In an early scene, Hedgehog is stalked by an owl, which is soon distracted by its reflection in a puddle. Shortly afterwords it sees Hedgehog listening to his own echo in a small hole and gets caught up an imitating him. This neatly sums up the tone of Hedgehog in the Fog: while fear and danger are major themes in the short, just under the surface they give way to another theme - the inherent facination of the world that the characters exist in.
Throughout the short - right up to the closing credits, in fact - Hedgehog worries for his own safety, and the saftey of the horse, and the saftey of the strawberry jam, while the bear cub worries for the saftey of Hedgehog. But the owl turns out to be more interested in his echo; a large shadowy object turns out to be the trunk of a tree; a set of pointy teeth turn out to belong to a helpful dog. In the end the focus is on the confusing but wonderous world that Hedgehog is travelling through; it's a cozy world of wicker chairs, strawberry jam and juniper twigs on the fire. Hedgehog is set in a beautifully-rendered world where the dangers and the wonders mesh perfectly.
The short uses Norstein's characteristic visual style: cutout animation pushed pretty much to its limits, all coated in deliciously painted artwork suggested by Slavic folk art; the film does its darndest to ensure that its viewers find its world as fascinating as the characters do. Hedgehog is a very likable character, and despite having a significantly smaller amount of screen time, the bear cub is just as memorable.
All in all, it's a small wonder that Hedgehog in the Fog is one of the most-loved animated films ever to not come out of Hollywood.