Hi! It’s Annie!
Happy Easter everyone! Summer is still a couple months away, but it doesn’t feel like it. At least here in California, the weather is acting like summer is already here. But also knowing California, the weather might change drastically again. So while it’s still feeling like summer around here, I decided to watch ‘Lilo and Stitch’ which is one of my favorite summer movies on top of it being one of my favorite movies of all time. But I will never understand why the character of Nani keeps getting overlooked. When you think of this movie, you’ll probably think of either Lilo or Stitch or you may even think of Angel (who did not actually appear in this movie but has really blown up as a character of this franchise). But Nani, David, and other characters from this film have consistently fallen into obscurity despite how good of characters they are. More recently some people have actually been talking about these characters again, but not to the extent that they deserve. We talked about David a little more in our post talking about the best Disney love interests, so this one is all about ‘Lilo and Stitch’. Because they really do deserve their own post.
Nani is one of the only, and one of the first, Disney women to be drawn with reasonable body proportions. She has a stomach and thighs and none of that is looked down on. In fact, Nani spends the majority of the film wearing a crop top with confidence. With so many Disney princesses drawn to look “perfect”, this is so important. Most princesses are drawn with unreasonable waist sizes, no stomachs, and skinny legs. Nani actually looks like most women. And, more importantly, she inspires women and little girls because she doesn’t have unreasonable body proportions to live up to. Nani is beautiful and is seen as beautiful by other characters without having to be far too skinny to be real. She is so important for body image in animation. I think a lot of people also skip over the fact that Nani is nineteen during the events of this film. She is a nineteen year old who is now the guardian of her little sister and is fighting to keep her family together. Throughout the movie she deals with trying to take care of her sister, finding a job, and realizing that there may be nothing she can do to take care of her sister in the way that she wants to. She gives up everything to take care of her sister, including the thought of having a love life despite the fact that David likes her and she definitely likes him as well (she likes his butt and fancy hair). Nani gives up so much for her sister, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. She is beautiful and resourceful and really deserves the title of honorary Disney princess, a title generally given to badass women in Disney who aren’t technically princesses. Unfortunately, she is not considered one despite her being one of the best female protagonists in Disney.
As I’ve said before, we’ve talked a little about David in another post, but there’s no such thing as talking too much about David. David is one of the sweetest and most respectful love interests in all of Disney. He respects Nani’s boundaries and is always there when she and her sister need him. But he’s also adorably awkward and clumsy. Of course, his clumsiness isn’t necessarily the best when it sets himself or other things on fire, but he’s still such a sweet character. He doesn’t even question when Nani and Lilo show up with a bunch of aliens in a spaceship at the end of the film and request to be taken to shore. He only tells them that it might take him multiple trips. David is important because his relationship with Nani isn’t based off of love at first sight or anything of that nature whatsoever. It’s completely based off of friendship and a shared trust in each other. David is with Nani because he knows exactly what to do to cheer up Nani and Lilo after a bad day and he comes running in with a much needed job for her when she really needs it.
Pleakley is just as funny as comedic side characters in Disney such as Mushu. He is an expert on the planet Earth for the Galactic Senate. But that’s using the word “expert” very loosely. Cobra Bubbles protected the world from the Galactic Senate once before by claiming that mosquitos were an endangered species; and Pleakley is dedicated to the survival of the mosquito population. He eventually realizes that mosquitos aren’t pleasant and that he likes sharks even less (Tricky fish!). He is also debated to be a trans character as Pleakley chooses to present himself as a woman when disguising himself for humans. This is something that has carried into television series and sequel movies. But there has been no confirmation and he generally goes by he/him pronouns when he’s not disguised as a human. But I definitely think that there’s more than enough evidence to refer to Pleakly as she/her.
He may seem like an antagonist, but really he just wants what’s best for Lilo. The audience is understandably frustrated with him throughout the movie, until the end when he helped secure Stitch a place on Earth by telling Lilo to show the Grand Councilwoman the paperwork from the dog shelter. He’s really a big softy and he even shows up as a friend of their family in the television series! He’s also voiced by the Allstate guy. So you know you’re in good hands. Sorry.
The characters in Lilo and Stitch are multi-dimensional and some of the most realistic characters to come out of Disney. The family theming in this movie as well as the well explored characters are really what makes this movie so great. And this means all the characters, even the ones that aren’t Lilo and Stitch themselves.
See you across the pond!