Barbapapa is a Japanese-Dutch animated children's television series that was created by the French-American couple, Annette Tison and Talus Taylor, in 1974. The series was adapted from the 1970's book series of the same name. It was co-produced by the Japanese animation studios KSS and Topcraft, and the Dutch studio, PolyScope BV. It centers around the environmental adventures of a shape-shifting blob family who set out to help the world around them.
In 1999, a spin-off anime series called Barbapapa Around the World premiered in Japan on NHK Educational TV, and ran for 50 episodes. It was produced by Kodansha. A video game was released only in Japan based on this spin-off.
In June 2017, TF1 announced the production of a reboot of the series entitled Barbapapa: One Big Happy Family!. It would later premiere in France in November 2019, and would be distributed to many Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. channels the following year.
Barbapapa follows the daily life of the extraordinary blob-shaped Barbapapa family, who can morph into other forms but retain their original colors. The Barbapapa family consists of parents Barbapapa and Barbamama and their seven children; the intellectual Barbalib, the coquette Barbabelle, the powerful Barbabravo, inventor Barbabright, animal lover Barbazoo, artist Barbabeau, and musician Barbalala.
Why It Rocks
- Come on, what isn't awesome about a friendly blob family who can turn into anything they want at anytime?
- Barbapapa and Barbamama are kind parents to their children.
- The Barbababies themselves are all colorful, precious characters with their own fun and unique personalities.
- Frank and Cindy are also kind-hearted children and good friends to the Barbapapas, to the point where you feel disappointed when they are abandoned in Around the World and One Big Happy Family!.
- All the series count as environmental cartoons, and they are very important to watch nowadays as they teach important morals, such as to treat animal friends properly and to not kill them.
- Barbapapa adopts a Bugs Bunny "trickster" personality in some episodes of the original where he plays tricks on villains and frightens them into not wanting to do the terrible misdeed again.
- Catchy theme songs, especially the original series. Good luck getting that one out of your head.
- Outside of the intro, really good songs in every incarnation. This includes the ending song of Around the World, "I'm Fancy", and so on.
- Both the original series and Around the World has decent pacing, for a 5-minute series. And One Big Happy Family! makes great use of its 11-minute time slot as well.
- Many great, heartwarming moments.
- Yes, even a commercial based on the show is easily one of the best commercials you'll probably ever see. This is a commercial for Barbapapa that was aired in Japan, featuring unarguably the best animation the franchise has ever seen, creative visuals, wonderful singing, and providing a wonderful scene near the end of Barbapapa and Barbamama, showing how much in love with each other they are. It's a beautiful experience.
- The American English dub by Centauro is by far one of the best English dubs of anything ever, despite some dubbing errors (see BQ #7). The script is faithfully adapted, all of the songs sound GORGEOUS, and the voice of the narrator in season 1 is relaxing and charming. In season 2, the Barbababies are all given different voices much like in the original version, and they all sound wonderful. It's also the only English dub of the original to have gotten to dub season 2 and Around the World.
- DAM DAM DAM! Haha, excuse me, just joking.
- The American English dub by Magno isn't bad either, abridging the dialogue by adding funny, witty jokes, and giving the characters unique voices. Its only downside is that every episode is cut into two minutes.
- Barbabeau in that dub has a New York accent, and the end result is hilarious.
- Around the World opens the series to new environments as the Barbapapa family go to different places around the globe and learn about their new environments. It also retains the feel of the original series while having a more animesque art style.
- Barbapapa: One Big Happy Family! is also a faithful reboot, with smooth animation that feels distinct from the other two series while not being too drastically different, and good character development, jokes, and morals.
- OBHF also has a good English dub, with talented and upcoming British child actors for the Barbababies. Also, Barbamama is voiced by Harriet Carmichael, who also voiced Clarissa from 101 Dalmatian Street, but she sounds more like Delilah here, and her soft voice performance works perfectly.
- "You brussell sprout!" "You take that back!" "Brussell sproooout!"
- Frank and Cindy are basically forgotten about in Around the World, and are only mentioned once in One Big Happy Family!.
- In the "Birthday" episode of the original, Barbamama unfairly punishes everyone for Barbazoo pretending to be a cake, even though everyone else was doing nothing wrong.
- Some episodes of the original series can be very scary since this is an environmental cartoon made in the 70's. That being said, they didn't need to go so far that one episode literally shows a bird getting shot, and we see the bird dead with blood surrounding it. And another episode has a cowboy threaten to kill Barbabravo.
- The animation in season 2 of the original series is awfully cheap, with poor movements and lip flaps, and the proportions of the characters changed for the worse (like Barbapapa and Barbamama, who appear to have gotten skinnier). Also for some reason, they've added anthro characters into the show in that season when they never existed prior.
- Oh BOY, the way that Lolita (the family dog) in Around the World is cruelly treated by the family in almost every episode for doing absolutely nothing wrong. It gets to the point where if they think she causes them SO much trouble, why would they even bring a dog along on their world trips?
- One Big Happy Family! was said to finally be getting a film, cue tons of happy, hopeful cheers from fans.... until it was revealed to just be a compilation movie, using a bunch of episodes from the show re-packaged to make a "film". Disappointing.
- History Repeats: This did happen with the original series in 1973 (yes, before it even premiered) in Italy.
- The English dub produced by Centauro, while still amazing, has some problems:
- In the intro itself, somehow, they messed up the roll-call by accidentally calling Barbabelle's name twice, and leaving out Barbalib entirely. How they managed to mess that up, we'll never know.
- Barbabright's voice actor changes his tone in the later episodes (and then randomly goes back to his original voice in Around the World), and it sounds very grating.
- The lip-sync started to get bad in season 2, and it got to the point where the last episode literally switched the voices of the male and female squirrels.
- Not really a problem, but the intro and outro of Around the World just wasn't as good as the rest of the songs presented from the original series run.
- In one episode of Around the World, they somehow translate Barbalib's name as "Barbottina", which is her Italian name, perhaps proving that their dub was based on the Italian dub. Still, this is basic proof-reading!
- In one episode, they make a racist joke about Native Americans (making them use the slur "redskin" towards Barbabravo, who literally has red skin). The entire episode in general feels like it is wrongly depicting Native Americans, as well. Though it's unsure if the original French version is like this as well.
- Speaking of messing up roll-calls, the British version completely missed the point of actually doing it by having the narrator annoyingly and slowly shouting the names of each Barbapapa three times (at least in the album version, they spare you one in the show version), therefore ruining their version of the intro.
- Oh well, made for good meme material though. DID YOU MISS THAT? BARBAPAPA, BARBAMAMA, BARBAZOO, BARBALIB-
- By god, the dub released by Aniplex in Japan in 2000 is the worst English "dub" of the series, if you can even call it that. There is a limited voice cast (in a season that didn't even need one), and the cast themselves can't even act to save their life. It's as if they grabbed some random people off the street to participate in the dub at gun point. It's like an effortless voice-over without the original track playing in the background, and it's very hard to watch. Luckily, the Centauro dub reused the script of this dub and rewrote it when necessary, and proved itself worthy of making a far better dub.
- The first season of the original series had the narrator provide the voices for all of the characters, like in the original seasons of Thomas & Friends. By season two, all of the Barbapapas gained their own individual voices, as supported by how lip-flaps were then being animated. From then on, this would become a standard practice.
- A few sources incorrectly call Around the World a third season of the original series, and One Big Happy Family! a fourth season of the original series, much like how PBS Kids does the same for Clifford the Big Red Dog and its 2019 reboot.
- There are five English dubs of the original series.
- The British English dub, which was the first to be produced and aired on BBC One from January 1975 until 1978 has gone lost, with only the songs (that were released in albums, and were undubbed in the Canadian dub) remaining.
- The Barbapapas were in the third place to have the book series to be adapted to television, next to The Moomins and The Smurfs.