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Western Animation / The Magic Voyage

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You remember that part in history class when these guys helped Christopher Columbus out in his travels...right?

A long time ago, people thought the world was flat, and if you sailed uncharted waters, you might just fall over the edge into space. Now this may seem strange to us now, but in those days, no one knew what lay over the far horizon. But with pirates and hurricanes and sea monsters to contend with, it was a very dangerous voyage. But in 1492, there appeared an Italian navigator, a man with a revolutionary idea: He thought the world was... square. And his name was... Christopher Columbus.
The opening narration for the movie

The Magic Voyage (originally Die Abenteuer von Pico und Columbus or "The Adventures of Pico and Columbus") is an animated feature from Germany that is... loosely based off the voyages of Christopher Columbus. You know, the sailor who wanted to prove the world was round — not find an easier trade route from Europe to Asia, which is surely a far harder concept for children to grasp.

Columbus also wished to help his best friend, a talking woodworm, rescue his girlfriend. His girlfriend is a Fairy Princess from a Magical Land on the moon, and she was stolen away by an evil swarm of bugs. The Swarm brought her to the new world, where Columbus and the worm finally find her held captive in an Aztec-looking pyramid full of honey. Columbus destroys the evil Swarm, and the native people celebrate his ridding their home of the terrible evil. Columbus and his bug friend sail back home with visions of big cities and shopping malls dancing in their heads.


Surely, you remember all of this from your grade-school history lessons?

Basically, this is the movie that makes Titanic: The Legend Goes On look perfectly reasonable in comparison.

The Magic Voyage provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Averted with Queen Isabella. Characters in typical animation would be frightened to have that woman pursuing them. Christopher Columbus, however, even when he ISN'T drunk, seems to enjoy it quite a bit.
  • Accordion to Most Sailors: Columbus entertains his mutinous crew of sailors by playing the concertina while singing "The Life of the Sea".
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Particularly when Columbus is in the jungle - "I need to start going to the gym!" Or (hearing a tribal beat) "That's going to hit over big someday."
    • Another example is when Pico fights the rats he says "I learned this move from watching Woody Woodpecker cartoons."
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    • Columbus's dream sequence has him pulling out a telescope, which would not be invented for over a century.
  • Animation Bump: In several spots, going from Limited Animation to rather fluid animation and visa versa during the same scene.
  • Anti-Hero: All over the place - Christopher, while a very nice person, is motivated by lust and greed, the sea gull wants to eat Pico, and the rats are only interested in the cheese and only change their mind at the last second (the brown one at least).
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: "You stole our idol! Destroyed our sacred temple! And... made squishy with the Swarm Lord... How can we ever thank you?"
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • A shark roars like a mountain lion at one point.
    • The Swarm Lord looks to be made up of locusts but lives in a giant honeycomb inside of the Aztec temple.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Possibly in many ways, but lampshaded in the case of Bob the Beaver: "What's a beaver like you doing on a tropical island?" In a strange double subversion, beavers were native to where New York City is today, but the film thinks that New York City is a tropical island!
  • Artistic License – History: If the page description hasn't tipped you off, this film resembles Columbus' historic voyage as much as The Road to El Dorado resembles Hernan Cortez's campaign to the new world.
    • Of course, there was no hive mind of insects terrorizing the Native Americans for Columbus et al. to save, and their real relationship was far more strained.
    • In the film, Pico tells Columbus the world is round, and he sets out on his voyage to prove this. In reality, no one really thought the Earth was flat at this point. The Greeks figured it out ages ago. The journey to India was to establish a trade route. Columbus incorrectly thought the Earth was significantly smaller than it was, which was what he was going to prove with the voyage.
  • Award-Bait Song: Heaven Is by Al Jarreau, which appears in the credits.
  • Bold Explorer: The heavily fictionalized Columbus himself, of course.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    Pico: This is stupid... this is fun... this is stupid... this is stupid fun...
  • Clothing Damage: Columbus' clothes become increasingly more destroyed as the film goes on, to the point that he's reduced to just his boxer shorts. He even ends up having his naked bottom exposed twice.
  • Crunchtastic: During the Friendship Song "A Fellow Like You", a woman selling pies says that life isn't always "applepieful".
  • Damsel in Distress: Marilyn is kidnapped by the Swarm Lord and held prisoner in his temple in America.
  • Death Is Cheap: At least for moon fairies. Just a touch of sunlight on them counteracts the effect of drowning.
  • Deranged Animation: And how. The film constantly seems to flip between decent quality, Disney-esque animation, and at other times being much rougher; almost reminiscent of a cheap Saturday morning cartoon.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Pico and Columbus's dream sequences.
  • Disney Death: Marilyn apparently drowns in a river and Pico finds her lifeless body, but she's revived as soon as the sun rises... but isn't she a Moon Fairy?
  • Double Entendre: It starts with the dinner scene when Queen Isabella and Columbus get drunk and start flirting with one another ("There's a lot of exploring to do right here!"), moves on to some sailors asking why Columbus is talking to "his little worm", and goes further and further downhill from there.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The English voice-actors don't even try to match the Mouth Flaps, so most of the time the characters will say a bunch of lines without moving their mouths.
  • Incorrect Animal Noise: The shark who sounds just like a mountain lion is just icing on the cake.
  • Informed Species: Pico looks next-to nothing like a woodworm, and is more of a Cartoon Creature that looks far closer to a brown snowman in a sleeveless jacket. Discussed:
    Marilyn: I've never seen an insect like you before.
    Pico: That's not surprising.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Columbus speaks with a ridiculously exaggerated, Mario-like Italian falsetto, just to remind the viewer that he's from Italy.
  • Literal Bookworm: Pico is a woodworm, but he also functions as a literal bookworm. As much as he eats wood, he eats books and this is why he's so knowledgeable. He meets Christopher Columbus when the latter wants to propose that the world is a cube rather than flat, at which point Pico jumps in to correct him that the world is an orb. It is the start of a beautiful friendship.
  • Mayincatec: The Aztec temple with a gold idol on what turns out to be Manhattan Island.
  • Mind Screw: Barring the whole movie, Columbus running around the jungle in his underwear is a little bit mind-boggling.
    • His dream sequence is both a Mind Screw and deeply uncomfortable to watch.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: There is a beaver on a tropical island. You know, the famous tropical island of New York. So... misplaced wildlife living in misplaced geography.
  • The Napoleon: Ferdinand is drawn to be one of the shortest characters in the movie and he has a violent temper. For the first part of the movie, he’s conveyed as being unpleasant towards any man that comes to him with a revolutionary idea and either throws them out or forces them to demonstrate their invention even if he’s told it’s not ready yet. He also seems to be unusually resentful towards Columbus and his hatred of Columbus seems to cement when Isabella flirts with Columbus.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. The king will try to open his mouth, and his wife's response is "Shut up.".
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Columbus, after a rough landing on the Americas: "I, whoever I am, claim this land in the name of... What's-her-name.".
  • Politically Correct History: The story of Christopher Columbus is presented here with significantly less imperialism or disease than as it actually happened. Enforced, in that the directors knew that the real Christopher Columbus would be a difficult character to root for.
  • Wingding Eyes: Columbus in the last act of the movie. What the animators were going for, there is no way of knowing, but suddenly his obsession with gold seems to be correlated with deranged swirling eyeballs.


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