Last updated
Cheburashka, the stuffed toy Cheburashka (4435440491).jpg
Cheburashka, the stuffed toy

Cheburashka (Russian :Чебура́шка,IPA:  [tɕɪbʊˈraʂkə] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )), also known as Topple in earlier English translations, is a character in children's literature, from a 1966 story by Soviet writer Eduard Uspensky. He is also the protagonist (voiced by Klara Rumyanova) of the stop-motion animated films by Roman Kachanov (Soyuzmultfilm studio), the first film of which was made in 1969, [1] [2] [3] with songs composed by Vladimir Shainsky. [4]



Cheburashka is an iconic Russian classic cartoon character who later became a popular character in Russian jokes (along with his friend, Gena the Crocodile). According to the creator of the character, Eduard Uspensky (1965), Cheburashka is an "animal unknown to science", with large monkey-like ears and a body resembling that of a cub, who lives in a tropical forest. He accidentally gets into a crate of oranges, eats his fill, and falls asleep. The crate is eventually delivered to a grocery store in an unnamed Russian city (hinted to be Moscow), where the rest of the main story unfolds.

The puzzled store manager finds the creature in the crate when he opens it, and takes him out and sits him on the table. The creature's paws are numb after staying in the crate for so long, and he tumbles down ("чебурахнулся" cheburakhnulsya, a Russian colloquialism meaning "tumbled") from the table, onto the chair, and then onto the floor. This inspires the store manager to name the little creature "Cheburashka". Words with this root were archaic in Russian; Uspensky gave them a new lease on life. (The Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language of Vladimir Dahl gives the meaning of "cheburashka" as another name for the roly-poly toy. [5] )

Animated series

A Soviet postage stamp featuring the Gena the Crocodile animation 1988 CPA 5917.jpg
A Soviet postage stamp featuring the Gena the Crocodile animation


Cheburashka and friends

Cheburashka is male, has a bear-like body, large round ears, and is about the size of a 5-year-old child. After being turned down by the zoo as an "animal unknown to science," Cheburashka gets hired as a window display for a discount store selling factory seconds because he resembles one, residing in a phone booth. In the tale, he befriends an anthropomorphic crocodile named Gena, who wears a hat, a bow tie and a coat, and plays the accordion. Gena works in a zoo as a zoo animal. Gena's favorite songs are "Such a Pity that One's Birthday Happens Only Once a Year" and "The Blue Train Car," both of which are extremely popular with children.


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 collapsible top hat). Shapoklyak is a mischievous but charming old lady. She is tall and thin, wears a hat, a dark-coloured dress, and bloomers, and carries around a pet rat, Lariska, in her purse to help her play pranks on people, though near the end of some stories she turns around and helps the protagonists. The chorus of her theme song contains her motto, "One won't ever get famous for good deeds."

Cheburashka in 1965, in the first edition of the book. Cheburashka A.V. Alfeevskiy (illustration) 1965.jpg
Cheburashka in 1965, in the first edition of the book.

The rights to the Cheburashka character and image have been heavily debated in court. [6] In 1994, Eduard Uspensky (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 13 March 2007, Shvartsman and his lawyer lost a 4.7 million ruble lawsuit against BRK Cosmetics and Eduard Uspensky. Shvartsman alleged that Uspensky 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 Uspensky's books. Vladimir Entin, defender of Shvartsman's interests, suspects that the jury had to have been bribed in order to hand such an unlikely verdict, but admits that there is no proof. [7]

Cheburashka sightings

The Antonov An-72 is said to resemble Cheburashka when viewed from the front. Antonov An-72 Cheburashka.jpg
The Antonov An-72 is said to resemble Cheburashka when viewed from the front.

Cheburashka is now a staple of Russian cartoons, and there are several licensed products on the market, such as children's joke books and stuffed toys. He is also one of the few Russian animation characters to be the 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 pleasing as it is (e.g. a colloquial name for a small bottle of lemonade – from the brand name "Cheburashka").

Cheburashka was also chosen as the official mascot with the main mascots 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 about 700,000 between summer 2001 and spring 2002. In 2008, the Cheburashka films (as part of the "Ghibli Museum Library") were made available to Japanese cinemas [8] on the same date as Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea . [9] An English-dubbed edition of at least one of the animated films was released in 1987, titled The Adventures of Charlie and Cubby. [10]

"Drutten och Gena", Sweden

Screenshot from "Drutten och Gena" Druttenochgena.jpg
Screenshot from "Drutten och Gena"

In the 1970s a series of children's television shows, radio shows, records and magazines were produced in Sweden with the characters Drutten and crocodile Gena. These two characters were based on a couple of Cheburashka and Gena dolls bought on a trip to the Soviet Union, so they were visually identical to Cheburashka and Gena. ("Drutten" means "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 public service 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.


Cheburashka dolls and other collectibles are produced in Russia, Japan and China. United States National Champion figure skater Johnny Weir is known to be an avid collector of Russian Cheburashka items. [11]

The white and red Olympic mascots were made in three sizes 14 cm, 18 cm and 27 cm and wear a sponsor's jersey with the "Bosco Sport" logo on the chest.

T-shirts with Cheburashka are common, including several versions with the character drawn as Alberto Korda's Che Guevara photograph, labeled "Che Burashka".

Cheburashka film

Ivan Maximov had said in a 2004 interview [12] 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 4 April 2006, TV Tokyo broadband issued a press announcement [13] that it (in partnership with Frontier Works) has acquired the rights to remake the Cheburashka shorts as a feature film. It is unclear if this was the 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 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 ran for 26 3-minute episodes. Cheburashka arere? premiered on the Nori-Suta 100% television program on 7 October 2009.

The new film, only titled Cheburashka [14] is produced by both Ffango Entertoyment [15] of South Korea and Frontier Works of Japan. Directed by Makoto Nakamura and written by both Mikhail Aldashin and Michiru Shimada. The film opened in 8 December 2010 in Japan. The film's theme song is titled Orange, performed by Kaela Kimura.

A shot-for-shot remake of the shorts also titled Cheburashka was released on June 15, 2014 in Russia.

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Only Yesterday</i> (1991 film) 1991 Japanese animated film directed by Isao Takahata

Only Yesterday is a 1991 Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Isao Takahata, based on the 1982 manga of the same title by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone. It was animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network and Hakuhodo, and distributed by Toho. It was released on July 20, 1991. The ending theme song "Ai wa Hana, Kimi wa sono Tane" is a Japanese translation of Amanda McBroom's composition "The Rose".

The history of Russian animation is the film art produced by Russian animation makers. As most of Russia's production of animation for cinema and television were created during Soviet times, it may also be referred to some extent as the history of Soviet animation. It remains a nearly unexplored field in film theory and history outside Russia.

Soyuzmultfilm Soviet animation studio

Soyuzmultfilm is a Russian animation studio based in Moscow. Launched in 1936, the studio has produced more than 1,500 cartoons. Soyuzmultfilm specializes in the creation of animated TV series, feature films and short films. The studio has made animated films in a wide variety of genres and art techniques, including stop-motion, hand-drawn, 2D and 3D techniques.

Eduard Uspensky Russian writer

Eduard Nikolayevich Uspensky was a Russian children's writer and poet, author of over 70 books, as well as a playwright, screenwriter and TV presenter. His works have been translated into 25 languages and spawned around 60 cartoon adaptations. Among the characters he created are Cheburashka and Crocodile Gena, Uncle Fyodor and Kolobki brothers. He was awarded IV Class Order "For Merit to the Fatherland" in 1997.

Vasily Livanov Soviet and Russian actor and film director

Vasily Borisovich Livanov MBE, FMF, PAR, is a Soviet and Russian actor, animation and film director, screenwriter and writer most famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes in the Soviet TV series. He was named People's Artist of the RSFSR in 1988.

Shapoklyak animated film character

Shapoklyak was a popular villain from a story about Cheburashka written by Russian writer Eduard Uspensky. The first appearance of Shapoklyak was in the animated film Gena the Crocodile (1969) by Roman Kachanov.

<i>Three from Prostokvashino</i> 1978 Soviet animated film directed by Vladimir Popov

Three from Prostokvashino is a 1978 Soviet animated film based on the children's book Uncle Fedya, His Dog, and His Cat by Eduard Uspensky. The film has two sequels, Vacations in Prostokvashino (1980) and Winter in Prostokvashino (1984).

Gena the Crocodile the character of the book by Edward Uspensky "Crocodile Gena and his friends"

Gena the Crocodile is a fictional, friendly crocodile in the series of animation films Gena the Crocodile, Cheburashka and Shapoklyak by Roman Kachanov. He debuted in the 1966 novel Gena the Crocodile and His Friends by Eduard Uspensky.

Leonid Shvartsman Russian artist

Leonid Aronovich Shvartsman is a Soviet and Russian animator and artist. He spent most of his creative career at the Soyuzmultfilm Studio, in Moscow, where he served as art director on Cheburashka, 38 Parrots, The Golden Antelope, The Scarlet Flower, The Snow Queen and many other cartoons.

<i>The Mystery of the Third Planet</i> 1981 sci-fi animated film

The Mystery of the Third Planet, aka The Secret of the Third Planet is a 1981 Soviet traditionally animated feature film directed by Roman Kachanov and produced by the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow. It is based on a children's science fiction novella "Alice's Travel" by Kir Bulychev, from Alisa (Alice) Selezneva book series.

<i>Yona Yona Penguin</i> 2009 film directed by Rintarō

Yona Yona Penguin (よなよなペンギン) is a 2009 Japanese-French 3D computer animated fantasy comedy adventure family film by the Japanese anime studio Madhouse and sister company Dynamo Pictures. It was Madhouse's first fully 3D CGI film. Famed Madhouse staff director Rintaro, known for Galaxy Express 999 and Metropolis, helmed the project, while French production company Denis Friedman Productions collaborated and helped fund the film. An animated adventure about three children who travel to a fantasy land.

Gena the Crocodile is a 1969 Soviet/Russian stop-motion animated film directed by Roman Kachanov in Soyuzmultfilm studio. This film introduces the characters Gena the Crocodile, Cheburashka, and the old woman Shapoklyak. The film was based on Eduard Uspensky's stories about the characters. Its famous soundtrack was composed by Mikhail Ziv, including songs composed by Vladimir Shainsky.

Cheburashka is a 1972 Soviet/Russian animated film directed by Roman Kachanov.

Shapoklyak is a 1974 Soviet Russian animated film by Roman Kachanov.

Cheburashka Goes to School is a 1983 Soviet animated film directed by Roman Kachanov.

Roman Abelevich Kachanov was a Soviet animator who worked primarily in the stop-motion animation technique. He directed the popular series of films about Cheburashka: Gena the Crocodile, Cheburashka, Shapoklyak and Cheburashka Goes to School.

The year 2008 involved animation-related events.

Vladimir Ivanovich Popov was a Soviet animator, animation and art director. A member of ASIFA. He was named Honoured Artist of the RSFSR in 1986.

Studio Ponoc is a Japanese animation studio based in Musashino, Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded by former Studio Ghibli lead film producer Yoshiaki Nishimura in April 2015. Its first feature film, Mary and The Witch's Flower, was released on July 8, 2017 throughout Japan with the film's main character Mary Smith serving as the company's mascot in their logo, similar to Studio Ghibli's mascot, Totoro.

Boris Pavlovich Stepantsev was a Soviet animation director, animator, artist and book illustrator, as well as a vice-president of ASIFA (1972–1982) and creative director of the Multtelefilm animation department of the Studio Ekran (1980–1983). Meritorious Artist of the RSFSR (1972).


  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 Archived 2011-05-12 at the Wayback Machine ". Frontier Works, Inc. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  4. Soundtrack composer for legendary Soviet cartoon dies aged 92 TASS, December 26
  5. Dahl, Vladimir (1882). "Чебурашка". The Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language: Er-Ve (in Russian). Спб.: Изд. Т-ва М. О. Вольф. p. 603. OCLC   1661885.
  6. Sheveleva, Aleksandra (December 13, 2006). "Чебурашку разбирают в суде" (in Russian). BBC News Online. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  7. Anufrieva, Anna (March 13, 2007). Как заработать на Чебурашке. Delovoy Peterburg (in Russian). Archived from the original on March 22, 2007.
  8. (in Japanese)
  9. (in Japanese)
  10. "The Adventures of Charlie & Cubby (1987) - - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  11. Johnny Weir Online: The Official Site, Q&A, July 2006, archived from the original on May 4, 2009
  12. Rasskazova, Tatyana (16 August 2004) "Иван Максимов: по дешевке «Симпсонов» не сделаешь Archived 2007-02-28 at the Wayback Machine " (in Russian). Ogoniok 33 (4860). Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  13. Ozler, Levent (April 12, 2006). "Cheburash : Animation Phenomenon Goes to TV Tokyo Broadband". Dexigner. Archived from the original on October 16, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  14. "Russia's Cheburashka Character Gets Japanese TV Anime". Anime News Network. September 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
  15. "The future looks bright for companies that moved into the Gyeonggi Digital Content Agency" . Retrieved 4 December 2017.