As a child in a Russian immigrant family, between the time I spent kicking back na dache, joining my grandpa na ribalke, being forced into eating Farina kasha against my will, and reading stories from books like Doctor Aybolit, I spent obscene amounts of time watching cartoons.
My parents gave me a VHS of Nu, Pogodi! and a few other Soviet classics at a young age, and I watched them obsessively throughout my youth — only further cementing my role as Token Russian Girl of suburbia.
Here are some mul’tiki of note:
Nu, Pogodi! (“Well, Just You Wait!”) was the USSR’s take on the “catch-me-if-you-can” cartoon (like Tom & Jerry, but with hooligan Russians). The antagonist, Volk, is a a chain-smoking, jalope-driving, guitar-playing schlub in bellbottoms, whose sole purpose in life is getting his paws on the cute bunny (Zayets) evading his harebrained attempts at capture. Between the retro soundtrack, cheeky cultural references, and timeless animation, this show is still one of my all-time favorites.
Also, it probably contributed in some capacity to my Eugene Hutz/Gogol Bordello obsession because, I mean, come on — the parallels are too obvious:
Cheburashka is some kind of monkey hybrid thing who falls into a crate of oranges and ends up in Soviet Russia. According to Wikipedia, he’s about the size of a 5-year-old child (which, for all intents and purposes, is downright horrifying to think about). His best friend is a crocodile named Gena who is far better dressed than a reptile has any right to be, and plays the accordion (or garmon, for you pedants out there).
Cheburashka captured the hearts of millions and spawned a cult following still thriving today, in the form of creepy YouTube parodies and this weird Che Guevara meme:
It’s a pun, get it?
When I watched this cartoon my Russian was rather limited, so understanding of whatever the heck was going on was reduced to interpreting the antics of the characters as they bounced around on screen. Luckily, that was more than enough to captivate my attention.
Loosely based on
The Beatles a Brothers Grimm story, Bremenskie Muzikanti was the premier animated rock band of Soviet times. The band is comprised of a dog, a cat, a donkey, a rooster, and a dreamy blonde troubadour whose attempts at courting a fair princess are met with much strife.
As we all know, music and love always prevail in the face of Hollywood adversity, so the fair princess ends up eloping with her hunky young bard, and they gallop off into the distance with their groovy brigade of dancing animals.
But the real reason I watched this cartoon was for this scene alone:
Kazhetsya dozhd’ sobirayetsya.
I was never much of a Winnie the Pooh fan, but find the differences between the American and Russian versions of this classic children’s tale to be striking. Let’s compare.
Also, kind of relevant:
*cough*. ’nuff said.
Did I miss anything? Comments comments comments! Please and spasibs.