Fly Tales is a really damned obscure Canadian Animated Series. Really obscure. As in, "it only aired in France and Eastern Europe properly, recently came out on DVD in France and its pages on IMDb and The Other Wiki are anorexic" obscure. And it has different names according to which part of the world it was broadcast in. Yeah, that kind. It was so obscure that kids living in New Zealand knew about it too.
The series itself was based on a comic book by Lewis Trondheim called La Mouche, and got adapted to 65 episodes worth of animation in 1999 by Teletoon note . Presumably its title was changed for the English translation to not be confused with that movie. The scripts were written by Trondheim and a bunch of other people you've likely never heard of note , and the series as a whole was directed by Norman LeBlanc (who went on to work on W.I.T.C.H.) and Charlie Sansonetti (fresh off directing Gadget Boy & Heather). All episodes are 5 minutes long, and were broadcast either as standalone 5-minute shorts (Australia) or multiple episodes one after another to add up to a 27-minute block (France).
All episodes of Fly Tales revolve around the titular fly (voiced by Brigitte Lecordier), and they all have a simple formula: said fly goes around, meets other anthropomorphic insects (some of them become Recurring Characters), gets into trouble (sometimes with people too) and then moves on to the next adventure. Hilarity Ensues. All the main characters speak in French-sounding gibberish (the kind that requires 8 writers to achieve), and often the plots are based around the modern world seen from the perspective of insects, taking concepts we don't think much about and transposing them to the insect/animal kingdom, or just parodying various well-worn plots but WITH INSECTS!
And the funny thing is? It's way better than it sounds. Starting from our Captain Oblivious protagonist who often manages to screw up something and then just misses the point completely, the Slapstick and the occasional bouts of surreal and darker humour, the one thing that's clear is that Fly Tales is, above all, funny. And occasionally depressing, scary or fluffy too.
Good luck finding it though. Cartoon Network thought it would be a good idea to throw it at 5:00 AM in the UK, gave it a normal airing for a while only in France, Eastern Europe and Australia, and it only came out on DVD in France in 2002 and Australia in 2004. It also aired during some time in Brazil (and possibly in Latin America).
Tropes found in this series:
- All Animals Are Dogs: The Fly bumps into an insect known as the Dog Bug, he even lures him by playing fetch with a toothpick, all it took was a female Dog Bug to get him away...for a few seconds before he's chased off by the Dog Bug's...Puppy Bugs? (Baby Dog Bugs?)
- Ambiguous Gender: The fly is voiced by a woman, but is implied in "The Factory" to be male.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: played straight for the Fly and aliens in "The Cosmos and Beyond", averted for the Human, who wore a suit.
- Bilingual Dialogue: Every character can understand each other's gibberish just fine.
- Blithe Spirit: The fly is sometimes shown as a variation of this, the variation being that the "shaking things up" part occurs due to the fly's own complete obliviousness and obsessive focus on getting something regardless of consequences (causing a Bank Run for the sake of getting a chocolate coin in "The Chocolate Coin").
- Book-Ends: The episode Gilded Cage starts off with the Fly causing a vase to smash, which the shards were taken up by the insects, the end of the episode has the Fly causing another accident which the Mouse World-sized window shards were taken by a horde of microscopic germs with their own mouse world.
- Captain Oblivious: The fly.
- The Cat Came Back: "The Fly and the Baby".
- Chained to a Railway: In The Fly, the Brute and The Beetle. The Beetle is tied to a (Toy) Traintrack.
- Christmas Episode: "Oh Christmas Tree".
- Cloning Blues: The first episode, "The Clones".
- Damsel in Distress: The Ladybug in The Disappearance is kidnapped by another insect with the intention of cooking her up and devouring her.
- Disability Superpower: in the The Blind Fly, a one-eyed moth teaches The Fly to use his sense of smell and hearing to compensate for his temporary blindness.
- Determinator: The fly, at least in some episodes like "The Chocolate Coin".
- Driven to Suicide: in Money, the Fly walks past an insect holding a noose, whilst looking for the chocolate coin, you do see the very same insect near the end of the episode however.
- Dung Fu: The Ants from the episode "Ants" fires a pink goo at training targets.
- Enemy Mine: At the end of "The Bumblebee" The Fly and Beetle teams up with the Bumblebee, after being doused by an insect.
- Evil Counterpart: The Fly was mistaken for the villain in The Matador, which their only similarity was that they were both flies, still though...kind of hard not to notice the size difference or the fact that the evil Fly has a stinger.
- Extreme Omnivore: The fly eats almost anything, and a lot of episodes have their plot set in motion or somehow involve finding something to eat ("The Drop of Orange"). The fly's recurring friend, the beetle, is suitably Squicked by the fly's nonchalant eating of pigeon crap in "The Bumblebee", but even that's nothing compared to "The Cosmos and Beyond", where the fly manages to eat a shrunken planet.
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: In the apply named Inside a Dog, The Fly gets inhaled by (who knew) a Dog, inside the Dog is a factory manned by insects cutting up food, the Fly exits out the most obvious exit.
- Fartillery: The Termite in "The Fly and the Termite" eats some baked beans, flying around by using his farts.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: "The Genius", where the fly realises it was better off and having more fun when its usual stupid self.
- Gilded Cage: "Guilded Cage", oddly enough.
- Goal-Oriented Evolution: An extremely fast form of this was in "Museum", the Caveman Fly saw an evolution chart of the Fly's ancestors, evolving as he walked across, which sounds fine, until he walked PAST the Fly, turning into a cuboid Fly then into a Robot!.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied with "Angel and Devil", where they're both very annoying and the plot ends with the fly managing to find a way to get rid of them both.
- G-Rated Drug: "The Factory" uses orange soda as a replacement for alcoholic drinks, and also features a scene with two insects sitting on the factory's smoke stack, huffing fumes through a wire.
- Hiccup Hijinks: Appropriately called Hiccups...the Fly gets the hiccups, they are eventually cured but The Beetle then catches them.
- Human Mail: After going inside a second fax machine during The Fax Machine, the Fly gets pressed onto a fax being received, then being mailed home.
- Identical Stranger: In the episode Gilded Cage, The Fly bumped into a royal doppelganger of himself, only difference being their shoes and eyes.
- Interrupted Suicide: in It's a Wonderful Fly, an insect attempts to jump off a model of the Eifel Tower, but was saved by the Fly, throughout the episode he has also tried to off himself; via drowning (by walking off the pavement into a puddle), being stepped on by humans, ran over by a car (twice), the episode was resolved..by the end of the episode he gets over his issues, however he was devoured by a flytrap whilst the Fly was tired and absent minded.
- It's A Wonderful Plot: Surprisingly enough, the episode "It's a Wonderful Fly" just borrows its title from this.
- Jekyll & Hyde: "Doctor Fly and Mister Bzzz". It's more of a brainwashing thing, but still.
- Mood Whiplash: Five minute episodes can sometimes cause this. "Astrofly" in particular whiplashes heavily from the fly accidentally causing another insect to fall off a planet to almost immediately meeting and befriending an alien fly with three eyes.
- Murder by Mistake: in The Ghost, The Fly attempts (and fails) to play Fan Chicken with a stationary ventilation fan, accidentally turning it on which killed the Wasp (Offscreen), the episode is about the Fly being haunted by his ghost, attempting to exact his revenge. At the end of the episode the Wasp switched on the fan but accidentally killed a Grasshopper. (who is then chased off by his ghost)
- Neat Freak: The antagonist of "Tornado" is implied to be this.
- Nightmare Retardant: Intentionally invoked in "Fear of the Dark", where the fly is terrified by mundane objects and shadows.
- No Ending: The show never really ended properly, it just kind of... stopped. "Hair" was the last episode to be broadcast.
- No Name Given: No character in the show has a name.
- Recycled INSPACE: Frequent.
- Reused Character Design: Happens occasionally with the background characters.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: "Tornado", arguably.
- Serious Business: "Soccer Madness".
- Space Jews: Some episodes recycle certain stereotypes and give them to insects (like the Chinese/Asian stereotypes of "Guilded Cage"), but it's more of a parodic slant than just playing them straight.
- Speaking Simlish: It's usually quite easy to get the gist of what the characters are saying, thanks to context and body language.
- Super Serum: The Fly drinks one of these during "Superfly", only powers shown was super strength and super hearing
- Telephone Teleport, In The Fax Machine, being teleported via signals through space, bouncing on a satellite then bouncing back to Earth where he ends up at another building. the 2nd time however was when the Fax was receiving a fax, being pressed on the paper to be mailed to home.
- Time Travel: "The Cuckoo Clock". The fly and friends accidentally cause God to throw Adam and Eve out of Eden.
- Too Dumb to Live: The security guards in "Mission Control".
- Trapped in TV Land: "Showtime".
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: In Money, the Fly tries to gather the Chocolate Coin, which is mistaken for a real one, the fly does a spit shine job for a (real) coin, which he attempted to eat, not knowing its value, he throwing it aside, causing a chain reaction of riots.