Sylvanian Families (1987) is an animated series produced by DiC Entertainment to cash in on the Sylvanian Families franchise which was reaching the peak of its popularity at the time. Each episode, a small child with a problem makes a wish about something that might cause An Aesop, and then meets a magic woodkeeper who opens a door to Sylvanian Forest and shrinks them. They enter and meet a few of the Sylvanian Families, after which they learn the Aesop of the episode, which usually has something to do with either how you should have been happy all along, or that you should quit being such a Jerk Ass.
Based on a toy line created and originally released in Japan by Epoch Company in 1985, the 1987 series was of American origin, though 3 Japanese studios, K.K. DiC, Tokyo Movie Shinsha and Studio Mook, provided animation production, TMS & Mook being uncredited. After the success of the show in the UK, a short four-episode stop-motion series of UK origin, titled Stories Of The Sylvanian Families, followed in 1988. This was followed in 2007 in Japan by a three-episode 3DCG-animated OVA series, and in 2017 with a series of Netflix-exclusive OVAs and shorts.
Compare to Mapletown, which aired on U.S. TV at the same time. On a fascinating side note, Haim Saban (yes, that Saban) and Shuki Levy were involved in both projects, although their involvement in Sylvanian Families is minimal.
- An Aesop: Once an Episode. The episodes' plots are triggered by children being sent to the Sylvanian Forest, where they encounter a situation that helps them learn more about a problem they were having beforehand, ultimately resulting in them learning a lesson by the end of the episode.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Here Come the Brides", after he starts a fire that the citizens promptly put out, Packbat is looking at Sylvanian Forest through a pair of binoculars and listing off some sinister sounds he expects to hear at any minute.Packbat: Ah, I can hear it all now. The delicious crackling of flames... hah hah! The delightful sobbing of sad Silly-vanians... ha ha ha! The strain of a wedding march! Ha ha- WHAAAAAH! The strain of a wedding march?! AAAAUUGGH!
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: None of the Funny Animal characters wear shoes.
- Big Dam Plot: In "Dam Busters", Packbat's evil plan is to send Gatorpossum to destroy a dam to flood the Sylvanian Forest.
- Binocular Shot: In "Here Come the Brides", Packbat looks at Sylvanian Forest through binoculars, hoping that he will soon find Sylvanians panicking from a forest fire he tried to start. We get a shot of the Forest through his binoculars as he's looking.
- Canon Foreigner: The DiC series, again. The Woodkeeper, Gatorpossum, Packbat and the numerous one-off children don't exist in the official continuity.
- Darker and Edgier: The series in relation to the toyline as a whole. It had villains while the toyline was completely devoid of them. Not true for the OVAs and shorts, however, which are just as sweet and gentle as the toys themselves look.
- Disguised in Drag: Gatorpossum dresses as a woman in the episode "Boy's Intuition" to get to the babies and try to eat them.
- Faking Another Person's Illness: In "Daddy's Little Girl", the Slydale family, to retrieve the black bag from the Sylvanian Forest's only doctor for Packbat, pretend their daughter is sick so that he'll come to take care of her condition.
- Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: The Funny Animals are fully dressed. Well, except for shoes.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Human children visit the Funny Animal-populated Sylvanian Forest.
- Merchandise-Driven: Based on the Japanese toy line known today as Calico Critters in the U.S.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Packrat is part pack rat, part bat. Similarly, Gatorpossum is... well, part gator, part possum.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Gatorpossum is (at least partially) an alligator serving as a villain of the show.
- Oh, Crap!: In "Beauty and the Beast", Lisa, upon realizing that Packbat and Gatorpossum are right behind her, screams in panic.
- Short-Runners: The initial run was from September 1987 to December of the same year. The series ran for 13 episodes total.
- Signing-Off Catchphrase: The Woodskeeper wraps up episodes by saying "And so ends another journey to the Sylvanian Forest to visit our best of friends, the Sylvanian Families! Goodbye, all, and may your wishes come true!"
- Talking Animal: All the animals in the Sylvanian Forest can talk.
- Title Theme Tune: The theme song almost says the show's title verbatim:(Woo-hoo, Sylvanian!) All your troubles soon will melt away!
(Woo-hoo, Sylvanian!) Like a bird, you too can fly away!
(Woo-hoo, Sylvanian!) Wishes will come true and you will be
A part of our Sylvanian Family!
- Two Shorts: The 22-minute-long episodes consisted of two 11-minute shorts each.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The original toyline is a pure Sugar Bowl and does not contain villains. The DiC series, on the other hand, features the villain Packbat and his minion Gatorpossum, and makes no attempts to hide the fact that they're legitimate threats. The latter tries to eat babies in one episode, for heaven's sake!