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Animation / Vízipók-Csodapók

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The water spider (right) and his diadem spider friend
Vízipók-Csodapók (literally: "Water spider - wonder spider") is a Hungarian animated series created by Pannonia Film Studio, initially running for 3 seasons in 1976, 1980 and 1985. In 1982, a feature-length movie edited together from the first two seasons got a theatrical release, which then got a digitally remastered re-release in 2019.
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The series stars a curious water spider exploring the world around himself, with the help of his grouchy land-dwelling cousin, a diadem spider.

The show is notable for featuring numerous Seldom-Seen Species, and being one of the few shows that present spiders as heroic. Compare Maya the Bee, a German franchise with a somewhat similar premise, but focusing on bees rather than spiders.


Tropes:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: The water spider is an odd variant: he wears a bubble around his waist which is invisible on land but visible underwater. He doesn't wear it for modesty but rather because it's his source of oxygen when diving. This is Truth in Television: diving bell spiders have bubbles around their abdomen to breathe.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: While many species, like the ladybugs and bees, are realistically colored, some characters have more unrealistic colors, including the protagonist, who is for some reason purple rather than dark brown like real diving bell spiders.
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  • Ambiguous Gender: Many characters, including the protagonist, are designed without clear Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, and their voices (which are distorted Alvin and the Chipmunks-style) are also ambiguous enough to not be possible to tell their gendernote . We refer to the protagonist as a "he" mostly due him being voiced by a man.
  • Antlion Monster: An actual antlion, who traps an ant in his sand pit that gets rescued by the spiders.
  • Birthday Episode: In an episode, all bugs celebrate their birthdays at the same time, since they all hatched in early spring.
  • Carnivore Confusion: All around. The water spider is a Friend to All Living Things despite being a predatory species. The diadem spider is acknowledged to eat flies, but is presented as unlucky and is never seen catching a fly. The ladybug is shown eating aphids, which appears to be okay because the ladybug is cute and the aphids are unpleasant plant parasites. Meanwhile, other predators like the praying mantis, the antlion and the water stick insect are presented as antagonists, trying to eat the heroes' friends.
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  • Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Two male rhinoceros beetles engage in a duel to woo a female of their species.
  • Compilation Movie: In 1982, a feature-length movie edited together from the first two seasons was released theatrically.
  • Cool House: The water spider's diving bell, which is basically a huge bubble in the middle of his underwater web, is referred to a "crystal palace" and is presented as magnificent and awe-inspiring.
  • Disney Death: The old crayfish appears to have died, but as the water spider mourns him, the crayfish shows up unharmed to explain that what appears to be his dead body is actually just his carapace which he molted off.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": All characters are named after their species, with the exception of Mimi and Kri, the two flower crab spiders (whose name is, instead, a pun on "mimicry").
  • Edutainment Show: The show's creators intended to educate the young viewers about the life of bugs and show that they are not creepy, but rather interesting.
  • Extra Eyes: The two main spider characters both have eight eyes, although most of the time they keep six of them closed. Oddly averted with the flower crab spiders, who have only one pair of eyes and are puzzled by the extra eyes of the water spider and the diadem spider.
  • Four-Legged Insect: Played straight with most arthropod characters: insects tend to have two arms and two legs, whereas spiders (including the protagonist) have two arms and four legs. Inverted with the snails, who are portrayed with two arms.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: The two main spider characters are not scary the least bit: the water spider is the friendliest bug you can meet, whereas the diadem spider is a bit of a grouch, but still a loyal friend.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The water spider is friendly with each and every animal he encounters. Unless he finds that they threaten his friends.
  • Gentle Giant: The crayfish dwarfs every other bug in the pond, and yet has the personality of a kind elderly man. The frog, while initially angry that the spiders play catch with her eggs, also gets friendly once the spiders apologize.
  • Helium Speech: The majority of the characters have voices like this, to emphasize their small size.
  • Informed Species: The protagonist doesn't look much like a spider; he's a purple cartoon bug with a generally humanoid body shape and beak-like mouth, with only his numerous legs and eyes indicating his species.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The diadem spider is quite a grouch who mocks the water spider for his lack of knowledge or play mean-spirited pranks on him, but he is ultimately a loyal and loving friend who will stand up for the water spider when in need.
  • Master of Disguise: The flower crab spiders can turn practically invisible when standing on a flower of their own color. The antagonistic water stick insect and praying mantis are also very good at disguising themselves as plants.
  • The Medic: The cellar spider obtained his medical skills by living inside a skull at an university.
  • Nice Guy: The water spider is a Friend to All Living Things who is willing to help those in need. The only time he gets mean-spirited, mocking the old crayfish for his style of swimming, he quickly gets into trouble for it.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Most characters (including the insects, spiders and snails) are your typical cartoon bugs, with an upright stance, human-like arms and faces with cartoony eyes and mouth. However, some of the more outlandish creatures like the freshwater mussel and the green hydra look completely realistic and non-anthropomorphic, despite also being sapient and capable of speech.
  • Parent Service: The damselfly larva is a Humanoid Female Animal with a curvy body, including breasts.
  • Phrase Catcher: "This water spider is a wonder spider", most often said by the diadem spider.
  • Protagonist Title: "Vízipók-Csodapók" refers to the protagonist of the series, the water spider.
  • Random Events Plot: The theatrical movie version is compiled together from stand-alone episodes, resulting in a very episodic plot without an overarching story arc.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: This is probably the only media in existence to star a diving bell spider. Secondary characters also include such obscure species as oil beetle, great silver water beetle, water boatman and pond snail beside the usual ants, bees, flies and ladybugs.
  • Shown Their Work: One of the writers of the show, György Kertész, was a biologist, and it shows. Not only half of the cast are Seldom-Seen Species, but lots of the major plot points (from the diving bell of the water spider to the dance of the bees) are based on the actual behavior of these species.
  • Slaying Mantis: The praying mantis is an antagonist who attempts to hunt down one of the water spider's friends.
  • Slice of Life: The show is basically bugs going on about their everyday lives, without any overall grand story arc, and the adventures are fairly low-key (with the conflicts ranging from simple misunderstandings to a dangerous predator showing up).
  • Sudden Downer Ending: While the show has its happy and sad moments, its overall tone is rather upbeat. Then comes the series finale where the diadem spider drifts away in the autumn wind, with the implication that he will never see the the water spider again.

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