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Hijitus, the Argentine Superhero

Las aventuras de Hijitus (The Adventures of Hijitus) was an animated series created by the great Spanish cartoonist Manuel García Ferré, first broadcasted in 1967. Ever since, it has formed part of the cultural heritage of Argentina, not only for its tender and humorous cartoon episodes, but also because it perfectly reflects Argentine idiosyncrasies, primarily linguistic ones.

Among its most famous characters, in addition to Hijitus, are Professor Neurus, an evil and ambitious scientist to whom others always appear retontos (very stupid); Lanky, a cute and clumsy character who usually sings folk songs and rhymes “¡Qué llueva, qué llueva, la vieja está en la cueva!”); the Commissioner from Corrientes, who always says chamigo (my friend) and believes in luz mala (bad light); Corporal Lopecito, a police officer with an accent from the province of Córdoba; Gold Silver, a wealthy man; and even Kechum, the “cousin from Rosario” whose mother, an Italian immigrant, cooks polenta con pajarito (polenta with chicken) whenever she can. The interesting thing about all these characters is that the voice actor who gave them life was one in the same: the great Pelusa Suero.

The themes that appear in the series are also related to Argentina: soccer, such as in the episode Los botines goleadores (the goal scoring shoes) or the tango, represented by the character Pucho (whose name, in turn, means “cigarette” in Argentine slang, known as Lunfardo), a typical malevo whose voice and speech resembles the icon Carlos Gardel. This character sings a tango whenever he can and refers to others as hermano (brother).

The Argentines’ own way of talking is further evidenced by the use of numerous nicknames “piernitas,” “partidito,” “platita,” or “comer pollito” (little legs, little game, little plate, or eat a little chicken) to name a few. Articles before proper nouns are also employed, a common phenomenon in some provinces in Argentina. Contractions such as “vení pa’ ca” (an incorrect spelling/pronunciation of “come over here”), the indirect object appearing when it normally should not (as in the case of “entonate un chamamé”) and the use of the vocative che, don, and ña (dude, mister, and misses, respectively) also are present.

One must not forget that, in several episodes of the series, people from pop culture of the time also appear, such as the television host Pipo Mancera or the singer Donald.

Such is Hijitus, as the series is popularly known: a simple and funny story of a normal boy, in which good always conquers evil and the culture and way of speaking in Argentina, in all of its varied forms, is captured. It is a cartoon that, in addition to being entertaining, has a local flavor worth noting.