If you know these words then you are probably singing the song right now. It’s an ear worm that gets stuck on your head and takes at least 24 hours to depart. Which in this case, is fine. It’s a great thing when you see a kids show that doesn’t have to try to both educate and entertain, it does so just by being what it is. Octonauts does both with such ease that it is easy to forget it’s designed for kids. I mean it is animated, and it is centered around a polar bear, kitten, penguin, dachshund, sea otter, octopus and several vegimals (Half animal half vegetable) that live in an undersea base called the Octopod and travel the underwater world exploring and helping the animals that live there. Still though, the show takes itself, the characters, and scenarios so seriously that you might find yourself rooting for Captain Barnacles to rescue Water Bears from a hot lava tube. Which, if you see that episode is explained with simple, yet detailed science. It’s a little like a super educational underwater Star Trek for kids.
My first reaction to Octonauts was to ask where is was made. It has a very particular look that I had taken for Japanese on first viewing. The characters remind me of figurines I have seen in stores that sell magna and anime toys. They have big round heads, large black eyes, tiny bodies, and are all really, really cute. One of the things that makes them so cute is their voices. Many of them have upper crust British accents and speak like true crew members of a ship. Apparently there is something about a cartoon animal with a British accent that is adorable. Who knew. Turns out the animators are from Vancouver British Columbia, a company called Meomi. They have a really beautiful portfolio of work you can take a look at on their website. They also have a great love for the sea and all things there in, that seems obvious by how they’ve decided to spend most of their time.
In each episode the crew of the Octopod, led by Captain Barnacles sets out to help a sea creature in need of assistance. In the process we could learn all about everything from coconut crabs, sharks, to banyan trees. Each show incorporates, first, the initial problem they face and what animal needs help. Then they devise a plan, figuring out what to do and how to get the animal out of danger or help the environment live in. This usually incorporates the biology of the animal and how that plays into the eco system of the animal’s home turf. The science is always built into the plot and manages to be engaging to kids and grownups. It’s a fantastic way to not only teach about the animals of the ocean but about how each one plays a part in the greater scheme of the nature of the sea. The show is broken into two 15 minute segments, each with a different animal, and at the end of each one, the crew sings a song called the Creature Report about the animal they have just helped. The song has the same tune each time and even incorporates a dance break. My friend Holly can sing the entire song about Coconut Crabs. They are easy for kids, and adults, to remember because the song is always the same.
As a parent it is hard for me not to feel like we need more shows that deal with nature and how we treat its occupants. Octonauts does an amazing job of presenting kids with what it means to take care of the environment while disguising the educational parts of it in great stories and action that stays rooted in its subject. I put this one right up there with Wild Kratts as far as being great for the kiddos and terrific for parents.
Deals with nature, being nice to each other, helping, eco systems, and animals.
Great for 3 and up
For adults: ****
For Kids: ****