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Animation / Investigation Held by Kolobki

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Our heroes - Chief in gray, Colleague in green.

Investigation Held By Kolobki ("Следствие Ведут Колобки"; translit. "Sledstvie Vedut Kolobki") is a two-part Soviet cartoon written by Eduard Uspensky and directed by Igor Kovalyov and Aleksandr Tatarskiy - the first part coming out in 1986 and second in 1987. The plot kicks off somewhere in the USSR. Deep at night, the two investigators named Brothers Kolobki hear a loud thump, which they promptly dismiss as nothing. The next morning, they're staring dumbfounded at the four huge holes in their rooftop. The smarter of two partners, Chief (Шеф; translit. "Shef") figures out that the holes are actually elephant footprints. And sure enough, the local newspaper has an article about the disapperance of the rare striped elephant from the city zoo. Chief and his partner, literally named Colleague (Коллега; translit. "Kollega") embark on an investigation to find out just what is happening in their sleepy backwater city.


In 1988 the creative team formed an independent Pilot Studio. They had a falling-out with Uspensky and had to rename their iconic characters from "Kolobki Brothers" to "Pilot Brothers". In The '90s, a sequel in the form of six short cartoons was made, and in the late 1990s and 2000s, a video game series based off the cartoons was created, available on PC, iOS, and Android.

This cartoon provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: At the zoo administration, Chief (voiced by Leonid Bronevoy) says "And you I'll ask to stay here."
  • Bald of Evil: Karbofos.
  • Brick Break: Parodied. Colleague uses a karate chop to break a pack of maccaroni in half.
  • Brick Joke: The zoo guard who flies away in the opening later flies into the director's window, and even later he is seen sleeping with an anchor chained to his leg, as to prevent flying away again.
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  • The Cameo: Captain Vrungel makes two appearances, first buying airplane tickets and then going through customs at the airport. The reason is that Aleksandr Tatarskiy worked on the Adventures of Captain Vrungel as well as Investigation Held by Kolobki.
  • Captain Obvious: Chief tends to do it, the more profound and famous example being (when Colleague is being late from the assignement): "Either something is wrong, or it's one or the other".
  • Catchphrase: Numerous, most famously "Ditto." and "I don't understand a thing!".
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: In the finale, as the brothers drive off to the airport.
  • The Comically Serious: Chief lapses into it sometimes by virtue of being a calm, stoic investigator in a zany cartoonish world.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Karbofos, sort of. He is an animal trader, not a hunter, so he has to capture his game alive - but he's most definitely a bastard about it.
  • Endangered Species: A made-up one - rare striped elephant - is the reason for the plot happening.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Chief's pistol shoots suction cup darts, sometimes with a wire attached, and Karbofos' gun also shoots suction cup darts that deploy baloons to lift the target up into the air.
  • Four-Fingered Hands
  • Funny Background Event: A lot of them.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: The zoo's director literally turns red after the Brothers confiscate the elephant's case file and the guard from the opening breaks his window immediately after.
  • Hilarity in Zoos: The animals appear in three fairly long scenes, and do a lot of funny things: giraffe turns into a spotlight thanks to a lightning strike, rhino hides inside his "armour plating" and then folds into nothingness, etcetera.
  • Howling to the Night: In the very beginning, with the establishing shot of the moon. Doubles as Fridge Brilliance, since the camera pans down to a zoo - the only place in the city where the wolves could be.
  • In Name Only: This cartoon started as an adaptation of Uspensky's books aimed at children about a pair of not-quite-human (more like living bread loafs) not-quite-policemen Kolobok and Bulkin and a sequel to an earlier Stop Motion series made by a different team. Suffice to say Chief and Colleague have nothing in common with them, other than being short and unarmed.
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: Inverted. A kangaroo catches Colleague this way.
  • Kitsch Collection: The brothers seem to have an awful lot of clocks in their home, and a shelf with five porcelain elephants of differing sizes.
  • Loophole Abuse: Karbofos acquires papers confirming ownership of the elephant this way.
  • Mind-Control Music: The sounds of the flute make the elephant lose free will.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: This is how the story ends. Karbofos' lackey grabs his balloon gun and shoots it at him, stopping him from boarding the plane with the striped elephant.
  • Not-So-Badass Longcoat: The zoo guard has one, and Kolobki themselves also qualify, since their coats are long relative to their small height.
  • Poirot Speak: Karbofos seems to use German like this, for example "Here's gut, ja ja".
  • Previously on…: Shows up at the beginning of the second part.
    • Once More, with Clarity!: At the beginning of the first part, there are only silhouettes visible. In the recap, everything is shown much more clearly.
  • Punny Name: "Karbofos" is a pun on Karabas, taken from the name of an insecticide also known as "malation".
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Chief maintains the air of a collected and precise no-nonsense guy. Colleague is a bumbling fool often doing silly things just for the hell of it.
  • Running Gag: Colleague spitting out fish, the crow carrying away whatever it was sitting on, Chief trying to take a button off his fingers.
  • Rummage Fail: In the climax, Karbofos' lackey accidentially wields a sausage instead of a gun.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Unusually for a cartoon, it's drawn in a gritty style, with a lot of detail, signs of disuse such as cracked stucco on buildings, and something akin to film grain in all scenes.
    • Which just happens to be a trademark style of the studio. Maybe it has something to do with all that Perestoika thing that was going on in the USSR at the time...
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The elephant likes fish oil very much.
  • Visual Pun: When Chief orders him to "get on the phone", Colleague literally goes and sits on a phone while calling.
    • The whole cartoon has a lot of visual puns, in Aleksandr Tatarskiy's trademark fashion.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Lampshaded. The city where the cartoon takes place is referred to as "Ensk", literally "N-City". The sequel shorts retconned it to 1950s Berdichev, Ukraine.
    • Not only that, but the time, even time of day, is never told explicitly in the cartoon — even if the clock is clearly visible. All characters use expressions "N hours" or "N-teen hours".
    • N-sk (or "city/town N.") is used in Russian and Soviet works as a reference to a generic location. So basically it's our version of City with No Name and/or Where the Hell Is Springfield?.