Once Upon a Time... Life
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|Once Upon a Time... Life|
|Created by||Albert Barillé|
|Voices of||Roger Carel
|Country of origin||France/Japan/Switzerland/Italy|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Running time||26 minutes|
|Picture format||SECAM (576i)|
|Preceded by||Once Upon a Time... Space (1982)|
|Followed by||Once Upon a Time... The Americas (1991)|
Il était une fois... la vie (English: Once Upon a Time... Life), also known as Micro Patrol (生命の科学ミクロパトロール Seimei no Kagaku: Mikuropatorōru?), is a French-Japanese-Swiss-Italian animated television series which tells the story of the human body for children. The program was originally produced in France in 1987 by Procidis and directed by Albert Barillé. The series consists of 26 episodes and originally was aired on the French channel Canal+, and then on the state owned channel FR3. It is the third part of the Once Upon a Time... series.
Once Upon a Time... Life reintroduced the edutainment formula that had been left out on Once Upon a Time... Space. The series combined entertaining storylines with factual information, presented metaphorically.
The series Once Upon a Time... Life used the same recurring lead characters as the other Once Upon a Time... series: the good characters represent the cells that make up the body's systems and defense mechanisms, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, while the bad characters represent the viruses and bacteria that threaten to attack the human body. Every episode of the series featured a different organ or system within the human body (like the brain, the heart, the circulatory system, etc.).
The series was aired in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Yugoslavia and Croatia.
The series makes use of recurring human characters originally from Once Upon a Time... Man. Every character in the series appeared as a real person (the old intelligent doctor, the dedicated blonde mother, the boy and the girl, their obese friend, and the pair of bullies) and anthropomorphic representations of cells and cellular functions within the human body.
- The manager of the brain – represented by Maestro, the bearded old man.
- The manager of the cell nucleus – represented by Maestro, usually asleep in his chair.
- Enzymes – The human body's workmen, shown usually as a man in a bib overall and a baseball-type cap.
- Digestive enzymes - Works of digestion. Some enzymes are shown as female and most as male. The females are only seen in the stomach. The males appear in the stomach and small intestine.
- Hormones – messengers for the body, represented as humanoid robotic outboard motors spray-painted according to function; those representing thyroxine are given life by iodine. These hormones are all female.
- Red blood cells – represented by red humanoids: elderly Professor Globus, who tells a lot about how the body works; Hemo; and his inquisitive and mischievous friend Globin. They carry oxygen bubbles or carbon dioxide bubbles in a back pouch, becoming dark red when carrying carbon dioxide.
- Neurotransmitters-The blue speedy guys that can deliver messages as papers or passengers through nerves and stations. They are mostly running anytime on delivery, and pick up or drop off passenger times until they reach the end.
- Platelets – represented as red disks with a face, legs and arms.
- White blood cells – The body's police force.
- Neutrophil granulocytes – represented by foot-patrol "policemen" which are completely white in color, and wear a yellow star badge. They carry batons and swallow any body parasites that they find. They can clone themselves. Most of the time they function as traffic cops. Their commander is the same but with a Caucasian head, and is named Jumbo or Jumbo Junior.
- The Lymphocytes – represented by:
- Lymphocytes B as marshals in small one-man round flying craft with two aimable side-mounted hydrojet propulsors; two of them are a version of Peter and Psi (named Captain Peter and Lieutenant Claire). Some other (unnamed) B-cell pilot characters each appear more than once, for example a spotty-faced teenage boy. They can drop antibodies from an underbelly bomb-bay. They can divide; this duplicates craft and pilot. Their uniforms are very light blue with shoulder pads. (Those uniforms appear in the outside world in a few futuristic scenes as astronaut uniforms/undersuits. )
- Lymphocytes T: the same sort of craft but with a large uppercase T on the underbelly at the bow. They can discharge smoke that kills bacteria.
- Phagocyte: hovering spherical craft with several large suction tubes coming out of them. A pilot's head can be seen through a small canopy on top. They can emit smoke which kills bacteria.
- Basophils: plump women who carry a basket of "histamine grenades" and throw them to attack bacteria.
- Macrophages (as big yellow ground vehicles shaped like frog heads with big front scoop grab and three wheels; each "eye" is a small canopy revealing a pilot's head), "the cleaning services of the body". Most of the time they function as removing the waste of the body and during emergency times they eat the bacteria and viruses.
- Immature leucocytes: teenage humanoids with the same uniform as the lymphocyte B pilots: seen in the bone marrow, which is represented as a police training college.
- The antibodies – as small white insect-like characters which after being launched at infectious agents, fly around the bacteria or viruses and paralyze them. Their commander is named Metro.
- The Pathogens are the main antagonists of the series. They are the characters that makes people sick. The other antagonists are the Immature leukocytes,
- Organic molecules, which are represented in two cases as characters.
- Fats/Fatty acids : Represented as fat yellow ponies
- Proteins : Represented as a tall strong muscular orange character in overall with some dog-like features
- Sugars : Small green and purple hexagons and pentagons. Sometimes appears as Candy-like characters.
- Amino acids : Similar appearance to antibodies, generally invisible until the episode dealing with protein synthesis
- DNA/RNA : Represented quite accurately, and in detail when explaining protein synthesis
- Vitamins : Represented as colored living letters. As seen in the lymphatic system, P is present but rarely.
- Cholesterol : Yellow crawling characters that can block a passage in a blood vessel, as seen in the liver factory, when the cholesterol came around leukocytes, which caused this blockage and this also made the erythrocytes stop.
- Gall/Bile : Blue-green colored liquid that makes the fats shrink, as seen in Digestion.
The series describes a "society inside the body" with a strong pyramidal stratification of work. 
- "Cell Planet"
- "The Body's Sentinels"
- "The Bone Marrow"
- "The Blood"
- "The Tiny Platelets"
- "The Heart"
- "The Brain"
- "The Neurones"
- "The Eye"
- "The Ear"
- "The Skin"
- "Mouth and Teeth"
- "The Digestion"
- "The Liver factory"
- "The Kidneys"
- "The Lymphatic System"
- "The Bones and Skeleton"
- "Muscles and Fat"
- "Toxin Wars"
- "The Hormones"
- "The Chain of Life"
- "Repairs and changes"
- "And Life Goes On"
* Production company
** Contributing co-producer
Regional home-video releases
In some English-language versions, the title is misspelt "Once Apon a Time – Life" in the opening credits.
A partwork version was produced for the United Kingdom in 50 hardback volumes, each with about 30 A4-sized pages, described as "an Orbis play & learn collection". In it, some of the characters have different names: The Professor for the Maestro; Captain Courageous and Ace for the lymphocyte B crafts' pilots; Plasmus and Globina for Hemo and Globin, Corpo for Jumbo; Toxicus, Germus and Infectius for the bacterium characters; Virulus for the virus character. VHS copies of the English-language television episodes were included with issues.
A DVD box set of all the episodes of the series was produced by Procidis, and distributed locally by various distributors. The DVD series was produced in French, English, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Hungarian and Swedish, but was not released in the United Kingdom. In 2011, the DVD box set was available in English in Canada, distributed by Imavision.
Most biological terminology is translated with care, but a few mistakes were made and there are some anachronisms – the heart chamber now known as the atrium is called the "auricle" in episode 7, a term correct at the time of production, but which is now used for another structure in the heart. Also, "pulmonary aorta" is used for "pulmonary artery", which is a mistake because unlike fish humans do not have two aortae.
- Brodesco, Alberto (2011). "I've Got you under my Skin: Narratives of the Inner Body in Cinema and Television". Nuncius. Journal of the material and visual history of science. 26: 214. Retrieved 24 August 2012.