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 is currently in production.

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.

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:

  • Alternate Continuity: The 2014 movie, despite using the same character designs from the CGI series, isn't connected to the 2012 series, having its 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 has it's own original theme music,
    • The CGI reboot uses the Karel Gott version sang 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.
  • Art Evolution: Maya's head design and facial design started looking from a circle in season 1, into oval shaped in season 3 in the original anime series. Also in Season 3, when ever Maya would get very upset or angry. Her eyebrows would start showing up compared to the earlier episodes where she would show expressions with her pupils.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In one episode of 3D 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.
  • Bee 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.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Especially the original Germany theme.
  • Butt Monkey: Willy
    • Also the small clumsy ant known as Number 6 from the anime.
  • Birthday Episode: While not in the series itself, 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.
  • Canon Foreigner: Willy and Flip wasn't in the original book, but became part of the main cast in nearly all the cartoons/merchandise.
  • 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 sang 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.
  • Carnivores Are Mean: As part of Carnivore Confusion
  • Carnivore Confusion: Many examples in anime:
    • Carnivores Are Mean, especially Thekla the spider, but actually they have to eat something. In later episodes of the anime, she quiets trying to eat Maya and the other insects and acts more like a grouchy old neighbor but is kind ever 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 everybody can eat sentients? Ladybugs eat also 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 seems to be less about insects eating insects.
    • In the 3D animated series almost exclusively Thekla is bug and 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.
  • Cross Dressing Voice: Willy's voice in the Japanese, Arabic, and Spanish Dub (Except for the Latino) of the anime are all voiced by females. Willy is voiced by men in other dubs.
    • He is also voiced by a woman in the English version of the CGI animated series.
    • Thekla is voiced by a male in the British dub of the anime.
  • Children Voicing Children: In Germany, Maya is voiced by an actual female child in every incarnation of the franchise.
    • The human children are also voiced by young children in the US Saban Dub and the British Dub.
    • The 2014 movie is the first time Maya has been voiced by a child in English, being voiced by Coco Jack Gillies, who was 9 years old at the time of production.
  • Chuck Cunning Ham Syndrome: Alexander the mouse, isn't present at all in the new 3D series.
  • ClingyJealousGuy: While Willy and Maya's relationship changes depending on the episode. When Alexander debuted in season 2, Willy would get jealous when ever he see's him spending more time with Maya compared to him.
  • Characterization Marches On: Watch any episodes of the original anime and then start watching the 3D 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 napes. Willy in the 3D reboot, while also lazy and sleeps alot. He's still alot 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 get's annoyed along with getting easily excited. In the reboot, Flip rarely get's 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.
  • Dub Name Change: Willy is called Gucio in Poland
  • 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 3D cartoon.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Lara the ladybug.
  • Edited for Syndication: The Japanese and Arabic version of the anime had longer scenes such as the Queen's arrival at the Hive where Maya and Willy are wearing chef hats and when Miss Casandra is injured and before Maya leaves the hive she says goodbye to her teacher and starts to cry. These scenes aren't present in the other versions of the anime.
    • When the CGI reboot airs on Tiny POP in the UK, some scenes are cut out for time constraints. The scenes left out are usually small and unimportant. The opening is also cut down slightly and leaves out the scene of Maya watching the moon on a lilypad. The DVDs keep the opening and episodes intact.
  • Funny Animal: For the most part, insects walk around as bipeds and act just like humans. Some of them even wear clothes.
  • Happy Birthday to You: The song for the CGI series called "Maya Is Jarig" which is heard during most of the Maya The Bee shows at Plopsaland.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Maya's pollen collecting skills.
  • 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 ghost fly.
  • 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!"
  • Image Song: In a few countries in Europe, there are songs sang by some of the characters.
  • Leitmotif: Willy has a very laid back character theme in foreign versions of the original anime compared to the Japanese and American dub.
  • Informed Flaw: In the anime, Willy was often called Fatty by other insects even though his body is the same size as Maya's.
  • 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.
  • Mouse World: A world from the perspective of a bee is a very large world indeed.
  • Nice Hat: Flip has one.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: While all the bees have hair, Maya and Willy both have hair showing but it's especially noticeable for Maya who has hair all over her head.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 trying 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.
  • Recycled Script: The episode "Willy Loses His Memory" from the CGI series is the same as episode 8 of the anime, "Willy With The Ants". In both episodes, Willy forgets who he is and is taken in by ants who convince him he is also an ant.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: In the 3rd episode, a dragonfly eats a fly just after Maya gets to know the fly. It is maybe the only named character to die.
  • Ship Tease: Maya and Willy's relationship changes a lot in the anime (Well, the English version that is). But in new CGI series, there are moments where Maya, would kiss Willy on the cheek, as well as some hugs. This 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.
  • 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 a J: 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.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: This trope applies to Shelby in the CGI animated series.
  • The Movie: The series got a film in 2014 that was released everywhere in Europe. An English version later got released in Spring 2015.
  • The Runt at the End: In the Animated Adaptation, the last ant in the troop is shorter and clumsy.
  • Vocal Evolution: Flip's voice in the British dub was much higher in the early episodes. In later episodes, his voice actor gave him a deeper more mature sounding voice.
  • Waistcoat of Style: In the CGI reboot, Flip now wears a vest and also carries a violin
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You Are Number 6: In the CGI movie, Maya has a number, 396. The main antagonist, Buzzlina, insists on referring to her as this.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Maya The Bee