Squirrel and Hedgehog (original Korean title: 다람이와 고슴도치, Taramiwa Kosŭmdochi) is a North Korean animated series by SEK Studios.
It is about the inhabitants of a place called Flower Hill, which is made up of squirrels, hedgehogs, and ducks. The squirrels are the leadership, the hedgehogs are the soldiers, and the ducks are the navy. There are plenty of other factions as well, such as friendly bears, while the antagonists are made up of weasels, rats and wolves.
For a cartoon program purportedly made for children, it's filled with graphic violence and doesn't shy away from depicting the horrors of war including death. The Daily Dot sums it up as "imagine Breaking Bad as a cartoon."
Very surprisingly, it has an English dub made by Mondo TV with the title changed to Brave Soldiers. Even more surprisingly, the voice cast has a pair of recognizable names; Dan Green is the narrator, and Mike Pollock is Sensorso Bear. note
Squirrel and Hedgehog provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Ace: Geumsaegi, the main squirrel, can do anything.
- Art Shift: Is a given the series' status as a long runner, the first couple of incarnations especially look widely different than their more recognizable forms.
- Back from the Dead: White Weasel, apparently. He was unambiguously pronounced dead but still returns later on.
- Bad Boss: All the villains.
- Badass Adorable: This is a general thing throughout the series, which will generate a lot of Mood Whiplash for viewers not expecting graphic violence among the groups of cute creatures.
- Big Bad: The first series presented the weasels as this. The second series presented the wolves as this.
- Big Brother Worship: Bamsaegi adores Geumsaegi.
- Butt-Monkey: Mulmangcho (from the Rat Army) is never respected by anyone, heroes and villains alike. This carries him into the realm of Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, considering how hard he tries.
- The Cassandra/Cassandra Truth: Mulmangcho is forever trying to convince whoever it is he happens to be working for that Geumsaegi and Juldarami are still loyal to Flower Hill. His warnings not only always go unheeded, but the dynamic duo often manage to twist his evidence to make him seem to be the traitor, getting him into trouble.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Assuming the translator didn't decide to spice up the dialog in the sub, almost everyone swears as bad as Revy. The translator probably did. The Northern dialect is famous (or infamous) among Korean speakers for sounding extremely archaic, and preserving a number of formalities that disappeared from the Southern dialects decades ago.
- Faking the Dead: The Weasel Commander solves the issue of Black Weasel and General Mangko betraying him by pretending to commit suicide to lure them out into the open, where he is able to confront them at his own funeral.
- Fallen Hero: In the very first episode, the residents of Flower Hill are in the middle of building shelters when Bear shows up, clearly showing with his unsteady posture that he has seen better days and thus causing them to worry if he's becoming unreliable since Bear has been helping to protect Flower Hill for a long time. Bear helps himself to an entire bottle of alcohol, provided in-secret by the mice, and drinks himself into a deep sleep, forcing the squirrels, hedgehogs, and ducks to fight the rats and weasels without him.note
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Characters are shot and killed onscreen. The only thing not allowed is showing a character shooting themselves, fatally or otherwise. The only time the camera doesn't cut away, the bullet is a blank. It does cut away when the Weasel Commander pretends to shoot himself. We see him put the gun to his head but then it cuts to the reaction of his aides outside his office door.
- Godwin's Law: A propaganda cartoon about an army of hedgehogs heroically fending off the evil canid who threatens their homely woodlands with help from other animals representing the military's other branches, thereby saving all the cowardly animals who are unwilling to fight? The Nazis already made one, in 1940. Assuming this is not just a mere coincidence, it might be a particularly twisted example of Follow the Leader.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Red = Good and Blue = Wolf.
- Historical resonance given the long association of red and pink with socialist and communist movements, something that is widely known internationally (although it depends on the country).
- Group Hug: The heroes of the series have one in the middle of a fiery battlefield while behind enemy lines.
- The Hero: Geumsaegi is the gallant savior of Flower Hill.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Often. It's propaganda, you know.
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: The wolves tell Geumsaegi to shoot Dr. Mole to prove his loyalty, but it takes him about five seconds to figure that Dr. Mole is too valuable a source of information for the wolves so they must have dragged out an impersonator.
- Impairment Shot: In the first episode, the world spins from Bear's perspective—the rats got him drunk so he couldn't protect Flower Hill from attack.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Mulmangcho, although this is likely unintentional.
- Irony: Regardless of whether or not the production actually works as propaganda for North Koreans, its cult following internationally has meant that countless more are familiar with it internationally— and as an example of what not to do to get across a coherent message.
- The Lancer: Usually Juldarami, the striped-tailed squirrel.
- Ms. Fanservice: Lt. Vixen has a lot of fans for this reason.
- No Cartoon Fish: Photo-realistic ones at that.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Quite often for the main heroes.
- Only Six Faces: Technically, the series' animation is passable. It's not terrible, but it's also nothing special.
- Patriotic Fervor: It's from friggin' North Korea. Would you expect anything else?
- Savage Wolves: The Wolves are portrayed as despicable brutes that wish to destroy the Flower Hill community and enslave its people. They train by breaking logs barehanded and tossing jeeps.
- Schizo Tech: Different levels of technology get mixed up to a point where Titanic-esque radio messaging at sea (early 20th century) co-exists alongside World War II style uniforms and infantry deployment (mid 20th century) as well as Nintendo DS level portable electronics (early 21st century)... plus rapid-fire laser weapons fired by flapping-wing aircraft (still a ways off).
- The Call Knows Where You Live: After the Weasel Army is defeated, Bamsaegi quits the army to become a personal assistant. When his lack of vigilance bites him in the ass and results in Dr. Mole being kidnapped, he rejoins again.
- The Starscream: So far, almost all the various villains' Dragons have been this, and if they aren't, then Geumsaegi and Juldarami, undercover as Flower Hill traitors, will convince the villain they are, as a means to sow strife and distrust among their enemies and lessen their effectiveness.
- Tears of Joy: The show is infamous for this.
- Vodka Drunkenski: Despite the fact that the Russians have been allies of the North Korean regime, the series 70s-era original version plays the "drunk Russian" stereotype straight by featuring a tipsy bear character.
- Wicked Weasel: The main antagonists of the original series (they work alongside the wolves in the later episodes) are the weasel army, so this obviously applies.
- World of Funny Animals: All of the characters in the show are various animals.