Our chance visit to the Tokyo Disney shop in Shibuya reminded us how much we love Disney. Being children of the late-80s, our love is focused on early 90’s ‘renaissance era’ Disney; that’s Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King. So, entering the magical world of Disney always brings us back to our childhood.
Latimer: We blindly walked the busy metropolitan streets of Shibuya and came across the amazing entrance to the Tokyo Disney shop. I have never seen a shop-front like it before! It was great! I was instantly a child again!
Stepping inside was like stepping into a cloud of fairy dust…
We were in heaven (even though we had no intention of buying anything- it’s freaky expensive). It captured the essence of being young, of stepping into a dream. The shop just spoke to your inner-child, completely ignoring boring adult you (perfect!).
It all reminded us that Disney is King of romance and happily ever-after. We were buzzing with happy memories. Our current selves, that aspire to write the perfect romantic adventure, were moulded in our youth by Disney stories. One of the favourites, was Beauty and The Beast.
The story is so perfect- the Prince cursed because of his cruelty, wastes away in his ruin of a castle, while the Beauty, Belle, chooses to save her father’s life by sacrificing her own freedom, becoming the Prince’s prisoner. And of course he is horrible to her (though really he is just misunderstood) but she doesn’t stand for it, a fierce heroine who stands up for herself. In time, they both realise their faults and find love in each other but not before the dramatic fight-scene with the rival man on the roof of the castle (in the middle of a dark storm, beautifully animated).
The story teaches us that cruelty rewards no one and kindness is a virtue that must be nurtured or it will whither. In fact Disney has always taught us valuable lessons through fantastical stories. We grow up and leave it behind one day of course (there’s no point in talking to me about The Princess and the Frog, or whatever else comes along thereafter), but we all have our Disney stories. And they create a little child within us that never really disappears.
A spark of fairy dust in our hearts, it’s why we write and draw and play, even if we grow up. Disney always brings a smile to my face. This shop was like being transported inside my own imagination for just a while. It was pure magic!
My favourite Disney movie of all time is Mulan. A beautifully crafted tale set in China, where the Huns have begun to threaten the Chinese empire and the Emperor has begun to amass a defending army in retaliation. It’s a story filled with love, loyalty, friendship, forgiveness and courage. It also showed us young girls that it didn’t matter who or what you were, if you worked hard enough and believed you could succeed, then you would, even with severe obstacles hindering you.
Again as with Beauty and the Beast, our heroine enters her current predicament because she wishes to protect her elderly father, Fa Zhou, from conscription into the army. Despite the threat of execution if she is discovered, she masquerades as a man and goes in his place. We follow her attempts at becoming a soldier, beginning as a truly abysmal recruit then progressing to a skilled and competent team member. During this she also gains respect and friendship from her fellow conscriptees and of course, Captain Li…
Even looking back at clips of it, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful, not to mention the music. To this day I still know the words of ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ (mainly because it’s on my ipod!)
This story still stands strong, even up against all the impressive 3D animation and special effects. We become truly immersed in her tale, we celebrate and commiserate as she does and of course, we clasp our hands together as we wait to see how her relationship with Captain Li develops.
As with all of the best Disney films, Mulan brings us on a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, until it culminates into a dramatic ending where our heroine shows what she’s capable of against the Hun leader with the backing of her soldier friends, who have accepted her for who she is despite her previous deception.
When you enter the Disney shop, these are the wonderful happy memories that you instantly recall. All the fantastic relationships, the rollercoaster tales, the warm fuzzy feelings and without a doubt, the beautiful soldiers, princes and beasts, you remember everything. So Latimer and I couldn’t help wander the store with smiles on our faces, exclaiming over well loved characters (and the price tags on them!).
Disney deals in dreams, possibly unattainable ones, but they’ve also taught us to strive hard for them no matter how difficult. For us, this really is why we write, to re-create these types of relationships, build these magical worlds and hopefully help to continue the dream for others.
While in the fantastic Harry Potter books, Albus Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” I personally believe our dreams make the living part all the sweeter. I think Disney might just have thought this too.