Like most little girls, my early childhood was dominated by Disney fairy tales, but they weren't the only ones.
A few non-mainstream movies sidled in there beside the squatting Disney giant, and the ones that gave me the most lasting impressions were the Japanese animations.
It's undoubtedly a matter of taste, but I find the Japanese's graceful animation style much more suitable to fairy tales than Disney's more exaggeratedly cartoonish rendering (not so bad at first with Snow White and Pinocchio but growing more over-the-top in the 80's, so that after The Little Mermaid, we now have highly stylized pinched waists and hulking shoulders in Hercules and Tangled).
I also find (correct me if I'm wrong) that the Japanese are less loath to present troublesome subjects to children, so that their fairy tales remain closer to the originals.
Like Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid:
In the conceptual drawings for this movie, they show the mermaids bare-breasted and went forward to animate them accordingly. In the English dub, however, all the "revealing" scenes are deleted.
|images courtesy of The redanimation blog|
In contrast to this version, The Swan Princess is not Disney-made, but it follows the well-forged path by grafting on musical numbers, humorous animal helpers, and an uncompromising, happy ending.
The Japanese animated Swan Lake differs drastically in plot and mood. Though squirrels narrate and follow the tale, this is not entirely outside of fairy tale fashion, as in Anderson's The Swamp King's Daughter.
And who could forget the enchanting animation for Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, an example of the rare (though growing more common) American anime?
This foaming, rolling wave, curling into a host of galloping unicorns emerging from their black sea-prison is one of the most memorable scenes. Talk about moments of perilous beauty encountered in Faerie!
I like the inversion of the characters' elemental colors.
I'll deal with Disney and why I'm not overly fond of their re-tellings in the next couple of posts.
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