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Thesis 2005: Disney vs Anime by aimee5 Thesis 2005: Disney vs Anime by aimee5

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I wrote this 4 years ago, but it never occurred to me that I could put it up on DA ... until now.

Rumor had it that it got a good mark. But I left University abruptly after I got a job, and never bothered coming back to check my grade. I contacted my lecturer a few months later, but he said he lost my grade review in the pile somewhere. All the same I kept getting comments from friends and people down the years, who were referred to it, for their own thesis/research/writings ... and all in all, I'm quite pleased with it myself.

* Hit download for the .pdf file (7MB, lots of pictures!)


Discussion: Variety vs Conformity
Disney characters can be identified in their differences in face shape, nose and mouths, whereas anime characters tend to have the same idealised, round face shape.

There is a common Asian expression that goes, “The peg that stands out is pounded down.”

According to Hofstede, people from collectivist cultures learn to think of themselves in terms of ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, whereas people in individualist cultures, have a separate sense of ‘I’ –ness from others. For collectivists, ‘identity’ is dependent on society, or ones ‘in-group’, whereas individualists maintain their identity not through other people but through ones individual characteristics such as personal preferences (ie: what I like and dislike).

Collectivists owe loyalty to their own in-groups, and breaking this loyalty is a grave offense. We can see this style of thinking being reflected in anime face shapes, noses and mouths, where the shape of the face tends to conform to an ideal ‘round’ face shape, a small ski-jump button nose and a small mouth for ideal and/or heroic characters. Supporting characters and comic-relief characters such as in d2, e2 and c4 tend to shy away from this ideal by being comparatively large-mouthed, or having different face shapes from the heroes. Therefore, even if there is some form of variety in anime faces, this variety tends to be attributed to those characters that are less than ideal, or one might say, less acceptable to society.

In Disney faces, however, heroes may have any number of different face shapes, mouths and noses. For example, in b3, John Silver, a main character in ‘Treasure Planet’ has an abnormally large nose, whereas Jim Hawkins has a more ideally proportioned, small nose. In ‘Treasure Planet: A Voyage of Discovery’, Glen Keane states that he modeled the design of Silver, after the proportions of a bear, and for this reason he gave him a large, meaty nose. This seems to conform to the individualist style of thinking, where ones identity is dependent on individual characteristics instead of ones ‘in-group’. John Silver is an anti-hero type character,
whom is ‘essentially a good guy’. He is drawn to be likable, yet he has a dark and obsessive side (for gold and riches). In order to balance the good and bad aspects of this character it makes sense that Keane chose to model his character design after a bear, which is both cuddly yet dangerous at the same time. Captain Amelia (d3) is modeled after a ‘cat’ to denote female grace, Dr. Delbert Doppler (c3) is modelled after a dog, to denote his loyal nature as a side character, and the second in-command (e3) is modelled after a rock, to denote his stable, trustworthy nature.
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DisneyMoonAndBack Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2016  Student Digital Artist
I wouldn't say Disney uses simplicity over detail. The next time you watch a disney film look at the background which I 100% guarantee will have lots of detail and its own style. An example of a Disney film with detail is Sleeping Beauty which is one of the most time spent Disney films ever made because of all the detail in the background and details on the characters to make them their own style for the film. Whoch basically meant that every frame and background of Sleeping Beauty was art. By the way this doesnt just go for Sleeping Beauty it was just the most well detailed animated film i could think of. Details on things like tone, aimation, style, characters and songs are what make Disney films different and not simple at all.
Delta-waves22 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
Anime- Anime uses rigidly animated yet detailed characters. They are detailed in the eyes in face. Have shading when there isn't shading. Rigid yet energetic poses.
Uses Saga plots . Lot's of shading.

Disney- Constant motion. Constantly uses natural lines and and motion. Varied art still feels cartoony. Uses large egg like eyes with eye liner on the top. A more naturalistic way
Use different plots often.
Knightridergirl80 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015
I like anime, except I wish they'd stop with their cliche portrayal of the girls as baby faced, girlish and big breasted.
temus Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014
you not have this work in spanish?
smoshpitpie Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I see your point, but the whole "stillness", "silence", etc. wouldn't be for all anime.
ovAman Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013   General Artist
thankyou so much for this. ive been scouring the internet for two years looing for something like this!
Antimanele104 Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013
Man,if the goddamn japanese animators would be more creative in drawing their 95% of anime characters rather than using the same crappy stereotypes,I would definetely give anime a second chance.But still,they are going for quantity against quality and this really grinds my nerves.This and the lack of fluence in their anime shows really sets my head to explode with anger.Even with these massive flaws,anime is still getting popular because of abjects who praise them as in a form of art.
Yes,I'm an anime hater,I've watched enough of them to know when to say "Stop!Enough with this cliched-to-the-death-style pseudo-art form!" because of it's flaws.
celarania Featured By Owner May 31, 2013
This was a really interesting piece, though I do have one small bone of contention. In your piece you say:

"This difference in production process, reflects the individualist and collectivist ideals of each group, in that for
anime artists, the character is more important than the actors. However in Disney, the individual actors are
more important than their representative characters."

I'm not sure this is entirely accurate, but rather that it's further promoting the individuality of the character by incorporating physical details. While the example you cited is from the voice actor, there are different sources for this individuality: in The Little Mermaid it was the woman they were using for live action reference frequently blew her hair out of her way, for Jasmine Mark Henn used his sister to get some of Jasmine's personality, Glen Keane used his wife's feet for Tarzan.

While part of the post-animation lip-synch is financial, I think it also fits what you were talking about. In Disney animation, they want a strong performance where the character has a unique vocal style: a villainous character speaks with a sneer which is shown in the animation as well. In anime, you see less of this. While the villain may have a villainous tone, their mouth movements don't scream villain the way the Disney ones do (similar to the facial expressions).

Overall it was a really good read and I had never thought of the ornamentation in anime like that before, but I think it's really interesting!
ketkazva Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
i truly think the proper comparison should have been between disney and ghibli, as both are particular industries known worldwide, regardless of the fast that they appeared in different timelines, totally depending on the audience. the animes you've chosen indeed look similar with disney characters, but it's not sufficient..
ketkazva Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
WrathFan99 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Student General Artist
( Facepalm )It`s just like capitalist sheep to believe the Zionist lie individualism and collectivism are mutually exclusive .
czxcjx Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012

Since you've read McCloud, I'm sure you're familiar with the pyramid.

The problem with your thesis is that while Disney encompasses one single company, anime encompasses multiple different companies and many different people. Your scope of anime is simply to small to fit the analysis, also it'll easily get people pissed about how you're generalizing a whole country's animation industry into certain set elements.

But GENERALLY, I think you've hit the mark despite the various outliers in the genre. Although I don't quite agree with the cause being collectivism.

Personally, although I don't have a thesis about it, I feel that what the Japanese are generally drawn to are aesthetically pleasing things (cute and beautiful), putting an emphasis on a cuter style rather than a complex style. As a result you get the 'clean' styles of anime, more expression means more complexity which could destroy the whole 'cleanness' of the animation. Which is also why anime also tends to focus more on background and atmosphere (Shinkai, Miyazaki, Shinbo) more than varieties of character design.
FreyaTsukinami Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2012  Student General Artist
Supah-Panda Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012
I love how people are turning this into a contest imstead just simple observations. This isn't about superiority it's about undstanding two distinctive styles of animation from an unbiased standpoint.

Why does everything have to be a contest people? Just enjoy things for what they are.
Redfoxbennaton Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Are you just saying differences or are you just naming off who is superior?
aimee5 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012
Which would you prefer me to do?
Redfoxbennaton Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
aimee5 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2012
Yeah it's probably that. I never know myself so I usually let my observer decide.
Redfoxbennaton Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Okay. I will, so you didn't make a point for Disney Vs. Anime? Just a let the reader decide concept? Why did you choose that?
Kitten2cat Featured By Owner May 6, 2012
This is interesting. Anyone who has watched a couple of anime shows knows that anime isn't very original. Anyways, you did a great job!
LucidOrdinance Featured By Owner May 5, 2012
Movement vs. Still life, and the individual vs the collective.

Taking those terms in mind, this gives me a new perspective on things. Great work, mayne.
LiamLockheart Featured By Owner May 5, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So whats your opinion on anime artists who make an actual effort to have their characters look different and varied?
thenekwitch Featured By Owner May 7, 2012
^I'm with this person!!!!!!!!
LiamLockheart Featured By Owner May 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well I mean a good chunk of what they said made a lot of sense, but I'm really just curious on their opinion about anime artists with varied characters.
As for Disney; The princesses almost always have giant-desu-eyes and waists so thin they could clasp their hands around them.
thenekwitch Featured By Owner May 13, 2012
Me too... And since I'm stupid, (and dyslexic) I cannot respond to all those letters. XD But, they're all unique in some way... Even if they're weird..
randomacity Featured By Owner May 31, 2011
this is sweet, nice work. I'll have to finish reading to be able to give you my full input, but I can already see this is incredible.
aimee5 Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
hey thanks :)
randomacity Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2011
I just read through it all! It's awesome, I definitely think you're on to something, and it's probably a good thing to keep in mind when designing future characters :)
aimee5 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2011
Thanks I appreciate you taking the time :D
CaliforniaClipper Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Very very interesting. Thank you for sharing!

I bet you could get people lined up to have you "analyze" their characters, determine which influences most shaped their designs. =D
aimee5 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2011
Hmm ... not a bad idea
hontokokoro Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2009
Honestly, you're one of the few who has the right idea. Don't get me wrong, certain Japanese animators, such as Miyazaki, are true masters. The backgrounds are ridiculously detailed, the movement of the characters is above that of your standard anime fare, and the stories are sweeping.


This link, which has concept images of Disney's upcoming "Princess and the Frog," is something I think people who jump on the whole "Disney is bland and generic" bandwagon must see. [link]
The backgrounds are mind-numbingly beautiful and the character designs show depth and development. Anyone who tells me that those images aren't art are either drunk, ignorant, or both.
aimee5 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2009
Thanks for reading. Cool concept art.
NOENDER Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2009
Hi Aimee5!

Thanks for sharing this incredible article!

For the last 2 years I have been studying animation on my own, mostly using material from popular Anime and Disney films separately..(Wich resulted on a lame Star Wars Anime: [link] )
However, I'm amazed of how deep and profound this article really is, and how you were able to put in words some ideas that are almost unconscious for most of us... I'd love to read more material like this in the future, like expanding in camera placement, music, composition, FX, etc... since these themes are just as relevant as character design when differentiating western/eastern animation.. Hey! You could writte a book on this subject...! I'd surely buy it!

Again, thanks for posting this here...

Take care!:winner:
aimee5 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2009
Hey, thanks :D
asia-catdog-blue Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2009
W#hy can't those weeaboos see something in this truth?
TheCheapskate93 Featured By Owner May 10, 2009
Mhm, very interesting, indeed... I'm pretty sure I am more of the Individualist, yes...

Ha, there's a lot of work put into this, I'm not surprised it got a good mark ;) Disney also tends to put in a lot more detail in movement and eye expression (as you said), which can barely be catched by the eye, but seen when looking at the movies frame by frame. I love that.
Fotohunter Featured By Owner May 8, 2009  Student Writer
Wow, really it's an incredible comparison, it's not the first one I heard but it add more info to what I had been thinking during some time, the description of the characters really makes me understand how the characteristics of the characters fits the roles they play and their actions.

"I" & "we" are really two concepts that are really troublesome to think about, for them "the grass of the neighbour is greener"

Again, incredible Idea:w00t:
aimee5 Featured By Owner May 9, 2009
Thanks, thanks for reading, I appreciate it.

Yeah sometimes I think that the root of all the problems of humanity comes from this conflict between I and We.
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Submitted on
May 8, 2009
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