Cartoons take us back into the past like a time machine, reminding us of our youth and carefree childhood. Such is the power of cartoons. Some of those animated characters, like Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny, that were part of the childhood years of many generations, can still be seen on TV and are familiar to both parents and children.
Yet, a number of cartoons have simply disappeared making it seem as if those characters had never existed, and with them a part of our youth has also disappeared. Should you decide to bring back the memories of all the cartoons you used to watch as children stand prepared for heart palpitations and great excitement with every cartoon you think of. Balkon3 tried to make a list of cartoons that were once popular in the region but are now a true relic of the past and can rarely be seen on TV. However, social networks have helped keeping them alive, though sometimes they really need a CPR. You can find many of your childhood cartoons on YouTube and here’s a list of the ones that children in the Republic of Macedonia and Greece grew up with.
More than 20 years ago, all the children in Macedonia, I believe in other parts of Europe too, used to sit in front of television screens minutes after 7pm, prior to the latest news broadcast. No, the children were not interested in the latest news as they are nowadays. They were just waiting for their favorite cartoon – Mis Uszatek (Mecheto Ushko). It was a simple, Polish cartoon created in the 1970’s. Mis Uszatek, the main cartoon character, was a cute little bear who taught children how to behave themselves, to be fair to other children and obedient to adults. Each episode had the effect of a magic pill that calmed children down so they went straight to bed after watching it, leaving parents to their dose of daily news. Mis Uszatek is no longer shown on TV channels in Macedonia.
Kangurek Hip-Hop (Kangaroo Hip-Hop)
Kangurek Hip-Hop is another one in the series of cartoons from Poland which were popular in the Balkans. This cartoon was like an open encyclopedia of zoology where children could learn about different types of animals, their habits and their diet. In these cartoons the youngest viewers were introduced to the cunning fox, the lynx and so many other animals. This cartoon was one of the many cartoons of the time that had the goal of educating children.
Bal, Balthazar, Bal, Balthazar… Two decades ago everybody knew the opening theme of one of the most popular Balkan cartoons – Professor Balthazar. Both children and adults loved it. It was a Croatian cartoon series about the lovable Professor Balthazar, an old man with grey beard, glasses and black top hat. Professor Balthazar encouraged children to love science, use their imagination to try and help people. It may sound unbelievable now, but a few decades ago this Yugoslav cartoon was shown in Greece and Italy, and all the way to Iran, Canada and Zimbabwe.
Bajum Bajum (La Linea)
Using minimalistic graphics with no special effects or spectacular scenes, it is a simple, yet extremely funny and catchy cartoon. Its original title in Italian is La Linea (The Line) but was known as Bajum Badum in the Balkans. The cartoonist plays with his main character determining his fate, whether he will fall into the trap that the author has set for him, or get out safely with his help. The main character is constantly angry with the cartoonist who communicates with him by drawing or erasing some of the lines. Bajum Bajum has become a cult cartoon whose main character has appeared in dozens of commercials and music videos, including a music video by British band Jamiroquai.
Another Italian cartoon that became popular outside its country finding in the Balkans a perfect place for its popular catchphrase “They are big and I am small, and that’s not fair, oh no!” Oh yes, Calimero taught children that the world is unfair, but somehow it brought down barriers of discrimination. Calimero was the only black chick in a family of yellow chickens, and many children grew up closely following poor Calimero’s mishaps.
The Swiss Alps may have been a distant place for many, but children were able to travel to this magical place in Switzerland by following the adventures of Heidi and her friend Peter. The dark haired girl is the main character in the popular cartoon series that was based on the popular novel by Johanna Spyri.
Japanese animated films were very popular in Greece and one of them is Candy Candy. This cartoon is focused on Candy – a blonde girl with bows and ribbons in her hair who always dresses stylishly. Little Candy is an orphan trying to live her life like any other normal child. Candy Candy is a cartoon that can make you cry and cheer you up at the same time.
The Franco-Japanese animated cartoon became popular in Greece for the simple reason that it was a kind of a science-fiction sequel of Greek mythology Odysseus. It is set in 31st century AD giving children in Greece a unique opportunity to peek into the future of characters who they studied about or read in books. It has space ships, Greek gods and heroes, and a lot of action. Ulysses 31 is a blend of futurism and mythology, and has caused many children to dream whether there is life beyond this planet.
Popular in Greece and Republic of Macedonia
After consulting with our colleagues from Greece, we had an interesting conversation, recalling memories of our childhood and we realized that we had watched cartoons that were popular in Greece and Macedonia at the same time. Here are some of those that we can never forget and that will forever be part of the child within us, regardless of which side of the border are:
In this animated film the main character is a brave and intelligent boy – Billy. Sport Billy comes from the planet Olympus which is a reason enough to show these cartoons and gain popularity in Greece. The boy travels through time and space at the same time monitoring various sports events while promoting high moral values and fair play. He always carries the magic bag with himself, a bag that has various tools that help him win in all of his adventures. His best friends are Lily and the talking dog Willie. He always fights against Wanda the bad queen.
Bolek and Lolek
Another proof of the popularity of Polish cartoons is the animated series Bolek and Lolek. These characters are embedded in the collective memory of the children who grew up in Greece and Macedonia during the 80s. For this cartoon it was not necessary to dub the episodes for the simple reason that it had no dialogue. Still, even without speaking this cartoon was catchy in its own way. The series is about two brothers and their funny adventures. It is considered the most successful animated film that came from Poland, and the interesting fact is that it was allowed to be broadcast in Iran after the 1979 revolution.
Hundreds of cartoons are noteworthy here, but this is the first choice of Balkon 3 team who tried to recall their childhood memories.
There will be more on animated series in the next article. Until then, please send us your favorite cartoons or sitcoms that you grew up with, share your memories and encourage us to write about them. Enjoy the links that will bring back childhood memories or discover the heroes of older generations.