Masha and the Bear cartoon captures Russian culture and takes on the world

Masha and The Bear - Recipe For Disaster (Photo credit: YouTube, Masha and the Bear)

Have you heard about Masha and the Bear? A little blonde girl with a pink headscarf takes on everyday crises together with a chubby bear

Small children are waiting impatiently in front of their TV while parents barely manage to explain that they have to wait another night for the next episode of Masha and the Bear (Маша и Медведь).

Even parents have a hard time waiting. Over the last seven years, the Russian cartoon has captured the hearts of all ages.

Masha – a mixture of a Russian matryoshka, little Red Riding Hood and the blonde princess in Frozen – lives in a fantasy world where rabbits play football and a chubby bear is the good, lazy neighbour. The bear is a retired circus superstar and now a close friend and father figure for three-year-old Masha.

Somehow childish and naive, sometimes the line becomes blurred between Masha’s smart buy silly actions: flooding the bear’s house with pink porridge or her decision to choose candies over brushing her teeth. All stories mainly turn into Masha’s great adventures and the bear tidying up after her.

Masha and the Bear is a high quality and successful animated TV series from Russia that first aired in 2009. The stories are written by Oleg Kuzovkov and each episode is hand-drawn and animated by the team at Animaccord Animation studio in Moscow that was specifically established to produce Masha and the Bear. Even the music is unique to the series, crafted by the Russian composer Vasiliy Bogatirev.  The series has subsequently gained high popularity after a new episode is aired.

Masha and The Bear - Bon appétit! (Photo credit: YouTube, Masha and the Bear)
Masha and The Bear – Bon appétit! (Photo credit: YouTube, Masha and the Bear)

The idea to write and produce stories about a named Masha and a bear came from the main animator Oleg Kuzovkov whose work is influenced by Russian folk tales.

According to Kuzovkov, he had the idea for Masha during a holiday on the beach in mid 1990s. He was inspired by a girl who,at first glance, was very cheerful and open-minded but in long-term turned out to be really annoying for everyone on the beach.

With three seasons and more than 100 episodes, the series about a little, and little bit annoying girl is not only a national success in Russia, but is also the story of success far beyond the border. The episodes are released on the likes of Netflix and Warner Bros. and is so far translated in more than 20 languages.

The dialogues of the story are very simple, only little Masha and her father talk in this cartoon series and most dialogues are based on mime and pantomime. This, however, is no obstacle for the series’s success that airs in more than 100 countries worldwide with a high success rate especially in countries such as Italy, the United States, Australia and Germany. The simple dialogues, everyday crises and the childish, cheerful approach to solve these emerging problems are core triggers to its international success.

TOP 5 most viewed episodes from Masha And The Bear

1. Recipe For Disaster (2011, season 1, episode 17)

The series already won several awards, namely the Kidscreen Awards for the Best Animation 2015. The episode about Masha cooking Porridge named Recipe For Disaster (Маша плюс каша) is thereby the highest watched episode on the YouTube channel. Recipe for Disaster gained place seven on the 30 most watched YouTube videos ever with more than 1,7 billion views for the Russian version alone; right behind is Adele’s music video Hello.

2. Laundry Day (2011, season 1, episode 18)

In the second place we have the episode Laundry Day (Большая стирка) with now more than 620 million views on YouTube for the Russian version. In this six-minute-episode it is all about the bear’s attempt to do his laundry. Keeping little Masha clean seems to be one hell of a challenge.

3. Bon Appètit (2012, season 1, episode 24)

The nearly seven-minute-episode Bon Appètit  (Приятного аппетита) has so far gained nearly 620 million views on YouTube for the Russian version. In this episode, the bear and his relative, a panda, are in the kitchen to cook Chinese dumplings. It is Masha who then arrives and wreaks havoc.

4. La Dolce Vita (2013, season 2, episode 33)

La Dolce Vita (Сладкая жизнь) is all about the sweet side of life. Or is it? To date, this episode has over 510 million views on YouTube and covers Masha’s struggle of deciding between sweets and brushing her teeth.

5. Game Over (2016, season 3, episode 59)

Lately a new episode with little Masha aired that is called Game Over. Not surprisingly, this episode went viral on YouTube gaining more than nine million views within a couple of days. Game Over tells the story of a bear who is addicted to video games and nobody seems to be able to tear him away. Not even little Masha?


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