Alfred J. Kwak

Alfred J. Kwak

Infobox Television
show_name = Alfred J. Kwak

format = Cartoon
caption = Logo of "Alfred J. Kwak"
runtime = 25 minutes approx.
starring =
creator = Herman van Veen
producer = Telecable Benelux B.V.
country = Netherlands, Germany, Japan
network =flagicon|Netherlands VARA
flagicon|Japan TV Tokyo
flagicon|Germany ZDF
flagicon|Spain TVE
flagicon|Poland TVP
flagicon|Greece ERT
flagicon|France FR3, Canal+, Canal Famille
flagicon|United Kingdom Channel 4
flagicon|Italy Italia 1, ReteItalia
flagicon|Belgium BRT, RTBF
flagicon|Iceland Sjónvarpið
flagicon|Sweden SVT, SR, TV4
flagicon|Norway NRK
flagicon|Denmark DR
flagicon|Finland YLE
flagicon|Serbia BK
flagicon|Israel IBA Channel 1
first_aired = 1989
last_aired = 1991
num_episodes = 52
imdb_id = 0098737

"Alfred Jodocus Kwak" is an anime television series based on a Dutch theatre show by Herman van Veen and was co-produced by VARA and Telecable Benelux B.V. and first shown in 1989. It consists of 52 episodes. The series characters were designed by Harald Siepermann.

The series has been broadcast in many countries and has been dubbed and subtitled in Dutch, French, Japanese, Greek, English, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Finnish, Serbian, Polish, German, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Chinese, and Norwegian.

In 1991, Herman van Veen won the Golden Camera, the German television award, for the animation in this cartoon.

The Plot

Alfred J. Kwak was born as the son of Johan Sebastian and Anna Kwak. Some time after his birth, Alfred loses his parents and his brothers and sisters who died when a car hits them. Henk the mole, a good friend of the Kwak family, raises the little yellow duck. Alfred experiences a lot of adventures.

Unlike many other cartoons targeted for children, "Alfred J. Kwak" features exceptionally mature and often sad themes. Amongst others it deals with different social and political issues, such as abuse of power, but also raises important values such as friendship and solidarity.

The cartoon is also notable for the political themes on which it touches. In the cartoon, Alfred fights against a fascist dictator, takes in refugees fleeing from a country under Apartheid (with white geese and black ducks), saves whales against hunters, and oversees the changeover of his country from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Such themes are far from typical in a children's cartoon, and form a big part of "Alfred J. Kwak"'s appeal. Other episodes have satirised the Japanese love of golf, and criticised countries which have sharp north/south economic divides.

The cartoon is also unusual for the subtlety of its long-term narrative. In most children's cartoons, the characters do not age. In "Alfred J. Kwak", we see the progress of the main characters from very young children to adulthood as the series progresses. This is particularly striking in the character of Dolf. At first a mere naughty schoolboy, we watch as his evil steadily progresses.


Characters and settings

Main characters


Alfred J. Kwak is a duck. As a kid he lives in a giant clog with his family, later on he lives with his adoptive father Henk in a clog-shaped house. He is very concerned with other people. Although he has gone through a lot of sad things, his favourite song is 'Ik ben vandaag zo vrolijk' (I'm so happy today).


Dolf is Alfred's nemesis and first appears in episode 4. In the first episode Dolfs parents, a crow and a blackbird, can be seen making disparaging comments on the eggs of Alfred's mother. Both are dressed in traditional German garment. The father wears Lederhosen, a feathered hat and, in the Dutch original, speaks with a heavy German accent, while Dolfs mother is seen in a dirndl outfit.

Dolf gradually develops from a mere naughty schoolboy, to a merciless dictator, an arms dealer, a reckless politician, and overall criminal. Though the show clearly portrays Dolfs acts as inherently negative and wrong, it also provides the background on how Dolf became who he is. For example, when a child, Dolf is prone to blame others for problems in which he too played a role. Dolf can also be seen to express a sense of self hate and poor self image; as he is disgusted by the fact that he is only part crow, and paints his orange beak black to disguise his true identity. When Alfred accidentally finds out about this, he cannot understand why Dolf is so ashamed and urges him to drop the secret and tell others about it. Dolf however is petrified and convinced that his friends will make fun of him, and makes Alfred swear he will never tell anyone about it.

Episode 22 through 25 are essentially an allegory of the rise and fall of Fascism/Nazism, with Dolf himself, though wearing a Napoleonic uniform, as a clear caricature of Adolf Hitler. It begins with Dolf returning from abroad, in a train with Austrian markings, and meeting up with his friends. He then discusses the current political climate in Great Waterland, and expresses disgust of it. Dolf then decides to found a political party, the later "National Crows Party", for which he goes to Alfred to lend money. he explains his ideas, but Alfred refuses and Dolf barges out of Alfred's house in a fit of rage. Alfred and Henk express their fear of Dolf, but Henk reassures Alfred that Dolf will never gather enough money to fund his indented party. Not much later however, Dolf inherits a huge fortune. He found his party, which trough promising employment and change, quickly becomes a major and powerful political movement. Dolf eventually stages a coup d'etat and takes over the country. Political opponents, including Alfred, are imprisoned on the charge of high treason. Alfred and his friends barely escape and flee abroad to the neighboring country of Great reedland. Not much later the King of Great Waterland himself flees as well, and Dolf proclaims himself Emperor Dolf I. Alfred and the other political dissidents however devised a plan to dispose of Dolf and steal Dolfs inheritances from the vaults of his palace. Without his money, Dolf's power quickly dwindles and he is imprisoned.

Dolf is eventually released from prison, and makes as an appearance illegal arms dealer and general criminal in further episodes. In the 43rd and 44th episodes, the King has decided to abdicate and for the first time democratic elections are held. Dolf once again attempts to rule Great Waterland as one of the three official candidates. He cunningly withdraws his entry as one of the other candidates is much more popular than he is. He then pays Lispel the Jellyfish to causes a huge flood in Great Waterland. Dolf then publicly gives away all his money to help the victims; sky rocketing his popularity and prompting his reentry in the presidential race. He then, in an attempt to get rid of any compromising evidence, tries to kill Lispel, who escapes and, though heavily wounded, tells Alfred the truth on the flood.

Dolf is once again imprisoned, yet after his release again continues his life of crime. In the final two episodes, Dolf becomes the henchman of an oil magnate who is attempting to get his hands on the blueprints of a environmentally friendly fuel, invented by Professor Buffon. After a fight, in which Dolf attempts to kill Alfred by pushing his car of the road, Dolf is again captured and is sentenced to be imprisoned for 26 years. This time however, he escapes, aided by a former member of his Crows Party, and takes Winnie, Alfreds girlfriend, hostage. In the series finale, and after a manic hunt, Alfred finds and defeats Dolf.

upporting characters

*Henk is a mole. He raised Alfred after his family died. In the Israeli version he is called Hafi, a shortcut for "Hafarperet" - the Hebrew word for "mole".

* Winnie is a black duck and Alfred's girlfriend. In the Dutch version she speaks Afrikaans.

* Professor Paljas is an interdisciplinary academic. He is a polar bear, talking with a German accent. In the UK and Israeli versions he is called Professor Buffon.
*Ollie is Alfred's close school-friend, a stork who grows up to be a lawyer, and later, after the defeat of Dolf, the first democratically elected president of Groot Waterland (Great Waterland).
*Pikkie is an another friend of Alfred's from his schooldays. A magpie, Pikkie is prone to stealing shiny objects, a trait which often lands his friends in trouble. Pikkie is called Stibitzi in the German version, Ruby in the Israeli version, and Grabbie in the UK version.
* Franz Ferdinand is a lion and the king of Groot-Waterland, the country in which Alfred lives. He is a well meaning, yet lazy and incompetent monarch, with no interest in politics. He is named after the real historical figure Franz Ferdinand.
*Lispel is a sinister jellyfish and a spy working for the mayor of the city. As his name suggests, he talks with a lisp.


Great Waterland

Great Waterland ("Groot-Waterland" in Dutch) is arguably the most important setting within the series. It is Alfred's birthplace as well the home, or future home, of many of the shows characters. It is, partly, a caricature of the Netherlands. The land consists of polders, the town Alfred lives in is build in a typical Dutch style, while he himself lives in a house made from a clog. In addition; many of its inhabitants wear traditional Dutch clothing, perhaps most notably Alfred's parents. For most of the series Great Waterland is an absolute monarchy, led by Franz Ferdinand: a lion. Near the shows conclusion Dolf assumes command, and Waterland briefly becomes an authoritarian fascist state, before reverting to a monarchy and eventually becoming a democracy.

Episode list

Theme Songs

Dutch Version

"Zo vrolijk, Zo vrolijk"
* Performed by Herman van Veen (OP)"Ik ben vandaag zo vrolijk"
* Performed by Ryan van den Akker and Herman van Veen (ED)

German Version

So fröhlich, So fröhlich
* Performed by Herman van Veen (OP)

"Warum bin ich so fröhlich"
* Performed by Ryan van den Akker and Herman van Veen (ED)

Japanese Version

Yakusoku da yo (約束だよ)
* Performed by Megumi Hayashibara (OP)Happy Happy ~ Alfred's Walk (ハッピー・ハッピー)
* Performed by Megumi Hayashibara (ED)

Alternative titles

*"Alfred J. Quack"
*"Little Duck's Big Love Story"
*"The Adventures of Alfred J. Quack"
*"Alfred Jodocus Kwak" (Dutch)
*"Alfred Jonatan Kwak" (Polish)
*Приключения Альфреда Квака ("Priklyuchenia Alfreda Kwaka"; Russian)
*"Niente paura, c'è Alfred!" (Italian)
*"Rasmus Rap" (Danish)
*آلفرد كواك ("Alferd Quack" , Arabic)
*あひるのクワック ("Ahiru no Kuwakku"; Japanese)
*小さなアヒルの大きな愛の物語 あひるのクワック ("Chiisana Ahiru no Ooki na Ai no Monogatari Ahiru no Kuwakku"; Japanese)
*שאלתיאל קוואק ("Sha'al'ti'el Quack"; Hebrew)
*"Alfred Andreas Kvakk" (Norwegian)
*"Alfred Jeremias Kvack" (Swedish)
*"Alfred Jodocus Kwak" (Finnish)
*"Alfréd a kacsa" (Hungarian)
*"Alfred Džonatan Kvak" (Serbian)

Other facts

* Dolf indulges in a many great villainous acts aside from the fascist-style coup he stages. At various points he steals gems, indulges in arms dealing, captures an intelligent dragon to sell to a zoo, shoots Lispel, and deliberately damages a dam during the country's election campaign, leading to several deaths. The depiction of Dolf's rule is a satire on Nazism, complete with references to Dolf enforcing "racial purity". Dolf is revealed at one point as being "part-blackbird", a sly reference to Hitler himself hardly living up to the Aryan ideal. Just as Hitler was rumored to be partially Jewish, Dolf colors his yellow beak black to seem like a full crow.
* Aside from Dolf and Lispel, other villains Alfred has to face include the corrupt Mayor Crocodile, selfish landowning ape Mr. NittyLocopan, Scratchpaws the ravenous cat, and the authorities of the Apartheid South African style state "Atrique".
* That Alfred's girlfriend fleeing Apartheid is called Winnie is probably a reference to the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela.
* One episode features a womanising pop star duck who nearly steals Winnie off Alfred. He appears to be loosely based on Prince and Michael Jackson.
* Although most of the worlds population is depicted as anthropomorphic animals, there are apparently humans present, however the humans are described as savage beasts, that are for example caged in circuses, with "human tamers" to train them for shows.
* In the episode of "Desert Dream", Alfred is introduced by a singer named Leifeet, to the problems of drought in a poor country. This clearly refers to the charity actions taken for Ethiopia by Bob Geldof through his live aid-project in the mid-1980s.
* The time setting of the cartoon is somewhat surreal. On the whole the technology and dress of most characters seems appropriate to the late 20th century, and yet Alfred and Paljas/Boffin often travel in a spaceship with a technology far more advanced than that, while many characters such as the King's staff, Scratchpaws the cat, and Dolf in his Napoleonic incarnation wear clothes more appropriate to previous ages. Other surreal elements to the cartoon include such strange characters as the evil genie of the bottle, living chess pieces from Alfred's chess game, Pied Piper style Clown On The Moon, and aliens who appear like ducks except for their human-style feet, and a "dream" style Wild West episode during which Dolf seems to become aware that he is a character in a cartoon.
* British actor Melvyn Hayes, best known for "It Ain't Half Hot Mum", voiced several characters, including Dolf, in the UK, English-dubbed version.
* In the UK version the main character is Alfred "Jonathan" Kwak.
* In the Israeli version, Alfred is called Shealtiel, and "Shalti" in short. The name's meaning is "I asked God", referring to his curious nature.
* The J. in Alfred's original name stands for "Jodocus", which is Latin for "lord". []
* In the Danish version the main character is "Rasmus Rap", a name earlier used for Donald Duck in that country.
* In the Dutch, German and UK version Alfred has an occasionally used catchphrase:- "Piccobello!"; used to express extreme enthusiasm or happiness.
* Popular polish scenic and movie actor Henryk Talar was voice-over in Polish version.
* The Dutch version was one of the first cartoon series in the Netherlands to feature an all-star cast; actress Ryan van den Akker voices the starring role while creator Herman van Veen is Paljas/Buffon (Paljas is an alternative Dutch phrase for clown, and refers to one aspect of Van Veen's career that spans four decades); the flying windmill originally appeared in his 1978 television series "Herman and the Six". Van den Akker and Van Veen also feature in the German version. The newsreader is courtesy of Harmen Siezen, a real-life anchorman who quit in 2002 after 33 years of faithful service.
* In the 1976 theatre-show Herman van Veen tells the story of Alfred borrowing the King money and not seeing it back. In the cartoon series this episode preludes the return of Dolf after a one month out of town. He wasn't laughing when he heard what happened to Alfred, taking it as a sign that "this country's going backwards". Dolf already considered to go politics and by inheriting dodgy money her had the tools to fund the National Crow Party. The King responded by saying "It's not fair; Dolf wants to be King, but I can't be Dolf".

The show has had some PAL VHS releases in the United Kingdom and Germany (as spotted on and, but does not appear to have an NTSC release in the United States and Canada.Fact|date=May 2007

A DVD Region 2 box set of the whole series has been produced and is sold in the Netherlands. An English DVD release was made late 2007 and is now available to buy on [ [ Herman van Veen Studios - Characters - Alfred Jodocus Kwak - Nieuws ] ] .


* [ "Alfred J. Kwak" - Big Cartoon DataBase]
* [ Episode Guide]

External links

* [ Ahiru no Quack (TV) - Anime News Network]
* [] - A more complete overview of the story's history (Dutch).
* [ /] - A fansite with English fan-subtitles of the Dutch / Japanese cartoon.


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