(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)





I’ve done a lot of research throughout this year into the hero. I’ve researched the psychology of real heroes and what makes a hero. Here I have posted three videos that taught me about heroes in fiction and their similar or not so similar narrative patterns.

What do you have in common with Harry potter, Katniss Everdeen and Frodo? Well, your human, just like them.  The hero’s journey myth exists in all human cultures, and keeps getting updated because we humans, reflect on our world through symbolic stories of our own lives. You leave your comfort zone, have an experience that transforms you and then you recover and do it again. You don’t literally slay dragons or fight Voldemort. But, You face problems just as scary. Joseph Campbell said ‘In the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek.’ What is the symbolic cave you fear to enter … be sensitive to it in your own life. Listen for your call to adventure, accept the challenge, conquer your fear and claim the treasure you seek, and then, do it all over again.” – (Matthew Winkler)


I am reading the book, ‘A hero with a thousand faces’ as part of my research. I found this short video that explains the book into the main themes (a little more digestible) and sums up the author’s meaning. Joseph Campbell compared myths from many cultures and discovered that really they all follow the ‘hero’s journey’ a story line, that follows the hero on an adventure which will change them. I really like the video’s point (an the authors) that the stories we tell are symbolic of humans, and we can apply the stories – hero’s bravery to our own lives.

The first diagram is the steps of the ‘hero’s journey” narrative, outline by Joseph Campbell. The second diagram was taught to me in my animation class – understanding story. The themes of most stories follow this chart. The similar narrative, is expressed in the Hero with a Thousand faces. The hero will follow this same journey – it’s surprising that after hundreds of years this story line is still followed. We want our heroes to win but to face hardships that will teach them new lessons (in the same way stories teach us.)

“Our storytelling ancestors calmed our fears of powerlessness by giving us Hercules and other heroes strong enough to fight of the demons and monsters that we suspected haunted the night beyond our campfires. But eventually, we realised that the monsters did not lie out there, they reside inside of us. Beowulf’s greatest enemy was mortality, Othello’s jealousy, Hiccup, self-doubt. And in the tales of the ineffectual anti-hero, in the stories of Guy Montag and Winston Smith lie the warnings of contemporary storytellers playing on very primative fears, that we are not strong enough to defeat the monsters. Only this time not the monsters chased away by the campfire but the very monsters who built the campfire in the first place.” – (Tim Adams)

This video explores the concept of the anti-hero. I didn’t consider this before viewing this Teds video. The idea that heroes are humans – and we are not strong. We may not win against the evil we face and may fail. My question addresses the idea of the perfect hero – and character development. What is more important gender or the hero. Here it explores the concept of being human.

  • Epic hero = Adventure, success, epic, strong warrior
  • Tragic Hero = Leaders or powerful characters, flawed, horrible or tragic death
  • Romantic Hero = Emotional and very human. Magical. Own code of morality. Beats the bad guy. Suffers.

“There are different heroes for different situations. Sometimes we need the strong warrior to slay the evils of the world, at other times we need a common person who becomes great so that they can inspire us all to be better. So do we need heroes? Absolutely, no matter what the time or place, we still need something to believe in. They remind us of the good in each of us and the need for hope and the importance of knowledge.” –  (April Gudenrath)

This video explores three types of heroes. There are many categories of heroes that set out for similar goals but end their stories in different ways or approach them differently. It’s interesting to consider what impacts the outcome of the hero.

18/11/2016 – Attending talk (Decoding Masculinity)15037088_10209813219101406_6555794585455428791_n

why? How it helped?

I identified this talk as a primary resource. The Shade Noir event explored ‘decoding masculinity’. The layout of the talk was three panelists (working in creative sectors) and a interviewer asking question. The audience throughout the talk could also ask questions and or add comments to what was being said. It felt more like a discussion, about the issue and how we could fix the problem (ideas of solutions).  I went to this event as it explored the concept of masculine and feminine and the effects/ stigma this gives to the gender. It was a really useful talk and went in-depth about many aspects. At the talk we were given a booklet with statistics about suicide rates higher in males, (in some counties in the uk the ratio being as high as 4 times the rate of women – wales). There are key terms and more interviews with artists.

 How do you define Masculinity?:

Othello De’Souza-Hartley: ‘Masculinity is how I define myself as a male’, next to the social construct on male. To achieve and being successful.

Asa Johannesson: Not necessarily assigned to maleness. Likeness or difference. I use masculinity in my work as a language to explore and express freedom. Masculinity becomes a form to express freedom.  Focus on [masculinity] being a positive.

IGGYLDN: Hold yourself under an umbrella of being everything you are supposed to be. When I was young, talking in a low voice, to be cool I needed to be a bad boy. Don’t care about school work, strong, feared, aggressive. Even at 14. Now that has changed, now I see it as a choice. An informed decision of what you choose to be.

Their experiences as children (Where do you think the constructs of masculinity come from?):

Othello De’Souza-Hartley: “I was told I had more female hormones than the average male and that’s when I started thinking about what “being a man” meant to me. He wanted to do ballet. But he couldn’t tell his father because that wouldn’t be seen as a boy. Play the role of a boy. Looking for permission from his father, please his father.

Asa Johannesson: I grew up in Sweden. I had a different upraising. Gender neutral – my mum tells me that boys and girls clothes were not in the shops. There was only children clothes. Tomboy as a child. As a teenager I started to think about my gender. She realized, maybe I should be a girl. She grew her hair long. When she became an adult, she embraced her masculinity. Her masculinity derived from her gender neutral background.

IGGYLDN: My dad was a very interesting guy, his brother got angry at his dad. My dad was at the top and my brother at the bottom, he said to him ‘I hate you’. His dad cried. His dad was emotional and because of this we could understand him better, we could connect better. My family has always been like that. My dad is an emotional person, he taught me it was okay to cry. I was able to talk to him, we could huddle together. Exchange comments and cried together and hugged. He didn’t feel like that at uni.

More comments throughout the talk:

The individual [male] thinks he is the odd one, thinking he is the only one. Even the most macho the most masculine, the masses pretending we are macho. Externally we are together but inside everyone is thinking it. To communicate it.

Key is to communicate it. To get the conversation started.


Asa: As an artist I am trying to show shuttle language to invite the masses. I don’t think fine art is the best. Other platforms are more successful media and commercial. Knowledge is personal but dependent on the norm. The media define the norm… We associate with a group. Not everyone thinks that personality has anything to do with gender -it could be class or age instead.

Othello: Men to speak. I set up a round table discussion to share their [male] talks. Man’s role changing. How age changes the view on masculinity. Anxiety from younger boy who was 19, his father from a different generation – panic attacks. Understanding men are suffering from the same thing…Mental illness. Men trying to keep up with this idea of masculinity. Silent suffering. Performance he has to play in the city which is a masculine male role (business men). Masculine man could oppress another man.

Audience Comment: I would cry as a child and be called a girl. ‘You’re a girl’. Do you think masculinity as a survival mechanism? Feminine is a positive term whereas masculine seems to be a dangerous term. Not as positive.

A comment I found particularly interesting:

Separate masculine to feminine needs to be taken away from maleness and femaleness. People identifying between their personality types of either gender (masculine to feminine.) Masculinity is an energy put on men and women, not spiritual. What are men to when they feel feminine (which they should they are human). It should be an energy we can pick depending on personality. Iggy: “What attributes reflect you and then choose what energy reflects you.” Asa: Understand that masculinity is one of 4 identifies (maleness, masculinity, femaleness and femininity) this shouldn’t be mixed up. Othello: Gender is given to us and it needs to change – (paraphrased).

My Question: Animation is a medium aimed at children, what characters (especially protagonists) would you have liked to see as a child (or now) that would address femininity and decoding masculinity?

The same issues we’ve discussed today. Open up, men talk not simple characters, not strong characters.Complexities, not whats masculine. Complex characters. Characters who are not playing a performance. Girls playing a traditional girl but not pigeon-holed into a girl’s story.

“The idea of masculinity needs to be challenged from a younger age, so we can have conversations about our insecurities as men”


(17/11/2016) A talk on masculinity is going on at Ravensbourne. (I found this talk before it was being held at Ravensbourne, but this makes it easier to get to). There is also a Q&A session after the talk so I need to prepare a question that will help address my topic.

(13/11/2016) Today I researched an email from Animated Women UK, they asked for a phone interview instead of replying in an email because it would be more convenient. I want to prepare my questions for this and research into the company – to ensure I get the best result from my interview.

(9/11/2016) Over the last week (of enhancement week) I have been collecting the quotes ready to prepare the exact research for my next chapter. Heroes is a major theme which I really want to address.

(2/11/2016)Formative = hand in first draft.

After handing in my first chapter, I feel like I need to work on my chapter outlines and make a better narrative. Now I have my ideas out on the gender chapter I feel like it may be wise to focus on some points and refer to some later on in the essay. This way my theme to my question is answered throughout. I think the only way I can order my essay is to begin writing a little for each chapter.

I have put even more detail into my chapter outline, before starting to write my first chapter. My first Chapter is looking into gender.

I have updated a new schedule to ensure I stay on track.

I saw this Video on Facebook – My questionnaire actually asked males when did they last cry. 4 out of 5 expressed it had been years. I want to understand the masculine persona and how men are still expected to be so strong and ‘not show emotions’ from fear of being perceived as feminine. This video shows that men do cry and it’s normal. The stereotype seen to be changed.

My questionnaire has been out for 4 days now. I hope to get between 50-100 replies But because I sent it out quite late I want to aim for at least 50. I am sharing it on social media and re-sharing every few days. Above shows the first question – I wanted to ask about masculinity an femininity as well as peoples favourite heroes.



I have continued updating my bibliography today so that it is up to date. This process has been helpful in reminding me of the articles and research that I had saved from several months ago. I have a lot of research and I hope that I can cover a lot of it throughout my dissertation, tomorrow I am going to review the first chapter in detail, and refine my research if need be.

I have chosen to write a long list of questions around my dissertation – I intend to refine these for my questionnaire I will send out no later than tomorrow, I am sharing this on social networking sites to spread it around to gain many responses. I hope to gain 50 – 100 responses. From the responses and the other questions on my long list I will interview more people and make focus groups. Making the questionnaire has let me pin point what I need to find out / the arguments of my essay.


Earlier on in my research I wrote down a long list of animated films that are well known in the mainstream (released by large animation studios). I wanted this as a reference for myself originally to recall a lot of different animations… However I recently went through and highlighted in either blue (male) or red (female) what gender the hero / lead character was. This was an interesting study and really brought across the majority male leads in animated films. – Studio Ghibli being the only company to release a majority of female leads.



I made a rough schedule over this week to understand how long I have left and how much time I can dedicate to the dissertation. I have to balance between my animation unit and researching. This has helped improve my time management and balance.

Over this week I have sent out some more emails (to gain interviews) because the few people that I have emailed have not yet got back to me. I wanted to contact some feminist/women who work in the animation industry. My tutor suggested maybe contacting the organisers of feminist film festivals. I’ve identified a few festivals and woman based animation groups.

I emailed Animated Women UK they are an organisation that promotes women in the animation and VFX industry:

“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 start-ups and an increase in women winning awards in technical areas. “

They have knowledge of the animation in the UK and understand the importance of women in the animation. I emailed the organisation and asked them questions on females heroes. I actually received  an email back from the co-founder. Lindsay Watson. She is going to reply on the weekend. I would also like to to write too feminist festivals. From my research I found alot of useful websites that explore female animators / articles on females in animation.

I also emailed Philip Zimbardo a man who worked on the prison social experiment. He has a lot of very helpful videos on the psychology of evil and heroes. He is a psychologist who goes in depth about a lot of aspects of his experiments and how good people can go bad. It could be a good insight in understanding the psychology of a person (villians) and heroes and what makes them act in certain ways. Should characters be realistic and adopt the emotions and character development that we all go through. Is there just good and bad people. Are heroes fully good? And do females act differently to men in these situations. These are all questions that I asked him. I hope he replies as this could be a key primary resource.

He said: “Heroism is the antidote to evil, by promoting the heroic imagination, especially in our kids… we want the kids to think I’m the hero in waiting” and “It’s ordinary people that do heroic deeds.” – He explores how heroes are everyday people, there is no set person. And the importance of inspiring children so that they can become the heroes in their own lives.

Updated Progress Map (19/10/2016)

I’ve started to put my progress onto a blog so I can review and write my ideas in a clear layout. Review my research at the same time.

(This month) I have watched 5 more films.

I have watched over 50 animated films this year and I needed a way to compare each film in a similar way. I decided to have a system that looked into the hero of the story. I made a list of questions which explored many aspects of the hero’s journey. I watched five more films this month (I have put them in here to show my system and reflect here.)


  • Goal: To find the Armour. (Originally, to tell stories and help mother)
  • Hero: Kubo (male)
  • Skills: Plays instrument (shamisen) that makes origami creatures
  • Helpers: Mother, Monkey, Stag Beetle, Village people
  • Characteristics: Brave, determined, sad
  • Appearance: Missing eye, child,
  • Social status: His mother is daughter to the moon King.
  • Creator: Laika
  • Quote:  “If we hold our stories deep in our hearts, you will never take it away from us.”
  • 2016


  • Goal: Discover new adventures (find her path)
  • Hero: Pocahontas (female)
  • Skills: ?
  • Helpers: Grandmother Willow, John Smith
  • Characteristics: Mature, adventurous, strong, takes risks
  • Appearance: Very pretty, Woman
  • Social status: Daughter of Tribe Leader
  • Creators: Walt Disney
  • Quote: “You think the only people who are people. Are the people who look and think like you. But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger. You’ll learn things you never knew”
  • 1995


  • Goal: To return home (originally to prove he was brave).
  • Hero: Arlo (Male Dinosaur)
  • Skills:
  • Helpers: Human boy, T-rexes, Father and family,
  • Characteristics: Young, scared, cowardly, determined, sad, unexperienced,
  • Appearance: Green Dinosaur, smaller than the rest his age, weak
  • Social status: Weakest dinosaur in his family
  • Creators: Pixar
  • Quote: “Arlo: I’m done being scared.
    Butch: If you ain’t scared, you ain’t alive.”
  • 2015


  • Goal: Discover her true heritage and find Laputa
  • Hero: Sheeta (female)
  • Skills: Crystal that protects her,
  • Helpers: Pazu (engineer boy), pirates,  robots
  • Characteristics: Sweet, kind-hearted, friendly, strong, brave and just
  • Appearance: Plain looking, young girl,
  • Social status: Royal Blood heir to Laputa
  • Creators: Studio Ghibli
  • Quote:  “No matter how many weapons you have, no matter how great your technology might be, the world cannot live without love.”
  • 1986


  • Goal: To make it to New York
  • Hero: James (Male)
  • Skills: Giant Peach,
  • Helpers: ladybird, grasshopper, spider, centipede and glow worm, stranger
  • Characteristics: Kind, brave, child, clever, encouraging,
  • Appearance: Small features, large head, child, looks like real actor.
  • Social status: Orphan
  • Creators: Director: Henry Selick
  • Quote:  “You’re not even a real rhino! You’re just a lot of smoke and noise! I’m not afraid of you!”
  • 1996

Updated chapter outlines. (14/10/2016)

I have put together the outlines for each chapters of my dissertation. I wrote the main arguments under the three headings. It has let me see how the different sections connect and lead into each other. I want my essay to have a strong narrative so it flows into each topic well.  The next step for my chapter outline is to put in the quotes and main researched points so that each paragraph has clear arguments.

Up to date Bibliography. (14/1o/2016)images

I’ve started to put on my resources onto my bibliography. I’m using the REFme site because I can set it to Ravensbourne’s Havard Referencing style. I hope to get this all up to date so I can refer easily to my research.



Image result for brenda chapmanImage result for brave gifImage result for brave gif

I finally emailed Brenda Chapman. She is the co-director of Pixar’s brave (Pixar’s first female hero). She has a blog which looks into storytelling and females. Her experiences with working in the animation industry and her work with female characters (Brave revolving around the mother and daughter relationship) – I wanted to ask her her views on female heroes in animated films, the perfect hero and the limitation that females have when being the hero. I hope that she is able to reply back. I am going to find some more backup interviews soon.

I went to an animation event – FAFF. It was a showcase of a small businesses working on large projects. It didn’t relate to animated films, but instead focused on true stories, future issues and factual animations. However I was able to see how realistic characters were created.

Identified more people to contact and formed ideas of what primary research. At this stage I really need to start collecting more primary resource – I think I needed to take time to do a lot of research online and reading lots of books in order to understand exactly what I wanted to find out from people. Below are some planned primary research:

  • Another Questionnaire –  I made a questionnaire in 2015 and I got a lot of interesting and useful comments – I hope to look at this and improve it (more suited for my newly adapted question). I want to ask some personal questions and how influential gender is when watching animated films.
  • I want to make a list of animated films with females and share this with males (to tick off) how many they have seen. And maybe do the same with women.
  • Keep watching and reflecting the animated films 
  • Focus groups to really interview a group of people. Understand their experiences with watching the opposite gender in animated film – was it a problem?
  • Email psychologists, animators, storytellers and feminists  to gain an understanding of their perspectives.

The idea that movies influence our children and how they act in life. Young boys needs to connect with the heroine and understand they don’t have to fight it alone they should join a team. The narrative of beating the evil and then collecting the reward (often the women). ‘Why is there so much force? and so little yellow brick role‘- in these stories. “The movies are very very focused on defeating the villain and getting the reward, and there is not a lot of room for other relationships and journeys.” He defends the Disney princesses, but they appear to be aimed at women. They teach girls how to defend themselves from the patriarchy but how do the boys deal with the patriarchy? there are no models.  1 in 5 women are sexually assorted, ‘who are these guys? What are they learning? What are they failing to learn? are they absorbing the story that a males heroes job is to defeat the villain with violence and then collect their reward, which is a women, who has no friends and doesn’t speak.’

We have tools at our disposal like girl power, and we hope that that will help, but I gotta’ wonder if girl power is gonna protect them, if at the same time, actively or passively we are training our sons to maintain their boy power. I mean, I think the Netflix queue is one way that we can do something very important. And I am talking mainly to the dad’s here, I think we have got to show our sons, a new definition of manhood. Now, the definition of manhood is already turning upside down. You’ve read about the new economy is changing the roles of care giver and wager and throwing them in the air. So our sons are going to have to find someway of adapting to this, a new relationship to one another … and to seek out the heroines who are there,who show real courage who bring people together and to nudge our sons to identify with those heroines, and to say: I want to be on their team.” – (Colin Stokes)

5/09/2016 – Went to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall for five days


I watched lots of videos and podcasts from TED talks and YouTube that explored the key areas I had Identified in July. I watched a lot of different videos and essentially gained new ideas and perspectives not previously considered. I have been able to find more sources from the previous videos and ideas I had not thought about originally, such as vulnerability and risk taking.

A video I watched spoke about vulnerability (being comfortable to be vulnerable) will lead to taking risks and getting to where you want in life. The heroes from stories, have to take risks – to meet the heroes journey. Then why are strong characters so precious (of course showing strong role models are great) but weaker characters are also important. Humans are not always strong and showing vulnerability is the key to becoming successful achieving what you want – collecting that reward. Is something I am very interested in researching for my dissertation, understanding the perfect hero.

I have read 5 of the 18 books I have identified. I have collected quotes and identified new perspectives on my topic. At this stage I can see how the topics cross over nicely and feed one another. I want to put these quotes onto a document to make it easier for when I come to write the dissertation.

I have collected more websites. I have researched heavily into the hero – how real heroes react in life. And a lot into psychology and how females and males differ.

I have a lot more free time now so I have been watched around 15 animated films this month. I have chosen a selection of animated films from Studio Ghibli, Pixar, Disney and etc.

[I have been Busy on animation presentation throughout this month – returning back after summer and preparing to start new term]

13/08/2016Went to Dorset for five days


I’ve been watching a lot of videos this month, they are quick to watch and really help me gather new perspectives. This video addresses the idea of how fiction can change and improve reality. The changes that needed to be addressed were first written in the pages of novels. It told the story through a perspective of the hero – society is reflected through our stories that we tell. Research has shown that stories have influenced how we view the world. The heroes of these stories can make changes occur. At the same time, we nee new stories for the new problems and how we can address these to the masses.

02/07/2016 Went to Cornwall for a week.

I have listed points into my four main ‘chapters/ areas’ Gender, hero, psychology and narrative. This was important as it gave me a clear understanding of what ideas I had and how they all linked together. I finally have all my own thoughts onto a page and what was next to look into. I need to now research into these points to find evidence to back up these beliefs.

I made a long list into a wide range of animated films (from around the world) and identified that there are fewer female leads. (I need to make something visible to reflect on this like a diagram / visually).

I played around with my lead questions and explore my most important issues so far. Although they are all similar, I still feel as though I need to spend more time understanding my topic (I just need to work on the wording) In a way that is tight enough to show a clear dissertation.

“Her [Jane Austen] legacy and the reason she is still read today, is that she writes very compelling characters, character that we all know and recognize. Even though these characters are… two hundred years old infact, they are characters that we see in our everyday real lives, Mr Collins from pride and prejudice, we all know someone as annoying as him…

Shes [Jane Austen] a timeless writer and all the great writers are timeless, in that they can write about people. Because although, events and times change, people never actually change. So, The really great writers will write about human nature and of course because that never changes over the years their writing is still as relevant 2-300 years in advance.

I watched a video – which doesn’t relate to anything to do with animation – but spoke about Jane Eyre being one of the best developed characters in Literature. Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre featured for one of the first times, a story based around ‘plain’ looking but strong intellectual women in society. They stand up, make mistakes and develop by the end of the film. Using these characters to help show what a hero could be in animated films. I would like to research a little into this. These characters are meant to be well developed – they gave women a voice during a time which they didn’t have one. And they did it in the romance genre!

Image result for jane austen pride and prejudiceImage result for pride and prejudice gif

Image result for jane eyre bookImage result for jane eyre

Visit to the National Gallery

Visit to the National Gallery (London) – John Berger’s book the Ways of Seeing is a book I read a few years ago and want to use for my essay. It explores the ways that we view the world – which has been influenced by the media and even paintings that we see. From these paintings we can see how we have been portrayed. At the National Gallery I wanted to view paintings of heroes and heroines how they were depicted before animation – furthermore how gender is depicted. I feel it will give me a historical insight into the ways stories were reflected in these times – the roles gender had and characters.

In the art-form of the European nude the painters and spectator-owners were usually mean and the persons treated as objects, usually women. The unequal relationship is so deeply embedded in our culture that it is still structures the consciousness of many women. They do to themselves what men do to them. They survey, like men, their femininity.

(John Berger. p63)


One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of women in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.

(John Berger. p47)

Image result for Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone

Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone Luca Giordano, 1634 – 1705 early 1680s

Above I have noted three paintings from different eras that reflect how gender were deemed. The women the feminine, soft and beautiful creature – more often than not, painted passive and to be looked at. The men are the drivers of the stories, active poses looking onto the subject matter – they appear more flawed, more gruesome or active.



The following sentences were planned research that I had made from my research strategy in march. I wanted to continue with the research (and planned to do so for the following three months) I have explained if I followed through. During this time I had a busy animation unit for the BBC and so I didn’t have as much time. I explain what didn’t get done and what did. 



Develop my research by cross connecting ideas and ways of thinking throughout the chapters. (I made a visual spider diagram which let me understand all my points and how they connected. Really good exercise to understand if what I was looking into worked together.

Make sure interviews have been set up / emails been sent out (deadline this month)[Unfortunately I was very busy that I never set these up. I plan to fix this and send out emails by September to ensure interviews.]

Start the Bibliography. [I have already got a bibliography started from the research strategy research and hope to add to this and I continue my research journey.]

Find holes in my research and collect. (I hope to do this over summer and get stuck in properly.)


Start giving out the questionnaires

[I decided that I actually wanted to research more, before this time so that I can understand what I want to find out]

Collect and create a place for all of the quotes collected so far from books and online resources. I already have so many quotes, and I have put them onto a document.

Put quotes into suitable chapter. {Not yet complete}

Watch 10 animated films – I have watched lots of animated films to understand heroes and the character development.

Research online resources. Looked at a few pages.


Start creating the questionnaire. Think how I should spread it around (surveymonkey)

[12/10/2016] As of yet not completed, I decided I needed more research at this stage to understand exactly what I needed to ask from people.

Find the two people that I would like to interview (collect contact information.)

[12/10/2016] At this stage I identified Brenda Chapman (co-director of Pixar’s Brave) she runs an active blog. And a psychologist who explores villians and heroes Philip Zimbardo. I have their contact information.


Watch ten animated films. (completed and started to create a document where I can compare my research.)

[12/10/2016] At this stage I identified Brenda Chapman (co-director of Pixar’s Brave) she runs an active blog. And a psychologist who explores villians and heroes Philip Zimbardo. I have their contact information.

Visit the National Gallery

Collection of images

I watch animated film often, but decide to collect images in particular to understand the heart of the hero’s journey. The character development and themes. This is simply an archive of quotes and images which show important messages / parts of the stories. We can understand the emotion.

Gender Influence

On social media such as Facebook and Tumblr. And I have save posts that may help my dissertation. These are a few which made me stop and think. They are about feminism and gender. Some interesting ideas that I could use towards my research.

January, February and March

*** These three months were used to identify my lead question, gain research, make a research strategy, early progress map and present my ideas. It was the kick start to the year of research for my dissertation to be handed in some time in December. 


In March I went to see Zootopia in cinema; the newest Disney film. I think the way that it tackled gender and race was very clever. It reminded me of Pixar’s Inside Out that explored emotions and inner turmoil. This film explores the problems with society; the unfairness of prejudice. The lead character is a small female rabbit that wants to be a police officer – among giant predators she looks ridiculous and is mocked – but she trains and reaches her dream, only to be given a traffic warden position. It’s a great film for telling people to reach their true potential and not to judge anyone for how they look.

Review research strategy

MONDAY 7TH MARCH (deadline for synopsis)

Collect some online sources

Watch 5 animated movies and make notes

Week five: Formative (Hand in progress map and Research Strategy)


I made a presentation that showed the chapter outline and my lead question. It was a good way to speak my ideas and present how my research links together verbally. 


Develop my ideas from any feedback

Outline early chapters.


End of Feb: First draft of synopsis.


Week one: Read Brief and think up ideas

Week two: Initial Idea generation and mind-map.

Week three: Deciding on the final idea (question topic)

Week four: Initial  research begins.

December 2015

Image resultThe Art of Spirited Away

I got this book for Christmas. In the start there is several pages written by the director of Spirited away, Hayao Miyazaki about why he made the film and explained what he wanted to say. From this interview I decided that I had to look into the hero. Studio Ghibli have wonderful female characters / stories that teach the audience how to live in the world. The quote from this book which changed everything was this:


2015 July

Primary Research – Ghibli Museum

In 2015, I traveled around Japan for three weeks. During my time in Tokyo I ventured to Mitaka to go see the Ghibli Museum – this museum explores the magic behind the animation studio, Studio Ghibli. We were not allowed to take picture insides. The building was designed by Hayao Miyazaki (co-founder / director of Ghibli) and it feels like walking into one of his films. The interior of this incredible structure is a mixture of styles from his films and holds a labyrinth of different floors that can be accessed for instance by a tiny tower of spiral steps and a small bridge across the top. The whole inside is inspiring and truly captures the heart of the famous Ghibli films.

The first floor is dedicated to the making of the films and animation. It explores how the films are created. There is also a small cinema screening of a short film made for the museum – it was incredible to watch and explored the power of friendship against danger (I shall return to this). The second floor is a large showcase of storyboards, art, the process of coming up with ideas and finding inspiration. There was also an interactive room with a giant cat bus. The third floor had a shop. The whole museum explored the way that the studio creates their spectacular movies and the long process they take to develop till the final film (not only technically but story wise.) This has helped to inform my research for my dissertation.

Laputa GIF

(This image was a photograph inside of a Ghibli Shop in Kyoto). Totoro GIF