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Western Animation / The Little Flying Bears

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The Little Flying Bears (Croatian: Leteći medvjedići) is an animated television series produced by Zagreb Film and CinéGroupe. It was a Croatian/Canadian co-production which originally aired in 1990.

The cartoon series centers on the adventures of a rare species of winged flying bears living harmoniously with nature in a magical forest. Living in a cooperative community headed by the wise mentor figure of Plato, an elder flying bear, the bears along with various forest animals defend their home from pollution and exploitation. Their main adversaries are Skulk and Sammy - two weasels motivated by greed who often cause harm to the forest though sometimes the bears need to find a way to prevent a more serious threat - that by the manimals (humans).

This cartoon helps children realize the importance of protecting the environment. The series shows the harmful effects of pollution and fires, as well as the important role of the ecosystem.

Tropes include:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Spike and his gang of rats naturally make their home in one, although it may actually serve as a storm drain as well.
  • Actor Allusion: Sydney the snowy owl is an old lonesome sorcerer (as he claims to be) who lives by himself near the forest. In the Croatian dub of the show he was voiced by the late Josip Bobi Marotti (in "Dr. Skulk" and "Sing for the Rain" at least), a voice actor well known for voicing another old lonesome sorcerer who lives near a forest (except he's clad in black instead of white and has a cat companion by his side).
  • Bamboo Technology: What little actual technology the protagonists have (the cave's door mechanism, Ariana's cobweb radio antenna and the short-lived solar collector) mostly uses wood or salvaged human scraps.
  • Beary Friendly: the flying bears.
  • Bungling Inventor: Skulk is actually capable of bashing human stuff together into haphazard gizmos that occasionally even work, a bit.
  • Cave Mouth: The entrance to the bears' home is aptly shaped like a head of a bear.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Skulk once had a party with fireworks that went out of control. After the fire was put off, Plato said he hoped Skulk learned his lesson. Skulk said next party would be held closer to the river so it'll be easier to get water.
  • Cool Old Guy: Plato
  • Down in the Dumps: Skulk and Sammy often hang around at a local dump which is also a source for Skulk's invention parts.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The bears live in a vast system of caves with sleeping rooms, common areas and even pantries. As an added bonus the mountain under which the said caves are has a tower-like protrusion that has a conch for alert and a cave mouth fitted with a massive bamboo-tech operated stone gate. The whole thing verges on to being low-level Stone Punk
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Skulk's plans.
  • Fantastic Racism: One episode features a frog mom and son who were mutated by rain carrying mutagenic compounds. Most animals avoided them or called them monsters with only Plato initially willing to give them a warm welcome.
  • Fountain of Youth: It is revealed in one episode that Plato is way over the natural lifespan of the bears thanks to a cup-a-day of water from a revitalising spring which he needs to drink once every day, the consequences being dire if he does not.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Forbidden Part of the Forest, and for a good reason, since it is a dark place that is teeming with monsters like Grizelda.
  • Friendly Enemy: Slink the singing snake, while often times in the company of Skulk and Sammy he is more of a hanger-on and goes along with their plans out of ignorance or petty greed. He is generally friendly to the bears and co. when not with the weasels.
  • Giant Spider: Grizelda, the big black spider who lives in the darker parts of the forest.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: In one episode, the bears, Sammy and Skulk celebrate a birthday together.
  • Gratuitous English: Even though the English, French, and Croatian themes were sung by different singers - the English theme still feels like it was translated from either French or Croatian without being checked for any grammatical errors before it was recorded (one line is "Where bears can fly, and dreams come true" - the correct saying would be "Where bears can fly, and where dreams can come true").
  • Green Aesop: The main M.O. of the show.
    • Although it sometimes tends to be taken too far, as a -lot- of human inventions in the show are treated as bad or dangerous, even the useful/harmless ones.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Despite the above mentioned green aesop veering into this with human inventions, humanity as such is treated a lot more fairly, being portrayed more as flawed and short-sighted than evil.
    • Moreover, aside from David and Leah there are depictions of humans who care for the natural world such as the ones who help a beached whale in one episode.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: "Manimals" being the moniker that he forest animals give to the humans in general.
  • In Harmony with Nature: The bears as per the green aesop of the show, they even manage to have some Bamboo Technology while having an impact on the environment comparable to stone-age humanity.
  • Interspecies Friendship: David and Leah (humans/manimals) become good friends and allies to the bears and other forest animals.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Skulk has a real soft side to him, actually.
  • The Hermit: Sidney the snowy owl, who prefers to live in solitude in the icy mountains.
  • Laughably Evil: Many villains in the series count.
  • Meaningful Name: Plato. Wise old mentor who (along with the rest of the bears, if memory serves) lives in a (not necessarily platonic) cave.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Sammy. The most notable example was when he not only didn't agree to help Skulk but also warned the flying bears about Skulk's plan.
    • Slink qualifies even more as he does his thing just as often as he helps the weasels.
  • Obliviously Evil: Skulk and Sammy aren't so much evil as they are greedy and stupid. Any destruction they cause is unintentional, usually because they didn't think through their latest harebrained scheme.
  • Scenery Porn: The forest where the bears live and the surrounding areas are depicted as verdant and pristine with minimal human presence despite being about a day's journey from a major human city.
  • Sore Loser: The aptly-titled episode "Sore Losers" featured a yearly competition Skulk and Sammy always lose. One year, they took it so bad they bullied the winning team into accepting a rematch.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Skulk after he finds a pile of discarded human medicine and starts "treating" the forest animals. Made worse by the fact that the drugs are not placebos and Skulk having no idea what he is doing or handing out.
  • The Power of the Sun: In one episode the bears build a solar collector with the help of David and Leah, using it to heat water for all sorts of uses, naturally Skulk and Sammy gunk it up out of jealousy of all things.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show:
    • Unlike the other villains, Grizelda is shown to be genuinely threatening to the main cast, including Skulk and Sammy. Plato even warns his little bears that she's a monster who'd devour them all when she'd have the chance to, with her webs also being strong enough to effectively hold up to twenty of them.
    • The giant mountain serpent counts, too. Once it finally emerges from the mountain, it starts chasing Skulk and very nearly eats Slink (only to quickly spit him out when it finds the taste awful), and basically threatens to devour all of the forest's inhabitants.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: While no exact location of the forest is ever given, the presence of a beluga whale in one episode seems to indicate Canada (which would make sense since the series was co-produced by a canadian studio).
  • Wicked Weasel: Skulk.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Spike and his two goons who give Skulk a run for his money when it comes to nastynes and villainy.