Double Disney Duplicity

Hey gang.

The Butcher here, swinging his cleaver in the name of truth, justice, and the anime way. So, we've all run out and seen "Atlantis", right? Sure we have. Only some people are saying that they've seen it already, and the first time they saw it, it was called "Nadia". That's right, it's the Lion King vs. Kimba controversy all over again, except this time it takes place under water.

Just like with Simba and Kimba, fans of Japanese animation are crying foul and accusing Disney of ripping off another piece of anime. So, is it indeed a ripoff? I dunno...I'm The Butcher and I'm just here to stoke the flames a bit and make people think. Without getting really involved in the debate, and in an effort to be fair and impartial, The Butcher wants to make it clear that these accusations fly around the film industry all the time. It happens in live-action, it happens in animation, and it will continue to happen right into the digital age, throughout the universe, and in perpetuity. But yeah, it's probably a ripoff.

I mean, c'mon! Look at the character designs! Apologists are arguing that since both films are derived from the same piece of literature, that there are bound to be similarities in the individual tellings of the story. But some of the similarities in the character designs between the two films are striking. The male lead characters, Jean (from "Nadia") and Milo ("Atlantis"), look like they could be related, right down to the huge, round-rimmed glasses and bow ties. The defenders of the Mouse House say that the character is supposed to be a brainiac, and the glasses and bow ties are typical of that kind of character design. Right. And that wasn't Gary Burghoff in a dress, playing Radar's mother in that episode of "M*A*S*H" with the home movies, either.

I guess the female leads, Nadia ("Nadia") and Kida ("Atlantis") are a little harder to argue. Sexy animated babes - they all kinda look alike to me. Belle, Arial, the chick from the Stones' "Harlem Shuffle" video, you name it. Except that Disney babes usually had a style of their own. "Atlantis" definitely goes for a more anime look, and the unfortunate (and not deliberate result, I'm sure) is that Nadia and Kida look like kissin' cousins. Say, now THERE'S a movie! But I digress.

What bugs me the worst about this whole thing is that not only does Disney deny that "Atlantis" might have at least been inspired by "Nadia", but they completely deny that there are any similarities at all! "Atlantis" director Kirk Wise said that he had never even heard of "Nadia" until long after production on "Atlantis" had wrapped. Well, that I believe. I'm sure that Disney can keep a director away from outside influences just like the Secret Service keeps Dubya away from CNN. Plausible deniability. But, I'll betcha that the storyboard artists, the color stylist, and the character designer had seen it! I mean, look at it, fer pete's sakes!

So, let us assume that Disney intentionally stole this movie. It raises the question of why they would do such a thing. One possible answer is that Disney, the one studio in the world that should have it's finger on the pulse of animation trends here in the States and abroad, has fallen into the mind set of most other media companies - that Americans are xenophobic, uncultured clods and that animation is strictly kiddie fare. One cartoon looks like the next, so who's gonna know? If you don't think this is true, go to the local video store where you'll find such kiddie klassics as "Heavy Metal" and "Fritz the Cat" in the same bin with "Rugrats: The Movie" and "The Great Mouse Detective".

Or, maybe it's just a huge cosmic coinkydink. Perhaps it took a million Disney writers a million years, banging away on a million typewriters....except instead of Shakespeare, they came up with "Nadia".

The Butcher

Have a look at a side by side comparison and judge for yourself.

Nadia vs. Atlantis


Nadia vs. Atlantis