Archive for hols: prince of the sun

Honorary Sidekicks: Chiro and Toto

Posted in Honorary Sidekick with tags , on September 23, 2009 by ecco1983

Film: Little Norse Prince (English)
         Taiyō no Ōji: Horusu no Daibōken (Japanese)
*English titles vary on the edition

Voices: Noriko Ohara (Japanese) (Chiro)
               Hisashi Yokomori (Japanese) (Toto)

Some sources say that Chiro is a female and some say the character is a male. I’m not too sure because even though Chiro was voiced by a female, the character could be male for in some anime, some male characters are voiced by women. However, for the purpose of this entry, as Toto can be confirmed as a male, I will address Chiro as a female.

 

The Character

I knew that as soon as I wrote about Hilda the other day that my next Sidekick entry would be about her sidekicks, Chiro and Toto. The interesting thing about sidekicks of the hero/heroine is that they may not always get on but they have the same goal and purpose and in the end, they will come together and help the hero/heroine. Chiro and Toto could not be any different from each other and unlike most sidekicks, they want Hilda to take down a different path.

The irony is that if this essay is correct, Toei Doga (aka Toei Animation) wanted the latest in a long line of family-friendly animated cartoons influenced, of course by the growing Disney animation trend and insisted that several cartoon characters were put in the film to appeal to the younger audience. Isao Takahata and his team possibly didn’t want that so to be sneaky, they brought in what Toei Animation wanted: cutesy characters. Of course, it is obvious that the studio didn’t ask for specifics because they made Chiro and Toto (especially Toto) much more than what is expected if you’re trying to create a Disney-style animation.

I originally thought I could analyse Chiro and Toto separately but since then, I have realised that is not possible. When it comes down to it, they cannot exist as separate entities. They seem to have only goal in the film: to influence Hilda any way possible into following their way of thinking. When I see these two, I immediately think of the old cliched angel/demon on shoulder idea used in cartoons. This has been used on Pluto, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin (from Family Guy) and even as recent as Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove). The angel/demon idea seems to pop up in cartoon when the character in question suffers a moral dilemma.

 

In the case of Hilda, Chiro is her angel. This cute little squirrel could not be any sweeter. She is very timid and represents everything that is good about Hilda. With Hilda going at a crossroad and having a huge conflict, you could say that Hilda’s good side is manifested in Chiro and this is possibly what Hilda would be like if she destroyed Toto. However, I find it ironic that since Chiro wants Hilda to do what is right, she does not find her voice to others, such as Hols. In this sense, it can be said that Chiro has no personality except when conversing with Hilda. In fact, she doesn’t talk to anyone except Hilda.

Also, I find it interesting that in the main conflict with Hols and Hilda, Toto runs his mouth telling Hols who Hilda is and attacking Hols when Hols tries to persuade Hilda to turn to good. Chiro doesn’t say anything. We don’t even see her until the deed is done and then she shows off her emotions. The thing is before the deed, it could be said that Hilda has become succumbed (if only temporarily) by her dark side and Chiro was temporarily banished from Hilda psychologically. In my opinion, Chiro reappears again moments later because Hilda feels sad, remorseful and guilty which could reflect the good side of Hilda.

On the other hand, Toto is Hilda’s devil. He is arrogant, assertive menacing and a bully. Whenever someone tries to go against Hilda’s evil side and try to bring her to the light (ie Chiro and Hols), Toto attacks him. In terms of Hols, he attacks the boy whilst in flight and with Chiro, he chases her and torments her (although what really happens is never shown on-screen).

Toto’s involvement in the film is actually slightly more complex than Chiro. When it comes to Chiro, she is only seen when Hilda has a conflict. Toto has more lines and more screen time than Chiro. During an attack before Hols flees, Toto attacks Coro the bear to which Coro fight backs which indicates that they see each other. When Hilda is singing to the villagers, Toto stands next to Drago and makes a menacing line. Whether Drago hears this or not is questionable.

 

This is further questioned in two more scenes. Toto has a conversation with Grunwald in the underworld where we the viewer finds out that Hilda is Grunwald’s sister. This means that Grunwald can see him but then this could be due to his magical abilities and demonic personality. The only other person that Toto addresses directly to is Hols. However, he is by Hilda’s side at the time so maybe if he is around either Grunwald or Hilda, Chiro and Toto could become fully manifested in front of humans.

The same site I stated above also makes the assumption that Chiro is Hilda’s Id and Toto is her Superego. In case you are not up on your psychology, then basically your brain has three levels: the Id, the Ego and the Superego. The Id is what your inner desires are. When you are born, your brain is consumed by your Id because that is all you know. Your Superego is a completely different. It strives to act in a socially appropriate manner. The Super-ego controls your sense of right and wrong and guilt. It helps you fit into society by getting you to act in socially acceptable ways. Basically, your Superego commands what you want. Your Id tells you what you want. You cannot escape your Id and the sneakiest it comes through when you’re older is in your dreams.

I can believe the case the site in question argues, in particular, the argument I put forward that Hilda is not in fact a demon but a human taken in by Grunwald after her village was destroyed. I basically said that Hilda could have been given the choice to join Grunwald or die in a similar manner than Grunwald does to Hols in their first scene together. It could be said that when she chose to become his sister, Toto could have been created by Grunwald to push her and to make sure that she does do what Grunwald asks of her. Of course, that doesn’t explain the origin of Chiro for she does not appear in any scenes with Grunwald. Maybe Chiro became manifested after Toto was brought in to influence Hilda to come back to the light and become human once more.

It’s weird that when Toei Daga asked the team to bring in more fluffy characters, the team probably didn’t expect that these two characters would become two of the best sidekicks in animation (ever!) and would enhance the pyschology of one of the best female characters in animation. All I can say is respect for Takahata!!!!!

 

The voices behind the characters

The actors Noriko Ohara (Chiro) and Hisashi Yokomori (Toto) were chosen perfectly. Yokomori’s voice gives off the menacing, evil and dark tones that is demanded of Toto. Ohara is sweet but not sugary Disney-style sweet. She makes Chiro sound so cute and adorable that you cannot help but love the character. These two actors give the characters a lot of eprsoanlity to them, in spite of the fact that the characters are not meant to have much personality. Brilliant!!!!

Honorary Princess: Hilda

Posted in Honorary Princess with tags , on September 21, 2009 by ecco1983

 

Film: Little Norse Prince (English)
          Taiyō no Ōji: Horusu no Daibōken (Japanese)
*English titles vary on the edition

Voice: Etsuko Ichihara (Japanese)
*no official English dub as of September 2009

 

The Character

 Ah yes an early pre-Ghibli Princess created by the Ghibli people and you can tell. She is the original Miyazaki heroine and the blueprint for Miyazaki’s future female characters. She is argued to be one of the most complex female characters in animation. There is so much to say about her because she has a strong good side and a strong evil side. Hilda is technically a psychology dream. Hell, she’s got her own angel and demon who represent her good and evil side fighting as she comes to find herself and where she truly belongs.

When we first see her, she looks angelic, apparently an orphan from a village destroyed by a monster . She has two companions: Toto and Chiro. She plays the harp and sings beautifully. Hols immediately feels for her because she seems to be as lonely as him and she is welcomed into the village.

Sounds simple enough? Wrong! It all changes when we the viewer learns that Hilda is in fact the sister of the main villain, Grunwald. As time goes on, we learn that the monster destroying man villages could be Hilda. We learn that this could be the case. When she sings and plays the harp, the men stop work and listen to her. She is like a Siren and it is through her that mistrust is brought onto the villagers which, if not stopped, would lead to Hols’ demise and eventually the destruction of the village. We see her as evil after that and we know she is a the sister of a demon and therefore a demon herself.

That is until the scene with Hilda and Mauni in the meadow. This is an important scene in terms of Hilda’s character development for we learn a little more about her. We also see Toto and Chiro in what their purpose in the film is. Despite planning to destroy the village, she aims to spare little Mauni which shows that there is love in her heart. Chiro and Toto fight to put their point of view across which leads to frustration. One line intrigued me which is said after Mauni lies on her lap and asks her to sing:

“I can’t really sing.”

Despite later Hilda saying that she’s “a devil, a devil’s sister”, there is some points to wonder what does she mean by sister.

The first clue comes in the taglines that surround Hilda’s character in the official film trailer:

“Am I demon…or a human being?….beautiful young Hilda’s love is awakened”

After seeing this trailer on the DVD, I thought back to the part of the movie to when Hols first meets Grunwald and as Grunwald holds onto the rope that Hols is climbing, he says:

“I’ve heard you are a promising boy and I want you to be my little brother……. Your life is in my hands. Just as the whole world is. Can you resist me? Nobody can resist me.”

It makes me wonder if Hilda is Grunwald’s sister biologically or is she address as his sister symbolically? I wonder if Hilda was really human until her village was destroyed and as the sole survivor of the massacre, she was given a choice to join him or die and she chooses the former. A clue is the Medal life given to her by Grunwald to give her immortality. If she was an immortal demon, she would not need this. Also, she could have been given her musical talents by Grunwald in a way to make sure the humans turn against each other.

Or it could be she is the biological sister, born by a human. Maybe Grunwald was once a human and became warped whilst she stays pure.

She is just as manipulated by Grunwald and Toto as much as she manipulates the villagers. I feel that Hilda is deep down vulnerable but she cannot be saved by Chiro or Hols. In the end, she has to save herself.

 

The voice behind the character

If it is Etsuko Ichihara singing, then she was perfect. It brings the viewer in like the villagers with her Siren-like singing voice and she makes Hilda sound girly, especially with that beautiful giggle. Sheer perfection.

Honorary Prince: Hols

Posted in Honorary Prince with tags , on September 11, 2009 by ecco1983

Film: Little Norse Prince (English)
         Taiyō no Ōji: Horusu no Daibōken (Japanese)
*English titles vary on the edition

Voice: Hisako Ôkata (Japanese)
*no official English dub as of September 2009

The Character

I know what you lot are thinking: if the original site and Facebook groups were influenced by Studio Ghibli, WHY have I started off this blog with a character that is a Honorary character? Well, I’ve been a bit sneaky because I have started that way but then again I haven’t. This film was produced and released by Toei Animation in 1968 sixteen years before Studio Ghibli’s first film Nausicaä. However, the film was directed by Isao Takahata who would become a huge part of Ghibli and it was animated by future greats such as Yōichi Kotabe and Hayao Miyazaki (Yes, the same Hayao Miyazaki who would become the backbone of Studio Ghibli, directing such classics as Princess Mononoke, the Oscar winning Spiriting Away and the Oscar-nominated Howl’s Moving Castle). So when you look at it deeply, you will find that the film was created and animated by the geniuses who would eventually become Studio Ghibli.

When I first saw this film, I had no idea about who made it/directed it and not even the year it was released. My first preconceptions were that it was a small 1980s film created by Studio Ghibli and that it seemed too stereotypical for these geniuses. So imagine my shock when I found out that this film was released in 1968!!! When you learn that, only then can you understand the significance of the film.

Anyway, back to Hols. Looking at him, he is pretty much stereotypical. After all, he kills a monster pike, a feat that even adults much older than him cannot do. His first scene is when he tackles on wolves with only an axe to help him. He is technically the sole hero of the film and his presence brings (unintentional) negative impressions and positive impressions on the villagers he encounters. He has the sole task of destroying the demon. He is the 1960s Japanese anime version of Harry Potter (only he carries a sword instead of a wand). In a way, he could pass of as a Disney Prince.

However, in many other ways, he breaks all traditions. He is a very young man, possibly about 14 and is very adventurous. He is brave and stands up for his beliefs. He also has incredible strength and has a lot of love in his heart, especially towards the main female character, Hilda, although it is not implied whether he loves her as a friend or whether his feelings are deeper than that.

Even though his father dies early on in the film, he does not turn into an emo kid. Instead, he fulfils his father’s last wish to find the village where he was born. He is also one of the few voices of reason and is very persistent. I mean, he is killed and sent to the Endless Wood and the first thing he does when he returns back from the Wood is that he tries to reason with his killer to see good in their heart. You would have thought that being murdered by this person would have made Hols hate her forever. This means he sees the light in everyone (well almost everyone!).

It can be said that he is the prototype for Pazu, in terms of his bravery, love towards the heroine and his adventurous streak.

A prince in his own right and due to the fact that he was created by animators who would start Studio Ghibli, his is a true Studio Ghibli Prince although I guess he will always be the Prince Toei want to forget about!

The voice behind the character

As of today, there is only one official version, the original Japanese version (although the title has varied depending on the edition and country it is released. The subtitles has also given a variation on the characters’ names, in particular Hols and Hilda). So, despite no English dub to compare it to, what can I say about Hisako Ôkata who voices Hols? Hmmm , I liked his voice as Hols. He is actually quite convincing and yes the guy does scream but only when the script calls for it. I would imagine Hols to be in his teens and Okata gives Hols a powerful voice for a teen.

I decided to look up on Okata and find out that he was in his late 20’s when he was the voice of Hols. That is a shock! I seriously never expected that!

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