Alfred J. Kwak: A Forgotten Classic

I’ve made it no secret that I love animation, especially when that series originates from a different country. Other countries have their own standards when it comes to animation, so seeing a show from another country is almost always a treat. One such show was a Dutch animated series, that was produced in collaboration with both Germany and Japan. It was animated in Japan, but mostly produced in the Netherlands and Germany.

This show is Alfed J. Kwak, one of the most intense animated series I’ve ever seen. Alfred J. Kwak was aired in various countries in the 90s. Unlike a lot of other shows at the time, this series really towed the line the see what it could get away with. It revolved around a young duck named Alfred J. Kwak, who lives with his best friend, a mole named Henk. Together, they go on adventures, or deal with bizarre situations.

One may think that the show sounds like other typical animated series of that decade. At first glance, it may be comparable to Ducktales or Duckula. However, Alfred J. Kwak is a far different beast altogether. This show dealt with a lot of heavy hitting topics, including racism, nazism, childhood trauma, and the difficulties that come with growing up altogether.

Heck, the second episode deals with the ONE YEAR OLD Alfred being convicted of a theft he didn’t commit. His punishment? Death by guillotine. Of course, he gets out of this, since he is the hero after all. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what happens in this series, it gets much more intense after this. While the first season deals with a lot of episode-of-the-week adventures, the final few episodes deal with more intense plot-lines.

In said season 1 finale, one of Alfred’s childhood friends decides to rebel against a corrupt monarchy. This character is known as “Dolf”, who is an obvious stand-in for Adolf Hitler. Dolf’s rise to power became one of the most memorable parts in the series for a lot of people. Not only that, but afterwards Dolf becomes a primary villain. Dolf started out the series as more of a delinquent with a mean-streak, before evolving into a cold and calculating individual.

Dolf went from being a lurking menace, to one that was constantly at the forefront. He became a well-written villain, one that we see grow up alongside our hero. Even when Dolf has gone far beyond the point of redemption, Alfred still sees something in him worth saving. Dolf is never redeemed though, not even by Alfred’s pure-of-heart nature.

Alfred J. Kwak was a show that not only had a good story to tell, but also good animation to back it up. The animation was farmed out to Japan, as European animation at that time was severely lacking. This lead to the show looking amazing, just like a similar co-production called “Moomins”.

Few shows managed to stay the test of time like Alfred J. Kwak did. Looking back at it now, the show still holds up surprisingly well. It’s a funny animal cartoon with a lot of bite to it, one that treats its audience like adults. Of course, there are parts of this show that hasn’t aged well. A good example of this is “Michael Duckson”, a duck version of Michael Jackson. This reference really dates the show, in my opinion.

Regardless, I think this is a series a lot of people need to see. It’s a rare show that really captures the grit of the world, while using kooky cartoon characters. It’s something that I feel is less of a typical kids show, and more of a work of art. It’s definitely worth checking out for any cartoon enthusiast!


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