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“Ultimately, although San and Moro do not exactly triumph, they are also not entirely defeated. The supernatural forces with which they are connected are strong enough to threaten an apocalyptic end to the environment, which temporarily defeats the monks and samurai, and forces the material civilization of Tatara to rethink its position vis-a-vis the forest. San’s refusal to live with Ashitaka and her decision to stay in the forest ensure that a sense of loss or absence inevitably permeates the film’s conclusion. As a result, the ending of Princess Mononoke is a kind of draw, with neither side triumphant and the abject still not entirely repudiated.”

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“However, looking at the ending with the long gaze of twentieth-century hindsight, it is clear that the forest of the shishigami no longer exists except, perhaps, as an archetypal shadow on the contemporary unconscious. In this regard, the complex, intriguing, and enigmatic character of Eboshi and her association with the proto-industrial Tatara take on pivotal importance. In the film’s refusal to destroy Eboshi or Tatara we see an implicit acknowledgement of the inevitability of “progress”. Princess Mononoke’s abjected Others function as an all-out confrontation with the notion of modernity as progress, but the film is too sophisticated to offer only a simple antiprogress/antimodernity message. By acknowledging Eboshi’s humanity, the film forces the viewer out of any complacent cultural position where technology and industry can be dismissed as simply wrong. It is worth reemphasizing that Eboshi’s femininity, especially her nurturing capacity, ensures that the viewer cannot slip so easily into a simplistic moral equation of industrial equals evil.”

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“Miyazaki problematizes the issue even further by making Tatara not just a site of industrial production but a site of weapons manufacturing. In addition, one of the weapons it produces, the iron ball that lodged in the boar, has engendered a lasting curse on humanity.”

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“However, it is these weapons that give employement to Tatara’s outcast citizenry, who surely have as much right to survival as the denizens of the forest.”

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“In contrast to a vision of a fundamentally approachable world in which conventions may be destabilized but never totally undermined, Princess Mononoke subverts the traditional history, aesthetics, and gender relationships of Japanese society. In opposition to elitist and masculinist versions of Japanese history, the emperor and the court are seen as struggling with powers potentially beyond their control, while the only authoritative guidance comes from a female wolf and the female leader of a weapons manufacturing community. Most shockingly […] Princess Mononoke uses female characters who exist in their own right, independent of any male interlocutor. Furthermore, these independent females are not domesticiated by marriage or a happy ending but are instead interested in living separate but presumably fulfilling lives. San with her companions in the natural world. Eboshi with her industrializing community.” 

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“In contrast to the traditional tropes of homogeneity and harmony, the film offers a vision of what might be called a Japanese form of multiculturalism. This observation is supported by a striking essay by critic Saeki Junko in which she compares Princess Mononoke to director Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner. Although acknowledging the obvious difference between an American science fiction film set in the twenty-first century and a Japanese historical fantasy set in the fourteenth century, Saeki points out that the films possess a significant commonality in their mutual fascination with the problem of Otherness […] Blade Runner and Princess Mononoke answer this question by promoting a willingness to accept difference as an essential part of life […]”

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“Saeki’s vision of what I have called Princess Mononoke “multiculturalism” is intriguing not only in relation to Blade Runner but also in regards to a more recent work, the 1999 animated Disney film version of Tarzan, released two years after Princess Mononoke.  Both films feature primordial natural settings and human protagonists raised by animals, and both privilege to an extent a fantasy of revenge by the natural world upon human technology. However, the narrative strategies and imagery they employ are significantly different, as are their ultimate ideological messages. While Princess Mononoke insists on difference, the Disney film attempts to erase it.”

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“Thus, despite its jungle setting and an ending that seems to suggest the autonomous power and appeal of the natural world, Tarzan’s underlying message privileges an anthropocentric view of the world, emphasized by the film’s final scene, in which Tarzan, Jane, and her father are seen frolicking with the anthropomorphically rendered apes in a paradisial jungle. In a sense this is a vision of a Garden of Eden, in which all species live together in contentment. It is also a vision that ignores the steady march of history, technology, and progress that ultimately destroy any hope of such an Eden in the contemporary world.”

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“In contrast, Princess Mononoke’s world is one in which nature, emblematized by the inhuman shishigami, remains beautiful but threateningly and insistently Other. This is also a world in which technology cannot be erased or ignored but rather must be dealth with as an unpleasant but permanent fact of life. While Tarzan uses fantasy to gloss over the inconvenient facts of historical change and cultural complexity, Princess Mononoke employs the fantastic to reveal how pluraity and otherness are a basic feature of human life […] In Ashitaka’s and San’s agreement to live apart but still visit each other (the opposite of the inclusionary ending of the Disney work), the film suggests the pain involved in choosing identities in a world in which such choices are increasingly offered. Although set in a historical past, Princess Mononoke reflects the extraordinary array of pluralities that suggest the ever more complex world of the twenty-first century.”

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ANIME: from Akira to Princess Mononoke, Susan J. Napier, 2001.
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Honourable Mentions

So before revealing my #1 choice tomorrow, I am going to share the four movies that just missed out on making my Top 10 list and a brief overview as to why there are where they are.

Tarzan

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I cannot tell you how close Tarzan came to my Top 10 and it did almost topple The Little Mermaid, but for me Ursula, the songs and music and the underwater setting just beat the jungle-based coming of age story.

However, while the villain and the music were the best parts of The Little Mermaid, Tarzan does everything else better aside from the aforementioned.

Not only is Tarzan a very likeable individual, but Jane is by far one of my favourite and funniest Disney characters going…It’s Minnie Driver, I love her in everything.

Also, while this isn’t the typical Disney formula of the characters singing the songs, having Phil Collins as the soundtrack is still an interesting way to go. I don’t quite know how it works with the jungle theme but just like Minnie Driver I enjoy hearing Phil Collins in anything.

The movie is slow and takes its time with the romance element of the story. But I feel the reason it isn’t quite in the Top 10, aside from the fact The Little Mermaid does have the underwater world element, is that Ursula beats out Clayton…despite Clayton being voiced by Brian Blessed.

Also there are a few unanswered questions or even plot holes that don’t make sense in the movie. Terk is identified as female but is never treated as such, but because she is female and falls out with Tarzan when he spends all of his time with Jane does that mean she likes him in a romantic sense?

Also Clayton is quite clearly a poacher but was hired by Jane and her father to help them study gorillas? So how is it a shock when it is revealed he’s a villain who wants to hunt and kill them?

I’m guessing it is some sort of Disney logic, but the gorillas, elephants and Tarzan communicate in English to each other, yet Tarzan has to learn English from Jane to communicate with humans…but unlike Doctor Who where it’s explained that the TARDIS translates every language there is nothing to explain how the gorillas and elephants know English!

Peter Pan

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In all honesty it’s a constant toss-up between the three choices I am picking here and The Little Mermaid for my #10 choice. With Peter Pan I think it is a case of being a classic childhood story but never really elevating above that for me.

When it comes to the story, it’s always that theory that Neverland manifests from Wendy’s imagination as Captain Hook is always portrayed by the same actor as her father and so the simultaneous character traits of the father’s anger at the start of the story being similar to Hook’s relentless villainy is quite interesting.

However, as I got older it became more apparent that Peter Pan being the boy who never grew up has a similar mindset to that of Mowgli who was raised by wolves because they haven’t really learned the difference between right and wrong and therefore believe they can do whatever they want.

For that reason, Pan isn’t exactly a likeable character and because Hook for a large part of the movie comes across as comedic due to his fear of the Crocodile, there’s no one really to root for in this movie.

Hercules

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I love me some Greek Mythology and Hercules is definitely an underrated movie if nothing else but for how it brings Greek Mythology into Disney, but as much as I do love that element, I do understand why the movie isn’t overly appreciated in the mainstream.

I do think that mixing the gospel with both Disney and Greek Mythology, particularly at the time when you had a more classic feel to Disney music, was a choice and in my opinion it was a choice that worked by clearly wasn’t everyone’s liking.

It’s also interesting that the movie very much promotes an exaggurated form of a person’s physical appearance in it’s main characters. You either have Herc who is built and bulky, Meg who’s waistline is practically nothing, Phil who is obese and then Hades who has no defined shape but who obviously looks gaunt.

Danny DeVito and James Woods are both the stand outs of the movie for me, Outside of that the cast do a great job but there has to be a reason as to why the movie has not made the impact other Disney movies have.

Alice in Wonderland

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As a purveyor of nonsense myself there is something so charming and almost addictive about this story, and for some reason the Disney original is the one that holds up the best.

I am not a fan of the choir-toned music Disney had going on in this period but everything else about this movie really works because it isn’t supposed to. I do love this story so as long as they tell it right I am good and this movie definitely tells it right because it’s all over the place.

The most recent references to this story are in DC’s Batwoman with the villain Alice and it’s easy to see why she was driven mad both with her upbringing and also being fixated on this story.

The quotability for the movie is second to none, I do find myself often saying a lot of the sayings that come from this movie and while I’m not entirely happy with the animation on some of the scenes I find the overall movie to be something to behold.

So what do you guys think? Post your comments and check out more Disney+ What to Watch Top 10s as well as more Top 10 Lists and other posts.

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I get so bored when attempting to do school work (don’t worry it’s getting done) but my goodness, I’ve been rewatching some Disney movies from my early childhood and came across Tarzan 😂 thought I’d doodle them a lil’. Here’s Tarzan and Jane!

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“She’s perfect.”

Theodosia and Connor married at 20-21, and had Sophie about a year later. I had a lot of fun drawing these two. This was actually my first time actually drawing Connor! Feel free to send some asks into my inbox if you have any questions about them.

Special Taglist: @thenewnio @wallymcflubberfins @from-shattered-stars @catrillion @carlottastudios @friendofcybermen @snowflake-dreamer @thatonerockerfreak

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Guess who made line art of Sophie’s mom and dad!!

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I was watching Tarzan and saw the perfect opportunity to show y’all what Connor looked like, so I used a screenshot as a reference.

Just wait till I color it in, you’ll see the resemblance between Sophie and her dad. Also, her dad’s full name is Connor Joxaren Iris. I’m gonna try and make Connor look kinda like Richard Armitage.

Special Taglist: @thenewnio @wallymcflubberfins @from-shattered-stars @catrillion @carlottastudios @friendofcybermen @snowflake-dreamer @thatonerockerfreak

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