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Masha and the Bear Destined for Cartoon Greatness

© YouTubeMasha i Medved'
Masha i Medved' - Sputnik International
The Russian export has become a hit with viewers around the globe, and was voted by Animation Magazine as one of 250 recently made cartoon shows it believes are "destined to be classics."

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Russian cartoon Masha and the Bear has made it into a list of "TV Shows Destined to be Classics," which was compiled by the cartoon industry's periodical Animation Magazine to mark its 250 issue.

The cartoon, loosely based on a Russian folk tale, follows the antics of three-year-old Masha, who lives in the forest with her friend, a capable former circus bear.

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Having first appeared on Russian screens in 2009, Masha and the bear now appear on TV and DVD in 30 countries and on almost all continents; the most recent translation of the show's dialogue was into Swahili.

The show has also become an internet hit, and took 20th place in a list of the most watched channels on Youtube in 2014; the most watched episode is called 'Masha and Porridge,' and has more than 700 million views. 

In a testament to their following, a survey of viewers aged two to five years old in Italy found that Masha and the Bear eclipsed even the legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in popularity.

Such success has not come without its hitches though. In one episode, called 'Orchestra Practice,' in which the bear finds a piano and brings it home to give Masha a lesson, animators drew 114 Mashas; unfortunately, the series director lacked the dexterity showed by Masha and the bear at the piano, and spilled coffee on the keyboard, deleting them all.

Around 50 people are employed producing the series, and each episode takes four to five months to film; the team makes four episodes at once, so the making of each takes around six weeks.

The team behind Masha and the Bear filming an episode.

Series producer Dmitry Loveyko told Izvestiya the secret of the shows' success lies in the constant work on behalf of the shows' production team to nurture the universal appeal of the show, which has a "witty, slapstick circus format, without much dialogue, in actual fact understandable without translation."

"If retailers start taking notice of other Russian projects because of the success of ours, I will be very happy – together it's more fun." 

"Animation doesn't recognize international barriers," said Loveyko. "If we develop the appropriate training for new technology, we can build on the best features and traditions of Soviet animation."

Upon hearing the news about Masha and the Bear's recognition by the industry magazine, Loveyko said the prospect of becoming a TV classic is a spur for his production team to reach greater heights. "To get that kind of result in the future, you have to invest a lot of effort today. Because of that, getting into the list today is an incentive to develop the project further." 

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