Known in Russia as "Смешарики," Smeshariki is one of the more successful cartoon projects in The New Russia, a series of 6-minute animated shorts about nine highly-stylized, ball-like anthropomorphic animals—the show's Russian name can be roughly translated as "Funballs". It was the creators' choice not to have any villains—unusual even by the standards of the generally-humanist Soviet animation—while also avoiding falling into the pit of Anvilicious "moral education" that many Russian children's shows displayed in the past. All conflict in the series is derived from clashes between personalities of the generally-friendly characters. The show was launched in July, 2004, suffering the Un-Cancelation in 2020, eight years after the original show ended in 2012.
The show is notable for often boiling down adult themes such as prostitution, gambling, Internet addiction, etc. to a level at which children can grasp the basic concept through metaphor, and for its reflection of the eclectic culture of post-Soviet Russia. In the end, though, it remains and is seen as a fun, friendly children's show—just with heaps of Parental Bonus.
Was dubbed in the United States by 4Kids Entertainment as GoGoRiki, which, in its usual fashion, changed all character names and removed many of the Russian cultural references. In this version, all names end with -riki, which doesn't make sense by the rules of Russian grammar, since "smeshariki" is supposed to be the plural form of the type of Funny Animal that the characters are. Other countries, such as Germany, have used the name KikoRiki instead.
In 2017, the franchise received a preschool spin-off entitled BabyRiki, featuring child versions of some of the characters animated in 3D in a real-life backdrop and has been released worldwide.
The characters are:
- Krosh (Krash, Pogoriki; a rabbit), an energetic, adventurous, irresponsible boy.
- Yozhik (Chiko, Chikoriki; a hedgehog), Krosh's quiet, introverted friend with glasses who is interested in collections.
- Nyusha (Rosa, Rosariki; a pig), a girl obsessed with beauty and dreams of a handsome prince.
- Barash (Wally, Wolliriki; a ram), a poet with a crush on Nyusha and unreliable inspiration.
- Karkarych (Carlin, Bigoriki; a crow), a retired traveling artist with an obsession with doing things with style.
- Sovunya (Olga, Olgariki; an owl), an archetypical Russian country grandma known for her cure-all home-made medicine.
- Pin (Ottoriki; a penguin), a self-taught, unreliable inventor with German-like origins.
- Losyash (Dokko, Docoriki; a moose), a theoretical scientist, albeit with occasional odd interest in such unscientific things as astrology and shamanism.
- Kopatych (Barry, Boboriki; a bear), an old-school dachnik typically found tending to vegetables he grows in his garden.
- Absentee Actor: Most episodes don't feature the entire cast, mostly Pin, who only appeared in 80 episodes out of approximate 200.
- All Just a Dream: The ending to "A Black and White Movie".
- Asian and Nerdy: In one of the episodes, Chiko is revealed to be an Indochinese hedgehog.
- Big Damn Movie: And how! It even comesIN GLORIOUS 3D!!! (The trailer is in Russian)
- Big Eater: Dokko is one. He's able to eat all the food for the entire week in one single day, as told in "Bad Manners".
- Bland-Name Product: Dokko uses the operating system "Okna 96", a parody of Windows 95/98 with a similar boot screen. ("Okna" is Russian for "Windows".)
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Chiko, Dokko, and Rosa seem to do it occasionally.
- Butt-Monkey:Yozhik Wally and Barry usually take the accidents whenever thing go wrong.
- Catchphrase: All of the nine characters have some. For example, Krash has "Fiddlesticks".
- Dokko's ones double as a Shout-Out to the Soviet film The Garage.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Pin peppers his speech with German words quite often, but, notably, when he prays, he does so in Latin, indicating he's Catholic. When other characters show any sign of religion, however, it's Orthodox Christianity.
- Clip Show: The last episode of the series made in Flash animation featured Krash and Chiko trying to remember who was their friend they saved in the first episode, "The Bench" (it was Barash). Even when Barash himself appears, they refuse to believe that it was him.
- Collector of the Strange: Chiko collects candy wrappers and cacti, and treats them as a very Serious Business.
- Delicious Daydream: In "How to Catch a Cold", Wally wants to catch a cold so he will be pampered and given all the treats he wants. He then imagines being fed jam and fruit.
- Funny Animal: The entire cast comprises anthropomorphic animals.
- Gilligan Cut: Many times, but the most blatant example is from "Do Stars Watch Us?", when Krash and Pin are taking pictures while flying on a plane:Krash: All finished! Now, take her down for a nice, soft landing.(cut to Krash and Pin with black eyes and bandages)
- Golem: Although it's never referred to as such, Dokko's creation in The Most Important Thing is very clearly one; not only is it made of clay, it is even animated by a piece of paper placed in its mouth as in Jewish folklore (the paper has a photo of Dokko on it rather than any text, though, but it's relevant to the story). That being said, it also veers into Frankenstein territory as Dokko useslightning to bring the golem to life.
- It's Been Done: In one episode, Krash gets unsatisfied with the lack of visible progress and decides to make great inventions by himself. Those "inventions" are a bicycle, tango, and tic-tac-toe.
- Long Runner: Since 2004. 215 Flash animation episodes and more than 50 "new" ones in 3D.
- Mistaken for Apocalypse: It the end of the episode "In the Beginning was the Word (В начале было слово)", Barry, suddenly woken up alone in the snow, thinks he is a sole survivor after The End of the World as We Know It.
- Multi National Team: It's subtle and requires you to know Russian culture, but the cast of Smeshariki is actually quite diverse. Only Rosa and Krash don't have any distinct nationality: Olga is definitely Russian, Pin (and, apparently, Carlin, if his "true" surname "von Karych" is any indication) is German, Dokko is Ambiguously Jewish (he even made a Golem in one episode), Chiko is stated at one point to be an Indochinese hedgehog (and in another episode, poses as a Georgian - as in Georgia the Caucasian country, not the US state), Barry's accent is Ukrainian, and Wally's appearance and personality invoke the partially African Alexander Pushkin.
- No Antagonist: A deliberate decision by the creators, and unusual for a children's show. None of the nine characters can be considered "bad guys", and while they have conflicts, they're always temporary and simply arise from their diverse personalities.
- No Ontological Inertia: Any catastrophe, from erupting volcano and devastating tornado to Nyusha literally crying a river and the whole valley getting covered in chocolate, and up to sun getting turned off for a short time and the entire universe being erased from existence, leaves no lasting trace.
- Ode to Food: In "How to Catch a Cold", Wally sings a song about how he wants to catch a cold so he will get all the food he wants.
- Outlived Its Creator: One of the developers and main producers for the series, Anatoliy Prokhorov, passed away in August 2020, and the series is apparently still running.
- The Owl-Knowing One: Despite being a comedic character, Olga is still a Cool Old Lady with worldly wisdom.
- Panda-ing to the Audience: There's a new panda character in the 3D shorts. In BabyRiki, she is named Pandy.
- Parental Bonus: Tons of it.
Chiko (to Krash): "Call me Master - you won't go wrong".
- In the episode "A Forgotten Story", Dokko wires Carlin (who tries to remember something from his childhood in the episode) to a computer in order to see the insides of his mind. As the screen activates, two bedroom eyes appear on the screen, accompanied by waltz music, and Carlin starts jumping on his seat in excitement, and while Dokko asks him suspiciously what is he thinking about, Olga freaks out and prompty brings Krash and Chiko out of the house. ''Keep in mind that is supposed to be a kids' show.
- In one scene in the second movie as the plane is rocking back and forth, Olga holds on a pole does some type of dance while Dokko Carlin and Barry make straight faces. ''
- Then there is one of the lines in "My Name is Pinky...?".
- Pluto Is Expendable: One episode is about Dokko declaring a hunger strike in protest against Pluto's demotion. Seeing it, its residents decide not to blow up Earth in revenge.
- Real After All: Implied when the real Ded Moroz apparently shows up as a shadow after the characters pretend to be him.
- Running Gag: Lots of those, including Barry's caterpillar and the Black Lovelace.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Dynamics between Chiko (sensitive) and Krash (manly as a pre-teen can be) and sometimes between Dokko and Barry.
- The Smurfette Principle: Only two female characters out of nine—one for two of the three age categories, with the creators admitting that they forgot to introduce a "mother" character for the middle-aged category.
- Species Surname: Almost everyone, with exception of Barry and, somewhat, Carlin, have names based on species' Russian name.
- Yozhik is Russian for hedgehog.
- Barash made from baran (ram).
- Krosh is from krolik (rabbit).
- Losyash is close to Los' (moose).
- Sovunya comes from sova (owl).
- Pin shortened from pingvin (penguin).
- Nyusha is apparently shortened from svinyusha (roughly "piggie"). Also, incidentally, it's a Russian short name for Ann.
- Karkarych's name made from crow's "caw" sound.
- Spiritual Successor: While the two shows are probably unrelated (Smeshariki is older), the vivid artistic style with colourful outlines and fluid Flash animations, the combination of a Sugar Bowl setting and adult themes and the large Periphery Demographic make Smeshariki somewhat similar to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic but with a Russian flair. Hell, even the characters are similar (there's a vaguely southern orange farmer with a large hat, a cyan sportsman and a purple and magenta intellectual).