulled apart at two joints to become a tri-sectioned nunchuck.
  • Mind over Matter: Heihu and Sanzang display powers of telekinesis. For example, when Heihu is looking for the First Book of Power in the temple library, he uses his power to pull books off the shelves and throw them aside.
  • Mooks: The Black Foxes. They all wear the same uniform and are defeated in droves by the main characters.
  • Myth Prologue: Episode 1 opens with a montage of paintings depicting the reign of terror, defeat, and sealing of the demon Heihu. Sound from the depicted scenes can also be heard the cries of the people, flames, and Heihu's shrieking and a gong as he is sealed away. The main story picks up a few centuries later when Heihu's seal is weakening.
  • Neck Lift: In "Deep Within the Mirror", when Heihu catches Hua trying to sneak away with the mirror, he grabs the front of her shirt and lifts her off the ground.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In the trailer and eye catches, Cheng makes the show title appear by throwing flames from his hands. Nowhere in the actual series does he display fire powers.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Wan Shun, the seemingly cowardly fortune-teller, who was actually part of a ruse to try and retrieve the First Book of Power. By the end of the episode, he becomes one of the few people to know who the trio really are.
  • Old Master: There are various elderly masters of the martial arts. Master Sanzang is the most prominent, being the head of the temple. There are also others at the temple who instruct trainees in various topics.
  • Only the Pure of Heart: One episode concerns a magic mirror that will only unlock its secrets if someone with a pure and innocent soul looks into it. For the impure, it releases a monster. Heihu kidnaps an innocent young girl to try and unlock it, but the trio manage to rescue her. Heihu, having grabbed Hua during their fight, tries making her look into it — this unleashes the monster, and she uses the opportunity to escape.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: In "Deep Within the Mirror", Tang claims that he has the pure and innocent soul necessary to use the mirror. Cheng retorts by bringing up a time he'd spied on Hua bathing in the river, and Tang objects that it had been Cheng's idea, with a flashback depicting the incident. A scene in the trailer shows an extended take on the flashback, in which the guys end up interrupted by a tiger coming up behind them and tumbling down the slope and into the water.
  • Pillar of Light: When Heihu's prison starts to break, a pillar of yellowish light shoots up from it into the sky.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • Heihu can summon flames in his hands, control existing flames, and turn ordinary orange flames into his signature ghostly blue. Applications of his powers include throwing fireballs and creating giant fire snakes.
    • Cheng is seen throwing fire from his hands in the eye catches.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: The titular thief in "Shadow Thief". He was once a student of Sanzang, but began using his shadow powers to steal.
  • Purple Is the New Black: Hua's hair is colored purple instead of black, though it's shown as black in the credits.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Hua was raised by her grandmother. Her parents died of an epidemic.
  • Rooftop Confrontation:
    • In the trailer and opening, the main trio battles Black Foxes on the roofs of some buildings.
    • In the first episode, Hua, trying to save the Book of Power from Heihu, ends up fleeing to the temple roof, where he corners her and ends up forcefully taking the book, throwing her off the roof, and departing.
  • Royal Brat: Tang. He's the son of a governor and frequently brings it up.
  • Scenery Porn: The credits show some painterly scenes of scenery and the main characters.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: In the backstory, Heihu was sealed away into a magical prison that looks like a giant bell. His breaking out of the prison is what kicks off the plot.
  • Secret Legacy: The main characters being reincarnations of three Shaolin knights and the hopes for defeating Heihu. No one save the ancestral spirits and a few living souls know about this.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The Shaolin monastery has secret tunnels connecting the inside and outside.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": Tang sometimes slashes opponents with his sword, only to have them fall down afterward as if unconscious.
  • Shirtless Scene: The boys have a couple of shirtless scenes, showing off their muscular upper bodies.
  • Short Teens, Tall Adults: Although the main characters look to be in their mid teens at least, their future selves in "The Wheel of Time" are much taller, with Tang and Cheng's future selves standing at least a head taller than their younger selves.
  • Super Smoke: When Heihi first escapes from his prison, he appears in the form of purple, fluid-like tendrils that fly through the air. After stealing a body, he can revert to a lesser version of this form to disappear, vanishing into the air and flying off to reform elsewhere.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: In the first episode, Hua deals with this attitude from her grandmother and some of the Shaolin students, who say that kung fu isn't for girls.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Tang wears glasses, reflecting his nature as a studious and serious individual.
  • Sword Drag: As Tang runs along the rooftop in the trailer, he lets the point of his sword drag over the tiles.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: Cheng sometimes deflects attacks by spinning his staff. One example of this is in the trailer/opening when a volley of arrows is fired at him.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Cheng and Tang, respectively. The tiger and dragon are their Animal Battle Auras, and they frequently clash over their personalities and upbringings — Cheng is a laid-back farm boy, and Tang is an uptight intellectual from a higher class.
  • Walking Wasteland: After Heihu is first freed, the environment turns a sickly yellow-green and the surrounding vegetation withers and dies.
  • Water Is Womanly: Hua, the only girl in the main group, is the one with water powers.
  • Weapon Specialization: Hua learned how to fight with sheets, so Sanzang gifted her with an enchanted whip that would never break, which then became her primary weapon.
  • "You!" Exclamation: In one episode, Hua is captured and brought in front of Heihu. Heihu, upon seeing Hua, snarls: "You!"
  • You Go, Girl!: Hua, after facing opposition, becomes the first girl to train at Shaolin temple.