Ratz is an animated television series created by France's Xilam studios, with joint production from Canada. The series is about two rats, Rapido and Razmo, aboard the S.S. Wanderer, a cheese ship with (seemingly) no actual destination. The focus of the series is on the adventures of the two rats, including guarding the cheese, interacting with stowaways and various ill-fated encounters with the crew. The rats themselves live somewhere in between the hull of the ship in a lavish two-bedroom apartment, complete with living room, kitchen and bathroom. The rooms are decorated with 1970s wallpaper and wall hangings.
While being targeted at young children in France, the series has gained a small cult following of older ages in Canada, due to its air time of 4:30 AM. The French version features the voices of the comedy duo Éric et Ramzy.
The show, unlike most animated programs designed for a younger audience, has no moral resolve at the end of each episode, except for the episode "The Genie", in which Rapido, in King Midas fashion, reverses his wish for the power of "the cheese touch" after accidentally turning Razmo into cheese.
The show is also notable for its positive portrayal of rats, unusual for Western and North American cultures, which often give its fictional rats selfish, antagonizing and evil characteristics. Also of interest is the pure blend of traditional animation and 3D animation, and the eclectic soundtrack by Hervé Lavandier.
Ratz was originally titled Rapido and featured a chunkier animation style; some websites (including Xilam's own website ) still reflect this.
An integral part of Ratz
is the ratboard, a transportation device resembling a mousetrap
with a jet engine
strapped to the back (though in the episode "The Rat Exterminator", the rats do not recognize an actual mousetrap.) The ratboard provides the rats with speedy travel in and around the ship. Rapido is very fond of his ratboard and enjoys challenging Razmo to races, often winning. Ratboards are also used to reach otherwise inaccessible places, provide speedy rescues, move things by tether
or simply to impress guests.
Rapido is a jet set
-wannabe with a huge ego to maintain. To get over his large self-doubts and low self-esteem, he acts in a condescending manner and often boasts having personal connections to various celebrities. Rapido is also a hypocrite, scolding Razmo sharply for engaging in an activity, then secretly pursuing the same later on. Rapido only has interest in himself and will not aide Razmo at all, unless the situation adversely affects himself. His interests include ratboard racing
, celebrity magazines, fashion
, house music
and feeling important and wooing women.
Razmo is the shorter and stouter rat. He is a highly productive genius and mechanic, having invented the ratboard and being responsible for all mechanical and electrical issues. He is also forced to perform all chores as Rapido never lends a hand. This has led Razmo to become depressed
, emotionally scarred and obsessive-compulsive
. Razmo is also childish, sometimes speaking to a plush toy
and wetting the bed. His interests include playing stringed bass
, counting the cheese, inventing and making friends. In the original Rapido
short, Razmo had a country-western
accent; the voice was changed to a standard rat-like voice during production of Ratz
Oddly, Razmo is called 'Ratz' (as in the name of the show) on the blurb for the show in Sky
The crew of the S.S. Wanderer
consists of three personnel: Benny the chef, Svetlana the engineer and The Captain. Neither of them is considered a villain in the series, though Benny is the one most enraged by the rats. Usually the crew will return to their normal duties after brushing shoulders with Rapido and/or Razmo. Humorously enough, the crew's diet consists mostly of cheese, which Svetlana hates and Benny is allergic to (although Benny's allergies are not seen or discussed within the show.)
The Captain is a Scottish seaman and veteran of the seas. He is the only person who knows the final destination of the cheese in the cargo hold. Over the years he has gone from a rather serious captain to a rather goofy one, often falling into reverie or suggesting absurd courses of action during crises. All of his orders are directed towards Svetlana, the Russian engineer. She is responsible for keeping the S.S. Wanderer afloat and is usually found in situations requiring her massive size and strength. Despite her role on the ship, Svetlana attempts to act feminine whenever possible, which isn't very often. She is often talking to or conspiring with Benny, the Asian chef (Benny has been hinted as being either Chinese or Japanese.) Benny is the only one that will actually give chase to the rats. Despite having five years of culinary arts under his belt, Benny is usually preparing soufflés or sushi for the rest of the crew. Rapido and Razmo usually interfere when Benny brings aboard a live animal to be slaughtered.
- Ratz has Region 2 DVDs out in France, containing eight episodes per DVD.
- An album, A fond les bananes !, featuring Éric et Ramzy, has also been released in France. The show's theme song "Pas de panique à bord", the record's opening track, was a minor hit in France.