Animation for adults?

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Films can be seen as a form of education. Particularly, animations for children as they act as an introduction into the medium. Disney is a large production company which comes out of America, whilst Studio Ghibli is based in Japan. Both companies make animations but they differ when it comes to their female characters. I want to compare the two, and their choice of characterisation.

Denshire (2013) understands autoethnography as a “reflexive examination of conceptions of both self and culture” whilst undergoing research. This research will highlight the similarities and differences of culture as I watch with my own conceptions. My cultural exposure is different from when I was a child. As a child, you’re less likely to be conscious of culture as an element of one’s self.

Growing up my favourite animation was Spirit (2002), who doesn’t love a coming-of-age horse story? Although, Disney princesses were and still remain most popular amongst young girls. From Snow White to Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty, these female characters centre their lives around heterosexual love.

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On the other hand, Studio Ghibli films focus on developing their female characters further than romance. Hayao Miyazaki, a founder of Studio Ghibli wanted his characters to be three-dimensional and reflect society. Unlike Disney and their often shallow perceptions of the human state. Even the idea of dreaming differs between these animation companies. You don’t always need a prince to kiss you awake.

The Plan:

  • Watch The Little Mermaid (1989) and Spirited Away (2001)
  • Compare American / Japanese Animation
  • Live Tweet as I watch movies back-to-back, gathering autoethnographic data
  • Compare storylines based on the differing cultures
  • Main focus: the characterisation of the female protagonists

Ariel versus Chihiro?

Animations are judged based on how simple they appear, typically why they are directed towards children.  However, as my research shows, animations have a large audience of adults, particularly in Japan with Studio Ghibli productions.

Is Chihiro is the real ‘princess’ every young girl needs?



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