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Animation / Hungarian Folk Tales
aka: Magyar Nepmesek

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Hungarian Folk Tales

A Hungarian animation series, Magyar népmesék (literally Hungarian Folk Tales) was a collection of animated shorts, each telling a traditional folktale, many being variants of more well-known stories. Many of the shorts can be found on Youtube, where they are getting a somewhat cult following.

The series started in 1977 with a season consisting of 13 episodes, created at Pannonia Film Studio. Further seasons were added in 1979, 1984, 1989, 1995, 2002, 2007, and 2009. A total of 100 regular episodes have been released. A new 3D series called Gypsy Tales is also in the works, focusing on Romani folktales.

All episodes can be found in English here.


This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Some of the shorts.
  • Animation Bump: Possibly, due to the series being Un-Cancelled, shorts tend to have different animation styles, mediums, and qualities.
  • Animorphism: In A Pulikutya, the villain is turned into a Puli dog.
  • Back from the Dead: If the hero or heroine dies, they will get better.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The shorts have a rather stylized visual style, thus naked people are often drawn like this. However, sometimes this gets averted; see Getting Crap Past the Radar below.
  • Bat Out of Hell / Ominous Owl: In A csillagszemű juhász, the castle's tower is full of both - which are, for some reason, considered even more dangerous than the "scythe dungeon", a pit full of sharp blades.
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • In "Koplaló Mátyás", the eponymous protagonist tricks the Devil into wrestling with a bear.
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    • In "Az égigérő fa", the Dragon's strength is kept inside a box in a giant bear's head.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: In "A királykisasszony jegyei", the protagonist plays a particularly cruel prank on his companions, which includes cutting the skin on the legs of their horses.
    • In the Stone Soup story, a cat is repeatedly denied any of the soup.
  • Cool Horse: In "Az égigérő fa" the hero meets an apparently skinny and weak horse that turns into a five-legged steed with Super Speed when it eats ember.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princesses held captive by a dragon or an evil king in various stories.
  • The Devil Is a Loser: The devil appears as an antagonist in some stories (such as Koplaló Mátyás), but is always outsmarted by the protagonist.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In A csillagszemű juhász, the evil king executes everyone who doesn't say "Bless you!" when he sneezes.
  • Dragons Prefer Princesses: The very anthropomorphic dragons in these stories usually intend to marry the princesses they kidnap.
  • Fantastic Foxes: In one short, A rókaszemű menyecske (The fox-eyed damsel), the protagonist is helped by a shapeshifting fox.
  • Forbidden Fruit: In A Diligent Girl és a Lazy Girl, the girls are forbidden to enter one of the rooms in the fairies' house. The diligent girl obeys, but the lazy girl can't resist the urge to look, and ends up paying the price.
  • Full-Boar Action: In the tale "A csillagszemű juhász", a brave shepherd gets tossed into a pit full of boars. He survives it by playing his flute, making the boars dance to the tune.
  • Gag Dub: Three episodes got hilarious and memetic Hungarian parody dubs by Youtube user Dandozolika.
  • Gender Flip:
    • One fairy tale, "Hamupipőke királyfi", is the Gender Flipped version of Cinderella.
    • Another tale, "A banya" ("The hag"), is a Gender Flipped variant on the Beauty and the Beast tale, with a princess turned into an old hag, and a young boy with two jealous older brothers.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A few episodes feature quite explicit nudity, even for European standards. For example, in the story "A bíró okos lánya" (roughly translated as "The judge's clever daughter"), a king gives a girl several seemingly impossible tasks, and one of them is that she should appear "neither dressed nor naked". She resolves this by wearing a top but nothing below the waist, resulting in several explicit shots of her naked buttocks and tulip-shaped pubes.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: In "Az égigérő fa", the protagonist asks the princess to find out the weakness of the dragon by seducing him.
  • Hell Hound: In "A katona szerencséje", a soldier finds a box that can summon three giant black dogs that serve him and grant his wishes.
  • Mickey Mousing: There is music used instead of sound effects in all shorts.
  • Morphic Resonance: In one tale, a shapeshifting Fantastic Fox disguises itself as a princess, but her true identity is revealed because she has fox-eyes. The fox's other morphs also have some vulpine features, but this is the only one that is relevant to the plot.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: In "A csillagszemű juhász", the protagonist survives both a boar pit and a flock of bats and owls by playing his flute, which makes the beasts dance.
  • Narrator: All shorts are narrated by a single storyteller, who also voices every character in the short.
  • Not Quite Dead: In "Cerceruska," the heroine's stepmother tries to drown her. Fortuantely, a fish swallows her whole, and her husband rescues her.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons in these tales are more or less humanoid, clothed, ride horses and fight with swords. They'll almost always have multiple heads. They often want to marry the princess they keep captive.
  • Pals with Jesus:
    • Hamupipőke (the Hungarian version of Cinderella) is helped by God himself (rather than a fairy godmother) to attend Mass (instead of a royal ball) where she was forbidden to go by her Wicked Stepmother. We all know how it ends.
    • In the short "A pulikutya", Jesus blesses a child with the powers to perform miracles. The villain of the story kidnaps the child to exploit his powers.
  • Rags to Royalty: The protagonist of the stories is often a young peasant who in the end becomes a king as part of his Standard Hero Reward.
  • Reverse Psychology: In "A székely asszony és az ördög" ("The Székely woman and the devil"), a man uses this to trick and get rid of his wife, who stubbornly does the opposite of whatever she's told.
  • Rule of Three: A recurring theme in the tales. Often the story is about three sibling (from which the Youngest Child Wins), or the protagonist has three helpers, or there are three villains (each more powerful than the previous one).
  • Savage Wolves: Wolves often appear in antagonistic role in the tales that star animals.
  • Shout-Out: One of the animated shorts, "Hamupipőke," is a variant of the Cinderella story, that traditionally ends with the prince smply recognizing the heroine without any help. The animated short borrows the Disney/Perrault ending with the prince using a glass slipper.
  • Soul Jar: In "Az égigérő fa" the dragon can be defeated only by destroying a box of bugs that is inside the head of a hare, which is in change inside the head of a bear.
  • Standard Hero Reward: Half the kingdom and the princess's hand is more often than not the reward of the hero of these stories.
  • Stone Soup: A retelling of the classic folktale, in which a returning soldier uses the soup stone to trick the selfish villagers into sharing their hoarded food, and sells it for 100 florins.
  • Un-Cancelled: The first batch of shorts were made in the late 70's. More and more were produced in the 80's and 90's. Finally, even more shorts have been independently produced in the 2000's, after the original production company, Pannonia Film Studio went bankrupt.
  • Wicked Witch: The antagonist of several shorts.
  • World Tree: The titular tree in "Az égigérő fa", which has a whole kingdom on one of its leaves.
  • Youngest Child Wins: A very common trope in the stories.

Alternative Title(s): Magyar Nepmesek


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