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Cheburashka, the animated film character

Cheburashka (Russian: About this sound Чебурашка​ ), also known as Topple in earlier English translations, is a character in children's literature, from a 1966 story by the Russian writer Eduard Uspensky. He is also the protagonist (voiced by Klara Rumyanova) of the stop-motion animated film series by Soyuzmultfilm studio, the first episode of which was made in 1969.[1][2][3]

Contents

Story

According to the story, Cheburashka is a funny little creature, unknown to science, who lives in the tropical forest. He accidentally gets into a crate of oranges, (possibly American or Australian as the crates are labeled in English) eats his fill, and falls asleep. Cheburashka is not a personal name; it is a species name invented by the puzzled director of the shop where he is found. The salesman takes the animal out and sits him on the table, but his paws are numb after the long time spent in the crate, and he tumbles down ("cheburakhnulsya" (чебурахнулся), a Russian colloquialism, "tumbled" in English) from the table onto the chair and then from the chair, where he could not sit, for the same reason, onto the floor. The director of the shop, who witnesses the scene, called him Cheburashka. Words with this root were archaic in Russian; Uspensky gave them a new lease on life. (The Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language of Vladimir Dal gives the meaning of "cheburashka" as another name for the roly-poly toy.[4])

Cartoon series

  1. Gena the Crocodile (1969)
  2. Cheburashka (1971)
  3. Shapoklyak (1974)
  4. Cheburashka Goes to School (1983)

Friends

Cheburashka is male, has a bear-like body, large round ears, and is about the size of a 5-year-old child. In the tale, he hangs around with a friendly crocodile Gena, who wears a hat and a coat, walks on his hind legs and plays an accordion. He works in a zoo as a crocodile. Gena's favorite songs are "Birthdays Happen Only Once a Year" and "Blue Wagon".

Antagonist

In the cartoon, Cheburashka and Gena have their adventures made more difficult by a character named "Старуха Шапокляк" (Old Lady Shapoklyak, from French chapeau claque, a kind of top hat). Shapoklyak is a mischievous but charming old lady. She is tall and thin, wears a hat and a dark-coloured dress, and carries around the rat-like creature — Lariska — in her purse to help her play pranks on people. The chorus of her theme song contains her motto, "One won't ever get famous for good deeds."

Copyright controversy

Cheburashka in 1965, in the first edition of the book.

The rights to the Cheburashka character and image have been heavily debated in court.[5] In 1994, Eduard Uspenskiy (the writer) copyrighted the character's name and image and proceeded to sell the rights to various countries. Leonid Shvartsman, the art director of the animated films, has tried to prove in court that he was the creator of Cheburashka's visual appearance and that this copyright should be separate from the rights for the literary character. On March 13, 2007, Shvartsman and his attorney lost a 4.7 million ruble lawsuit against BRK Cosmetics and Eduard Uspenskiy. Shvartsman alleged that Uspenskiy sold the rights to the Cheburashka image (which was allegedly not his to sell) to BRK Cosmetics, which used it on packets of toothpaste. The defence argued that the artist who drew the character for the packets had never seen the animated films and, despite the fact that the character on the packets was an exact copy of the one in the animated films, had created the character himself after the impressions left from reading Uspenskiy's books. Vladimir Entin, the prosecuting attorney, suspects that the jury had to have been bribed in order to hand such an unlikely verdict, but admits that there is no proof.[6]

Cheburashka sightings

A Russian talking Cheburashka

Cheburashka is now a staple of Russian cartoons, and there are several licensed products on the market, such as children's anecdotal books and stuffed toys. He is also one of the few Russian animation characters to be a subject of numerous Russian jokes and riddles.

The word "Cheburashka" is also used in a figurative sense to name objects that somehow resemble the creature (such as an An-72 aircraft which, when seen from the front, resembles the character's head) or are just as nice as it is (e.g. a colloquial name for a small bottle of lemonade – from brand name "Cheburashka").

Cheburashka has also been chosen as the official mascot for the Russian Olympic Team in the following games:

Cheburashka also became known in some countries outside the former Soviet Union (and of the Soviet Bloc). He became very popular in Japan after an animated film series about him was shown in 15 cinemas all over Japan and was watched by approx. 700,000 Japanese between summer 2001 and spring 2002. In 2008, the Cheburashka films were inducted into the Ghibli Museum Library with Japanese theatrical release[7] on the same date as Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.[8]

"Drutten och krokodilen", Sweden

"Drutten och Gena"

In the 1970s a series of children's television shows, radio shows, records and magazines were produced in Sweden featuring the characters Drutten and crocodile Gena. These two characters were based on a couple of Cheburashka and Gena dolls purchased on a trip to the Soviet Union, so they were visually identical to Cheburashka and Gena. "Drutten" is a fairly good approximation of a translation of "one who tumbles down", as one meaning of the Swedish colloquial verb "drutta" is "to fall or tumble down".

But that is where the similarity ends. The two characters sang and told different stories from those in the USSR, lived on a bookshelf rather than in a city and are hand puppets operated in live action rather than stop motion. Only occasionally Swedish state TV would broadcast a segment of the Russian original, dubbed in Swedish. So, while many Swedes may visually recognize Cheburashka, they will generally not associate these characters with the ones Russian children know.

Collectibles

Cheburashka dolls and other collectibles are produced in Russia and Japan and sought after by collectors around the world. United States National Champion figure skater Johnny Weir is known to be an avid collector of Russian Cheburashka items.

The white & red Olympic mascots were made in 3 sizes (6" (14 cm), 7" (18 cm) & 11" (27 cm)) and wear a sponsor's jersey featuring the "Bosco Sport" logo on the chest.

Cheburashka movie

Ivan Maximov had said in a 2004 interview[9] that Pilot Studio had been planning to make a Cheburashka feature film and that the scenario had been written out and possibly some footage shot, but that it had been frozen for lack of funds. Cheburashka's popularity in Japan is such that on April 4, 2006, TV Tokyo broadband issued a press announcement[10] that it (in partnership with Frontier Works, Inc.) has acquired the rights to remake the Cheburashka shorts as a feature film. It is unclear if this was the very project that Pilot Studio had been forced to abandon. It was announced that the film, like the original shorts, will be based on puppet animation enhanced with modern stop-motion technology and computer graphics effects (similar to the plans for the Pilot Studio film), and would be shot simultaneously in two languages – English and Russian.

In March 2009 it was announced that the new Cheburashka animation would consist of a new animated series, called Cheburashka arere?, which will last for 26 3-minute episodes. A new movie, to be released in 2010, was also mentioned, but with no confirmation of whether it will be made in Japan or abroad.[11]

Cheburashka arere? premered on the Nori-Suta 100% television program on October 7, 2009.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Список фильмов" (in Russian). Official E. Uspensky website. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  2. ^ MacFadyen, David (2005). "Filmography - Krokodil Gena (1969)". Yellow Crocodiles and Blue Oranges: Russian Animated Film since World War Two. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 236. ISBN 0-7735-2871-7
  3. ^ "Cheburashka Classics". Frontier Works, Inc. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  4. ^ Dal, Vladimir (1882). "Чебурашка" (in Russian). The Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language: Er-Ve. St. Peterburg: Izd. T-va M.O. Bolf. p. 603. OCLC 1661885. http://books.google.ru/books?id=2O8GAAAAQAAJ&q=%D1%87%D0%B5%D0%B1%D1%83%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%88%D0%BA%D0%B0#search_anchor.  
  5. ^ Sheveleva, Aleksandra (December 13, 2006). "Чебурашку разбирают в суде" (in Russian). BBC News Online. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  6. ^ Anufrieva, Anna (March 13, 2007). "Как заработать на Чебурашке" (in Russian). Delovoy Peterburg. Archived from the original on March 22, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070322054002/http://www.dp.ru/msk/news/money/2007/03/13/208133/.  
  7. ^ http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/cheb/top.html (Japanese)
  8. ^ http://www.ghibli.jp/ponyo/top.html (Japanese)
  9. ^ Rasskazova, Tatyana (August 16, 2004) "Иван Максимов: по дешевке «Симпсонов» не сделаешь" (in Russian). Ogoniok 33 (4860). Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  10. ^ Ozler, Levent (April 12, 2006). "Cheburash : Animation Phenomenon Goes to TV Tokyo Broadband". Dexigner. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070611145354rn_1/www.dexigner.com/design_news/5680.html.  
  11. ^ "Russia's Cheburashka Character Gets Japanese TV Anime". Anime News Network. September 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-11.

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