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Western Animation / Zarafa

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Zarafa is a 2012 animated film directed by Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christopher Lie, produced by Christophe Jankovic and Valérie Schermann, and written by Rémi Bezançon and Alexander Abela.

The film focuses on a young slave boy named Maki who, while escaping his master, Moreno, encounters a baby giraffe whose mother is killed by the master. Before he could be taken back into the slave camp, Maki is rescued by a nomad named Hassan (voiced by Simon Abkarian in French), who names the giraffe Zarafa and looks after them both. They come across a merchant named Mahmoud, who gives them a pair of Tibetan cows named Mounh and Souhn. Then Maki discovers his friend, Soula, being abused by Moreno. The two are once again saved by Hassan. It turns out that Hassan is actually trying to reach Mehemet in Egypt, who wishes to offer a baby giraffe to king Charles X in Paris. Accompanied by an areonaut named Malaterre, the group decides to take Zarafa there in a balloon.

This film provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Hassan becomes this at the end.
  • Anachronism Stew: Koalas and giant pandas were not kept in European zoos in 1826 when the story takes place.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • A food bowl with bamboo-like plant is shown in koalas enclosure. note 
    • The hippo's tail is too long and slender.
    • Polar bears don't hibernate.
  • Babies Ever After: Maki and Soula marry and raise a whole village. Zarafa also has babies, unlike a real animal she's based on.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Soula.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Moreno falls into a polar bear enclosure near the end of the movie and is promptly devoured by the polar bear.
  • Big Bad: Moreno, the slave trader who originally captured Maki and will stop at nothing to 'retrieve his property,' serves as the film's main antagonist.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Hassan shows up at the end to save Maki from Moreno.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Maki makes it out of the movie alive and Moreno is killed, but Zarafa is trapped in a zoo. At least another giraffe is brought to the zoo so she won’t be alone. Hassan has also become an alcoholic after losing Maki, but it was shown that he recovered in the hospital and fell in love with Bouboulina.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his baby giraffe. Maki makes a promise to Zarafa's mother and he'll take care of her, and the movie centers around their relationship.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Maki and Soula.
  • Determinator: Moreno will stop at nothing to recapture Maki. Maki himself is adamant about getting Zarafa home.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted: Maki and Soula bite Moreno's hands and send him plummeting from the balloon at a considerable height, seemingly spelling his end. However, he survives, but fell into the polar bear enclosure and is eaten alive.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Zarafa's name is literally "giraffe" in Arabic.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Hassan becomes an alcoholic after Maki is kidnapped by Moreno.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: While offscreen Moreno is eaten alive by a polar bear.
  • Friendly Pirate: Bouboulina is not too bad despite being the leader of a pirate crew. She acts friendly to Maki and even protects him from Moreno later on.
  • Genial Giraffe: Zarafa, a docile and affectionate giraffe.
  • Gonk: Some of the people gathered with the King of France look a little.... unique to say the least.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hassan goes into a deep depression when Maki is kidnapped by Moreno.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade and Historical Hero Upgrade: The Turks and Greeks for some reason are switched in regards to their conflicts with Egypt.
  • Implacable Man: Moreno is absurdly persistant in his pursuit of Maki, chasing him all the way to France. This leads to his demise when he hangs onto the balloon Maki is escaping in, resulting in him falling into the polar bear enclosure where he's eaten alive.
  • Irony: The noblewoman to the right of the King of France thinks Zarafa’s neck is grotesquely long. This woman just so happens to have an abnormally long neck.
  • Just Desserts: Moreno is eaten alive by a polar bear after falling into the enclosure.
  • Made a Slave: Maki and Soula at the beginning.
  • Narrator All Along: A now elderly Maki is revealed to be the narrator.
  • One-Word Title: Only One Name-style Character Title.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: This being a critique of European colonialism of African the antagonists are slavers who don't think highly of black people. The King of France even compares Maki to a monkey.
  • Pirate: Maki and the two cows run into these after being tossed out of the balloon.
  • Road Apples: How do Maki and Soula escape King Charles at the end? They have a hippo take a dump on him.
  • Savage Wolves: A pack of these attack the cows. One of them is killed.
  • Ship Tease: Hassan and Bouboulina. The ending even hints that they may very well get together.
  • Sound-Only Death: All that's heard of Moreno's death is him letting out a death scream and the polar bear roaring as it rips him apart.
  • Taking the Bullet: Hassan. He gets better.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: It is actually based on the journey of a real life giraffe, albeit you can easily spot where the historical embellishment comes through.
  • Villainous Breakdown: While Moreno was always quick to fold when threatened, he breaks down in complete panic and terror after realizing he fell into the polar bear enclosure. He spends his last moments pathetically begging his dog to get help before being mauled to death.