What Your National Cartoon Says About You

June 29, 2010
Ever since 1928, Mickey Mouse has been a quintessential symbol of American optimism—and naïveté: That's why Full Metal Jacket ends with disillusioned soldiers singing The Mickey Mouse Club theme song as they trudge across a burning Vietnamese battlefield. Children's characters can say more about their country of origin than the World Book Encyclopedia ever could. Below, we've rounded up our 10 favorite animated ambassadors from around the globe.

The Character: Cheburashka
The Synopsis: Cheburashka, a bear-monkey creature, occupies a world whose retiring inhabitants bemoan the fact that birthdays come but once a year. The waltzy soundtrack is vaguely like a mashup of Dr. Zhivago's and The Godfather's. One of the series' characters compares Cheburashka to a "defective toy."
The Takeaway: Cheburashka is a friend to the oppressed, the uncategorizable, the socially displaced, and the melancholy—i.e., future vodka drinkers.

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