Animation: Top Animal Sidekicks

I do not know what prompted me to write this post, but I felt that my love and admiration for animated film has long gone under the radar compared to my passion for French films or photo spam of attractive male actors. Thus, I have decided to break down my top animated sidekicks, a lot of which are Disney because they do an incredible job, but there is also a little love thrown towards my Japanese animated friends.

Growing up, or if you are like me and continue to watch cartoons, it always seemed that our human protagonist would be accompanied by a little creature, from insect to rodent to reptile to crustacean to domesticated animal to mythical creature and so on, whose purpose is usually to provide comic relief, whether they are able to speak or simply pulling a Charlie Chaplin, bringing the laughs through physical gestures as well as facial expressions.

Cinderella

Gus and Jaq in Cinderella

Cinderelli! Cinderelli! Oh my goodness, these two mice make my life complete. How would they not! Plus, compared to most animal sidekicks, (it could be argued that these two aren’t really sidekicks because they aren’t carried around in Cinderella’s pocket as her best mates) these two can actually talk! Plus, I prefer their little story compared to the actually love story that they are trying to help! Their attempts to get chicken feed without the cat, Lucifer, noticing, and all their little creative antics to help get their pal to the ball are just too hilarious. Also, Gus’ voice and round physique add’s to the comedy as his chubby cheeks mush his words together and his round belly makes it difficult for Cinderella to find him a shirt that fits properly. If you don’t enjoy the foolery of these two mice, well then, you should probably stop reading.

Aladdin

Abu with his best friend Aladdin
Jasmine and Raja

Here is a movie where both the male and female protagonists have animated sidekicks. Where Abu is a little instigator and humour comes from his constant “monkeying around,” Raja is a strong, aggressive protector, whose comic relief is delivered when defending Jasmine. Aladdin was the first movie I ever saw in theatres and naturally, like every other girl, I became obsessed with Jasmine and Raja, like I’m sure most boys developed a fascination with the relationship between Abu and Aladdin. I dressed up as Jasmine for Hallowe’en and when my parents bought me a stuffed tiger, I promptly named it Raja. I think Raja is still floating around the house somewhere. Like all sidekicks, Abu and Raja are there, even when they get a little neglected due to the budding romance between their human companions, the two do their job in making the strenuous situations that unfold seem a little less frustrating.

Tangled

My favourite little green guy, Pascal

LOVE THIS LITTLE GREEN MAN! Seriously, Pixar got it right with this little guy. The best friend of isolated Rapunzel, Pascal definitely brings the laughs. As you can clearly see from the screen shot above, he is not only her only confidant that understands her, but he goes along with every game and   activity that Rapunzel does because she has no one else. The fact that he is not thrilled by all of these amusements is what makes him so adorable, plus the fact that he has the best facial expressions and reactions to everything. I particularly love it when he sticks his tongue in Rider’s ear to wake him up, then yelps and falls when he does. I laughed like a five-year old and am not ashamed of it.

Pocahontas

Meeko the racoon and Flit the hummingbird

The reason this film is on my list is because I find the pairing of a raccoon and a hummingbird to be quite intriguing and sets up a good comic pairing. Meeko is the raccoon, and one of Pocahontas’ many animal friends. He is sly and rather greedy, and loves to take food from anybody, which is where most of the comedy is derived from (as well as the chase scenes), considering the film aims to depict a rather serious subject. Flit, the hummingbird, gets rather annoyed with Meeko on a regular basis, which I also find to be enjoyable. He is friendly, but serious, which is a nice contrast to Meeko’s playful and gluttonous persona. I feel the need to re-watch this film now because of these two. Even though I am not very fond of the narrative, these two provide what John Smith and Pocahontas lack in personality (blah).

My Neighbor Totoro

Totoro: seriously my dream friend as a child, and now too I guess

Oh my goodness. The quintessential Japanese children’s anime, My Neighbor Totoro, had me believing that a giant cat-like create would come along to be my best friend, someone I could talk to because all they could do is listen, someone to guide me, someone to help with life’s greatest dramas, and someone fluffy enough to snuggle into at night. There are also chibi (dwarf) totoro and chu (medium) totoro, in case you wanted the complete Russian doll set. Mei and Satsuki are very lucky children to have these incredible creatures as their protectors, making sure they do not get into too much trouble. I think one of the more magical moments in the film is when Mei wants the plants in the garden to grow faster and a totoro comes along to help her, synchronizing upward arm thrusting movements, and each time their arms raise, the taller the plants grow until there is a lush forest before them. If you are not a big fan of anime or Japanese films in general, this tends to be the one exception to the rule.

The Little Mermaid

Sebastian and Flounder

As a Film Study major, I made it mandatory to not graduate university before I wrote a paper about The Little Mermaid. Silly? No. I love this movie, even if the morals are kind of absurd by todays standards as it promotes the notion that women should give up everything to be with a man (I highly disapprove this message). However, this is not the reason I watch this movie more than once a year (I swear I am an adult). Ariel’s companions, Sebastian and Flounder, are the perfect sidekicks for balancing out the teenage unruly Ariel. Flounder is always an avid supporter of Ariel no matter what as well as a nervous wreck, as is exemplified when a shark attacks he and Ariel, where as Sebastian’s nervousness is comedic and entertaining when he reluctantly gives into the desires of Ariel.

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon with her cat Luna

Sailor Moon. I would slot this show under the file of childhood addiction. If I knew I was going to miss a show, I begged my mom to put in one of those ancient things called VHS tapes and ask her to record it so I could watch it promptly on my return home from school. Luna and Sailor Moon are such a classic pairing, as the Japanese choose a black cat and white girl to work together in protecting the world from all the strange witches and evil plotters that they are confronted with (Also like in Kiki’s Delivery Service). Who is Sailor Moon without Luna? No one. Even their names are the perfect couple. Though I wouldn’t say that Luna ever provides much comic relief, rather it is Sailor Moon’s clumsy personality that supplies most of the comedy, Luna is always there as a teacher, giving guidance when needed and trying to protect Moon not just from those who are evil, but from herself.

Ratatouille

Remy! My favourite little rodent

Now here is a different animated sidekick relationship, where the animal is the primary focus of the film and the human is secondary! I can watch this movie over and over again and never tier of Remy and the incredible French culture that surrounds him, from the food to the landscape, even if it is animated. This film captures my love of France and the fact that it is depicted through animation only makes my heart grow fonder. Plus, we are privileged to experience life as a rat, even though we all know that they are definitely not as cute as the ones in this film. However, it kind of gives you a little hope that maybe these rodents aren’t as disgusting as previously conceived. What I like about the film is that though the audience is permitted to hear Remy talk, he cannot voice anything to the humans in the film, relying on physical gestures instead, thus the boundaries between both worlds remain the same as in other films.

Mulan

Mushu the dragon (hilariously voiced by Eddie Murphy) and Cri-Kee, the lucky cricket

Mulan is one of few films where an animated creature can talk openly with a human, however it is a mythical creature in the form of a dragon that is permitted this honour, compared with Cri-Kee the lucky cricket who cannot voice anything, but Mushu is able to understand him. Together, these two try to help Mulan survive her sporadic decisions, though most of the time they are against her choices or trying to warn her of the consequences of her actions. Whether she succeeds or fails, these two always have her best interest (even when Mushu momentarily leaves his post). You cannot watch this film and not want to have a little pet dragon at your side, especially if they can make you laugh the may Mushu can. Again, could Mulan have overcome all the obstacles she faced in the film without her two trusty sidekicks? I guess we will never know, but my instinct tells me they were a significant factor in her culminating triumph.

 

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki and Jiji, her delightful black cat

Kiki and Jiji, oh how I adore a good cat and human relationship, especially when the two can talk to each other. I feel that it is only in Japanese animation where the boundaries between human and animal are broken and the two can openly communicate. It’s when they can’t that something seems rather off, and this becomes clear in the film when Jiji actually becomes a “cat” in that he can no longer speak to Kiki, helping her and guiding her when she needs him the most.

Pinocchio

from the scariest Disney movie of all time, Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio.

Oh yes, the ultimate pairing and one of the most influential sidekicks in cinematic history. I mean, everyone knows who Jiminy Cricket is and if you do not, well then you’ve been living under a rock since this film was released over seventy years ago. My grandparents were born around the time of this films release, so clearly I was not even a consideration at this time and neither was my mother, but somehow we all become subjected to the notion of what a conscience is and somehow the world automatically thinks of Jiminy. Well done Disney. Brainwashing and word association at its finest!

 

Hercules 

MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE!!! Two best friends, Pegasus and Hercules.

Now, why would I declare this pairing to be my all time favourite? Other than the fact that this picture is absolutely adorable. Well, the number one reason is that their relationship reminds me of my unbreakable bond between my sister and I. Though the two of us are the same species (I think?) and we can both talk, there is no denying the hilarious connection between Pegasus and Hercules. I mean, who did not want a horse that flew after seeing this? Best. Friend. Ever. Like all (mythical) creature sidekicks, Pegasus has Herc’s back, and though his advice and guidance is sometimes ignored by the human counterpart (because apparently they know better) he still remains loyal, always there to make the audience laugh with his humour antics. I think I am going to go re-watch this now, to watch these two in action and sing-along to every song, which I clearly know by heart. Do not judge me.

 

So did your favourite sidekick make the list? I know there are so many animals that got our humans backs, so I couldn’t put them all on here, but I’d love to know which pairing is your ultimate favourite, whether it is on my list or not!

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