(7/12/2016) Reviewing the survey

I’ve reviewed the results from my survey – I was able to receive 50 responses – which mainly were open ended questions therefore I received a lot of data. I wanted to organised some of the results into a spreadsheet to organised better and review. When asking men and women to describe three words for Masculine and Feminine. Masculine word respondents overall picked: ‘strong’ and for feminine, ‘beautiful/pretty’  – It shows the stereotypes that construct characters in narrative. Men are the active roles and women the passive. The second highest for women was intelligent, which I was surprised about, (men didn’t get this result) and so it means women are making a difference in their portrayals. I will use my comparisons and findings to inform my dissertation.

(3/12/2016) ase study into Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli creates feature length films – these Japanese films are more complex and focus on the character – throughout the films character development is a large part in the story. I want to reference these films and the creation of these masterpieces into my dissertation – Throughout these months I have gathered a mixture of relevant research to better understand Studio Ghibli’s films. Lastly, a majority of ‘heroes’ (protagonists) from these films are females. Their character’s don’t seem to reflect the gender stereotypes because of the strong characters from these stories (that’s my thoughts at the beginning of my research…)

One of my points I want to look into is the ‘hero’. In particular what is the perfect hero (in order to understand whether this is the reason why there are so few female leads.)  Here Hayao Miyazaki (co-founder and Director at Studio Ghibli) talks about the villain. – I have been looking into the flaws of heroes, they shouldn’t be perfect, what is the difference between the villain and heroes, why are the villains reflected as ‘evil’. Hayao Miyazaki explains he doesn’t like making bad villains (including drawing them) – It’s clear from his films that the villains of the story, has depth and are not fully evil, they have their own reasons and their own character development in the end.

Here, Hayao Miyazaki is reflecting on the process of developing one of his most popular films, My Neighbor Totoro – he expresses he thought of the characters first. The characters are incredibly important.

This video, labelled ‘The essence of Humanity’ looks at Hayao Miyazaki’s works and explores the very center of Studio Ghibli. It’s a very comprehensive collection on thoughts, facts and interviews from Hayao Miyazaki. I hope to use this video to gain more ideas and more concepts I have not yet conceived of yet. He explores the idea that Ghibli create stories that reflect humanity and inspire us. The characters are three-dimensional and feel real because of their flaws.


I want to look into Studio Ghibli because they have an array of heroes that are more real and human than any I’ve known. They also have a majority of female leads (Main protagonist: 14 out of 21) – and these are of different ages and personalities. In addition the character styles are similar but they never get any hype about this — the characters are so well rounded that the appearance doesn’t matter. I’ve watched all of the above films (apart from the newest).

Focus group: ‘Gender and Heroes’ (1/12/2016)

My focus group took place at university – I had a large group of men and women. They were in the age group of 20-26 years old and were animators in the industry. I wanted to get the perspective of those working in the animation industry and have a wide knowledge on the topic matter. On my questionnaire I got a lot of unexpected results this focus group was a chance for me to have a debate or discussion between key issues. Also have a free flowing conversation lets me understand the though process and details of a persons opinion. I recorded this focus group to make notes on later. The particular questions that I asked the group -if the gender of the protagonist affected them watching the film, or if the target audience, like cars, aimed at boys.

Most of my responses expressed that this wasn’t really an issue. One of my male participants watched many ‘girl’ target films like Barbie, princesses and TV animated series because of his younger sister and enjoyed them. A female participate explained she was a tomboy and disliked the portrayal of the females in animated films when she was younger (however she watched almost all the Disney princess films). Another male admitted to watching all the princess films. Another male said  he has watched only three of the more recent films when he was younger (three more now as an adult).

I also asked what characters they liked and disliked. Bambi was one of my participants responses (favourite character) because he [Bambi] didn’t seem to have a gender. Another liked Snow white because she felt empathy for the character – she watched it often as a child. This was the first animated feature length film (Disney). The two most powerful characters are both females. However they also two stereotypes given to women, the jealous women and the beautiful feminine youth.  The new Pixar’s Inside out film was liked for the exploration of the inner emotions and trails a person goes through – especially a young girl.

A character that was disliked or ‘hated’ was the Enchanted heroine who actually seems to emphasize the ‘princess damsel’ she didn’t have the strongest character – she was ‘inhuman.’ – she didn’t feel real but a bad parody of a princess being ridiculously kind and happy. However this could have been a film reflecting how the animated heroines from Disney films can not measure up to the real life woman. They are a unrealistic concept, as Giselle develops in the ‘human’ world we see her grow more. Brave’s Merida was another character, not liked by one, because of the actions of the character and because of the plot – However I disagree with this because I believe the character developed a lot from the start but I agree that the plot was weaker.

Participants: Lisa cooper, Pang Foong Mei, Giulia Russo, Victoria Geary, Ryan Morrison, Jake Preedy and Andrew Benedetti = a mixture of male and female animation students.

Interview with Lindsay Watson (Animated Women UK) (04/12/2016)

I had a phone interview with the founder and co-chairwoman of Animated Women UK an organisation aimed to support women in the animation industry. Lindsay Watson [founder], also has researched and published several academic papers looking at females /girls in animation. As well as launching Animated Women Uk, she has co-produced an animated series and works as head of animation for Kindle entertainment. On Image result for lindsay watsonthe Animated Women UK site they have a section to promote their vision:

We want women from all backgrounds of the industry and at every stage in their career to fulfill their potential and realise their dreams… We want to support a network of women who can help each other achieve success at every stage of the animation or VFX pipeline. This change will be visible when we see results such as: better female characters on screen, an increase in women-led startups & an increase in women winning awards in technical areas.

I asked her four questions on my dissertation topic. Such as why need female leads in animated films, the impact of fewer female heroes, the limitations for female characters, how we can  inspire girls through animation and lastly her opinion on what the perfect hero could be in animation. She gave me incredible feedback and resources where to find more data that she used herself. We discussed the problems that are being faced for females and the importance of them. After the interview she also asked if I could let her read and maybe publish my dissertation to the WIA – as she said there needs to be more research out there for people to see that this is an issue. (Below is a sample of very helpful response from Lindsay Watson.

How can we inspire girls through animation, what characters are needed, or any other way?

Well, I really liked Moana because it was the first non-princess film I’d seen where the female lead doesn’t have a love interest. It’s about her fulfilling her own destiny, and I think that’s an empowering  script for young girls. That they can identify with, actually. In terms of inspiring other women in our industry, Animated Women has just launched our ‘achieve career development program’ which kind of contains aspects of mentoring, so that is a huge aspect of my research. The reason for putting that program together because my previous research has shown me that these stories that are put on screen come from people, so they come from writers or directors or people who are in lead creative and technical roles in companies and a lot of women don’t fill those roles.

Deciding whether to use ‘hero’ to describe female protagonist (or not)

I just wanted to mention here, my thoughts on using the word ‘hero’for both men and women. My research has some mixed reviews. Using the word to describe a female hero (in real life) is fine but heroine is the norm to describe character and story. I am still reluctant to use heroine because it has a damsel. Hero is a word originally and mainly used to describe men. I have decided to use this to describe both males and females. I may need to explore this a little in my dissertation too.

Watched more animated films

(I’ve watched around 50 animated films to refresh me with the characters and stories. I wanted to understand how Males and Females are portrayed but also the heroes that develop in their stories. I have compared and explored my thoughts similar to below…

I recently watched the Prince of Egypt (1998) again, the Biblical Story of Moses the Hebrew who ‘delivered’ the slaves to the promise land. I mention it because I can now identify with the monomyth – Joseph Campbell outlines throughout this film. The character development is so important to the story – the spiritual awakening and the change we see in Moses as he learns he was really born a Hebrew slave. This story features around Moses metamorphosis and his goal to ‘let his people go!’ Watching this film has let me understand more the Hero’s journey and how character development can be the drive the story. Moses inner turmoil gives the film heart and makes it relatable to the audience – because he is human.

If we compare this story to Elsa, from Frozen – who also has inner turmoil, she doesn’t appear to face reality in the same way, both characters run away whereas Moses changes into a better and different person, Elsa ultimately ‘remains’ the same (she changes into a ‘free’ character). She doesn’t repent or change for the better but locks herself away ‘for herself.’ Moses returns back to Egypt (where all his worries lie). Yet Elsa is forced back into reality. Of course Frozen’s plot revolves around one day and Prince of Egypt many decades. – Elsa did not have time to develop and so her character (in my opinion) is weak. Moses who is softer and humble, grows and therefore he is a powerful character. Does gender affect their portrayals?


(Compare these to GIFS they are both at the same point in the journeys… Escaped to wastelands and reflecting ‘who they are’ – the two characters act in completely different ways Elsa who had to hide now shows and Moses who didn’t take life seriously is reflecting his own life seriously. Both removing parts of their old selves through the clothes and jewelry they wear)


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