This dissertation ‘s main line of research delves into plight of the heroine who is more often sidelined for maleprotagonists in traditional myth and story telling.
It compares her journey within selected narratives, from mythic tales and symbols, inherent in everyone’s unconscious memory to modern representations of those archetypes in recent animation. This research aims to uncover the use of cultural archetypes from the Native American representations in Disney’s Pocahontas to the magical kami spirits and Amazonian archetypes of Hayao Mayazaki’s Japanese films.
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The analysis of chosen case studies from two culturally diverse film studios will appear as archetypal literary criticism, hoping to discover shared archetypal elements of heroines in a frame of reference that compares both eastern and western cultural narratives.
In order to understand what myths have to tell us about our modern world we must look to current narratives in order to uncover timeless ideologies and we must also look to the heroine who is a devoted arbitrator of social commentary and reality.
Introduction to Point of Research:
A coming messiah, a bringer of knowledge, a helper of humanity?
The notion of hero and the myths that surround and support a hero, have had a profound and lasting influence on cultures and societies all across the world. A hero by definition is “known for courage and nobility of purpose, thereby uplifting our own ambitions out of narrow, self centred concerns” (Singer.M.F, 1991:249).
The way in which myths are constructed and told allows for them to comment and communicate on the human condition in a way which is very adaptable, and ancient themes are still very current and relevant to today’s modern societies. Mythical narratives can also break through intercultural barriers, where audiences from all across the globe can take away from the myths their messages, no matter their cultural upbringing or geographical location. Fiske and Hartley (1978) comment “Myths are always in a constant state of evolution, they flux and update in order to situate their narratives to the environment of the culture in which they originate” (Fiske & Hartley, 1978). Our heroes, both ancient and contemporary both real and fantasy, continue to be a major source of inspiration and guidance to people. All societies need heroes in their lives and we can all benefit enormously from the sole purpose of myth as “The lenses through which people glimpse their social orders and find guidelines on how to exist in daily life” (Broadbear, J.T.2003).
Literary scholars have remarked on the similarities and comparative elements of male heroes in myth but the heroine has been examined far less, especially identification of cross cultural archetypes and characterizations that explain heroines universally. Some common examples of archetypes include the sun, moon, colours, circles, the hero, the free spirit and the Wise Old Man. (Siegal,K.2006). Jung describes archetypes as conflicting but repeating patterns of thought and motion that constantly re-appear across societies, cultures and countries. (Jung.C.1972). We are all rooted into the familiarity of Jungian archetypes as a lot of them are based on the psychological symbols present in our dream life. Indwick (2004) builds on this point by writing that “ In Jungian psychology, myths are collective dreams, the communal expression of a cultures goals, wishes, anxieties and fears. Dreams on the other hand are personal myths” (Indwick.W.2004).
In this sense an archetype can be considered the ideal model, the supreme type or the perfect image of something (Brunel,P.1992: 111-112). More specifically In literature, myth, religion and folklore, an archetype is an image, which is descriptive detail, plot pattern, or character type that generates hidden universally collective emotions from the unconscious memory. (Jung,C.1972).
Myth and modern mythic narrative can subtly have the great power to expand and redefine the normal societal expectations of female behaviour, which is of particular interest to me, both in the narrative itself and the heroine’s personal journey within the lives of the audience members watching. ”Modern myths wield immense social influence and are a powerful arbitrator of reality” (Broadbear, J.T.2003). The heroine and her myth can shape and influence the behaviour of the masses via modern media, especially unveiling timeless ideologies in the fantasy and fairytale genre of films. To have an in depth awareness and understanding of where heroines come from and how they are constructed culturally through the documenting and sharing of myth, legend and more recently film, will enable us to greatly enhance our appreciation of our modern cultures and our ancestral cultures and societies which have led us to the world in which we live in today.
Expectations from Research and Methodology:
My research will consist of archetypal literary criticism, which is a type of critical theory that interprets a text or body of work by focusing on recurring myths and archetypes in the narrative, symbols, images, and character types in the feature length animations I have chosen for analysis. Frye (1957) defines the aims of archetypal literary theory as an attempt to describe a few of the basic grammatical elements of literary expression in the classical and Christian heritage of the western literary tradition (Frye. N.1957: 133). My research is trying to achieve a composition of the shared archetypal lineaments that the selected heroines possess universally and which all audiences, no matter what cultural background they come from, or where they are globally situated, can understand on a universal and inherently human level. “It is in comparing the differences between the particularities of this work and those of previous manifestations of an archetypal image that interest and meaning is found for the archetypal critic.” (Dobson.D.2005). I am also very interested in which particular cultural elements and personality characteristics are present in their heroic journey and agency as an influential heroine, and how they are conceptualized as powerful and inspirational protagonists to world audiences.
In this chapter, I shall set out a methodological framework that I will adopt in order to interpret the cultural identities of my chosen animated heroines. Many studies of heroism have primarily focused on the theoretical aspect, but this study also aims to empirically examine heroism, particularly the gendered nature of a culturally constructed heroic status within animated tales.This dissertation aims to examine the heroine concept, reviewing theoretical literature and the myths and modern heroines themselves to discover key universal feminine archetypes that aid the social and cultural construction of heroines across the globe.
So to explicitly define my research questions, they are:
1. What are the universal heroine archetypes?
2. Does the heroine’s cultural context determine what kind of characteristics she Possesses and what kind of mythicjourney she must undertake?
3. Do heroines have a social influence on audiences as an arbitrator of reality?
In order to draw conclusions from these research questions I want to analyse four different mythical narratives of two geographically and culturally separate styles of modern animations, deconstructing the heroine and trying to answer the aforementioned questions. The two film studios or modern day ‘myth makers’ I want to analyse in more depth are the American film studio giant ‘Disney’ and the Japanese film studio, ‘Studio Ghibli’. I have chosen these two particular film studios for research in order to expand and maximise the geographical variability of the example heroines as well as the different elements of cultural contrast and complexities these media production companies bring to the viewer.
Disney’s style of animation has been chosen for comparison not only for its prime American location but also because the film studio has a huge reputation for embedding very Western ideologies in the narratives. Golden (1994) makes a very interesting point when she says “The dualism of Western thought constitutes males not females as active agents.” (Golden,J.1994:44). This point maintains the notion that heroes are typically thought of as male and it is our Western ideologies that have led us to believe that heroes should be male, but I hasten to point out that most of Disney’s protagonists are female, making them a great example for analysis in their heroine structure in a Western environment that seems to favour a male hero
Studio Ghibli provides the world with a very iconic style of animation known as ‘Anime’. I have chosen to contrast this Eastern stylised sub-genre with Disney due to their narrative styles being very different. Anime produces some dark and often quite complicated themes and ideologies within their narratives which means a viewer who is more used to the standard, sugary, child-friendly concepts dealt with by Disney, will indeed be challenged and educated by the contrasts and comparisons I hope to make in terms of their heroine creation. I will focus my analysis of archetypes on the following studio Ghibli films: Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001). The seminal Hayao Miyazaki directs both films. For each film I will discuss how the archetypes manifest themselves in terms of the mythological heroine. I will critically analyse selected scenes and cinematic imagery to illustrate evidence for the archetypal and cultural mythological presence.
My exploration of Disney films will be to examine two of their more modern heroines. In terms of Disney this means that the heroines I will be discussing are not royalty or born with aristocratic roots. The female protagonists that become heroines through the route of a romantic narrative perform a fundamentally different role from those heroines who are born daughters of kings and queens. They work for their title and because of this their journey is more rich and rewarding. The two Disney heroines I want to discuss are firstly ‘Pocahontas’(1995) the Native American princess, and ‘Mulan’(1998),the female warrior legend ofChina. “Combined with Disney’s popular and global profile, this makes the Disney princess in effect the ‘princess of all princesses’, and, although she was born into the paternal world of Walt Disney, she is, especially in the latter decades, putting her own stamp on the kingdom.” (Do Rozario,R.2004)
Since this study is concerned with the cultural and ideological concepts of a heroine, the appropriate methods to go about my research should be techniques which allow me to penetrate the undercurrent of values in a cultural text. The chosen methodological techniques would allow me to collect facts from my film examples and describe visual elements and themes of the heroine through my specific case studies. Taking all this into consideration, qualitative research methods would be the most appropriate techniques in order to distinguish concepts and archetypes within the films. Qualitative information most commonly refers to descriptions of an observation.Flick, Von Kardoff & Steinke(2004) describe qualitative research as techniques that “contribute to a better understanding of social realities and to draw attention to processes, meaning patterns and structural patterns” ( Flick, Von Kardoof & Steinke, 2004:3). From this sociological perspective, qualitative methods explore the deeper and sometimes hidden meaning of a particular example; in this case it is the example of four animated films I have chosen in particular for their use of strong female protagonists. Qualitative observations are strictly subjective, portraying an interpretive approach to describing people and situations and so are ideal for narrative analysis, especially modern mythic type narrative, because these stories are “the products of people who are living in a particular social, historical and cultural context; the stories they tell are a reflection of how they see themselves and others in their worlds” (Lawler.2002).
Qualitative methods focus on factors such as history, comparisons with other texts and also analysis. “Analysis involves interpretation – establishing links to theory, literature and experiences.” (Smith, Todd & Waldman. 2009:127). The expectations of this study, due to the majority of undeveloped and ignored heroine roles in myth and media, are that the universal attributes that create heroines would be stereotypically gendered and feminised or highly sexualised. ”In the case of Disney the representations of women have long been restricted.” (Lacroix, C.2004). However Kraemer suggests, “ In the 1990’s Disney in particular has responded to parental demands for positive female role models with a chain of films featuring increasingly three-dimensional heroines, including environmentalist Indian princess Pocahontas and the cross dressing soldier girl Mulan.” (Kraemer, C. 2000).
Many Scholars examine such as Kraemer (2000), Napier (2000) and Cavallaro (2007) explain Anime by comparing it to Western classics and adhering to a comprehensible frame of reference, much like the comparison I am investigating in this dissertation. Comparing the Japanese genre to Western classics such as the household titles of Disney films creates an easy to comprehend frame of reference for my analysis.
To conclude, I think this qualitative technique is a fair method, of explaining both genres and their individual style of heroines because it is not creating a brand new frame of reference but extending our Western narratives to Japanese culture and Japanese narratives to our Western culture and ideologies. My dissertation, upon completion of my refined research question, will belong to a wider set of general issues concerning the field of modern animation, and how the genre is growing and evolving as a crucial instrument of social commentary, looking to the past and present in an ongoing quest to help us find out about and know ourselves better.
Firstly I need to identify the intellectual origins of current and previous research in this field. In this chapter I aim to flag up and sign post the most important works that I consider most relevant to the development of my research. By doing this, Denscombe (2002) suggests that it will “locate my research amongst the current range of existing theories” and will provide me with the chance to acknowledge the contributions of other scholars and researchers and how current texts in the field have been influence.
The chief, pivotal research in the field of mythology and heroes has to start with Joseph Campbell. His seminal work “A hero with a thousand faces”(1949) draws heavily on Freud and Jung’s in depth research of the unconscious mind and of their theories on symbolism when formulating and delivering his theories on myth within the text.
Campbellsuggests that the most important role of mythology is its capacity to supply the symbols required by societies to carry the human spirit forward. (Campbell, J.1949: 10).
This amplifies the idea that myths are our way of expressing universal truths that are common to all cultures.
“The passage of the mythological hero may be over ground, incidentally; fundamentally it is inward-into depths where obscure resistances are overcome, and long lost, forgotten powers are revived, to be made available for the transfiguration of the world” (Campbell, J.1949: 27). This analytical perspective toward myth is closely linked to the work of Carl Jung and his theories on dreams, he explores the comparison of the symbols and characters we see in our dreams and that we see in myth these recurring characters are what Jung calls “archetypes” which appear in the dreams of all people and the mythic stories from all cultures. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that archetypes are models of people, behaviours or personalities. Jung believed that archetypes exist in the collective unconscious he also goes on to mention that archetypes are innate, universal and passed down through families and their collective ideologies. (Jung,C.1972).
Jung describes archetypes as elemental forces, which play a vital role in the creation of the world and of the development of the human mind. He explains that the symbolic or archetypical language expressed in our dreams are collective racial, unconscious memories and instincts, which are shared by everyone.
“ The expression of archetypes through myth and fairytales are forms that have received a specific stamp and have been handed down through long periods of time”(Jung, C.G. 1972:4). Archetypes and myth are inextricably linked, Jung identifies 4 main Archetypes which are relevant and familiar with all humans and which feature in all fairy tales and mythic legend. The fundamental pre-programmed archetypes shared by us all are: The Hero, The Monster, The Mother, The Father, The Spirit, The Sacrifice and The Mask. Myths are expansive constellations of archetypal images and symbols. Jung suggests some are extremely familiar while others are more deep rooted and sub consciously stirs some feelings within us. (Jung.C.1972)
Going back to Joseph Campbell’s texts, perhaps his most important contribution to the field was his theory that all myths are based on and derived from one model. This model is whatCampbellcalled The “Monomyth” and within this monomyth repeating characters and symbols such as the hero, the evil nemesis and the old woman are comparable to the archetypes of the human mind, which we witness in our dreams. To combine both Jung and Campbell’s theories I came to realise that if Myths are all inherently structured around the monomyth model of repeating archetypes then the myths are always going to be psychologically poignant to us humans as Jung points out we all possess knowledge of the symbols through our dreams and states of unconscious being.
The monomyth is a skeleton model that all myths are based around describing the pattern and stages of heroic journey.
The only weakness I discovered when reading up on Joseph Campbell’s monomyth is that the formula implicitly relies on only male archetypes of heroism. The archetypes of the Monomyth are loosely set out in this order:
1)A male (normally young- so the heroic journey can also be referred to as a coming of age story) proves himself to be unusual from society or from socially expected norms in some way. This normally occurs by passing either consciously or subconsciously some kind of predetermined set test.
2) The male then receives a call to adventure and accepts.
3)He leaves his home and community in a very individualistic act and crosses the personal boundaries of his normal environment in such a way that emphasizes his separation from his community and normal life and the lone journey that is about to follow.
4)He meets a woman along the way. The roles of these women are traditionally either that of a femme fatale sort of character reducing the hero to his death or more of a messiah archetype who observes the adventure and advises the hero.
5) The hero succeeds spectacularly all the way along his quest against all odds
6)The hero returns to his home town/community with his newfound restorative element be it knowledge/power/elixir to a better life.
Otto Rank (1914) also heavily influenced by Freudian theory places significance in his model of the hero on the birth of and story surrounding the hero, the beginning of the hero journey. The main contrast in Rank’s theory compared toCampbelland Jung’s ideas is that he doesn’t mention the concept of a collective unconscious. The myths which he has studied which includes the stories of Greek heroes, classic roman rulers and the birth stories of Buddha and Jesus are defined as simply the expressions the various ancient cultures have given to universal childhood experiences and feelings.(Rank,O.1914) Lord Raglan (1956) devised a model of the hero which places the narrative as a script and he devises most of his theory from the ritualistic act of a hero at the end of his life where the hero becomes immortal through his downfall or triumphant death. (Raglan, L.1956).All three of these models which sequentially work nicely together focusing on the beginning (Rank.1914), middle (Campbell.197) and end (Raglan 1956) of a heroes life are all gendered models which focus not only on just classical mythologies but exclusively assume that the hero is male.
Miller (2002) is not opposed to the monomyth but the concept does not interest him or inform his book “The epic hero”. Miller maintains that the Campbell et al’s hero is to confined by their journey, “their hero is too strictly cast in and limited by the image of the hero myth” (Miller, A.2002:2).
The research of Meredith Powers (1991) is fuelled by a distinct lack of archetypal pattern for female heroes within the literature of Campbell, Lord Raglan and Otto Rank. In Powers’ research “The heroine in Western literature: The archetype and her re emergence in modern prose” (1991) she formulates a female version of the monomyth which comes together as a rather different structure.
Powers’ suggests that:
1) The female monomyth starts out with a deep connection being stressed between a mother and daughter relationship.
2) The female call to adventure is symbolized as either an inflexible law within the community she lives or an oppressive system that threatens her deep connection with her mother or mother like figure.
3) When the female answers her call to adventure she does so in an entirely opposite way to the male. She doesn’t leave her society in an individualistic manner likeCampbell’s hero does but she stays within it and leads/ helps her people and those she feels responsible in a nurturing and care giving fashion. Her whole identity rebels against societal norms of her gender in order to give care to others.
4) Throughout her journey the heroine forms new solid bonds with other women who have been touched by the heroine’s strength or kindness. The new friends may be from another culture or world and bestows upon the heroine and her people a gift of their own. The gift is restorative, similarly to the end stage of the male monomyth and communal in nature, good enough to benefit and improve her place society. Walkerdine (1984) comments that a female’s agency must be primarily concerned with the welfare of other people “Girls can move mountains, metaphorically speaking as long as they do it for others. This means that many acts are possible, but doing anything for ones own benefit is not” (Walkerdine.1984:176).
Myth is represented in modern culture through many different media outlets. In order to understand the visual world of symbols that surrounds us, it is important to examine visual representations of myth and the variants of myth, which are constantly evolving and expanding in popular culture. Roland Barthes (1957) concretes the ideas of Campbell and Jung by maintaining that myth is a mode of signification and a system of communication. He theorises that the “naturalisation of the message contained in myth is the cardinal function of myth” (Barthes 1957:131). It is in Roland Barthes’ seminal text “ Mythologies” where he structures his most insightful theory. Barthes suggests we believe myths and legend because we a familiarised to them and of course the symbols contained within them. The ideologies and concepts of well-known myths have been culturally and collectively agreed upon. What society believes in, is done so, because it is familiarised and practised myth which has been communicated down through history. “ Myth can only achieve great power if it is communicated regularly and widely within society (Reid, J.2007: 83). This structured model for myth can be compared with Campbell’s monomyth because both are based on the theoretical assumption that myth is ideological. In Segal’s (1999) “Theorising about myth” he highlights the dominant modern challenge that undermines the power of myth and the theorists that support its universal inherent ness. He explains that originally myth was created to explain the origin and operation of our physical world. Advancements in natural science ascribes events to mechanical processes. To accept scientific explanation of the world is to render mythic accounts as false. “ Myth is conceded to be an outdated and incorrect explanation of the world” (Segal. R.A. 1999)
To refine my literature review to the globally relevant location within the scope of my research question ofJapan, I want to flag up a text by Barrett (1989) titled “Archetypes in Japanese Film”. Barrett’s study is solely confined to an analytical exploration of Japanese screen heroes and heroines. He views the heroic characters as transcendental in their religious significance and placement within the narrative and can be viewed as universal to all cultures and societies. Barrett incorporates Jung’s theories of archetypes and develops the concept by suggesting that archetypes are the embodiment of an endearing value, and this value is a trait we recognise in ourselves and in other human beings. How they can be applied to films “ archetypes are probably the best way to study popular culture, since they are not the focus of popular sentiments but simple embodiment of endearing values” (Barrett, G.1989: 14). Barrett’s text recognises the relevance and importance of recognising Japan’s popular culture when studying the country “ People who study Japanese culture have extensively examined the aesthetic, philosophical and socio-political values of Japanese culture but it’s popular sentiments have hardly been given a chance” (Barrett, G.1989: 16). Of course this text is almost 25 years old now and there has been a plethora of popular cultural research inJapanin that time with the transcendence of Japanese culture across the world. One medium that has carried Japanese pop culture toward mainstream global recognition and influence is Anime.
Jeff Fleming in “My reality” (2001) observes that anime is a progressed style of animation form derived from Manga, a traditional, cheap and accessible cartoon that became popular after the end of the 2nd World War (Fleming, J.2001).
Anime has huge cult status across the world. Fleming (2001) notes that the most intriguing aspect of anime aside from the amazing artwork involved is the content. The themes and perspectives held by anime narratives are not exclusive to children and young people. There are subgenre’s containing material and storylines for adults too, which incorporate violence, extreme erotica and perverse deviancy. In Cavallaro’s (2007)”Anime Intersections: Tradition and innovation in theme and technique”, she backs up Fleming’s (2001) observation by theorising that western style animation keeps to the original intention of the art form- a child’s medium which is unsuitable for dealing with controversial and adult themes. In Cavallaro’s (2001) seminal text she deconstructs a collection of anime works in terms of both visual and artistic techniques and an in-depth critique of important characters and narrative messages. The key point she brings to the anime field, and one which she maintains throughout her research is that Anime’s foremost purpose is to continually stretch and explore topical boundaries and “deliver unpredictable synergies and tantalizing opportunities for further exploration” (Cavallaro,D.2007:186) Cavallaro also explains why anime is such an appealing art form, it presents a refreshing change to the compartmentalising of fantasy and reality that occurs in traditional western styles of animation, she starts to comment on anime with reference to Disney as a key example of traditional western animation “Where Disney-orientated animation seeks to consolidate the audiences concept of reality by drawing neat boundaries between reality and fantasy, daylight common sense and wonderment, anime insistently problematizes the presumed authority of the real” (Cavallaro,D.2007:14).
Takashi Murakami is an incredible artist, who in the 1990s fronted a new movement of art based on Japanese popular culture. The international success of Murakami has inspired people across the world who have become fascinated by anime, as it transcends cultural and geographic boundaries.
Murakami maintains that at its origin, anime was actually heavily influenced by western styles of design such as Walt Disney’s animated classics. However it is hard to see these influences today in modern anime “The pillars ofJapan’s post defeat culture of impotence, Anime relies on that rich soil (unlike Disney), the dark side of dreams made true”(Murakami,T.2001:66). Murakami describes here the apocalyptic themes and under currents which constantly permeate through anime narratives. This historical context referencesHiroshimaand the atomic bomb which has massively shaped anime and commentates on the effects of being the only country in the world to have suffered at the hands of the atomic bomb and the social plight the country has endured as a repercussion. After sifting through a few articles and looking at some of Murakami’s art works The most important message he brings to the anime field of study is that anime is actually a product of hundreds of years of history and it’s the Major cultural shifts in society that contributes to the creation and style of visual work that we see today.
Susan Napier is a Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture. Napier explores the cultural elements of anime on both sides of the Pacific, how anime reaches both eastern and western audiences. Napier has a well respected background as an expert in Japanese literature and other cultural forms, and she examines how the Japanese interpret their own recent history through the use of anime, Napier’s comparative style of research highlighted to me the major cultural differences in modern and eastern societies on how anime is received. Napier points out that “Japanstands alone as a country which is modern or even post modern from a western point of view” (Napier.S.2000) I reviewed her most recent book “Anime from Akira to princess Mononoke which investigates the impact of anime towards the end of the twentieth century. Napier (2000) feels that anime is worth in depth investigation due to the gravity of its cultural and commercial force. Napier recognises that Japanese culture is more sensitive to “pictocentric” art forms than western cultures and this is made obvious by Japans vast usage of characters and ideograms in its media. Anime fits nicely into the contemporary culture of the visual. “Anime problematizes aspects of the dominant social culture” (Napier, s.2000). Napier points out that anime comments on the modern worlds unsteady atmosphere of change which permeates not only Japanese society but all industrial and technologically advancing cultures, through intelligent visual techniques, pace and imagery. Napier also gives anime literary merit by using devices normally reserved for critiquing novels and other text. Using this format of deconstruction she invites us to apply these same critical methods to anime to see if it stands up as a potent as well as a legitimate art form. The only flaw I found within “anime from Akira to princess Mononoke” was the lack of erotic anime genre’s that weren’t mentioned. There is a series of erotic anime titled “Cool Runnings” that is primarily concerned with the issues of rape, confinement, bondage and other perverse and deviant sexual tendencies. Although the mention of such sub genre doesn’t add to my investigative research into heroines it would have backed up one of Napier’s central arguments, which is that anime is an attractive and highly accessed medium by adults. “ Anime’s dark and spiritual themes challenge audiences that think animation is exclusively for children and full of innocence” (Napier, S.2000).
To refine my textual analysis of the keys works within the field I of course had to look next at the literature surrounding Hayao Miyazaki. The feature length animations of Hayao Miyazaki have a huge narrative theme on spiritual ecology running through them and particularly the human protagonist or the heroines that I am going to analyse are devoted to being a custodian of the land, nature’s heroine. (Tucker, J.A, 2003).
To understand the archetypal imagery used in representingMiyazaki’s anime heroines it is important to understand the cultural context from which these heroines are created.
Tucker (2005) believes that Hayao Mayazaki’s fundamental messages to his audience borrow from the ancient native Shinto mythology.Japan’s dominant Shinto belief system. It is a peaceful and animistic religion concerned primarily with the natural world. (Earhart.1974; Tucker.2003). It believes that everything in the world has its own spirit. Jung (1972) explains “spirit” in its archetypal form and suggests that “in keeping with its original wind-nature, spirit is always an active winged and swift moving being as well as that which vivifies, stimulates, incites and inspires”(Jung, C.1972: 88). This emphasises harmony between the natural world and humans. “I do not believe in Shinto,”Miyazakitells the independent in 2010 “but I do respect it, and I feel that the animism origin of Shinto is rooted deep within me.” Miyazaki continues in Boyd & Nishimura (2004) “ My generation does not believe spirits exist in rivers and trees- but I like the idea that we should all treasure everything because spirits might exist there, and we should treasure everything because there is a kind of life to everything” (Boyd & Nishimura.2004: 4).
It was really important for me to research Shinto more in depth than I had first previously estimated, as it informs the majority ofMiyazaki’s narratives, worlds characters, imagery and messages.
Shinto is rich in pagan attributes, it is holistic and environmentally concerned with respecting and nurturing the world in which we live. Paganism is normally considered a religion more typical of western cultures so having Shinto narratives within your animation already sources a wide global audience by incorporating the religious beliefs and viewpoints of many different people within societies across the world. Ono (1962) highlights however, that Shinto is not widely practised in western societies and pagan practises associated with more western countries are old and dying out to the throw away consumerist culture we find ourselves enveloped in, Ono points out that Shinto is a “niche spirituality” (Ono, 1962).
In order forMiyazakito be commercially successful and to be able to share his fantastic spiritual worlds between eastern and western contemporary societies, he sources a lot of Shinto imagery through universally appealing archetype use in his narratives.
Tucker (2005) mentions thatMiyazaki’s global accessibility is evident through the fact that his films reach a greater mainstream audience in western society than any other Japanese feature animation (Tucker, 1998:65).
In Bell’s “From Mouse to Mermaid”, (1996) the first comprehensive, critical view of Disney within cinema it addresses Disney’s more traditional motion pictures as well as the more recent titles that have tried to warm the hearts of adults. The text’s central section examines the way in which Disney takes traditional myths and reworks a version in order to fit into a modern and Americanised ideology, which the Disney machine had a large part in defining. “Of all early animators, Disney was the one who truly revolutionised the fairytale as institution through cinema” (Zipes.1995:31).
A valuable place to start the literature discussion on Pocahontas is Robert Berkhofer Jr.’s (1979) seminal work “The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian fromColumbusto the Present”. It is an insightful analysis which brings to light that the dominant view of Native Americans has always originated with European American culture, Berkhofer talks of restricted “white” attitudes and ideologies which ultimately pushed native culturally collective perspectives to the margins of society, if not entirely out of the picture. Kaltreider (2004) motivated by this eradication of Native American culture researched his book in order to preserve the myths, traditions, wisdom and spirit of the indigenous peoples ofAmerica. ”In archaic cultures myth- making or myth preservation was the role of the shaman who makes visible and public the symbolic fantasy are resent in the psyches of every adult society”. (Campbell, J.1949: 302). After reading his work I could make the comparison of the role of ancient shamanic figures to the film studios of modern society. They are now our mythmakers. Kaltreider feels that great spiritual leaders and heroes from ancient times haven’t been listened too like great ethical thinkers such as Plato and as a result western culture has been filled with war fare, racism and sexism, exploitation and environmental decline. A key text in supporting my research of what constitutes a heroine, explores empowered women and the wild, basic and instinctual nature within all women. “Women who run with wolves” is a rich and culturally diverse collection of myths, fairytales and folklore; some tales even sourced from the authors ownLatinafamily. This research presents modern and ancient texts that applies to the total being: body, heart, mind and soul, which identifies her main aim which is to enlighten and guide females to re-identify themselves with the attributes of the wild woman archetype. “ It’s not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild natures fades” (Estes.C, 1992:1).Estes has interestingly worked very closely with the Jung centre for education so her work does adopt the Jungian point of view in terms of archetypal history. Estes defines the Wild women archetype as the female soul, she Is instinct and source of femininity “the mucky root of all women” (Estes, C.1992: 11). Estes’ concepts and definitions of the wild women archetype are comparable to the Japanese Kami I have previously mentioned in that the wild women archetype is present every where, she is in the forests and in the oceans, although she does not embody traditionally inanimate objects like the Kami do, she does exist in both the present and the past leaving footprints for all women to try for size. (Estes,C.1992:11).Estes research enhances the credibility of my own research as it provides a strong and in-depth framework for which I can analyse my chosen female heroines against and examine whether the animated heroines from my chosen past and contemporary myths possess any of the primal and universal attributes Estes describes throughout her work. Estes’ research addresses my line of research by relating archetypal imagery to women living in the real world, making understanding myths and the “wild woman”, a necessary task in order for women to truly unlock their full potential on this earth.
On a very contrasting tone Lutz Rohrich (1986) puts forward that “People have charged the fairytale with being untrue, fanciful, and anachronistic. In fairytales, antiquated social relationships are thought to emerge, which are reproached with being rooted in the feudal period and with offering role models from the patriarchal world” (Rohric, L.1986: 6)
Findings in my Archetypal analysis:
Miyazake himself describes “Spirited Away”, released in 2001, as “a story, not in which the characters grow up, but a story in which they draw on something already inside them” (Shoten & Miyazaki.2001: 2). Through watching the four films I am bout to discuss I have found that the archetype of the heroine will differ considerably between animations depending on the degree the character Journeys inward and what culturally specific themes she explores and develops.
In Spirited Away, the heroine is on a journey of maturation, nurturing personal emotions such as compassion and independence. These life skills are essential for everyone from all cultures, and so all who look to better understand themselves should consume this narrative.
Our heroine’s name is “Chihero”, she is a young 10-year-old girl who we first meet sulking in the back of her parent’s car, upset about having to move house.
As the narrative progresses Chihiro’s and her parents find themselves in an abandoned theme park, which by night turns into a magical spirit world. Chihero’s parents are snatched away from her when they are turned into pigs whilst ‘pigging’ out on food from an outlet in the abandoned theme park and they are kept locked away in a pen for the majority of the action rendering Chihiro orphaned. The central location of the film is at an ancient bathhouse where a vast menagerie of creatures and spirits come to relax. Chihero’s call to journey is first indicated by a torii, which Boyd & Nishimura (2004) describe as a “place of superior potency that can effect changes in ones life” (Boyd & Nishimura, 2004).
Miyazake is careful not to include symbols of violence or hate within his work there is no slaying of evil, there are no guns, that would be the equivalent of creating a heroine who teaches her audience that the right way to deal with life’s frustrations is to stand up with a gun or fists and destroy whatever person or system is oppressing us. That’s not how life works and that’s not whatMiyazakitells us through his films.
Chihero embodies the nurturing archetype, and throughout the narrative we are shown how her compassion can save the souls she encounters.
The film at its core is deeply rooted with Japanese spiritual values, and Chihero is our messenger and how to guide for the practical application of spirituality in the modern world and how to hold on to it in a greedy poisoned world.
In the rest of this section I am to investigate and analyse the archetypes that Miyazaki uses in his pinnacle 1997 animation ‘Princess Mononoke” to promote the plight of his heroine ”San” and her ability to make the narratives and themes of the film globally accessible whilst continuing to reference ancient mythology.
Princess Mononoke exists in a world that is on the cusp of being dominated by humanity and advancing industrialization into her forest home. Despite her human form She is significantly closer to the animals and the Kami spirits that co-habit her forest. “Kami are the ancient gods of the Japanese people who either embody or are closely linked to the forces of nature (Napier,S.2007:177)
San was abandoned in the forest by her parents, who were frightened off by the wolf spirit “Moro” who ends up raising San. “It’s something so culturally alien to mainstream American entertainment, it comes across as revelatory: a heroine who ascends into the world on steps of renunciation.”(Larnier, C.2002). San’s rejection early on in life by her parents actually places her on the starting block to her heroic journey.
This is reminiscent of Meredith Powers’ stage 1 in her female adaptation of the monomyth model where a deep bond is formed between a daughter and mother archetype. This bond is particularly strong and unique due to San growing up as Moro’s wolf daughter, fully aligned with nature, her wolf mother, wolf siblings and a whole menagerie of kami spirits that dwell in the forest with them. Her lack of human contact in the spirit realm leads her to dislike humans enormously and all the endeavours and technological advances as one particular nearby settlement “Iron Town” ruled by “Lady Eboshi” seeks to destroy her forest. The community in the mining town are simply defending their labour efforts and other village members, while the animals and spirit creatures of the forest are trying as hard as they can to protect their home from being completely destroyed by the humans. This is a war where neither side is completely good or bad paralleling the concept that archetypes are neither completely good nor completely bad.
In San’s opening scene we are introduced to her sucking blood from her wolf mothers bullet wound. Immediately we are faced with our heroine who’s face is covered in blood, she wears fur adornments and a fierce demeanour. This protagonist can immediately be identified to her wild surroundings and upbringing. These initial characteristics we see of San, the fierceness and her animalistic behaviour is normally coded as male. Napier suggests that this works to confront societal stereotypes of females and leads audiences to critique the messages of modern myth more carefully. (Napier, S.2007).
“Her devotion to the forest is so all consuming that even she initially denies her own humanity” (Kraemer. C 2000). San could arguably be seen as the dark and edgy anti-hero archetype. The attributes that she possesses that lead me towards this evaluation of her is that she rarely speaks even though she is capable of talking to other human characters. San also gets away with seemingly insane stunts, for example in the scene where san launches an attack on Iron town she rides on the wolves backs, runs over impossible roof tops and engages in an one on one fight with an armed “Lady Eboshi”. San’s wolf family also characterise her wild tendencies, the big scary animals that surround her define her. Their disproportionately massive scale compared to the little san symbolises an animalist warrior archetype. Like Chihero in Spirited away San can be considered a chaste heroine. The chaste heroine is a universally accessible archetype because of her flawed nature. She is capable of being petty and killing for what she believes in. Although audiences may not identify with her to that extent, you can appreciate
Schmidt (2007) defines an Amazon heroine archetype as powerful and independent; she identifies with nature, doesn’t sit around waiting to be rescued and she takes her destiny into her own hands. Due to this San can also be identified as the Amazonian archetype crusading against the humans and their attack on her home.
The contrast between San’s typically cute Shojo appearance and her aggressive personality and combat style tackles the cultural stereotype of females in anime, being reduced to giggling school girls wearing knee socks and hello kitty hair bands. ”Miyazaki’s girl characters are notably independent and active, courageously confronting the variety of obstacles before them in a manner that may well be described as typically masculine” (Napier,S.2001:124).
San is almost genderless, as she possesses no sexualised female attributes and treads in the footprints typically left by male heroes, which allows for her to be a devoted arbitrator for her message. Kraemer suggests, “Miyazakiis careful to portray San’s loyalty and hostility as justifiable” (Kraemer. C.2000). By placing her journey in a globally relevant issue such as our disappearing natural world.
Although set way back in the 1300’s the narrative is completely relevant for a lot of current issues occurring across the globe today, especially the ancient ideologies of nurturing and respecting a world that is slowly diminishing around us, due to a lack of understanding love and appreciation for the natural world we inhabit and also an insufficient comprehension of our inner archetypal constellations. “It is not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild nature fades” (Estes,C.1992:1). San is one of the most influential heroines in recent animation although some may fear her animalistic tendencies and mild violence, she stands for so much that is missing in young peoples culture, her passion for the natural world is symbolic for the passion that is missing in people who live in modern industrialized cultures.
“Princess Mononoke insists on difference while other more western animations aim to paper over differences” (Napier,S.2007:190)
The first Disney movies were animated portrayals of well known, household fairy tales such as Sleeping beauty, Snow White and Cinderella. These pale and very vulnerable protagonists are always in need of the assistance of a prince to either release them from a curse or save them from one. There are however a few Disney movies, which show that the princess doesn’t always need to be rescued by the Prince. A heroine, as I have established is a courageous, enigmatic and brave female who takes risks and is brilliantly outstanding in whatever role or task she wishes to accomplish. Based on Disney movies from 1930 to 1989 the time scale within which most Disney princesses are very beautiful aristocratic and helpless, the only courage displayed by these Disney heroines was taking a shot at romance and encounter the wrath other females, especially older, bitter characters who were jeopardized by their beauty. (Campbell, L.2008).
One of Disney’s most courageous heroines is Mulan (1998), Disney’s 36th animated adventure. The movie is based on an ancient popular Chinese ballad which dates to the fifth century A.D. and which has been popular throughout the centuries.
Mulan is a figure not just imaginatively created by Disney; she is deeply and historically rooted in Chinese culture and a household name throughout her native china and the world. I will apply a more historical perspective to Mulan’s legend and investigate what Mulan, as a cultural heroine can reveal to us not only about womanhood, heroism, honour and loyalty in pre-modern China but also about the construction of female agency, ethnic identity, and cultural origin in other audiences from around the world. Contextualizing Mulan alongside other independent heroines who contest their traditional gender roles, my discussion considers the woman warrior as an archetype, which renders Mulan as a culturally and historically rooted image.
Mulan represents the very modern cultural narrative of female identity struggle. The young heroine is not comfortable with herself or her appearances, as exemplified in the scene where she meets the matchmaker and it all goes horribly wrong concluding with the matchmaker screaming at her family “You will never bring your family Honour!”
Over the course of the film, She runs away to the army, in her frail fathers place, when he is unexpectedly called to duty. This is where Mulan’s journey transcends into a Masculine sphere and she becomes less dependant on the traditional, societal boundaries that previously dictated her life and her happiness. Mulan, failing her societal expectations as a woman becomes the warrior heroine archetype by employing the ideologies of the wild women spirit, and taking not only her own destiny into her hands but the destiny of her country by fighting for them and her family by trying to honour them in the only way she knows how.
“ Mulan is a new kind of heroine in Disney. This new type of heroine can make a difference in Disney movies and the audience as well, since the other heroines were more dependant of a prince to save them and Mulan get her goals more with her own merits” (Serrano. G.2010)
All the heroines flourish and progress in their individual roles of influencing others in their narratives. It is both Disney’s Mulan and Mayazaki’s Chihero though, who return to a normative state after their heroic journeys. Mulan declines a position of power offered by the emperor whom she saves and opts instead to return home. Similarly, Chihiro returns to her human realm ready to take on the move to her new house and school. When chihero’s father comments that it may be scary chihiro cheerily responds, “Oh I think I can handle it”. Depicting the last stage of her heroine journey as being a positive springboard into the rest of her life.
Pocahontas is Disney’s 33rd feature length animation and was released in 1995.
Its historical misrepresentations are well documented, but it remains a good example for study, as it is actually the first of Disney’s tales to loosely address a cultural myth based upon real people and the events that surrounded these historical persons. Disney’s Pocahontas was a modern-thinking, independent Native American spirit who lived years before her time. This movie retellsAmerica’s favourite myth “Shop-worn with sentimentality; Pocahontas endures and stands with the most appealing of our saints. She has passed subtly into our Folklore where she lives as popular fable” (Young,P.1962:391).
Edwards (1999) puts forward that Pocahontas has “appeared in countless narratives over the last four centauries as the native heroine” (Edwards,L.1999:147). Pocahontas’ heroic journey is universally appealing to what Estes(1992) would believe is females primal, natural and wild spirit inherent in everything it holds so much cultural power of her native land that Caucasian women are even trying to impossibly claim that they are the descendants of Pocahontas. Deloria(1969), comments on this “Indian grandmother complex” as a way for white people to identify with a women who’s mythical construct is so powerful and still culturally relevant. (Deloria,V.1969).
Mcleish (1933) paints a wonderful picture of Pocahontas as a representation of the natural American landscape, as a beautiful naked Indian girl inviting lovers to her shores. This description of Pocahontas already places her as the Demeter archetypes counterpart, Hall (1998) maintains that “Demeter is the archetypal mother and nurturer” (Hall,J.1998:44). Mcleish’s description suggests Pocahontas as a fertile mother of the earth creating new nations by inviting foreign explorers to settle on her land. Edwards (1999) draws heavily on this archetypal image of Pocahontas being a fertile land by suggesting that in Anglo-American culture Pocahontas has come to represent a native protector of European men. Her heroic act of throwing her body of John Smiths in order to save him from the raised club of her Powhatan chief father is symbolic of the colonisation of foreign settlers. “Her famous supposed rescue of captain John Smith has become a rescue of America instantiated as a central heroic act that consecrated the colonial project” (Edwards,L.1999:147).
These scene is depicted is Disney’s version of the tale in order to create a “New Age” heroine archetype. A heroine who embodies our millennial and universal hopes for wholeness and harmony, putting her own life at risk and disobeying her father in order to banish our collective fears of savagery and emptiness (Strong.P 1995). We are attracted to the positive, nurturing and brave aspects of Pocahontas, as well as the nurturing mother archetype Pocahontas also displays strong signs of The Amazonian. The Archetypal Amazon is the feminine warrior who serves and respects Life.This energy shapes her to have intense integrity, Pocahontas is in alignment with something greater than our own modern egotistical wants and needs, she is in tune with her environment, the animals and the landscape and respects the spirit of all living things. This concept is comparable to the Japanese Kami and the idea that all living things have their own spirit; this is depicted in Disney’s Pocahontas by her communicating with animals (her side kick’s are a racoon named “Meeko”, and a tiny hummingbird named “Flit”).
Throughout the narrative Pocahontas interacts with a Kami/ wise woman archetype in the form of a huge willow tree, deep in the forest. ‘Grandmother Willow’ mentors and comforts Pocahontas, she signifies wisdom through her aged bark and long branches, which help and guide Pocahontas along the right path in her life. Trees, are extremely important in mythology it is a significant archetype in ancient and modern society. A Jungian perspective on the placement of grandmother willow might be that it ‘stands at the centre of the cosmos, uniting separate but eternal realms” (Peterson, J.1999:295)
Pocahontas’s search for her “dream,” a classic Disney plot device, is a case in point. A great deal of dramatic energy is spent on Pocahontas’s finding her “true path.” Pocahontas is optimistic, though troubled, in her conversations with Grandmother Willow. She is struggles along her inner journey with youthful uncertainties concerning the universal subject of love as well as her father’s very definite plans for her as the Chief’s daughter.
We first encounter Pocahontas paddling her canoe along the river and singing– this embodies the historical princess archetype that Disney repeatedly represents in their films, comparatively in the first couple of scenes in Mulan, you hear her singing of her identity woes which in terms of content is dramatically different to the vocalising of traditional Disney princess’s who sing in order to exemplify their kind and sweet femininity, their song does not look so inwardly and search for character development as they are already depicted as being the epitome princess archetype. Pocahontas and Mulan spurn a new archetype, the cultural heroine- who sings about matters important to them. In “Colours of the wind” narratives most poignant and ideology filled song Pocahontas puts the white man in his place by singing “You think you own whatever land you land on, The earth is just a dead thing you can claim, But I know every rock and tree and creature, Has a life, has a spirit, has a name”. In this verse Disney’s Indians are presented as noble savages living harmoniously with their surroundings, the English settlers are portrayed as greedy gold hunters persistent in exploiting Pocahontas’s natural resources (Colson.C.1995). Pocahontas embodies the free spirit, as she would rather be out exploring the forests and communing with nature than complying with what she is meant to be doing like the other villagers
Most young people’s first interaction with the native American culture is through Pocahontas, that imposes a moral responsibility on Disney to do more than just entertain with the Native representation in film, because Disney’s representations are widely accepted as truth.
Conclusive summary of findings:
The arguments I have considered throughout my research confirm that myth can be used to tell the simplest fairytale or the most sophisticated classical narrative. The Heroine grows and matures, as new narrative and ideological experiments are tried within the basic framework of myth telling. Changing the gender of a hero or experimenting with ages of strong characters such asMiyazaki’s powerful young females, stretches previous boundaries and allows for ever more elaborate mosaics of understanding to be tiled around them. The essential characters can be combined or divided into several archetypes in order to show different aspects of the same idea.
In terms ofMiyazaki’s animations, not only are the archetypes laden with Shinto perspectives but they also carry through the themes involved with heroes and heroines from ancient Greek mythology.Miyazaki’s heroines are crusading for the conservation of our natural world but they also journey inwards along the way, growing and developing as a person. These two concepts that San and Chihero embody in Miyazaki’s animations haven’t only been a necessary part of mythology and storytelling since the dawn of time, they are necessary now, in our contemporary worlds in order for us to understand ourselves, our connections to others and the world in which we live.
Disney’s Heroines appeal
This analysis of the archetypal and heroic imagery of the aforementioned empowered heroines, points to two major conclusive concepts. These issues firstly concern how the Heroine and her surrounding archetypes are simultaneously a collective, and an individual personal encounter to the worldwide audience members engaging with the heroine. As I have established throughout this research project, we automatically inherit from our parents the outlines of these archetypes, fill in the universal symbols with our cultural ideologies and inject in our personal experiences and representations of meaning, and then project them into the outer world.
The second conclusive concept addresses what I have discovered through my critical analysis of my four chosen animations, which is that the myth is easily translated to contemporary narratives and mediums by substituting modern equivalents for the symbolic figures and archetypes of the hero story. The Wise Old woman may be a real shaman or respected village elder, but she is represented in modern myths as maybe a mentor, In the case of Pocahontas, she is “Grandmother willow”.
Modern heroes may not be slaying wild and dangerous creatures, journeying to the underworld or in to the depths of a labyrinth in order to fulfil the monomyth, but they do enter into environments that we can relate to regardless of our geographical location or cultural practices.
Campbellsummarises in a more recent work, that the hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which radiance shines brightly. A good life is one hero journey after another; over and over again you are called to new horizons. (Campbell,J. 2004)
Modern heroines travel fearlessly into the army, into neighbouring civilisations or worlds, through cultural barriers and societal norms, and most fundamentally important they venture into their own minds on a journey of self-discovery, which parallels their physical journey through the archetypal stages. The myth is infinitely flexible, capable of endless variation without sacrificing any of its magic, and it will outlive us all, because stories will never stop being told.
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A Comparison of the Sociological Ramifications of Japanese and American Animations
By Matthew Elton
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