Article 4 - Lost episode #1: Winter Strawberries

April 9, 2009

This here article is the first of a four-part miniseries on the "lost" English episodes. They are considered lost in that English copies are painstakingly hard to find. They've never been officially released on VHS or DVD, and while it MIGHT be possible that somebody has recorded these episodes when they aired on TV, they've not made any effort to contact others about them, much less distribute them to others via the internet.

The first lost episode is the most lost, if that makes any sense. While the other three have known English titles and summaries or other information to be found in certain places online, there is not so much as a published record of this episode's title. I'll be reviewing the Spanish version of the episode (meaning that if the English version is finally found, there may be slight dialogue differences), and the Spanish title is "Fresas de Invierno" which translates to Winter Strawberries (or more literally "strawberries of winter." People just don't use nouns as adjectives in Spanish). Another suggested title has been Strawberries in the Snow, but that's as yet unconfirmed. At any rate, this is my favorite of the lost episodes... Possibly even my favorite episode of the whole show.

Note: I'm going to use mostly Spanish names in this article, so know that Lillibit becomes Belfy, and Willibit becomes Lillibit, etc. This just excludes Browniebit and Chip for the sole reason that... I... Don't want to risk misspelling their Spanish names.

The Introduction

The opening of this episode, in comparison to the rest of the show (especially the English version) is really somber, and has a surreal quality to it. There are several shots of the village covered in snow, with some really tranquil wintry music playing. This is probably where, in the English version, the narrator is telling everybody that the village is covered in snow and things look somber with a surreal quality to them. ;) The English narrator has a tendency to speak where, in the Spanish version, there's normally silence. However, ten seconds or so into this, the much-less-often-heard Spanish narrator does have a short speech about how winter has come to the forest and everyone's so busy cutting firewood and all. That weird mole thing that pops up from time to time is in the background at one point, after some snow falls from a tree onto its head... Some of the more observant readers might notice a few scenes from the English theme song in the coming minutes.

We then come to Lillibit pushing a cart of firewood as his dad pulls it from the front. That is... Lillibit's trying to push it, but he just can't stop slipping in the snow. Before long, they come to an icy area where all the other kids are skating. Lillibit spots Belfy there, so he gets all excited and calls her over to say good morning. (The picture isn't great here, but that is Lillibit's dad in the background)

Right here's a bunch of sweet small talk (no pun intended, don't you dare suggest there was a pun intended!). Lillibit compliments Belfy's skating... She says "If I'm a good skater, it's thanks to you, Lillibit." I guess there must be some unseen past experience where he taught her how to ice skate, eh? And y'know, he looks at his feet all embarrassed and his voice gets a little shaky when speaking after that... So because of this, he doesn't notice when his dad starts pulling the cart he'd been leaning on, and Lillibit falls down once again. It's time to get back to work.

Boy oh boy, he's just a clumsy mess now. Soon as he gets on his feet again, he slips right back down onto the ground. Belfy gets all giggly as this is happening, and telling Lillibit how funny he is, but...

Something weird is happening... Some kind of weird darkness is entering the water underneath all the skaters...

Anyway, we're now at the the mayor's house, where Lillibit and his dad are delivering a load of firewood. What follows here is a pretty funny little scene where Lillibit's begging his dad to let him go ice skating, but his dad reminds him that Lillibit promised he'd help with the work every day. Meanwhile, now that his mind is far from work, he's continuously dropping the wood he's carrying as he walks in front of his dad (it's really difficult to see due to the low quality of this video, but it's going).

And who should show up as Lillibit's going back for all that wood he dropped? Why it's Napo! (Recall: (or be informed for the first time) Snagglebit's Spanish name is Napoleon, and everyone calls hin Napo for short) He's just tauntingly dangling his ice skates in front of Lillibit as he works, and tells him that he's off to go ice skating... with Belfy! Yup, he specifically mentions her, just to make it all the more harsh. Doesn't he just creep under your skin sometimes?

Oh, you bet he does!

So now Lillibit's pleading and begging twice as hard to be allowed to quit working for the day and go ice skating. Finally his dad agrees, saying "All right, you can go if it means you'll stop bothering me." I find it quite hilarious the way Lillibit then looks straight at the camera gasping with joy. After that, he's off like a dart.

Trouble Looming

Back at the pond, there's some real trouble afoot. Belfy is unconscious on the ice! In fact, so are Browniebit and Chip! Lillibit arrives totally shocked, and starts asking around about what happened. Napo has no idea, but one of the girls suggests it might have to do with the water they drank.

Lillibit scoops some of the water up in his hands, looks at it, and realizes that it's changed color.

Next we're at Dr. Doclin's house, and we find out that unfortunately, the doctor had to visit a patient on the other side of the mountain! Things look really worrisome indeed. Lillibit mentioned earlier how Belfy seemed to be sleeping, but her body was so cold... Now it seems all three kids are just getting colder by the minute.

Sr. Rongi and the mayor soon arrive, hopefully to shed some light on this mystery. What I believe goes down at this point is that Rongi says that this ordeal with the pond water is an act of the gods known to occur every hundred years or so. The mayor thinks it's a ridiculous idea that there might be gods governing the ponds. Rongi brings up "the old legend" and the mayor replies that he's certainly heard about it, but thinks it's no more than a legend that there's any such thing as strawberries that'll cure a problem like this. Nobody else knows much of anything about this legend, so Lillibit asks to hear all about it.

The Legend

Some hundreds of years ago in the Fanits' Woods, there was a mother whose son had drank the mysteriously-colored pond water, and he too had come down with the same affliction as the three in Dr. Doclin's home. She had no firewood left to burn, so in order to keep her son warm, she had to venture out into the blizzard to find more.

But just as she thinks she's gathered enough...

An avalanche strikes. She's buried in the snow, and she can do nothing but cry out into the night "My son! My son!"

That night, as the villagers searched for the lost mother, something very strange happened... A bright light came down from the heavens, and in the place it touched the earth, the search party discovered three strawberries beautifully adorned in the snow. As the light faded, the villagers heard the voice of the mother. She told them to feed the strawberries to her son, that he might finally be cured. And to the surprise of the whole village, he soon made a full recovery.

Back to the doctor's home... Rongi says that he is certain these strawberries were a reincarnation of the mother. The mayor then also adds that nobody has been able to find the strawberries since then, even though many have searched. Browniebit's mother realizes that this must be why they call it the valley of no return (valle sin retorno in Spanish, or "valley without return"). Before long, everyone comes to realize that this is probably the only hope that the children have, and the men start organizing a search party to find the strawberries. Meanwhile, Lillibit and Napo decide it's time to start a search of their own, ahead of everyone else... For Belfy's sake.

The Journey

Lillibit and Napo are off on the hunt, far ahead of everyone else into the snowstorm, doing some of that really cool leaf-sledding they're known to do.

Napo realizes he's headed straight for a big tree root, and collides with it after a most cacophonous scream. When Lillibit stops to check on him, Napo says he just did it for fun, and he's perfectly fine.

Back at the doctor's house, all the men are just setting out on their search when the mayor notices Lillibit and Napo are missing.

Trudging on through the snow, Lillibit and Napo find themselves at the bottom of a sheer cliff. It's here that they decide to split up, that they might increase their chances of finding the strawberries.

Lillibit's path has him climbing right up the cliff... It's a very difficult path, and has him slipping on the icy rocks and being buffeted by the wind, being significantly set back once or twice. He finally reaches the top by clinging to a tree root.

Elsewhere, Napo crosses a trench via a fallen tree. He must keep as close as possible to it to keep the wind from blowing him away, but despite this, he's still wisked away by a wild gust, sent on to the opposite side of the trench and right into a tree. Shortly thereafter though, he finds himself at the crest of the valley... Which we see is much more like a canyon of no return than a valley. Disaster rears its head almost immediately though, as he slips over the edge of the canyon and barely manages to grab a rock jutting from the cliff face.

Lillibit is just now reaching the top of the canyon himself when he hears Napo's cries for help. He rushes to the scene and lowers a vine for him to grab onto. Napo tries to grab it, but he's too scared that he'll fall when he does, so Lillibit must climb down to help him.

Napo then grabs onto the vine, and the two begin their climb back to the top. It's at this moment that we see a foreboding image of the vine wearing thin. Napo makes it to the top, but just then...

The vine snaps, and Lillibit plummets into the river at the canyon's bottom.

He fights the current for some time, but suddenly realizes he's coming up on a waterfall. He holds on for life to a rock at the top of the waterfall, but this ends up being in vain, and he tumbles the full distance to the bottom of the falls.

Lillibit now struggles in the river's depths, just trying to get oriented... Until the plight of his journey has finally taken its toll in full, and he fades into unconsciousness... Deeper and deeper into the water.

He drifts along in silence and darkness now... Until he hears a voice calling his name. His eyes open again and he looks toward the sound... And it's there that he sees...

The legendary winter strawberries! They've manifested themselves here for him, just as they'd done in the legend! I want to note here that as Lillibit drifted unconscious through the current, the same music played in the background as was heard when the strawberries first appeared in the legend.

The Return

Outside, at the bottom of the waterfall, the search party has arrived, now searching for Lillibit rather than the strawberries. The snowstorm has stopped, and everyone is out by the banks calling his name. Shortly, some bubbles start rising from the water, and everybody is thrilled to see that the strawberries rise from the depths, Lillibit lying on top of them completely exhausted. He at last whispers to himself, "I found them. I found the winter strawberries."

Back to the doctor's office: All three children are being fed bits of the strawberries as everybody gathers round in anticipation to see if the last part of the legend holds true.

Sure enough, all three children awake, much to the thrill of everyone in the room, particularly Lillibit and Napo (Notice another clip from the theme song?)

Once Belfy's fully awake again, she asks the two boys what's happened this whole time, and they just tell her "It's not important!" and soon enough they're both back to their old ways, arguing about which one of them she should go skating with first. It's at this point... That my video goes all weird and exhibits some extreme brightness problems. Thankfully, we're seconds from the end.

Belfy remarks that the boys practically act like they're not friends anymore with all that arguing, and so they have to catch themselves and assure her that they still are... Anyway, everyone has a grand ol' laugh about it, and the narrator closes the episode praising the legendary endeavor of Lillibit and Napoleon.

Well! There you have it. Episode 7. The first of the lost episodes. The Winter Strawberries. It's a pretty wild episode, isn't it? I really love the grand scale of this episode, and especially how mystical and adventurous it is. A lot of the episodes make you really think "Are Belfy and Lillibit really an item, or are they just, like..... Really really good friends?" But take this into consideration: Do you suppose Lillibit would really risk his life for her if they're just friends? I dunno, I guess one could point out that he may have had nothing life-threatening planned, and all that was just accidental... But additionally, what if he expected to be heading to a life-threatening situation based on the legend, since the mother long ago had to give up her life to save her son?

Maybe the strawberries only appear for somebody who is willing to give their life to save somebody else's... Or maybe... They only appear to somebody who actually does so! After all, Sr. Rongi did state that his belief was that the strawberries were the reincarnation of the mother... What if Lillibit died that day in the river? I'm not sure how somebody could fall unconscious underwater and not drown, and he definitely gasps at the sight of the strawberries... It could have been the mother's spirit helping him, I suppose, but if we take a more adventurous look at the situation... Maybe he did die, and what we see from then on is just his vision of the afterlife.

This is the point where I say I've probably been reading too far into it, so I'll bid you goodbye for now, and have you keep watch for further articles in the future, particularly those of the other three lost episodes. Perhaps they'll be less enthusiastic though, since this one was my favorite. =P