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Western Animation / The Adventures of the American Rabbit

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The Adventures of the American Rabbit is a 1986 American/Japanese animated film about a young rabbit named Robert (played by Barry Gordon), who becomes the titular superhero. Having inherited "The Legacy" bestowed to one particular resident of his village each generation, the athletic, musically gifted Rob sets out to San Francisco to protect others via his secret identity, while working as a rock group pianist by day. However, a gang of jackals led by the mysterious Walt is terrorizing the city. Robert and his new friends band together to stand up to them and restore what they ruin, and end up setting off on what becomes a cross-country journey to New York City, dogged by the jackals all the way as Walt's grand ambitions to Take Over the World become clear.

This film provide examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The gang never makes any money for the Panda-Monium, due to the Jackals attacking the places they planned to perform at.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: Which involves Rob transforming into the American Rabbit to stopper up a dam burst.
  • All-American Face: The American Rabbit of course.
  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: The Jackals.
  • American Title: Goes without saying.
  • America Saves the Day: The world is in chaos and hopelessness, and the only one who can save it is a furry Walking Talking American Flag.
  • Bad Boss - All Walt/Vultor is shown doing is yelling at the Jackals, whether because they failed to kill Rob or because they don't think like he does. He doesn't even plan anything out at first—he leaves that up to the Jackals. From the Grand Canyon until the Doomsday Switch plan, he travels with the Jackals but doesn't help them out; all he does is follow a Jackal around and insult him repeatedly. He's not any tougher than the Jackals either: When Rob actually takes him on, he has no combat capabilities whatsoever.
  • Big Applesauce: The last third or so of the film takes place primarily in New York City.
  • Big Bad: Vultor is ultimately the biggest threat.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Quite a few of the characters, such as Robert.
  • Broken Aesop: The film suffers from this big time. The Big Bad's henchmen are a biker gang called The Jackals, who are... jackals. Several times throughout, characters address that no one should assume all jackals are evil just because of the actions of a few bad apples. All well and good, except that there are no good jackals in the movie — every one we see is a member of the biker gang and working for the main villain.
  • Brooklyn Rage: The Jackals try to scare the people in the rougher neighborhoods in New York to submission, and it doesn't work at all.
  • Captain Obvious
    Bunny O'Hare: You wanna know something, Robert?
    Robert: Yes, what?
    Bunny O'Hare: You play a whole lot of piano.
    Robert: ...
  • Captain Patriotic: The American Rabbit, of course.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: At one point, the Big Bad actually says something to the effect of, Im a villain, therefore I have to be aimlessly evil in every direction!
  • Conjoined Eyes: Seen on Vultor, The Penguins and various Animal Citizens.
  • Cool Helmet: No, wait, it's a kettle! For cookin' rabbits!
  • Department of Redundancy Department
    Old Rabbit: A fine looking boy, yes sir! He's a fine-looking boy!
    • There's also this gem:
    Ping: Hey, that's not nice. That's mean. What they're doing is mean.
    • "He's not so much 'one of our guys' as he is 'one of their guys.' Y'see, he's one of their guys."
  • Digital Destruction: The home video releases are in 4:3 (the intended ratio), but not polished. Digital releases are polished, but the widescreen formatting chops off the top and bottom of the image.
  • Dirty Coward: The Jackals — they will gladly intimidate any animal who is smaller and weaker than they are but a bigger and stronger animal can easily scare them into submission.
  • Disney Villain Death: Ineptly used for the villain ...who's a bird. They do show that he's gotten very tired and his wings are covered with snow but he falls/glides very slowly about twenty feet, lands in snow, and the sound effect when he hits is a gentle "puff". Um... I guess he's dead?
    • The idea seemed to be that the snow was weighing him down making him tire out, and his attempt to dive-bomb Rob sent him spiralling out of control, whereupon he he hit the ground pretty hard.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Walt isn't actually the main villain, he's just a robot being controlled somehow by the vulture Vultor, who poses as his pet.
  • For the Evulz: At one point, the Big Bad actually says something to the effect of, Im a villain, therefore I have to be aimlessly evil in every direction! This is a perfect and totally understandable explanation for how he has gone from holding some kind of unspecified grudge against a local club to "plotting to destroy the Statue of Liberty and everyone who is visiting her after they have been promised free chocolate".
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted. There is plenty of alcohol to go around.
  • Furry Confusion: The Statue of Liberty is still a human in this world populated by cute little animals. Huh...
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Averted. After taking over New York, the Jackals go out to try to extort protection money. All the people we're shown refuse to pay, and the Jackals flee without a fight when a bunch of rough types stick their heads out to see what all the noise is.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • The Chocolate Moose, a moose who makes chocolate for a living.
    • The Panda-Monium club, a nightclub run by a panda.
  • Irony: This is a film that glorifies America, yet was animated in Japan! (The creator/character designer's work was already popular there.)
  • Kudzu Plot: That's putting it generously. It's easy to suspect that this was originally conceived as a series that would have fully developed plot points and a Myth Arc over multiple episodes and was condensed into a feature when it didn't sell.
  • Large Ham: Walt; it doesn't even stop when he's revealed to have been Vultor the vulture all along.
  • Magic Pants: Rob's glasses disappear and reappear whenever he switches back and forth between his regular self and his alter ego; ditto for the roller skates, which only appear on the American Rabbit.
  • Mythology Gag: Many characters derive from American Rabbit creator Stewart Moskowitz's prints:
    • The Chocolate Moose and his son (originally, "Chocolate Mousse" and "Baby Chocolate Mousse").
    • The penguins in the boardroom, from a piece called "The Corporation".
    • The White Brothers, who originally appeared in a print by that name, as roller-skating rabbits.
  • No Ending: The film just stops rather than ends.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Jackals' reaction to those in the rougher New York neighborhoods when they try to scare them into submission.
  • Only Six Faces: The rabbits and most of the other animals, too.
  • The Piano Player: Rob has been good at playing the piano since his childhood; it's how he meets up with Bunny and Teddy.
  • Police Are Useless: Especially considering what happens to the Panda Monium club. (That and the NYPD apparently don't put up much of a fight against Vultor's control.)
  • Random Events Plot: Most of the plot points come out of nowhere and are never resolved. The only consistency being who the heroes and villains are; even their goals are continually changing for little-to-no reason.
  • Righteous Rabbit: Robert, a rabbit superhero.
  • Robotic Reveal: Walt is actually just a robot, controlled by Vultor, who appears to be his pet up to this point.
  • Rollerblade Good: The American Rabbit sports a pair of rollerskates as part of his costume.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: Rodney, the leader of the Jackals, makes an Implied Death Threat about eating Robert.
  • Secret Identity Change Trick: With a judicious use of tap dancing!
  • Species Surname: Robert Rabbit. Taken to extremes with Bunny O' Hare whose whole name is a reference to her species!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
  • Transformation Sequence: The one relatively neat scene is the sequence where Rob transforms into the American Rabbit; he sprints and the American Flag suddenly appears behind him like a contrail before his body is changed into those colors.
    • One of the few interesting ideas is how Rob solves a problem related to the transformation. To transform, he has to run a certain distance to get the contrail to show up. How does he change when stuck in a building with little room? Run in a circle.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Walt and his actual identity of Vultor.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Bikers desecrating the club you're playing at? Just keep playing during the entire riot!
  • Vanilla Edition: The 2005 MGM DVD release doesn't have any bonus features.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After Rob stops Walt from destroying the Statue of Liberty and learns he's actually Vultor the Vulture, Vultor becomes increasingly insane and paranoid as he conquers the city.
  • Walking Spoiler: Vultor — in the final act, anyway. Any mention of him in the plot past the end of the second act spoils The Reveal.
  • We Can Rule Together: Vultor does this as a very desperate last ploy to the American Rabbit as the American Rabbit is pursuing him; this doesn't work at all.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: One of the most disturbing cases there is.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Quite a bit; many characters are introduced and discarded.
    • After Rob leaves his village, it vanishes and neither it nor his parents are so much as referenced again. The mysterious old rabbit wizard makes a vague reference to Rob's home town being protected from the evils of the outside world in some way, and the "Legacy" of the American Rabbit being the price they pay for this peace, but it's never explained or followed up on.
    • The Jackals disappear after Vultor gives them the boot in the wake of their failure to get the NYC residents under control.
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: Rodney, the lead Jackal, has these kind of eyes, which shows how menacing he is, as he threatened to cook Rob (as "rabbit stew") in his metal helmet, which he calls a kettle.