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Even these tapes cost something

  Wee Wendy
 
1989 | Toei Animation.
Wee Wendy Celebrity's just for kids

The debut video review from Nostalgiamadman and what a weighty tome to tackle first!

100 minutes of squeaky voiced tiny people running around in the woods. Good luck!

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A spaceship crash lands on Earth containing a race of alien people from the planet Riluhu. Amongst these travelers is Memoru (pronounced Memole), her family and her friends Popi and Rucksack. They soon find that, compared to the native inhabitants of the planet they are very tiny and set up their own community in the peaceful woodland away from the potential danger of these giants.

Memoru is an inquisitive child and can't resist exploring their new home. On her travels she befriends a human child named Marielle who was once very ill but with the alien visitor's help is soon full of life. Together they go on many adventures but there is some conflict in their lives in the form of Grace, a suspicious girl who is jealous of Marielle's friendship with her boyfriend Oscar. Grace is constantly trying to expose Marielle's secret tiny chums to the rest of the world.

Tongari Boshi no Memoru (Memoru and her Pointy Hat) was another successful animated TV series from Toei. First airing on the TV Asahi network on 3rd March 1984 it ran for 50 episodes ending a year later. Such was Memoru's popularity with the children of Japan that she reappeared in a short 15 minute movie with her human companion in 1985 a week after the series had come to an end. The musical adventure was titled Marielle no Housekibako (Marielle's Jewel Box).

What made Tongari Boshi no Memoru stand out so much from the other children's series of the time were the unusual character designs. The tiny elf-like folk were given a very european style, far removed from the typical anime visuals. These distinctive designs were the work of Yasuhiro Nakura who worked in similar territory in the later, and much more widely recognised, Moomins anime.

In America Memole gained a wide release as yet another of Force Five creator Jim Terry's anime adaptations, finding its way into video stores in 1989 courtesy of the Celebrity's Just For Kids range.

Following similar lines as his company's adaptation of another, earlier, Toei TV series Time Bokan, he took a show with a large number of episodes and then compressed a selection of them together into a vague, movie length, plot line and, just as with Time Fighters the finished article, renamed Wee Wendy, runs to an attention drifting 100 minutes. The video crams together clips from a number of the early episodes, including the Cat Training from #1, the tug-o-war conflict resolution from #3 "A Red Ribbon Snake" and concludes with the Christmas celebrations of episode 40 "Golden Star from the Sky".

As with most Jim Terry productions the video features all new musical compositions by the band Bullets and the regular vocal cast including the famous Mr Angelo and 'Deschamps'.

As always in other parts of the globe Memole received a more faithful release. In the mid eighties European countries such as France, Italy and Spain to as far as Poland and the Middle East received Tongari Boshi no Memoru in its original 50 episode form with only a regional dub added and the title 'Little Memole'.

 

 
Galaxy Express 999 Poster Tongari Boshi no memoru
Japanese promo
 
Japanese VHS releases
 
 

Wee Wendy begins with a song by regular Bargain Bin Anime fixture Bullets. It's about a place called Christmas Island where "every day's a song". Christmas Island is inhabited by tiny gnome-like people originally from Planet Christmas. I wish I was joking. We meet our spunky heroine when she and her friends are late for village exercises.

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memoleole Wee Wendy aka memole

Their exercise routine consists of playing dead so attacking cats will leave them alone. I'm calling shenanigans cuz I've owned cats all my life and none of them stopped mangling mice they caught after the mice were dead. Wendy thinks the whole thing is stupid because not one of them has seen a cat since landing on Earth.

Wendy and her friends go for a walk in the woods and find a fellow tiny person named Rockman who's an older friend of theirs. He's been missing because a bird's nest was built over him while he slept and he didn't want to be a poor host. The birds bring him a key. After the kids mercilessly explain how our society sucks compared to theirs because of the non-existence of theft, they leave to find what the key opens to the strains of another silly Bullets anthem. In less than thirty seconds they do find it, an old windmill where the adults of Christmas Island hide human junk that washes up on their shores.

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole

Proving kids are the same no matter what planet they're from, they start to play with the forbidden trash and Wendy is knocked out by a blast of perfume. The kids get her grandparents (Grandpa thanks God when she wakes up, and I'm learning not to be surprised by that kind of thing in these movies), who are glad she's all right but double the cat exercises as punishment.

Rockman comes up to the kids and complains he can't rid of the baby birds that nested on him. Wendy pulls out her magic bubble wand that calls Bobo (or Booboo or Bubble, the dubbing could've been a lot better), a horned owl who flies her around looking for the birdies' mama. After being chased by an eagle Wendy falls off Booboo and soon finds herself outside a huge house in the middle of the woods! Inhabited by people! Of the human variety! And there are cats in America! In all defiance of the laws of nature, the kids' cat training not only works, but the cat comes when called by its owner, a little girl. The kids tell the village elders and next thing you know a double secret probation cat alert is called and everyone starts digging a Burmese tiger trap for the little girl's cat.

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole

Wendy and her friends sneak out to see the giant girl (whose name is Muriel). They learn to their sadness that she's dying. They try to give her a heart massage but it's Wendy's tears that finally make Muriel open her eyes. Later her grandparents say the tears of young Christmas girls have magical powers. I'm not telling you it was Wendy's love that saved her life. The doctor and her shrieky governess come in and Muriel babbles about a little girl who said her name was Wendy, even though Wendy never said her name, and how they're going to be bestest friends, even though Wendy never said that either.

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole

The kids are relieved Muriel is all right, but dismayed to learn their parents made a new law that says they can't visit humans anymore. After a gallingly pointless disagreement between Wendy and her friend Poppit, Rockman tells them to look for a snake with a red bow if they want to overturn the law. The kids spend all day searching the woods, but only find the snake by accident when they take a break to play hide and seek. It's actually a rope. The Rope of Decision, in fact. If Christmas people want to overturn a law, they have to play tug of war against everyone else. If they win, the law is repealed. Their society really is better than ours.

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole

To cut a long scene short, the kids win. Most of the other people didn't pull, you see. They went the night before and made sure Muriel's house was safe. Some people just have to go for the theatrical, I guess. Unfortunately while they were sorting all that out Muriel and her cat went looking for Wendy and got lost in the woods. Long story short they meet and become instant BFF's.

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole

Wendy shows Muriel how to survive in the woods, then they do each other's hair and fantasize about Justin Timberlake. This is the funniest and most disturbing part of the movie at the same time. I broke out laughing at the line, "Quick, we better start a fire before it rains!" but I stopped when Wendy got mad at Muriel's governess for not letting little girls play with fire. What kind of movie is this?

In any case, Muriel's supervisors follow her cat to them and take Muriel home without realizing they have a guest. When Wendy and her owl fly home the governess tries to have them shot down by the groundskeeper, but in private he tells Muriel he missed on purpose. Isn't he such a great surrogate parent for letting her hang around wild animals?

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole

On Christmas Island, Bobo the owl is afraid to fly to Muriel's house anymore after being shot at. Because he's nothing more than a plot device on legs Rockman suggests the kids make a forgetting potion so the owl will forget about nearly being shot down. They make the potion and to prove it's safe Wendy drinks it herself and loses her whole memory. Good one, Christine.

She and Poppit go over to Muriel's and come up with a foolproof plan: Muriel pretends to have amnesia too so when the doctor comes they'll just do whatever he does to cure Wendy. Brilliant! But there's a thunderstorm that makes Wendy's memory come back all by itself. With that harrowing episode behind them, Wendy and Muriel make shadow puppets. Couldn't you just choke on all the drama?

In the next episode of this epic saga, Wendy and Poppit wonder what they can do to make Christmas special for Muriel. Only took them until ten minutes before the final bell for this movie to get back to Christmas. Wendy sees the adults of her village sneaking out after dark and finds out they're decorating a giant Christmas tree with lots of neato lights and everything. Hey, that'd be perfect!

Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole Wee Wendy aka memole

During the Christmas festivities at Muriel's house, the Christmas people blow the fuse box by setting off a bomb in an outlet outside (!). Muriel and her brother Oscar are able to sneak out unnoticed and Oscar literally has no reaction whatever to meet his sister's teeny tiny friends. They bike out to the lake and then take a boat and see the tree light up. And they all agreed it was the best Christmas pageant ever.

The End.

 
Missing videos Missing videos

Cat Training
Learn how to survive a tiger attack!
Invaluable information for jungle expeditions.

Lost in the Woods
Further tips from survivalist expert Wee Wendy. This time how to survive being lost in dense forest.

 
Decent animation
 
Some unintentional laughs
 
Mixed dubbing
 
Weak score
  Set up takes too long
  Abrupt ending
  Resolutions come too easily

I recognize I'm as far from the target audience as it's possible to be, but little girls don't review movies online. Wee Wendy is a tedious one, with the characters repeatedly facing problems that eventually go away no thanks to our protagonists. When I was a child I didn't want to watch a movie where things just happened, I certainly don't now.

I don't fault Jim Terry with wanting to appeal to someone besides the little boys who watched Force Five, but Wee Wendy probably wasn't the way to do it. It's harmless, but boring. It's exactly the kind of movie lazy parents turn on to get an hour away from their children.

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