Essay Proposal

DES333 (83247) Design Discourse 2, 2014 – 15

Essay Proposal Form

1. Title of Your Essay

Comparing the Female lead in Western and Eastern Animation

2. Description for Your Topic

In my essay I wish to discuss Gender & Sexuality within Animation, focusing on the female lead. I want to mainly focus on two animation studios, Walt Disney Studio’s, an extremely well known western animation company, and Studio Ghibli, a equally well known eastern animation company. I didn’t just choose these two studio’s because of their popularity but because they both have one very important thing in common, almost all of their films have female leading characters.

With Disney I want to discuss how their female leads have changed throughout time and why this has happened, discussing the likes of Snow White, (who didn’t really have the lead in her own film) right up until the likes of Merida from Brave and Anna and Elsa from Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen, All of these characters are usually 16, the oldest being 17, turning 18.

With Studio Ghibli when looking at films such as ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ and ‘Spirited Away’ you can see that the female leads are much younger and are seen as children, for example the lead character from Spirited away is only 10 years old and the leading sisters from ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ are 11 and 4 years old.

I want to discuss why both studio’s like to focus on female leads, and I want to research further into why they have such different age ranges. I will be looking at the time period, cultural changes within different parts of the world at the time these film’s where released and how I think these factors were shown or affected the films of the time period. I also want to look at how media may have affected the story, appearance and script of these films.

3. The Research Question

  • What are the differences between female leads in Western & Eastern Animation and why is this different worldwide?
  • What message does this send to women and young girls alike?
  • Does this send a good or bad message and what should change?

4. Importance to the Field of Your Research

I feel this discussion is important because in todays society, advertising and the media sometimes send terrible messages to women and young girls about how they should look, dress, act and even what they should like, when in fact everyone should be allowed to be who they are, wear what they like, and have interest’s and act as they want without judgment. People see characters in films as role models and idols and when it comes to animated films from the two companies I am discussing, they are seen as family films, so the message they send to young girls is much more important, which is why I feel passionately about this subject and want to discuss and research it at length.

5. The Outline for the Essay

  • Introduction- What I plan to discuss within the essay and why
  • Discuss main points of both animation studios and compare similarities and differences
  • Discuss the message they give to young girls and women alike
  • Discuss reasons things may have happened, eg: finance, time period, cultural movements etc
  • Discuss what message the directors claim should be took from the films
  • Conclusion

5. Bibliography


Cavallaro, D (2006). The Anime Art of Hayao Mayazaki . London: McFarland & Co Inc .

(1992). Women and Animation: a Compendium. London: The British Film Institute

Lerew, J (2012). The Art of Brave. Chronicle Books

Davis, A (2006). Good Girls and Wicked Witches: Women in Disney Feature Animation. John Libbey Publishing

Sites and PDF’s

Gaynor, C (2014). The Ladies of Studio Ghibli

Jones, S (2014). Hayao Mayazaki: The Great Feminist Filmmaker of His Time

Stampler, L (2013). Do Animated Female Characters Need to be ‘Pretty’?


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