We would have probably watched Disney on Ice this holiday season, like many other Filipino families that have made watching it a kind of Christmas family tradition.
After all its latest line up now includes the likes of Ana and Elsa, and Dory – characters that Akira loves – but it wasn’t until we found out that a show our family loves VERY MUCH is having its very first live show in the country that we ended up watching it instead, and couldn’t be happier.
Let me tell you how we discovered it.
Like other children that watch cartoons and programs on YouTube, Akira has a tendency to just tap on a video queued below what she’s already watching, or to just watch until she ends up watching the foreign language version of whatever it is she’s watching.
I’ve been hearing this foreign language from the iPad, and finally decided to sit with her and watch with her. I didn’t expect to find an incredibly funny, original, and well made animation that I would end up being very fond of, too.
This is the show:
It was love at first episode, and this was the one that started it all (Episode 18: Laundry Day). It didn’t take long for me to find and watch every other clear video of this show that I could find in YouTube.
And thank goodness there is a lot, because Masha and the Bear is a cartoon like nothing I’ve seen before.
I grew up on Astro Boy,
Around the time I was in grade school, I loved Tom and Jerry (this episode cracked me up so much when I was a kid)
and the Looney Tunes characters.
I’ve always had a soft spot for cartoons. I share in the unapologetically biased opinion that the Looney Tunes/Hanna Barbera era is the golden age of cartoons. I also personally believe that great television cartoons (for children) ended with Genndy Tartakovsky‘s work for Cartoon Network.
So to stumble upon a fantastic piece of animation that’s beautifully made, enjoyable for both kids and grownups, that isn’t retro, or Japanese, is just astounding.
The show is a modern classic, and it’s going to go down as one of the most beloved cartoon shows and characters ever.
I have some issues with the live show BUT – and this is the only opinion that matters for the moment – BUT for my daughter, the show is pure magic.
This is her first live show.
I guess she was expecting a movie, so as soon as the curtains were raised and Masha came skipping down that stage, she kind of freaked out. She was scared but also very excited, and I can almost see all of these intense little feelings bouncing away inside her like unruly molecules. The feeling is relatable 🙂
The show is called The Happiness Chest, and it’s about Masha going on a mission to find her source of happiness. She comes across the other animal characters in the show who already know their happiness, and they join in Masha’s journey.
The pig’s happiness is dance ok, not food. 😀
The show was interactive and colorful and a lot of fun. The details and attention that went into the background panels and props are amazing. Some of the performers do cartwheels and other fancy moves in mascot costumes. They used music and sound from the cartoon show itself, and it was great to hear live.
Here’s a particularly amusing segment where we meet the Wolf and he fantasizes about food. I never thought I’d see dancing rotisserie chickens live in my life:
In the end, Masha realizes that her happiness is with her friends (and that poor Bear was dragging along that big chest for nothing, haha, kidding).
Here are some of the bones I want to pick with the show.
Masha and the Bear is a Russian animation, and Masha speaks Russian. Her voice in the live show was kind of British sounding, and it was just odd.
We watched on the 31st of January, and I hope against hope that more people came to watch in the other days because that day there wasn’t much of a crowd.
In terms of fans, I think it was only my daughter and another little girl who knew who they were watching. The other girl even had a pink head scarf on 🙂 Everybody else was just there for a random kiddie show.
Thanks to my Robinsons Rewards card, we got 20% off the tickets. And thanks to the thin crowd, we got bumped to front row.
So it’s not really a complaint, but more like an expression of frustration to see just a handful of people for the show, because for the live show to make it all the way to our shores, it means that there IS a fan base. This was a happy surprise. But people didn’t turn up for the show, and that only means they didn’t hear about it.
We would hear the radio plug for the show on a retro music radio station often, and then probably every day a week before the show was going to close. But on any other kind of medium, I’m not sure how much they advertised.
Masha and the Bear is a show that Filipinos discovered on YouTube, so the bulk of the marketing effort should have been on digital. But there was nothing about it online. I think the promotions or marketing arm behind this production is a bit old school and not very Internet savvy. It’s a real loss for an otherwise spectacular production.
Does Masha remind us of Akira?
And she is sure to remind you of any makulit child that you happen to know and love.
Naughty, cheeky, loveable, and super cute, it’s uncanny how this little blondie just also happened to exemplify a trait that’s typical of a Filipino child in spite of being thoroughly Russian.
I’m certain I’ve seen the entire first season of Masha and the Bear, and believe me, you would still understand what’s going on, and you will still laugh out loud, without knowing a word of Russian.
Akira would say “ka shoo ka shoo” randomly and she would tell me it’s something Masha says. I’ve only recently pieced together that it’s “ya khachoo”, which means “I’m hungry” in Russian.
As for the show, I’ve asked her what her happiness is, and without any prodding or coaching, she says it’s her home, and it’s mommy and daddy. And with that, I’d happily throw my critique out the window.
Be it the TV show or the live show, it’s a show for kids and it’s the kid’s opinion that matters. Also, isn’t it such a treat to find something you genuinely enjoy and like together with your child? If you’re going to be watching videos on YouTube anyway, watch together, laugh, and make it Masha and the Bear.