Russian title screen
One of the more successful cartoon projects in The New Russia
, a series of 6-minute animated shorts about nine highly-stylized, ball-like anthropomorphic animals—the show's Russian name can be approximately translated as "Funballs". It was the creators' choice not to have any villains
—unusual even by the standards of the generally-humanist Soviet animation—while also avoiding falling into the pit of Anvilicious
"moral education" that many Russian children's shows displayed in the past. All conflict in the series is derived from clashes between personalities of the generally-friendly characters. The show was launched in July, 2004.
The show is notable for often boiling down adult themes such as prostitution, gambling, Internet addiction, etc. to a level at which children can grasp the basic concept through metaphor, and for its reflection of the eclectic culture of post-Soviet Russia. In the end, though, it remains and is seen as a fun, friendly children's show—just with heaps of Parental Bonus
Was dubbed in the United States by 4Kids Entertainment
, which, in its usual fashion, changed all character names and removed many of the Russian cultural references. In this version, all names end with -riki, which doesn't make sense by the rules of Russian grammar, since "smeshariki" is supposed to be the plural form of the type of Funny Animal
that the characters are.
The characters are:
- Krosh (Pogoriki; a rabbit), an energetic, adventurous, irresponsible boy.
- Yozhik (Chikoriki; a hedgehog), Krosh's quiet, introverted friend with glasses and an interest in collections.
- Nyusha (Rosariki; a pig), a girl obsessed with beauty and dreams of a handsome prince.
- Barash (Wolliriki; a ram), a poet with a crush on Nyusha and unreliable inspiration.
- Karkarych (Bigoriki; a crow), an retired travelling artist with an obsession with doing things with style.
- Sovunya (Olgariki; an owl), an archetypical Russian country grandma known for her cure-all home-made medicine.
- Pin (Ottoriki; a penguin), a self-taught, unreliable inventor with a German-like origins.
- Losyash (Docoriki; a moose), a theoretical scientist, albeit with occasional odd interest in such unscientific things as astrology and shamanism.
- Kopatych (Boboriki; a bear), an old-school dachnik typically found tending to vegetables he grows in his garden.
The show provides examples of:
- Big Damn Movie: And how! It even comesIN GLORIOUS 3D!!! (The trailer is in Russian)
- Bungling Inventor: Pin
- Casting Gag: In the 4Kids version, Chikoriki is voiced by Jason Griffith, who is best known for voicing a certain other Hedgehog.
- Cultural Translation: The 4Kids version.
- Evil Twin: Losyash's clone.
- Funny Animal: The entire cast.
- Herr Doktor: Both Pin and Losyash
- Multi National Team: It is subtle, and requires you to know Russian culture, but the cast of Smeshariki is actually quite diverse. Only Nyusha, Krosh and Kar Karych don't have any distinct nationality: Sovunya is definitely Russian, Pin is German, Losyash is Ambiguously Jewish (he even made a Jewish Golem in one episode), Yozhik is stated at one point to be an Indochinese hedgehog, Kopatych's accent is Ukrainian, and Barash's appearance and personality invoke the partially African Alexander Pushkin.
- Parental Bonus: Tons of it.
- Pluto Is Expendable: One episode is about Losyash declaring a hunger strike in protest against Pluto's demotion. Seeing it, its residents decide not to blow up Earth in revenge.
- Real After All: Implied when the real Ded Moroz apparently shows up as a shadow after the characters pretend to be him.
- Robot Buddy: Bibi
- Rousseau Was Right
- Running Gag: Lots of those, including Kopatych's caterpillar and the Black Lovelace.
- The Smurfette Principle: Only two female characters out of nine—one for two of the three age categories, with the creators admitting that they forgot to introduce a "mother" character for the middle-aged category.
- Species Surname: Almost everyone, with exception of Nyusha, Kopatych and, somewhat, Karkarych, have names based on species' Russian name.
- Yozhik is Russian for hedgehog.
- Barash made from baran (ram).
- Krosh is from krolik (rabbit).
- Losyash is close to Los' (moose).
- Sovunya comes from sova (owl).
- Pin shortened from pingvin (penguin).
- Karkarych's name made from crow's croak sound.
- Spiritual Successor: While the two shows are probably unrelated (Smeshariki is older), the vivid artistic style with colourful outlines and fluid Flash animations, the combination of a Sugar Bowl setting and adult themes and the large Periphery Demographic make Smeshariki somewhat similar to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic but with a Russian flair. Hell, even the characters are similar (there's a vaguely southern orange farmer with a large hat, a cyan sportsman and a purple and magenta intellectual).