The cartoon told the story of Lucy-May Popple and her family, who had emigrated from Yorkshire to live in Adelaide, Australia. The story was based on a book called Southern Rainbow by Australian author Phyllis Piddington. The anime would be translated into numerous languages and aired in many countries outside of Japan.
The DVD cover
The cartoon introduced Japanese audiences to all sorts of Australian animals that were then largely unknown. Among the Australian creatures featured on the show were kangaroos, platypuses, wombats, kookaburras and koalas. There were no koalas in Japan when the cartoon aired, but the marsupials would sweep the country of its feet with their cuteness when the first koalas arrived at the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya two years later.
Lucy-May of the Southern Rainbow was part of the World Masterpiece Theater, a yearlong series that featured an anime adaptation of a famous book. Among those who worked on the series were Hayao Miyazaki, who had already left Nippon Animation before Lucy-May of the Southern Rainbow aired. World Masterpiece Theater aired from 1969 to 1997, then resumed after a 10-year hiatus and continues to air now.
Sittin’ at home last Sunday mornin’ me mate Boomer rang (boomerang). Said he was havin’ a few people around for a barbie, Said he might cook a burra (kookaburra) or two.
I said, “Sounds great, will Walla be (wallaby) there?”
He said “Yeah and Veggie might (Vegemite) come too”.
So I said to the wife “Do you wanna Go Anna (goanna)?”. She said “I’ll go if Din goes (dingoes).”
So I said “What’ll (wattle) we do about Nulla?”
He said “Nulla bores (Nullarbor) me to tears, leave him at home.”
We got to the party about two and walked straight out the kitchen to put some booze in the fridge. And you wouldn’t believe it, there’s Boomer’s wife Warra sittin there tryin to plait a puss (platypus)!
Now, I don’t like to speak ill o’ Warra, (Illawarra), but I was shocked. I mean, how much can a koala bear?
So I grabbed a beer, flashed me wanga at ‘er (Wangarratta) and went out and joined the party.
Pretty soon Ayers rocks in and things really started jumpin.’
This Indian girl, Marsu, turns up, dying to go to the toilet but she couldn’t find it.
I said to me mate Al, “Hey, where can Marsu pee, Al? (marsupial)”
He said “She can go out back (Outback) with the fellas, she’s probably seen a cock or two. (cockatoo)”
Well, just then Warra comes out of the kitchen with a few drinks for everybody.
Fair dinkum, you’ve never seen a cooler barmaid (coolabah).
I grabbed a beer and said, “Thanks Warra, tah. (warratah)”
A couple of queens land (Queensland) at the party, one smellin’ pretty strongly of aftershave. One of ’em sat down next to me and I turned to him and I said, “Ya know mate, you reek a’ Stockade (Eureka Stockade).”
It was a really hot day; Osko felt like a swim. He said to Ina, “Do you want a have a dip in the river, Ina? (Riverina)” She said “I haven’t got my cozzie, Osko (Kosciusko).”
Well, Bo says, “Come in starkers, what’ll they care? (wattle, Lake Eyre)”
Ina says, “What, without so much as a thread, Bo? (Thredbo). Ah, perish the thought (Perisher)! Has Youcum been in (Eucumbene) in yet?”
A few of the blokes decided to play some cricket. Boomer says “Why doesn’t Wom bat? (wombat). Yeah, and let Tenter field (Tenterfield).”
He said I should have a bowl but I was too out of it to play cricket so I suggested a game of cards. I said to Lyptus, “Wanna game of euchre, Lyptus (eucalyptus)?”
He said, “There’s no point mate, Dar wins (Darwin) every time.”
Well Bill said he’d like a smoke. Nobody knew where the dope was stashed. I said “I think Maree knows (merinos).”
But I was just spinning a bit of a yarn.
Barry pulls a joint out of his pocket. Bill says “Great! Barrier Reefer (Great Barrier Reef). What is it mate?”
“Noosa Heads (Noosa Heads) of course. Me mate Ada laid (Adelaide) ’em on me.”
And it was a great joint, too. Blew Mountains away (Blue Mountains). And his three sisters (Three Sisters).
Well, I thought I’d roll one meself. I said, “Chuck us the Tally Ho, Bart (Hobart).”
He said, “They’re out on the lawn, Ceston. (Launceston). Can you get em for us?” Bernie (Burnie) says, “It’s okay mate, she’s apples, I’ll get em for ya.”
Just then, Alice springs (Alice Springs) into action, starts to pack Billabong (billabong). And you wouldn’t believe it, the bongs broken. I said “Lord, how? (Lord Howe)”
“Hey, man (Hayman,” somebody says, “Will a didgeri do? (didgeridoo)”
“Hummmmm mummmm mummmmm mummmmm maybe it’ll have ta.”
I look in the corner and there’s Bass sittin there, not getting into it, not getting out of it. I said “What, is Bass straight (Bass Strait) or somethin’?”
Boomer says, “As a matter a fact mate, he’s a cop.”
I said “Ya jokin’ mate, a cop? I’m getting outta here, lets go, Anna.”
She said, “No way, I’m hangin round till Gum leaves (gum leaves). Besides, I don’t wanna leave Jack around a (jacardanda) party on his own. Have you seen him? I think he’s trying to crack on to Woomba (Toowoomba) He’s already tried to mount Isa (Mount Isa). And he’ll definitely try to lead you astray, Liana. (Australiana!)”