Animation: The Rabbit With The Checkered Ears
The Rabbit With the Checkered Ears
(Hungarian: A Kockásfülű nyúl
) was a series of 26 animated shorts (two series of 13 shorts each) produced in 1974 and 1976 in Hungary
. The series was produced by graphic artist Veronika Marék and animator Zsolt Richly through Hungarian animation studio Pannonia Film
.The title character
was a teal-colored rabbit who lived inside a trunk in the attic of a skyscraper. Each short would open up with the rabbit waking up, stepping outside and using a telescope to spy out adventure. In addition to the bunny, four children co-starred in the shorts: Kriszta, a dark-haired girl; Menyus, a red-haired boy; Kistöfi, a very young blond boy, and Mozdony, a big kid who walked the line between The Big Guy
and The Bully
. The bunny would spot the children involved in some kind of activity or getting into a dilemma, leading the bunny to fly over
to help out.
While The Rabbit with the Checkered Ears
was wildly popular in Hungary, it became even more popular abroad. Because no dialogue
was involved, it required no dubbing and was easy to export. It was quite popular in the USA, where it aired as a segment on the Nickelodeon
TV show Pinwheel
. Many American fans called the cartoon "The Bunny In the Suitcase" (see Title Confusion
The Rabbit With the Checkered Ears contains the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Kriszta. While she enjoys cooking and music (as seen in "Kriszta's Birthday" and "Afternoon Music" respectively), she also knows karate (as seen in "The Artist's Power"). She is also not afraid to stand up to Mozdony when he causes trouble, such as when he kicks his football into Kistöfi's sandcastle in "Kriszta on the Playground" and she proceeds to run rings around him with her ball skills.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The rabbit has green/teal fur and pink-and-white checkered ears.
- Beach Episode: "The Sun is Shining" has Kriszta and Kistöfi heading to a lake for a day in the sun; Hilarity Ensues when Mozdony steals Kriszta's sunscreen to decorate his mud cake and, having used it all, substitutes it with Kistöfi's tube of blue paint.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Kistöfi, Kriszta and Menyus, respectively.
- Continuity Nod:
- In the first series episode "Kistöfi at the Lake", Kistöfi brings a wind-up toy boat on a trip to the lake with Menyus, and Mozdony decides to grab it for himself. The boat is seen on Kistöfi's toy shelf in the later episodes "Kistöfi Gets Lost" and "The Wonder Car".
- At the end of the first series episode "Menyus and Foxi", the bunny throws various objects out of the suitcase to use it as a pretend doghouse. The objects include a number of items seen at the end of previous episodes, including an oven glove from "Menyus and the Snowman", a feather from "Kriszta, the Indian", and a mirror shard from "Kriszta and the Costume".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: "The Artist's Power" sees Kistöfi handing one out to Mozdony after taking the bunny's suggestion to learn judo from Kriszta and Menyus, thereby giving him a way to stand up to Mozdony's bullying.
- Dead Pet Sketch: Escaped rather than dead, but in "The Lost Parrot", Kriszta accidentally lets Kistöfi's pet parrot escape while opening its cage to give it a treat, and her and the bunny's attempts to retrieve the bird are repeatedly frustrated. As she passes a pet shop, Kriszta gets the idea to buy Kistöfi a replacement and hope he won't notice the difference... except that Kistöfi's parrot is pink and the replacement is green. Fortunately, the bunny finally succeeds in retrieving the original - who gets on quite well with the new bird.
- Demoted to Extra: After being a regular character in the first series, Menyus appears in just one episode of the second series.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Some of the dilemmas are set up when one of the characters overreacts to a minor slight.
- In "Kriszta, the Indian", when Kriszta gets the idea to dress as an American Indian and jumps out at Menyus to deliver a war whoop, Menyus simply laughs and thumbs his nose at her. She responds by lassoing him with her jump rope and dragging him away as a prisoner.
- In "Afternoon Music", Mozdony shows up outside Kriszta's house while she is practising guitar and invites her to play football with him. When she declines in favour of continuing her guitar practice, he doesn't take it well, and kicks the ball as hard as possible against the side of her house to disrupt her music-making; when she moves to another room, he simply moves to its outside wall, and when she tries climbing up a tree, he kicks the ball repeatedly against the trunk.
- Dog Walks You:
- "Menyus and Foxi" sees Menyus agreeing to look after Kriszta's dog, Foxi, while she joins some friends for ice cream. He is quickly dragged all over the park as Foxi chases after cats, birds, and various other animals - although by the time Menyus returns Foxi to Kriszta, it is the dog who looks rather worse for wear, having been just as exhausted as Menyus by all the exercise.
- In "Dog Walking", when Kistöfi tries taking his parrot for a "walk" by putting the cage on a wagon to join in with the many children he sees walking their dogs past his window, the dogs drag their owners behind them as they run barking towards the alarmed bird. As Kistöfi retreats back into his apartment, the dog owners are seen scolding their pets' bad behaviour.
- Envy: The dilemmas of several episodes are kicked off when one character (usually Mozdony), envious of another's possession, simply helps himself to it, and the bunny intervenes to restore the item to its rightful owner (usually Kistöfi, who, as the smallest, is the least able to stand up for himself).
- In "Kistöfi at the Zoo", a monkey, envious of the baby monkey being cradled by its cagemate, steals the stuffed toy monkey Kistöfi has brought with him (with encouragement from the other monkey).
- In "Kistöfi at the Lake", Mozdony, frustrated with trying to sail a paper boat, steals Kistöfi's wind-up toy boat as it floats past.
- "Dog Walking" features a benign example; Kistöfi finds himself envying the many children he sees walking their dogs in the park near his apartment building, but his attempt to join in by "walking" his goldfish just makes him a target for mockery, and trying again by "walking" his parrot just attracts unwelcome attention from the other dogs.
- Every Episode Ending: The episode's dilemma solved, the bunny waves and blows a goodbye kiss to the children as they wave back, then flies back to the attic and lands in front of the suitcase, rummages around inside it, and produces an item that references the plot of the episode (for example, in "Menyus and the Sports Competition", in which Menyus bests Mozdony at chess after being trounced at various sports, the bunny produces a chess knight, forms a checkerboard with its ears, and moves the knight along an L-shaped path). The only exception is "Kistöfi in the Mountains", which ends with the bunny checking by telescope that Kistöfi and Kriszta have returned home safely after missing their bus back from the mountains.
- Heli Critter: The rabbit's usual means of transport, thanks to its big floppy ears.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The titles of the 1974 episodes all began with Kistöfi, Kriszta, or Menyus' names. This practice was dropped for the 1976 episodes.
- Invisible Parents: The four children in the main cast presumably have parents looking after them, but the only one to get any screen time is Kistöfi's father, who appears in the first series episode "Kistöfi Gets Lost" and the second series episode "The Camera".
- Jerk Jock: In the episodes in which he plays an antagonist role, Mozdony is often cast as a jerk jock, using his superior physical strength and/or skill with a football to torment the more artistic and intellectual Menyus and Kriszta or the smaller Kistöfi - although they are able to turn the tables on him by the end of the episode. Just to name one example for each of the other three characters:
- In "Menyus and the Sports Competition", Mozdony ropes an unwilling Menyus into a two-person mini-Olympiad; he easily wins the weightlifting and high jump events and cheats his way to victory in a sprint, but proves no match for Menyus at chess.
- In "Kriszta on the Playground", Mozdony kicks his football into Kistöfi's sandcastle and laughs at Kriszta's initially hopeless attempts to return fire on the football pitch. However, with the bunny's help, she is soon effortlessly outmanoeuvring her tormentor.
- In "The Artist's Power", after Menyus and Kriszta laugh off his displays of strength as they go to their judo lesson, Mozdony turns his attention to terrorising Kistöfi with his superior size and strength. The bunny quietly steers Kistöfi to take a judo lesson from Kriszta and Menyus, after which he is easily able to overpower Mozdony.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mozdony may tread the line between The Big Guy and The Bully (with Kistöfi his favourite target), but he's actually a decent guy deep down.
- He plays the antagonist role in most of the shorts in which he appears, but he usually reconciles with the other children by the end, such as when he puts his scarf on the snowman he has been repeatedly skiing into in "Menyus and the Snowman", or when he plays a guitar-and-football duet with Kriszta in "Afternoon Music".
- In some shorts, he doesn't even play an antagonist role and is friendly toward the other children throughout; he is an invited guest at Kriszta's birthday party in "Kriszta's Birthday", giving her a box of potted cacti, while "The Circus" sees him and Kistöfi going to see the circus together (and needing the bunny's help to get in after tickets sell out).
- Perhaps the best example of both the "jerk" and "heart of gold" sides in a single episode comes in "The Wonder Car", in which he gets too rough with the controls of the toy car he and Kistöfi have just bought and breaks them, but spends the rest of the episode repairing them. (Although when he finally gets the car working again, Kistöfi has shifted his attention to pretending the box it came in is a car.)
- Lost Food Grievance: This sets the plot in motion in "Kriszta's Birthday"; Kriszta's fox terrier, Foxi, pulls her birthday cake onto the ground while she is inside fetching plates and napkins. With Kistöfi, Menyus, and Mozdony arriving soon for her party, she has no time to bake another cake, and breaks down crying. (The bunny is able to solve her problem by helping her make a stack of thin pancakes and jam, a common Hungarian dessert.)
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: There was no dialogue in the shorts, only sound effects and music. This made the series simple to export to other countries.
- The Smurfette Principle: Kriszta is the only female character.
- Threw My Bike on the Roof: Several episodes' dilemmas are kicked off by Mozdony taking the other characters' possessions simply because he can, with the bunny intervening to restore them to their rightful owners.
- In "The Borrowed Stroller", Kriszta borrows a doll's stroller from a friend in exchange for letting her walk her dog, Foxi. Mozdony, who is in the same park as Kriszta, helps himself to the stroller while her back is turned and uses it as a makeshift go-kart.
- In "Whose House is This?", Kistöfi and Kriszta fashion a Wendy house out of a cardboard box in Kriszta's garden. Mozdony happens to walk past and decides to climb inside; his sheer size means there is no room inside for either of the "builders", who hammer futilely against the box to get him out.
- Title Confusion: Many U.S. fans referred to the show (and still do) as "Bunny in the Suitcase". Its correct title is a literal translation of the original Hungarian title.
- Trail of Bread Crumbs: In "Kriszta, the Indian", Kriszta gets carried away while pretending to be an Indian and lassos Menyus, dragging him off to her house as a "captive". The bunny sees Menyus being dragged off but doesn't see where Kriszta takes him; however, there is a trail of cookies which Menyus had been eating which leads the bunny to Kriszta's house. (In a parallel with Hansel and Gretel, some of the cookies are being eaten by the birds Menyus had been feeding earlier, but not enough to break the trail.)
- Training Montage: "Kriszta on the Playground" features a montage of scenes where the bunny is drilling Kriszta at football so that she can stand up to Mozdony after he kicks a ball into Kistöfi's sandcastle.