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Web Original / Mushroom Land

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Mushroomland (orig. Kraina Grzybów) also known as Smile Guide (orig. Poradnik Uśmiechu) is a Polish youtube channel famous for its dadaistic videos stylised for retro TV shows, which tell the adventures of Agatha and Maggie the squirrel in a Mushroomland. Agatha's Mother sometimes shows up, which for a moment turns the series into a reportage.

It's made in Polish, but English subtitles are also available.

It also features a music video, an In-Universe advertisement, and official soundtrack. In addition, there is a video game, Smile Guide: The Apple Escape, taking place between episodes 5 and 6, where Agatha must wander Mushroomland and collect all apples to escape.

Episodes: One, Two, Four, Five, Christmas Special, Six, Epilogue.

This completely not mindfucking series provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Hatshepsut of Bytom; Hatshepsut is a female pharaoh's name and Bytom is a middle-sized Polish city. She fails to solve a riddle where the answer was “Zbigniew the dog” (Zbigniew being a perfectly normal, if slightly old-fashioned, Polish male name — but definitely not a typical dog name).
  • Berserk Button: You better not call Maggie a retard. Subverted, as Agatha is easily forgiven
    Maggie: YOU are the retard! But I love you anyway.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the first episode we can see dark-skinned Maggie with a text "TEUFEL". Teufel is german for devil. (Also counts as Gratuitous German.)
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Agatha mentions paper in the first episode. And the whole second episode is centered about paper.
  • Crosscast Role: Agatha's mother is played by a male. Or, at least, dubbed. The mother's voice seems to be a form of voiceover that is commonly used in TV reportages to obscure the voice of the interviewed person to ensure her anonymity.
  • Downer Ending: It's implied Agatha gets stuck in the Mushroomland forever. Her mother decides to keep waiting for her until death.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Agatha's final monologue has shades of it. She is grateful for having her eyes removed and ears glued shut so she won't see or hear the world's filthiness. This may be a metaphor for her being sheltered by her mother.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episode names imitate a video guide, but each one lacks a verb to be meaningful, e.g. “How to effectively an apple” (Jak skutecznie jabłko).
  • Mind Screw: Being based entirely on surrealism, this is a given.
  • Mysterious Stranger: Agatha's Mother mentions "a man from Mushroomland".
  • Retraux: The whole series is made to look like a late 80's - early 90's children's educational TV show interspersed with a TV investigative journalism report from about the same era.
  • Show Within a Show: The “Valley of Flowers” (Dolina Kwiatów). Doubles as an in-universe case of Dueling Works. The anime show with Maggie the squirrel probably counts as well.
  • Surreal Horror: Pretty much the bread and butter of the series. Of course...
  • Surreal Humor: Sometimes the absurdism is just for the sake of it, though.
  • The '90s: The videos imitate a 90s TV show recorded on VHS casettes. The ending is set in 1994.

Smile Guide: The Apple Escape provides examples of:

  • Big Bad: Maggie the Squirrel is trying to stop Agatha from collecting all the apples and escaping Mushroom Land, and sends versions of herself as enemies.
  • Evil Laugh: Maggie lets out a continuous and long, ghoulish laugh during the boss fight against her.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The goal of the game is to get all 25 apples scattered around Mushroomland and take them to the exit.
  • Guide Dang It!: Since the tiles you need to step on to progress to each area are invisible, and falling down takes you back to the start, you will end up needing a walkthrough to avoid spending hours figuring out the Trial-and-Error Gameplay. Thankfully, the subreddit has compiled one.
  • Hope Spot: At the end of the game, Agatha shows up in a beautiful flower field, with a sign saying “home”, making it look like she has finally made it home… only to fall into the ground, revealing she has not quite escaped yet. It then ends by saying that we will see Agatha in the last episode of the web-series.
  • Jump Scare: At certain points, scary images of the characters will appear on the screen.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Agatha will die from being touched by an enemy even once, and will have to effectively restart the game all over again.
  • Retraux: The game looks like an old-timey 3D platform game, though Agatha cannot jump.
  • Schmuck Bait: One secret area has a sign outside saying “free appel”, and it indeed has a lone apple. But grabbing it causes a whole bunch of Maggie’s Mooks to appear and chase you.
  • Surreal Horror: Even more so than the original series, which had moments of humor- here, the atmosphere is dark all the way through.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Most of the map consists of invisible tiles that will only become visible when you step on them, and if you step outside a tile, you fall down and are sent to the start. There is no way to discern the location of safe tiles to step on.