The Soviet New Year’s Day Thread

Gather ’round the screen, dear friends, and behold the majesty of Soviet New Year’s animation:

It’s the heartwarming story of a bunch of forest animals who compete in a New Year’s variety show, hosted by a rabbit in Soviet discotheque fashion, and judged by a computer that may be a washing machine. Don’t worry, there are subtitles.

judge machine.jpg

A pushy mama crow is convinced her daughter deserves to be Miss New Year, even though the daughter has self-confidence issues and doesn’t even really want to perform. She faces stiff competition from a group of dancing pigs and badgers, a bear who comes up and literally flexes for awhile, and a fox who does a fan dance in go-go boots.

fox dance.jpg

I can find next to nothing about this cartoon, probably because I’m Googling in English. The copyright at the end says “SOYUZMULTFILM 1991,” which at least confirms what the YouTube description says.

Eastern Bloc animation fascinates me, because it bears little resemblance to either classic American cartoons or the burgeoning form of anime in Japan. Animation is hard, and almost always involves cutting corners. The different animation cultures just cut different corners. The most obvious here might be how the characters struggle to remain on model, and how individual frames are sometimes left to hang for effect. The upsides are that the animation itself is extremely fluid, and the backgrounds are lushly detailed.

1991 was the last Soviet New Year; the country was already disintegrating when this cartoon was released. Soyuzmultfilm still exists in the Russian Federation, and still makes new animation. It’s weird to look at this and know that, when it was produced, Dragon Ball Z was already airing in Japan, and The Simpsons was halfway through its second season in the U.S. Miss New Year (if that is the cartoon’s official name) looks like something made decades earlier.

Still, I find it awfully charming, and hope you like it too. Happy 2019, everyone. It’s going to be “the Twenties” again in 12 months, get ready.