Literature / Maya the Bee
It's going down.

A well-loved German book created by Waldemar Bonsels, which was made into an animated adaptation, as well as a live action film. Starring live insects.

Maya the Bee follows the life of Maya, a honeybee and her friends Willy, also a honeybee, and Flip, a grasshopper.

The animated The Adventures of Maya the Honeybee is probably the best-known incarnation. It was originally created in Japan between 1975 and 1979 with a total of 104 episodes over two series with 52 episodes each, but only 55 of these were ever broadcast in North America during its run in the early 90s (with 45 the episodes in the dub from the first series and 10 from the second). The series itself has been dubbed into over 40 languages all around the world and has even spawned a number of video games.

The premise of the anime was that Maya was tasked to collect pollen for her hive, but she ended up doing such a good job that she gathered all of the pollen around her hive, and there was none left. The queen bee then sent Maya further away from the hive in search of more pollen.

A new Maya cartoon with 3D rendered graphics aired in 2014 for 78 episodes of 13 minutes each, with Andrea Libman in the title role. According to Studio 100 Animation's webpage, another season consisting of 52 episodes will air in 2017.

In Fall 2014, Studio100 (the current rights holders) released a film starring the character called "Maya The Bee: The Movie" which was released in Germany on September 11, 2014, with an English version released in Australia on November 1, 2014, and in the U.S. (direct-to-video) on May 19, 2015. At some point in 2015, the film was made freely available to stream for members of Amazon Prime and has since garnered a massive amount of positive attention. The movie aired on Sprout that summer, followed by the TV series in September.

A second movie has been announced and is currently in production. A teaser trailer for the 2nd movie has been released [1]

The British dubnote  can now be seen on Amazon Instant Video in the U.S. All of the shows episodes are available. The episodes can also be viewed here.

This work provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The book ends with Maya returning to the hive and staying there after the queen requests her to do so. Season 1 of the anime ends in a similar way. However, in the anime's 2nd season, Maya is once again living in the meadow (though it's never explained why). In the last episode of season 2, the queen once again asks Maya to return to help around the hive. But after seeing how much Maya misses her friends in the meadow, the queen gives her permission to return to the meadow and live there permanently with Willy and the other insects.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Alexander the mouse isn't present at all in the CGI series or the movies.
    • The hornets are absent from the 2012 series, with a trio of wasps (Stinger, Deeze and Doze) taking on a similar antagonistic role.
    • In season 2 of the anime, Kurt had a wife. In the CGI series, Kurt is present, but his wife is not.
    • While Ben and Barry get a background cameo, Shelby and Max are no where to be seen in the 2014 movie.
  • Alternate Continuity: The 2014 movie, despite using the same character designs from the 2012 CGI series, it isn't connected to it, and has it's own story. For example, in the movie, Maya and Willy meet for the first time in Miss Cassandra's class, much like they did in the anime. While in the CGI series, they are born on the same day and meet as soon as they come out of their cells.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: There are four different theme songs to each incarnation when the series got an animated adaptation.
    • The Karel Gott theme present in every version of the anime except the America, Italian, and Japanese versions.
    • The Japanese theme was also used in the Arabic dub.
    • The original Japanese intro, credits, and background music were also pretty different compared to most versions of the anime. The credits is even translated as "Maya's Lullaby" which explains why the characters are sleeping while riding a leaf unlike the other versions where it's set to an upbeat version of the shows theme except in the Spanish and Italian ones where they have their own original theme music.
    • The CGI reboot uses the Karel Gott version sung by a different German singer while the other dubs were new.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Most of the dubs for the anime uses the German soundtrack and background music. While the original Japanese version is mostly quiet and had some emotional music when things got pretty terrible. Even the Japanese intro and credits sounded more cute and relaxing compared to the Jazz and orchestrated music used for the credits and intro in most versions of the anime. The original Japanese audio is kept in the Arabic dub.
  • Animal Talk: Despite being Funny Insects, the main characters never talk to humans. It can be presumed they're communicating using some form of insect speech.
    • Specifically, they communicate through complicated dances.
  • Art Evolution: Maya's head shape started as a circle in Season 1, then became oval shaped in Season 2 of the original anime series. Also in Season 2, whenever Maya would get very upset or angry, she would express with eyebrows, compared to the earlier episodes where she would show expressions with her pupils.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Both the anime and CGI series ignore the fact that drones are eventually killed by the workers or die when mating with the queen, and instead have them working with the females.
    • In the movie, Hank is very much alive despite having a son. In real life, male hornets die after mating and therefore wouldn't be around to see their offspring.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In one episode of the CGI series, insects are lifting a tree trunk with a lever by pushing the shorter arm. This would make necessary force bigger.
  • Bee Afraid: Subverted, most of the bee characters seen in the series are mostly nice and kind. The Bee General who showed up in episode 30 of the anime was more grouchy and rude with Maya and Willy, but later becomes friends with them.
  • Be Yourself: In the CGI movie, Flip the grasshopper tells Maya to just be herself and she'll be just fine. He and his friends then sing about it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Maya and Willy have their moments of saving other insects from predators much bigger than them. Willy even saved Maya from a bird in the CGI series and even manages to scare it off.
  • Birthday Episode: There is a show that is currently show at Belgian theme park Plopsaland de Panne where it's Maya's birthday and Willy, Flip and a female host are planning on a surprise party and they have to find a way to distract her.
    • One episode of the CGI series has Maya and Willy celebrate their Birthday. Though Maya calls it a Beeday.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Especially the original Germany theme.
  • Canon Foreigner: Willy and Flip weren't in the original book, but became part of the main cast in nearly all the cartoons / merchandise.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Many examples in the anime:
    • Carnivores Are Mean: Especially Thekla the spider, but they have to eat something. In later episodes of the anime, she quits trying to eat Maya and the other insects and acts more like a grouchy old neighbor, but is kind every once in a while.
    • Maya helps an insect save her nest from a parasite, although Flip has stated that Maya can't save everybody and that the first insect also has laid her eggs in an larva.
    • Ladybugs give everybody aphid juice. Is it honeydew or can everybody eat sentients? Ladybugs also eat leaves.
    • Burying beetles and ants are scavengers and wish other insects to die.
    • Birds and frogs usually do not speak and are simply predators.
    • The second season of the anime seems to be less about insects eating insects.
    • In the CGI animated series almost exclusively Thekla is a predator.
      • One mole cricket is vegetarian and does not eat rain-worms, but her sister apparently does. (Although it is not main point of the plot. When the sister appears, she eats truffle and causes an oak to die.)
      • Birds, frogs and lizards talk and sometimes decide not to eat a bug.
      • Dragonflies show no interest in eating other insects.
  • Carnivores Are Mean: As part of Carnivore Confusion.
  • Characterization Marches On: Watch any episodes of the original anime and then start watching the CGI reboot there are tons of examples that can be jarring to some viewers.
    • In the anime, Willy is extremely lazy and if prone to taking very long naps. Willy in the CGI reboot, while also lazy and prone to sleeping a lot, is still a lot more active and awake compared to his anime counterpart.
    • While Flip was always the Team Dad to Willy and Maya. In the anime, Flip would sometimes gets annoyed along with getting easily excited. In the reboot, Flip rarely gets like that and would usually give some helpful advice to Maya and Willy about certain situations or problems.
    • In the original anime, Maya wasn't afraid of pulling out her stinger as self defense or as a threat. In the reboot, this was toned down and Maya would never be seen using her stinger to protect herself.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Maya and Willy would mostly play hide and seek throughout the show.
    • The Studio 100 CGI series has a song called "Verstoppertje" which is sung by Maya about her playing hide and seek with Flip and Willy. This song can be heard in the Maya show at Plopsaland where Maya is searching for Willy and Flip when she learns that they are planning a surprise for her birthday. But Flip and Willy have to keep it a secret between the female host.
  • Crush Blush: In "Jealousy", Maya blushes after she tells Willy she loves him how he is, before adding on "Uh... as a friend, I mean!", before he can realise what she just said.
  • Depending on the Writer: How intelligent the birds and frogs are in the CGI series varies in each episode. Sometimes they can talk, other times they act like normal animals.
  • Embarrassing First Name: In the 2014 movie, Sting's real first name is revealed to be "Buzzywump."
  • Everyone Can See It: In one episode of season 2 of the CGI series, Maya's friends and Flip playfully tease Maya about her liking Willy more than a friend. Maya, of course, denies this.
  • Four-Legged Insect: Just look at the page image. But Flip has four hands and two legs and it's even lampshaded in one episode of the new CGI cartoon.
  • Funny Animal: For the most part, insects walk around as bipeds and act just like humans. Some of them even wear clothes.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Maya's pollen collecting skills.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: The song for the CGI series called "Maya ist Jarig" which is heard during most of the Maya The Bee shows at Plopsaland.
  • Harmless Freezing: In episode 102 of the anime, Willy is frozen in a block of ice. After his friends manage to get him out, he's quickly warmed up by the sun and back on his feet with no problems at all.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: How most of insects and animals view humans as a whole. Maya later learns that there some humans that are good as seen in the episode where she meets a flower-elf.
  • Hypocrite: In the 2014 movie, royal advisor Buzzlina tells Maya that a bee has to accept and embrace their place in the hive. But later on, Buzzlina steals the queen's royal jelly, and takes her place as ruler of the hive.
  • Image Song: In a few countries in Europe, there are songs sung by some of the characters.
  • Implausible Deniability / Never My Fault: In the CGI movie, Maya insists that Buzzlina is hiding the royal jelly under her crown, but nobody believes her. Then, Buzzlina's crown gets knocked off, with the vial of jelly inside it, and when it lands on the ground, one of the bees goes to pick it up, which reveals the jelly to the shocked crowd. Willy flies down and grabs the jelly to protect it from Buzzlina, at which point she yells, "Thief! Arrest him!"
  • Leitmotif: Willy has a very laid back character theme in foreign versions of the original anime compared to the Japanese and American dub.
  • Licensed Game: A few GBA games were made based on the series that can only be found in Europe. While one PC game has also be available in Germany with English and French translations.
  • Lighter and Softer: The CGI series compared to the original book it was based on along with the anime.
    • The second season of the anime is this compared to the first season.
  • Mouse World: A world from the perspective of a bee is a very large world indeed.
  • The Movie: The series got a film in 2014 that was released everywhere in Europe. An English version later got released in Spring 2015.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted in the CGI series. None of the characters are ever shown going on screen, thankfully. But one of Maya's friends, Ben, is a dung beetle and is always shown pushing a ball of dung around, making it clear that animals and insects do poop and the dung beetles are responsible with cleaning up after them.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: All the bees have hair, but it's especially noticeable for Maya who has hair all over her head.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Maya and Willy don't seem to get any older. This is more noticeable in the anime where they hibernate through two different winters in episodes 37 and 53, but are still the same size as the were in the 1st episode.
  • Now Which One Was That Voice?: The voice actor's names for the British dub are unknown as they were never listed in the credits.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Judge Beeswax in the 2012 series. He is constantly forcing new rules and regulations on the hive, which often make things harder for everyone.
  • Only Six Faces: The worker bees in the CGI series share the same basic character model. Two male designs, one with brown hair and one with blond, while the females are the same brunette with a ponytail.
    • Also the young bees in the CGI series. Two boys (One with a propeller hat, and one with glasses) and two girls (one with glasses, and one with pig tails) will be used repeatedly in the series, with their names and hair color changing depending on the episode. In some episodes they live in a different hive.
      • This has been averted starting with season 2. New bee models were added and the bees in Maya's class now have official names.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: An example without an accent, but Willy's British voice actor briefly drops his Simpleton Voice while trying to make Willy sound strained while he struggles to lift a weight.
  • Parental Abandonment: In the CGI series, Maya's friends don't have any parents mentioned or seen. Ben has his Uncle Kurt, but that's it. Of course, they are bugs, and insects don't stick around their children for long.
  • Please Wake Up: Maya says to Willy in the CGI movie after an intense scene in which they are attacked by bats and he is then knocked to the ground. He's not dead, though, only passed out, and quickly does wake up. Later also to the Queen Bee, who also isn't dead, but is a lot worse off.
  • Role Reprisal: Masako Nozawa (The original Japanese voice of Willy) reprised her role as Willy for the Japanese dub of the 2014 film.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: In the 3rd episode of the anime, a dragonfly eats a fly just after Maya gets to know him. It is maybe the only named character to die.
  • Scenery Porn: The backgrounds of the CGI series are absolutely beautiful. Especially during sunset.
  • Ship Tease: Maya and Willy's relationship changes a lot in the anime (Well, the English version that is). But in the new CGI series, there are moments where Maya, would kiss Willy on the cheek, as well as some hugs. A Dutch music video for example, shows these moments as a cute montage.
  • Shout-Out: At the dance party at the end of the movie.
  • Simpleton Voice: Willy has this in the German, Latino, and British versions of the anime.
    • Doze the wasp from the CGI series.
  • Sleep Cute: Maya and Willy sleep like this in episode 84 of the anime.
  • So Proud of You: Miss Cassandra says this to Maya in the CGI movie, after they are finally reunited, right before Maya, and her friends head off to save the day.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The hornets are killed by the bees in the book, while the hornets in the 2014 movie have a Heel–Face Turn and become friends with the honey bees.
    • In the book, a dragonfly mentions how drones are killed every summer by the worker bees. In the anime and CGI reboot, the death of drones is dropped entirely, and they are seen collecting pollen with the females.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Being a German creation, her name is really supposed to be spelled "Maja." The British dub of the anime, actually refers to her by this spelling same. The same spelling is used in the Polish version.
    • Willy's German name is Willi but the "W" is pronounced with a "V".
  • Stock Footage: The anime would use the same shots of Maya and Willy flying together at the end of most episodes. Also Maya jumping across flowers.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In the anime, Willy went through season 2 being the Butt-Monkey. The other insects tended to ignore him or not care for him much, even Maya occasionally if she was too busy listening to Alexander telling stories. In episode 102 however, after the others think he's dead, they are genuinely upset and want to hold a proper funeral for him, showing that they do care. Luckily, Willy isn't dead, everyone is happy to see him alive, and an overjoyed Maya gives him a kiss on the cheek.
  • Watching the Sunset: In the CGI reboot, Maya and Willy do this. Maya mentions in one episode that they watch it set everyday.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In one episode of the CGI reboot, Max the worm falls in love with a caterpillar named Bella. At the end of the episode she turns into a butterfly and she and Max presumably start a relationship. Despite this, she is never seen or mentioned again after the episode.
    • Miss Bosby, the bee that would occasionally assist Miss Casandra is season 1 of the CGI series, seems to be absent in season 2.
    • Season 1 of the CGI series, especially the episode Judge Beeswax, shows that Stinger had a whole group of wasps that followed him. In season 2, he, Deez and Doze seem to be the only wasps in the nest.
  • You Are Grounded: In the CGI movie, Sting the hornet gets grounded by his father, after he discovers him with Maya and Willy, even though Maya saved his life.
  • Vague Age: While Maya and Willy are stated to be babies or children. They have the appearance of a young adult or a pre teen child. Doesn't help that in Germany Maya is voiced by a young girl in every incarnation of the series, while Willy is voiced by a grown male. Tiji's website says that Maya is 7, but this has never been stated in the series, so whether it's true or not is hard to say.

Alternative Title(s): Maya The Bee