Un­com­mon Heroines

Animation Magazine - - Anime -

AFive re­cent anime movies of­fer fully re­al­ized, com­plex women as their cen­tral fig­ures. By Charles Solomon

lthough they dif­fer widely in sub­ject and style, five anime fea­tures that re­ceived U.S. the­atri­cal re­leases in 2017 — Su­nao Katabuchi’s In This Cor­ner of the World, Kenji Kamiyama’s Nap­ping Princess, Naoko Ya­mada’s A Silent Voice, Hiro­masa Yonebayashi’s Mary and the Witch’s Flower and the English dub of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name. — boast com­plex heroines with in­di­vid­ual strengths and foibles.

All five girls must rise to chal­lenges they never an­tic­i­pated. But each girl deals with the cri­sis in ways that feel true to her na­ture, in con­trast to the one-size-fits-all spunky/adorably klutzy fe­males who pop­u­late so many Amer­i­can an­i­mated films. That trend ex­tends even to non-hu­mans. Ex­cept for the fur and the num­ber of feet, Princess Twi­light Sparkle in My Lit­tle Pony: The Movie and Pre­cious in Nut Job 2 don’t feel that dif­fer­ent from Tulip in Storks or Sam Sparks in the Cloudy films.

Mary (Ruby Barn­hill) in Mary and the Witch’s Flower has the flash-pan tem­per of­ten as­so­ci­ated with red hair, and woe be­tide any­one who men­tions her frizzy curls. She’s so an­noyed when a friend re­marks on her hair, she ig­nores his warn­ings and fol­lows a black cat into the woods on a misty morn­ing. The path leads her to a small broom that car­ries her to En­dor Col­lege, a school for witches and wizards that pre­dates Hog­warts. (The film is based on Mary Ste­wart’s 1971 chil­dren’s novel The Lit­tle Broom­stick.) With some ad­vice from her greataunt Char­lotte, Mary chan­nels her en­ergy to es­cape an­gry sor­cer­ers and res­cue an­i­mals that have been turned into chimeras.

Kokone (Mit­suki Taka­hata) in Nap­ping Princess would pre­fer to laze her way through high school, look­ing after her mis­fit me­chanic fa-

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