Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nu, Pogodi!

Lately I've been getting involved with Russian animation. Zip.ca has a number of titles available now and I've been renting disks from a couple of series called Masters of Russian Animation on the one hand and Soviet Animated Propaganda on the other. Both have been fascinating, often insightful, and occasionally delightful looks at the both the state of the art in Russia over the years and a mindset interestingly at odds from our own sometimes.

But the most interesting thing I've found lately I didn't get from Zip, but rather found on YouTube. It's series that, I gather, is technically still being made, but really saw its heyday between 1969 and 1986. It's called Nu, Progodi!, which I'm told can be translated variously as “Well, Wait and See!” or “Just You Wait!” or “I'll Get You!” The main two characters are Vulk (Wolf) and Zayetz (Hare). Of the two, Vulk is far more interesting. Zayetz is usually merely a cipher... a target for Vulk and the cause of his antics; less well-rounded as a character as a result.

Vulk is portrayed as a dissipated, bourgeois hooligan, dismissive of the rights and feelings of others (not the least of whom is Zayetz, whom Vulk means to eat). His antics in pursuit of Zayetz are elaborate and comic, often artistic. He plays several instruments, figure skates, is an athlete of some ability, and is a reasonably able plotter. The violence in the plots is lesser in extent than in Western versions of this same paradigm like Tom and Jerry and the Coyote-Roadrunner cartoons; they tend more towards embarrassing or compromising situations that allow Zayetz a chance to escape, at which point he is invariably called after by Vulk with the show's title: Well, Hare, just you wait!

The character designs are charming and the animation itself above par. I wouldn't be surprised to learn it's shot on ones; the motion is often that fluid. Action, responses, and situations, while cartoonish, are somewhat more realistic than would be typical in a Roadrunner cartoon, and a little more sophisticated in terms of setting and circumstance than you would typically find in a Tom and Jerry short.

Dialog is sparse; often the most 'talking' done is singing, which may add to the situation but doesn't seem to detract from the plot if one doesn't understand Russian. There are signs here and there, but circumstances usually render them redundant, with a few exceptions. Effectively, the plots are not hard to follow for speakers of foreign languages.

If you're a fan of animation, you might enjoy tracking them down on YouTube. There are 16 classic episodes, two more recent ones, and two others that don't seem to have made it online just yet. They run between 9-10 minutes each, so all-told, they would take up about an hour and a half to watch end to end to end. Might be fun to try sometime.

3 comments:

m_o_o_nspells said...

Great pics and stories from your travels! Ottawa is a beautiful city...
P.S. I commented elsewhere and yer ignoring me... *pout*

loneprimate said...

No way, I just didn't get the comments from elsewhere. :) Thanks for coming by and taking a look... I think you're one of maybe two or three people who do. :)

m_o_o_nspells said...

And yet you still didn't answer my question! LOL