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A Dog of Flanders (wikipedia.org)
71 points by tosh on Feb 6, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 54 comments

I'd be interested in similar examples of works that took root far from their originating culture.

Heidi, the classic tale of the Swiss girl living in the mountains. The story is very popular in Asia and there was a kids' cartoon adaptation in 1974 by a Japanese animation studio. I thought the 2015 3d series also involved Japanese animators, though it turns out that one was produced in and for European TV.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070968/ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4346362/

Heidi also became infamous here in the US in 1968, when a TV broadcast version of it pre-empted the end of a close football game, which went down in history as "the Heidi game." The furor that resulted led to changes in the way the TV networks managed their operations. The full story is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game.

My favorite part about this story is that they would have actually let the football game keep running if so many people hadn't been calling in about it:

> NBC executives had originally ordered that Heidi begin at 7:00 p.m. EST, but then decided to allow the game to air to its conclusion. However, communicating this revised plan to the technicians running NBC's master control proved impossible – as 7 p.m. approached, NBC's switchboards were jammed by viewers phoning to inquire about the night's schedule, preventing the planned change from being communicated.

Heidi! Yeah I watched that anime as a kid dubbed in Afrikaans too, good times. Well they were often tragic! Lots of tears etc.

Heidi was a fixture on South African TV in the 1980/1990's. Dubbed in Afrikaans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S9NQ4NGiGY

Same for Niels Holgerson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atq032t1wAQ

Heidi is however very well known in Switzerland, too.

In contrast to the Dog of Flanders, who is much less widely known in Flanders.

Owned and produced by a company from Flanders in fact.


This is a big cultural thing that happens once in a while. See:


Another example is 'dinner for one', an ancient British theater play/sketch that is on Germany a new years tradition.

An interesting one to me was always this Italian comic that was extremely popular in Yugoslavia but hardly anywhere else. It’s called Alan Ford https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Ford_(comics). I wish I could get some copies now. I loved that dark humour as a kid.

It's still in print in Yugoslavia, you can get old copies at basically any newsstand.

"Searching for Sugar Man" is a fantastic film. I first watched it on a flight, w no idea what it was about -- which made it all the more impactful. Highly recommend same to anyone who wants to see a great film about music, just skip any trailers or reviews and just watch it.

Many early heavy metal bands became famous in the Soviet / Eastern bloc.

For instance Uriah Heep, while moderately successful in the UK, they were and still huge in Balkans, Germany, Japan, elsewhere.

In December 1987 they became the first ever Western rock band to play in the Soviet Union.


The tv series Vickie Viking is super famous in Germany and it’s based on a series of Swedish books. Both the books and the TV series are really unknown in Sweden the tv series doesn’t even have a Swedish article on Wikipedia.

I am Swedish and I remember watching that show when I was a kid, probably 20 or more years ago. Interesting that it is still a thing somewhere else.

An aria from a Croatian opera, "U boj, u boj", is sung by Japanese choirs since WW1. It was first thought to be Czech though because Czech sailors played it while repairing their ship ashore in Kobe after the great war.


It is sung in Croatian!


Australia here. The wacky Japanese TV serial Monkey, based on a Chinese story from the 1500s, was a hit here in the 80s. ABBA was massive here too.

I was a huge Blake's 7 fan as a kid. I watched it again lately, and a Bulgarian friend said as children she and her friends played Blakes 7 in the street in Bulgaria!

Also, Edgar Allan Poe was huge (first) in France.

In the world of video games, both Metroid and the Legend of Zelda are more popular in Western countries than in Japan. Actually, the whole 'Metroidvania' genre is more popular in the West than Japan in general, with Castlevania being in much the same situation as Metroid.

To give an Asian->West example: plenty of Manga and Anime are more popular in the west than in Japan.

Disney comics, especially Scrooge McDuck, have been way more popular in Europe than in the US.

Jack London's rather pulpy novels of Alaskan adventure found a huge following in the Soviet Union. Here's a citation saying that more than 10 million copies of his words circulated in the USSR between the 1920s and the 1940s. https://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/58636...

From a Soviet perspective, London's admiration for socialist principles made him an ideologically fine choice. And his subject material made Russian struggles with winter, prospecting culture, etc. seem universal.

London has been read to some degree in the U.S. ever since his death in 1916, but his awkward (or perhaps horrifying) racial attitudes, plus his gruff, beat-the-drum writing style have diminished his appeal in his native country as tastes change.

Not exactly the same, Enid Blyton (for instance) has a strong presence in some former British colonies.

Whereas in England she's a bit of an embarrassment to be forgotten.

Anne of Green Gables is huge in Japan.

Watched the adapted anime piece in China on TV when I was a kid. Deeply moved and I even used a cassette recorder to record the finale music from the speaker.

I would say it may not be a complex story but the feeling just conveyed really well.

Seems like a 19th century case of Death by Newbury Medal. For those who don't know this refers to YA books that win said award. If you see a dog on the cover that dog is going down.

1. Mother Dies Early on

2. Cute dog

3. Sad ending

Sounds like a winning Disney film. Curious why we have not seen this yet. Technically they own this fox work now right? https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052745/

Yes, all of those Disney films with a sad ending like...um...

You know if Disney did this the kid and his dog would be adopted by loving parents in the end.

The biggest example I can think of where Disney gave happy ending to a traditionally sad story is The Little Mermaid. I believe in the fairy tale, she fails in her quest and ends up a foam on the sea, whereas the Disney version has a much happier ending.

Also in the fairy tale, walking on land is like walking on broken glass for her.

Interesting. What happens to Sabastian in the fairy tale?

There's a music number about being made into soup and then he's made into soup.

The loving parents would also be monarchs.

> Yes, all of those Disney films with a sad ending like...um...

Old Yeller.

There's this short film that they did a few years back that at least has the freezing to death downer ending: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Matchgirl_(2006_fil...

Since when do Disney movies have sad endings?

The only one I can think of is Old Yeller.

Antwerp is a great place to visit for a day or 2. The train station is arguably one of the most beautiful in Europe and the main walking street right next to it is a great day trip of a walk all the way down and around to the main cathedral.

you're also less than an hour from Bruges and Brussels as 2 of many other places to visit in the area.

Yes, definitely come visit. When you do make it to the cathedral, in front of it you can find nello and patrasche: https://antwerpexplorer.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Nello...

This really shows how long it has been since I've been back home, to Antwerp -- this wasn't there when I was there last. Time to make that trip.

Im curious why such a sad book caught on as a "children's classic". Does anyone know the story behind how?

My personal theory is that much of asia did (or does) not have the disney-style cultural directive that children stories have to end happily. Old european children stories pre-Grimm definitely did not have that either.

A well done sad moment probably has a lot more emotional impact than a saccharine ending. I certainly remember Bambi's mother death scene or Alfred's parents death, while the happy endings are lost to the fog of childhood memories.

> A well done sad moment probably has a lot more emotional impact than a saccharine ending. I certainly remember Bambi's mother death scene or Alfred's parents death, while the happy endings are lost to the fog of childhood memories.

Of all the things I remember from childhood the weird or scary stuff sticks in my mind like a knife. I believe thats is critical to inspiring creative people later in life with vivid memories of the scary or strange. A lot of those weird and scary memories have shaped the way I think and look at life. The sanitizing of stories leaves little to remember and likely to be forgotten after the next sugary schlockfest has been consumed.

Before I forget: Henson's Labyrinth and The dark crystal are good examples. Especially with the latter inspiring a new generating to produce a modern version for TV.

As mentioned elsewhere here, it seems (to me) a uniquely Western phenomenon (and a modern one, at that) to only present happy endings in fairy tales. Most of the Disney canon's origin tales were much more gruesome. Take, for instance, what happens to Cinderella's stepsisters - in order to try to fool the prince that their feet fit the small slippers, they cut off several of their toes and commence to dance for him while in excruciating pain.

I grew up in Russia, so I have a very different baseline for what is a "standard" fairy tale. The tales I grew up with tended to have a solid moral lesson - for instance, I remember "7-year-old Daughter," a tale with two brothers, one rich and stupid and the other poor but with a smart daughter. The poor brother's horse gave birth to a foal, but the foal crawled into the rich brother's wagon, and so the brothers began arguing about who owns the newly born animal. To settle the argument, they go to a tsar, who gives them some lofty riddles to solve to determine ownership. The rich brother thinks the riddles are easy and doesn't think too deeply about them. The poor brother, distraught, seeks his daughter's help. I remember one riddle involved bringing to the tsar the "softest item ever," and the daughter recommended to tell the tsar that this item was a fist - since when one lays to sleep, no matter the pillow, does one not always place their fist to support their head?

In the end, the clever triumph over the stupid rich, the poor brother gets his foal, and the daughter eventually marries the tsar (who's impressed with her cleverness).

Or another tale spoke of a fisherman who discovered a magic genie fish in his net, who granted him endless wishes if he only asked - but with each wish, his wife became more greedy, until she wished to be a fish goddess herself. So the fish left the family with naught but the poverty they started with.

Now imagine my bewilderment when I watched The Little Mermaid and then followed it up with reading the book. What is the advice of the first? Abandon your family for a "true love" you only met once? And the book - it seems to say that doing so will only end in your misfortune and death? The first is foolishly romantic, but the second hopelessly tragic. I would love to hear the perspective of a scholar in Western fairy tales - specifically, what such tales can tell us about the moral fiber of England, France, Belgium, US, etc.

Not all cultures are obsessed with sheltering their children from the full gamut of life and emotion.

The story is about a young person faced with adversity, it's age appropriate and prepares a child reader for what lies ahead.

Watched this on tv in South Africa as a child. (late 80's) It was an Asian kids anime series dubbed in Afrikaans. Very sad!

Edit found the title song. “Niklaas” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjarYm1lVRE

Interestingly enough, in the Antwerp Museum aan de Stroom they illustrate a part of the 19th century Antwerp exhibit with a loop of a scene from the 1975 anime.

What a terrible little story. Would never show that to my kids.

The cartoon would still not be as sad as Plague Dogs though.

It's a whole genre with classics more popular in the US like Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows. Invariably the dog dies tragically, but I guess the boy does too in this one.

No kidding, I'll have them read a newspaper if I want to depress them.

Interesting. So which TV adaptation is the one worth watching?

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