Vasils are cartoon characters from Razaria created and debuted in the 1990s children's television series The Felons, primarily designed by the show's director Dleto Vukov. They subsequently appeared in numerous other Razarian media as stock, recurring characters. Unsophisticated but often enthusiastic creatures, the Vasils provided general comical relief in media where they appeared. In the 2010s attained notable transnational cultural status with the broadcast of the cartoon series Enthusiasm worldwide. They have since became an informal icon of Razarian animation globally.
Vasils are in public domain and have been released into it since 2003 by wish of Vukov.
The name 'Vasil' was based on bacilli, which the characters were modelled upon in appearance, as well as the common Vitric name Vasili, suggesting their character as ordinary people which they served the roles of in the early animations and other works featuring them.
The Vasils were described by creator Dleto Vukov as 'hyper-evolved bacteria' who developed human-like features. They are yellow capsule-shaped organisms with numerous hairs, clearly reminiscent of bacilli, and possess a variable number of eyes, a mouth, two arms and hands, and two feet. Vasils can have anywhere between 1 and 6 eyes, whose colors are typically red or yellow. They are also capable of hearing and smell despite apparent lack of noses or ears. Vasils have a human-like digestive system which includes a teeth array consisting solely of incisors, tongues (some Vasils have been depicted with multiple), and a number of organs that appear to produce bile or gastric acid. Vasils produce feces and also flatulence. Hairs are sparse and equally distributed. Generally, Vasil biology closely resembles humans.
Vasils wear blue overalls, black gloves, boots, and goggles with a thick steel rim. They often vary in height and width. Most Vasils are one-third the height of adult humans. No information has been given on their reproduction although in some series they have been implied to be manufactured from food waste and gutter oil. Vasils appear to lack sex.
The Vasils speak a language that in early appearances was simply (often broken) Aucurian sped up and raised in pitch, but later Vukov created a constructed language for the Vasils based on Monic languages (mainly Namorese and Literary Tuthinan) and Eteolahudic languages. The majority of the vocabulary are derived from Eteolahudic terms, however depending on language of the programme Vasils appear in parts are re-dubbed to make motif and thematic sections recognizable to the audience. The Vasil language is analytic. Some words derived from Aucurian are still spoken by Vasils in modern appearances.
Vasils form large and organized societies which often exercise democracy. They have advanced knowledge of numerous technologies. However, their actual position has varied depending on the show they appear in, ranging from simple-minded henchmen to innocent background city-dwellers. Few distinguishable Vasils have appeared, although some recurring designs have been given nicknames by fans.
In 1992, in the stage of early production of The Felons, Vukov, co-director and animator, believed that the main characters of the series, who were a group of conspiring villains that were hampered by inadequate technology, incompetence, and unremarkable backgrounds, needed adequately fitting assistants and henchmen to pair up with them. Vukov believed that while comically inept, the villains themselves still exerted a generally imposing character, which needed to be effectively presented and accentuated through the use of henchmen characters. The Vasils, comical, small characters appearing in large numbers and doing most of background work for the main characters, were thus designed. In original plans the Vasils would be manufactured from food waste to present further the improvisations the villains have to make, but deciding that it was 'gross' for a children's show Vukov decided to subtly imply it instead.
In The Felons, the Vasils work in slavery-like conditions in the villains' improvised factory located in a gigantic landfill, searching for materials and then processing them, and assembling them into weapons or gadgets for use by the villains. They are coordinated by individual enthusiastic Vasils using loudspeakers similarly to work processes in Razaria before the 1980s, and incentivized by rewards such as fruit, drinks, and watching television. The main characters compensate for their lack of access to advanced machinery through large amounts of labor invested via the Vasils, who often themselves form machinery-like formations to facilitate production of certain items. They also assist the main characters in their missions, piloting vehicles, infiltrating locations, setting up distractions, or used as foot-soldiers.
Message and influence
As The Felons developed and grew in popularity, Vukov decided to define more clearly the character and message the Vasils represented. They, like several other popular cultural phenomena in 1990s Razaria, began to become meaningfully satirical in a way similar to the works of Nebojša Mirković. The Vasil evolved into a caricature and criticism of not only the average citizen of a liberal democracy but member of any materialistic civilization.
Vukov had in several interviews and memoirs discussed messages presented with the role of the Vasils. In one interview in 1997 he commented, "They are easily, I would say, baited...into dangers that far outweigh their rewards, ultimately for little gain while pressuring themselves intensely, much like Luziycans." Another remark was made in an animators' conference in 1998, "the Vasil differs little from the voter, trapped in both a flawed system which they rely upon sadly and tragically, and in a mistaken hubris and pride." Co-producer Bojan Mstisiljubić once said that "the absurdity of their life matches adequately the experiences of an Aininian, of a Luziycan, of an Aucurian." The show never intensely or directly satirized liberal democracies however.
Early 2000s Razarian animation saw even more Mirkovian elements introduced to the Vasils. Verislav Borisov, director of Pretty City, said that "the mind of the Vasil is empty and beastly", and also discussed that "in the rare occasions where they do go beyond sating their desires, they follow a harmonistic, fatalistic philosophy of the chthonic civilizations Nenad Vestiborev described".