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Animation / Adventures of Mowgli

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Mowgli of the Motherland

Adventures of Mowgli, known simply as Maugli, was a Soviet animation that was released behind the Iron Curtain from 1967 to 1971 as an animated series consisting of five episodes. It was later compiled into a single movie in 1973. Obviously, this is an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, which follows it more closely than its American counterpart released around the same time.

In 1996, it was given an English dub with a hodge-podge of recognizable voice actors, including some of The Ocean Group's alumni (such as Ian James Corlett and Scott McNeil as Mowgli and Shere Khan respectively), Sam Elliott as Kaa, Dana Delany as Bagheera, and narration provided by Charlton Heston.

Tropes pertaining to the Soviet adaptation

  • Adaptation Distillation: Some of the stories are in a different order compared to the original Mowgli stories. An example would be Mowgli's final battle with Shere Khan ("Tiger, Tiger"), being put between the battle with the dholes ("Red Dog") and Mowgli's return to humans ("The Spring Running").
  • Adaptation Species Change: Baloo is an Asian black bear in this version.
  • Adaptational Villainy: White Hood is much more vicious in this version, to the point she continues to threaten Mowgli even after he reveals that her venom glands and fangs are gone.
  • Adapted Out: Mowgli only visited the human village once before the end to collect some embers (the Red Flower) to use against Shere Khan and his coup. Meaning Buldeo and Mowgli's adoptive human parents were never featured and "Letting in the Jungle" was never adapted.
  • Age Lift: Played with the main protagonist, who ages with each short, starting out as an infant, then a child, then a teenager, and finally a man. Its only as an adult that he slays Shere Khan and subsequently leaves the jungle to live with his own kind.
  • Androcles' Lion: Mowgli earns the friendship of the elephants when he rescues their calf from a pit.
  • Artistic License Biology:
    • Mowgli is able to run faster than his wolf siblings just because hes bipedal. Anyone who has owned a dog knows that the opposite is true in real life.
    • Freshwater turtles of India don't grow to size comparable to at least 5 year old child (about 1 meter), except giant softshell turtles with distinct anatomy (no shell scutes)
    • Also there are no freshwater molluscs in India with such large shells. The mollusc itself is anthropomorphic, unlike all other animals, has Removable Shell and a crustacean claw that disappears as it emerges.
  • Beary Friendly: Baloo (a bear) is, perhaps, the most nice and cheerful character in the cast, being one of Mowgli's close allies.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Kaa curiously has these despite being reptilian. Baloo has these too.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Just like her book counterpart, Bagheera considers Mowgli as her little brother and is very protective of him.
  • Bowdlerise: Much of the more violent content was cut in the English Dub, such as Mowgli cutting off a Dhole's tail, and some blood red flashes as Mowgli kills Shere Khan.
  • Bullying a Dragon: White Hood threatens Kaa when he interferes in her attack on Mowgli. Especially considering she no longer has venom or fangs, as Mowgli reveals right afterwards.
  • Coming of Age Story: Unlike most adaptations, this one covers Mowgli growing up into adulthood.
  • Corporal Punishment: Baloo and Bagheera do this to Mowgli. The former for running on two legs rather than all-fours when training the wolf pups. And the latter when Mowgli didn't apologize for landing on Baloo.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Shere Khan dies when Mowgli is an adult rather than a child, so instead of being trampled by buffaloes, he manages to evade them and perishes in a duel against his archenemy.
  • The Dreaded: The dhole are portrayed as a near unstoppable horde. Mentioning them made even Kaa shudder.
  • Dub Personality Change: A strange minor example: the opinions of the wolf council are switched in the dub. This results in one of the members apparently changing their mind to be against Mowgli joining the pack when he grabs Tabaqui's snout, as opposed to being impressed by it and accepting him.
  • Gender Flip:
    • Bagheera is a female in this version. Due to how "panther" is grammatically feminine in Russian.
    • White Hood the cobra is also turned female for the same reason.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Baloo and Bagheera are terrified to ask Kaa for help in rescuing Mowgli from the Bandar-Log, but he's their only hope. Afterwards Baloo swears never to do so again.
  • Honorable Elephant: Hathi, the bull Indian elephant who is the ruler of the jungle.
  • Informed Flaw: Despite being called a lame butcher (a reference to the book), Shere Khan displays extreme physical skill, being able to effortlessly follow and intercept Akela's chasing of a deer without the former ever seeing him.
  • Jawbreaker: How Mowgli kills Shere Khan, complete with a POV shot from the tiger during his final moments, bathed in a bloody red hue.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Like in the book, Raksha (Mother Wolf) tells off Shere Khan when he asks for the young Mowgli in the first episode.
    • Bagheera with her kittens in the dhole episode.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Like in the book, the Bandar-log are an anarchic band of simians that kidnap Mowgli and keep him as their prisoner.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Shere Khan indoctrinating some younger wolves to form a coup against Akela.
  • Panthera Awesome: Bagheera is feisty and daring. Her Establishing Character Moment has her stand her grown against Shere Khan and makes him back away, despite being twice her size.
  • Papa Wolf: A literal example with Father Wolf, who is hostile towards Shere Khan when he tries to claim the young Mowgli for himself.
  • Raised by Wolves: Mowgli was adopted and raised by a wolf pack, and considers them to be his family.
  • She's a Man in Japan: In an odd example of this trope, Mother Wolf and Father Wolf occasionally switch voices in the English dub, which has the consequence of changing who does what in a few scenes. In particular, in Russian it's Mother Wolf who stands between Shere Khan and Mowgli at the council rock. In one version of the English dub, this is inexplicably changed to Father Wolf.
  • Shown Their Work: Black panthers are acknowledged as just being melanistic leopards, as Bagheera has a litter of cubs that consists of both black and spotted individuals, and shes later shown courting a spotted leopard during mating season. And instead of being a generic brown bear (like in the novel), Baloo is depicted as a moon bear (a.k.a. an Asiatic black bear), a species thats unique to Asia, and is indeed found in some of its jungle regions. Especially impressive given that was made in the '60s.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Much like the original book, Kaa the python averts this trope, being a wise mentor for Mowgli. Except for the scene where he hypnotises the monkeys, which approaches Eldritch Abomination. White Hood the cobra plays this trope straight, although "she has outlived her venom" as Mowgli puts it.
  • Sssssnake Talk: White Hood speaks this way. Not Kaa, though, due to being voiced by Sam Elliot.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Tabaqui. It even provides the image for its page.
  • Truer to the Text: This is probably the most book-faithful adaptation out there. Especially in consideration to what came out in the west at the same time!
  • Villain Song: Subverted in the English version. While Kaa isn't a villain, the song playing in the background (and presumably intended to be from his point of view) when he hypnotizes the Bandar Log certainly sounds sinister enough to remind of this trope.
  • Wise Serpent: Kaa, in keeping with the book, is a wise mentor for Mowgli.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A very weird example with Tabaqui. He is last seen with Shere Khan in the canyon when they realize that Mowgli and the wolves have cornered them, with stampeding buffalo coming from both sides. We cut to Mowgli arriving while riding the lead bull, then back Shere Khan, and Tabaqui is just gone. It would have been hard for him to pull a Screw This, I'm Out of Here!, since he literally had nowhere to run (due to being trapped between steep cliffs).
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Mowgli and Kaa went to an abandoned temple that has a large treasure room. Being raised as a wolf, Mowgli does not know about the worth of treasures, as he only wanted the "iron tooth" (a dagger).