Maya the Bee

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This article is about the novel. For the animated Japanese television series, see Maya the Honey Bee.
Maya the Bee
The Adventures of Maya the Bee
Author Waldemar Bonsels
Country Germany
Language German
Genre Children's literature
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Audiobook

The Adventures of Maya the Bee (German: Die Biene Maja) is a German book, comic book series and animated television series, first written by Waldemar Bonsels and published in 1912. The book has been published in many other languages.

The stories revolve around a little bee named Maya and her friends Willy the bee, Flip the grasshopper (referred to as "Maja", "Willi" and "Philip" in some versions), Mrs. Cassandra (Maya's teacher), and many other insects and other creatures. The book depicts Maya's development from an adventurous youngster to a responsible adult member of bee society.

Film and television series[edit]

Wolfram Junghans, a German photographer, directed a live-action full-length film version of the story in 1924. It is considered to be the first full-length film to star live insects. The film was restored in 2005 by the Finnish Film Archive together with the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, and screened in Hamburg and Helsinki.

Perhaps the most popular and widely known adaptation of the story is the Japanese anime Maya the Honey Bee (みつばちマーヤの冒険 Mitsubachi Māya no Bōken?, "The Adventures of Maya the Honeybee"). Originally aired on Japanese TV in 1975, the anime has been dubbed into 42 languages[1] and screened on television in various territories, including China, Australia, Germany, the United States, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Croatia, Latin America, Chile, Israel, Iran, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia, Slovakia, Spain, Serbia, Finland, Poland, Ecuador, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, Lebanon as "Zena", and Iran as "Nikoo" (نیکو). The Japanese TV series was preceded by Tokyo Kodomo Club's musical play based on the short story, presented as Mitsubachi Māya ("Maya the Honeybee"), distributed on a LP album.

The original theme was composed by Karel Svoboda and sung by Karel Gott in the German, Czech and Slovak versions; Zbigniew Wodecki in the Polish version.[2][3]

A new TV series using 3D animation of 78 episodes of 13 minutes is currently produced by Studio 100 (2012).[4]

Plot[edit]

Bonsels' original book contains fewer than 200 pages. The storyline is centered on the relation of Maya and her many adventures.

Maya is a bee born in a bee hive during internal unrest: the hive is dividing itself into two new colonies. Maya is raised by her teacher, Mrs. Cassandra. Despite Mrs. Cassandra's warnings, Maya wants to explore the wide world and commits the unforgivable crime of leaving the hive. During her adventures, Maya, now in exile, befriends other insects and braves dangers with them. In the climax of the book, Maya is taken prisoner by hornets, the bees' sworn enemies.

Prisoner of the hornets, Maya learns of a hornet plan to attack her native hive. Maya is faced with the decision to either return to hive and suffer her due punishment, saving the hive, or leaving the plan unannounced, saving herself but destroying the hive. As may be expected, Maya, after severe pondering, makes the decision to return. In the hive, she announces the coming attack and is, totally unexpectedly, pardoned. The forewarned bees triumph over the hornet attack force. Maya, now a heroine of the hive, becomes a teacher, like Mrs. Cassandra and shares her experiences and wisdom with the future generation.

Analysis of the book[edit]

The original book from 1912 was a fable with a political message, analogously to Jean de La Fontaine's or Ivan Krylov's work. Maya represents the ideal citizen, and the beehive represents a well-organized militarist society. It has also elements of nationalism and racism. Maya gets angry in two instances. First, a grasshopper fails to distinguish between bees and wasps. Maya's vicious verbal attack includes calling the wasps "a useless gang of bandits" [Räubergeschlecht] that have no "home or faith" [Heimat und Glauben]. Second, a fly calls Maya an idiot, which prompts Maya to shout that she's going to teach "respect for bees" and to threaten the fly with her stinger. This is analyzed such that respect is based on the threat of violence. Collectivism versus individualism is also a theme. Maya's independence and departure from the beehive is seen as reproachable, but it is atoned by her warning of the hornets' attack. This show of loyalty restores her position in the society. In the hornet attack part of the story, the bees' will to defend and the heroic deaths of bee officers are glorified, often in overtly militarist tones.[5]

In the post-WWII adaptations, the militarist element was toned down considerably, the hornets' role reduced, and the character of Willy, a lazy and quite un-warlike drone bee, was introduced (he does not appear in the novel). In the cartoon series, the briskly marching, but ridiculously incompetent ant armies provide a parody of militarism.

Main characters[edit]

  • Maya (or Maja) - Bee. The series main protagonist. She loves freedom, living in the meadow by herself unlike other bees who live in the hive. She is good, fair, happy and willing to help everybody. She was born in a bee hive. At the beginning of the third season Beeswax wanted Maya ejected from the hive, because he was worried that other bees would copy her behaviour. The Queen of the hive dissuaded him, after Maya saved her teacher Cassandra. Maya is very adventurous, and this often causes problems. For example Maya got lost in underground corridors. Her appearance, in contrast to other anime characters, varies. In first season her head is rounded, but in second season it is oval. In the third season she is very slim her head is rounded and she has longer antennae. Although Maya is a bee, she has wasp colours (yellow-black). Maya is the most popular and most influential person on the meadow. Her best friend is Willy and she does not like the spider Thekla. Her main enemies are wasps (mainly in third season) and hornets.
  • Willy (or Willi) - Drone bee. Lazy, clumsy, and cowardly, sometimes jealous, but generally good-natured - not featured in the original Bonsels story, but a major character in all spin-off media. His relationship to Maya is depicted inconsistently: in most adaptations, he's her best friend, who is in love with her; in others, he's something of a de facto dependent; and in several episodes of the English adaptation, he's mentioned as her brother.
  • Flip (or Philip) - Grasshopper. A wise friend of Maya and Willi.
  • Alexander - mouse. Intellectual, whose level of respect among the other creatures, and close friendship with Maya, often sends Willy into jealous rages.
  • Kurt - Dungbeetle who likes to be a "rose-beetle." His name is inconsistent in the English adaptation, as he's often referred to by the name Beasley in some episodes, and Kurt in others.
  • Puck - Fly, who often educates the other insects about human lifestyles and behavior.
  • Kassandra - Bee, Teacher at the Bee-School
  • Thekla - spider and occasional villain. Referred to as Gremilda in some episodes of the English adaptation, and Grimelda in others.

Opera[edit]

Maya the Bee also served as the basis for a children's opera written by the Croatian composer Bruno Bjelinski in 1963. It was recently staged in Villach, Austria as part of their Carinthian Summer Music Festival.[6] This performance was distinguished by having the "bees" played by children and not professional opera singers as it is usually the case.[7]

Video games[edit]

Developed by Crawfish, published by Acclaim.

Developed by Neon Studios, published by Acclaim.

  • Maya the Bee and Friends (mobile – 2006)[9]

Developed by Kiloo and co-published by Plan-B Media.

Developed by Shin'en Multimedia, published by Acclaim.

Developed by Shin'en Multimedia, published by Midway.

Developed by Independent Arts Software GmbH, published by Midway (based on previous work by Shin'en).[citation needed]

Merchandising[edit]

Many companies contributed worldwide to the success of the character by producing and selling merchandising. Most of them were drawn between 1976 and 1986 by the French licensed characters specialist André Roche.[15] His works have included motifs for textiles, porcelain, books, comics and games, including a campaign for Kinder Surprise Eggs.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ by Filip Rožánek (February 13, 2007). "Páteční youtubení: Včelka Mája | Blok Filipa Rožánka". Blok.rozanek.cz. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  2. ^ "Populární včelka Mája se vrací ve 3D. Karel Gott nechybí" (in Czech). Týden. February 15, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Jak Zbigniew Wodecki został Pszczółką Mają" (in Polish). Polskie Radio Program I. November 24, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Studio100 » Animation". studio100.tv. 
  5. ^ Riukulehto, Sulevi. "Lukiko Hitler Maija Mehiläistä? - Politiikka luuraa lastenkirjoissa. Tieteessä tapahtuu, 2001/7". Tieteellisten seurain valtuuskunta. 
  6. ^ "Carinthischer Sommer 2012 | Festival Ossiach - Villach". Carinthischersommer.at. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  7. ^ "Carinthischer Sommer 2012 | Festival Ossiach - Villach". Carinthischersommer.at. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  8. ^ Neon Studios Maya the Bee[dead link]
  9. ^ Kiloo page[dead link]
  10. ^ "Shin'en Maya the Bee". Shinen.com. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  11. ^ "Shin'en Maya the Bee 2". Shinen.com. March 18, 2005. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  12. ^ "tBG GBA page". Independent-arts-software.de. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  13. ^ "tBG DS page". Independent-arts-software.de. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  14. ^ "Midway the Bee Game page". Mayabeegame.com. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  15. ^ kinder-characters-creator.illustration.de

External links[edit]