For someone who was never a big fan of cartoons - disney or otherwise - growing up, I sure watch a lot of them now.
Not that I'm having some sort of early quarter-life crisis, on the contrary, these cartoons are hardly meant for kids. The cartoons I'm talking about come under the genre of Anime - mostly japanese-made serieses or movies that cover any and every subject matter - predestiny, duty, the meaning of freedom... everything from the nature of life to dealing with death.
Each title is like a story I watch unfold at the artist's pace and for each good story, at the end, I'm left wanting just a little bit more. I want them to tell me the answers to the questions that they are posing and yet I know, that only my own answers can give me any satisfaction. What does it mean to have a soul? Can a machine have real life?... Each time, they leave me to ponder my answers to the questions that they have left unanswered.
But more than that I think, I have finally found heroes in these cartoons that I can identify with, admire and respect.
I have a confession to make... I never liked any of the Disney Princesses. I watched the princess cartoons for the songs. The only one I had some semblance of liking was Belle and that was because of her love for books. Her dream library - that was my dream. I don't think I was ever meant to be a Princess in the way most people dream of being Princesses. Where most people dream of being gracious, kind, beautiful and loved by all... Where most people dream of having beautiful gowns, gorgeous palaces, and a prince to sweep them off their feet... It was all just a little empty to me.
In anime at last, I have found dreams big enough to satisfy me. In Utena I have a heroine that dreamed not of being a princess but of being a prince who can do the rescuing and be strong enough to stay loyal, true and protect those she loves. In Nana, I have someone strong enough to give up love to be able to follow her dream and stand on her own strength. And the best part? There is no Happy Ending. No Happily Ever After with adoration of subjects and a wedding. What there is, is pain, tears, suffering and yet the will to be strong, to do the right thing, and to make your own future.
That's something that I can live with.