Since 2009, Egyptian satellite channels and local television have broadcast cartoon series that feature Egyptian celebrities during Ramadan.
Some of the most successful animated series from recent years include Super Henedy (with Mohamad Henedy), Mr Amin's Family (with Samir Ghanem) and Bassant and Diasty (with Hanan Tork and Salah Abdallah).
The series for children create characters for well-known actors and singers that resemble them or borrow their voices. Although many of the animated stories seem to target children, a number of them also attract a grown-up audience.
This year, new collections of animated series follow the recipe for success set in previous years. Yehia El-Fakharany and Moustafa Kamar are among the many Egyptian celebrities who incorporate or give voice to the main characters in the Ramadan animated series this year.
The viewers still remember El-Fakharany, who narrated last year's Qessas El-Hayawane fil Quran (The Animal Stories in the Quran), an animated series directed by Mustafa El-Faramawi, based on the book Animals in the Glorious Quran written by Ahmed Bahgat in the early 1980s, and broadcast exclusively on satellite channel Al-Hayat TV.
This year, El-Fakharany returns with Qessas Insan fil Quran (The Stories of People in the Quran). El-Fakharany narrates stories from the Quran in the classical Arabic dialect. This time, the stories are told by character Galaleddine, an Arab captain, to a boy named Ziyad on his boat.
Using the technique of embedded stories and a narrative framework, we follow the tales that all lead to one moral conclusion. The messages transferred are well researched, and address adults as well as children. El-Fakharany ensures that the sequel will continue next year with Qessas El-Gamad fil Quran (The Stories of Objects in the Quran).
Last year Egyptian musician and actor Mustafa Kamar attracted young viewers through the song used in the animated series Essam Wal Mesbah (Essam and the Magic Lantern).
The series depicts the history of the child named Essam, and also stars Ahmad El-Fishawi and Donia Samir. The year Kamar becomes Essam, the brother of the famous Alaa El-Din, seeking at all costs the magic lamp to realise his dreams. Kamar not only sings the songs composed by him but gives voice to the character, using the Egyptian dialect and childlike vocabulary.
However, this second part of Essam's series does not offer anything new. The sense of magic potential is summed up in the presence of the character Shafiq, the one who realises children's dreams, often accompanied by Essam. Once the dream is achieved, the episode examines the positive and negative aspects of the whole story, making it strictly educational and unsurprising. Despite the simple language, Essam often uses a neutral voice. His emotion surfaces only in the songs he sings and composes, especially the title song.
The popular Egyptian singer Hamada Hilal and actress Menna Shalabi, who do not make part in this year’s Ramadan dramas serials, make an appearance in an animated cartoon series Shoghl Afarit (Devils’ Work). The series tells the history of Hamada and his family who move to a haunted house.
The series is produced for both, radio and television; it airs at the radio station Nogoom FM before iftar (the early evening meal in Ramadan), and on the Nile Comedy channel. The protagonists carry the names of the celebrities and have their facial features.
After six successful seasons of sitcom Ragel wa Set Settat (A Man and Six Women) broadcast during the Ramadan, this time actor Ashraf Abdel-Baqi gives voice to Khashamolla in Bani Adam fil Asr El-Tenin (loosly translated as: Human Beings in the Time of Dragons).
Khashamolla lives in a small town set in primitive era but incorporating many elements of modern society: government, media, the business world, etc. The themes in this series relate to a variety of subjects, including the old regime and revolution, topping it with many comic situations. The voice and intonation of Ashraf Abdel-Baqi stresses the comedy and sarcasm. The combination of thematic content and celebrities participating in Human Beings in the Time of Dragons attracts a large audience.