Rapunzel

The blog is starting to turn into a Weekly Korra Whining : the Blog, so now a character review instead! To prevent the character reviews turning into a complete whinefest, let’s have a character I actually like for a change.

Screenshots from disneyscreencaps.com.

Who she is

Rapunzel is the main character of Tangled. She was born as a princess with the healing powers of a magical flower, which caused her hair to grow insanely long. A nefarious woman wanted the power to herself so she could live forever, so she kidnapped Rapunzel as a child and locked her in a tower, raising as her own. On her eighteenth birthday Rapunzel decides to leave the tower to see the annual floating lantern festival, and she gets a passerby thief to act as her guide. Will Rapunzel manage to break free from her evil not-mother’s clutches? Will there be a romance between the two attractive leads? Dun dun dunn!

rapunzel

Appearance

Rapunzel suffers somewhat of the same generic cuteface issue I complained in Belle’s entry, but not as much though. What makes it a bit less easy to notice is that there’s less CGI characters to compare her to, and she is the first CGI Disney Princess so she gets first dibs to this look? But anyway, other than the massive eyes and freckles her face is pretty generic and ‘cute’ in a safe way.

Can’t talk about Rapunzel without mentioning the hair, which is gorgeous. I hear they spent fortunes on animating it properly, and the result sure is amazing. It also gives her a very distinct appearance so she stands out well in a row of Disney Princesses.

Appropriate enough for a movie about hair she gets alternative hairstyles too, not as many as might be possible though, but to be fair it should be pretty difficult to do anything to that much hair.  The braid is cute, it looks too small to fit all her hair but whatever. The short hair looks okay too, and it’s a nice touch that blonde is not her natural hair colour.

rap_alt_hair

Rapunzel has disappointingly few outfits. The main one is okay enough. I’m not a fan of pink/purple colourschemes (too girly), but at least it’s very different from what the other princesses wear, and it has memorable details. And the CGI allows tons of tiny details we’ve never seen on a Disney Princess before. The pink one is seriously meh though, there’s nothing interesting about it. It’s more like the a palette swap of the first outfit with all the interesting details removed.

rapunzel_outfits

In order to market Rapunzel in the Disney Princess franchise she needed a 2d design so she wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of the older characters. I can see why this is necessary and I guess it could have been worse, but at the same time it could have been a lot better. Obviously a lot of the little details had to be lost, but what’s with all the other changes? It’s such a new movie so there shouldn’t have been the need to modernise anything. What was wrong with the slightly shorter hemline and the shoes? Also, what is it with the Disney Princesses and random hair strands that are shorter than the rest of their hair? Why do they keep cutting that specific hair strand to be shorter? And in terms of the Tangled story, that would make no sense because if Rapunzel cut her hair it’d turn brown right?

rapunzelRedesign

These are, however, pretty small nitpicks, and overall I don’t consider the 2d design THAT awful. No, wait, I do hate the unnatural bright yellow hair. The redesign only gets the usual complaints about the sparkle vomit.

What I don’t like about her

As I said, I like Rapunzel a lot, and I think she’s a pretty well rounded character. So my complaints are mostly very trivial or based on random fanfiction where I ponder if I’d like her better if she was written precisely how I’d want, or explaining why something isn’t a problem to me.

rapunzel_ditz

Well, for starters, Rapunzel has very few flaws. The only “flaw” I can think of is that she’s pretty naive, but that’s not really her own fault since she’s never had contact with anyone but Gothel. And besides, being too naive or trusting never gets her to trouble so it’s hard to count it as a flaw in the same way I see Merida’s brattiness for example; actually it helps her (in the bar where she sweet-talks the pub thugs into her allies, a less naive person probably wouldn’t have thought to ask if the pub thugs have dreams).

The lack of flaws is a massive problem for me with many of the earlier princesses. However, I have less of a problem with Rapunzel, since the movie doesn’t force it down my throat. Such as Belle and Pocahontas are presented as being the progressive and adventurous special snowflakes whose motives are superior to those of the other characters. But Rapunzel… just is there. We don’t have a scene where stupid and boring girls from the Kingdom say “dreaming is stupid!” or a straw sexist preach how girls shouldn’t dream of flying lanterns because they should dream of getting a man instead.

What I really don’t like about Rapunzel is what she looks like as a baby. Screen shots of baby Rapunzel always appear on Tumblr with the #cute tag or similar, but I think she looks kind of gross. Or not gross actually, it’s more that I feel the design is so manipulative in the cuteness that it’s gross. Like they were saying “look, here’s a kawaii baby being incwedibly cute, cooing and doing other cute babby stuff! Now love her or you’re a monster!”. And there’s just something icky about her face.

rapunzel_baby

I find Rapunzel one of the most feminine Disney Princesses, and while there’s nothing wrong with being feminine, it just isn’t my cup of tea. Not saying Rapunzel is a bad character, she’s so well written that she can wear pink, purple, flowers and I still like her, just that I generally tend to prefer less girly characters.

When you think about it, Rapunzel is a pretty conservative character. A nice and good feminine girl who doesn’t do fighting and whose story culminates in getting a man. Not that that is a bad thing, I think she’s a great and enjoyable character, and not everyone has to be a warrior who can single-handedly beat 100 men, but in the context of Disney girls she’s yet another of these. How many female leads who never once wear a dress or a skirt in the movie or who don’t have a romantic plot does Disney have anyway? It’s not the best sign if the cows in Home on the Range are the only characters that come to mind…

I somehow hate seeing her called “Punzie” or “Punzel”. I think it traces back to my disinterest in role playing; you aren’t Rapunzel’s friend (i.e. random people on the internet don’t fit in my view of what the characters are like in the movie), so it looks off to me if you call her by chummy nicknames.

What I do like about her

I really like how the hair plays a role in many little scenes and it’s not only a plot trinket for climbing the tower and healing processes. Especially making the glowing effect relevant to the plot was a nice touch. It’s fun to see different situations on what it is to have dozens of metres of magic hair, such as how it can get in her way, or how she can use it in her advantage in both serious and non-serious situations. There’s also the way how mother Gothel touches her hair when she talks with her.

rap_hair

(Sure, it’s a bit dumb how nobody pays much attention to her incredibly weird hair, but I’ll chalk that up to fairytale logic. And “it’s magic hair!” can explain how the weight of her hair doesn’t seem to bother her at all or how the hair never gets damaged.)

I really like how Rapunzel has a specific dream rather than the same old generic “I don’t think I fit in here, I want more“, which is a) done to death, b) more often than not comes across as “I’m too special/progressional for these dull masses” and c) often sounds whining if the character just complains how they want more but don’t really do anything to change the situation. For Rapunzel’s situation that would actually come across as less whiney since being trapped in one small building for eighteen years is a pretty good reason to want to see more of the world and it would make a lot of sense that she wouldn’t know enough of the outside world to have a specific plan, so it would’ve been easy to write just that she wants to go out and explore because she’s bored. But I’m really glad they gave her a concrete plan instead, we already have plenty of “I want more” princesses.

rapunzel_life_sucks

Then there’s the thing that she starts her adventure herself rather than needing a man or pet or fairy or destiny to do 90% of the job. Okay, Flynn DID conveniently appear on the correct day and I’ve seen reviews that point out that it would’ve been better if she left the tower on her own, but it didn’t bother me that much. Flynn’s timing was convenient, but Rapunzel still makes an active decision to leave, and she has to talk Flynn (who is very much against the idea) into it.

I also like how she takes Gothel’s feelings into consideration. My number one problem with Ariel is how she never once thinks about how her family would feel about not seeing her ever again, and that is delightfully not present here when we get a long scene about Rapunzel worrying how what she’s doing could ‘break her mother’s heart’. Rapunzel also doesn’t come across as stupid as Ariel who makes no plans and just jumps at the opportunity a known suspicious person gives her even when her friends advise against it; Rapunzel on the other hand admits that she may be ill-equipped to leave alone, so she secures herself a guide and a way to return home.

“I have a dream” and “When will my life begin?” are some of my favourite Disney songs and I guess I can attribute some of that success to Rapunzel.

rapunzel_candles

Overall, I think that Rapunzel mostly scores so high on my favourite Disney Princesses list because of the lack of decent competition. Now that I think of it, as of now only four of the princesses fulfill even the minimum criteria I have for a character I can call well-written… But anyway, Rapunzel is ok and I don’t have any major complaints on her, but at the same time, she kind of is… just ok.

Palace Pets

Rapunzel got two Palace pets, neither of which bears any connection to the chameleon pet she already has. As a cat person I can be glad Rapunzel at least got a cat, which doesn’t even look that bad on Palace Pets standards, which are extremely low though. The pony on the other hand is just as awful as the other Palace Pets ponies.

rapunzel_pets

The cat is named Summer, and I don’t really have much to say on it aside from the usual Palace Pets complaints about uncanny face, wayyyy too many accessories and human hair looking extremely dumb on an animal. I’ve stared at monstrosities like Belle’s dog and Belle and Aurora’s ponies long enough not to bother to care about this one that much.

The pony is named Blondie, and it is just as horribly overdecorated as the other Palace Pets ponies. In my opinion the ponies suffer most from the bridle, it’s really distracting. And now that I think of it, how does the saddle not fall off? Is it glued to the pony’s back?

Also, Blondie is said to be a “guard pony”. Excuse me, but when I think of a guard horse I think of Maximus. What exactly is this thing going to guard? The palace’s jam storage from mice? It doesn’t exactly look like it could face criminals like the Stabbington brothers.

Colour-wise Rapunzel’s pets aren’t that bad, at least they don’t have pink tails or awfully clashing colours, and both have a colourscheme that matches the owner.

It is extremely dumb how in promotional art with the pets and the owners Rapunzel is always depicted with the long blonde hair, yet Blondie’s description says Rapunzel met it ‘during a parade to celebrate the princesses return’. When she had short brown hair. Not marketable enough I guess.

rapunzel_icky_pony

[edit Jan 15, 2014)

Palace Pets keep spawning out of nowhere, and Rapunzel’s pet amount has doubled. Now she also has a pink skunk named Meadow and a dog named Daisy.

rapunzel_pets2

I got nothing on the skunk. It’s pink, which I don’t like, but Rapunzel is one of the most pink princesses so at least in the skunk’s case it’s a lot less offensive than vomiting pink on Belle or Cinderella’s pets. So yeah, whatever, at least it’s not a second pony. Moving on. No, wait, “she loves parading around the castle like a queen“. Sounds like a snooty jerk to me.

The description of the dog is that the pub thugs gave it to Rapunzel. On Palace Pet standards that is actually somewhat decent, because it makes sense that the thugs from “the Snuggly Duckling” would give the princess a thing like that. But then again, we have stuff like “Rapunzel’s cat needed a pampering time at the Royal Beauty Salon!” and “The cat of Sleeping Beauty is named Beauty and it loves sleeping!” for comparison so it’s not exactly difficult to shine… I still don’t care much for dogs though, especially young ones, and this one looks cross-eyed on top of that.

Gallery

Uh-oh, Rapunzel’s gallery grew quite large. It’s not my fault people draw so much great fanart of her!

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Pixiv links that require a Pixiv account to be viewed properly:

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4 Responses to “Rapunzel”

  1. KristiS Says:

    She got two other palace pets. 😐 A dog and a skunk.
    Although I do agree with most of what you said about her(especially the baby bit) I can easily say she is not on my top three list, I just don’t find her exciting enough.
    Are you just reviewing the Disney Princesses or will you eventually include male and non-human characters?

    • Hapuriainen Says:

      Yeah, the new pets will be mocked too once they have some decent art out.

      I’ll do the Disney Princesses first (probably). After that anything is possible, but females are still more likely than males and non-human characters are unlikely unless someone makes a big impression on me.

  2. Tangled | Hapuriainen's Animation Blog Says:

    […] character review for Rapunzel was fairly positive, but after that I feel she’s been getting a bit of bland to […]

  3. Claire Says:

    I HAD A COMPLETE MELTDOWN WHEN RAPUNZEL HAD A STUPID CAT!!!!!!!!!!!! Did she just adopt a cat in the streets?! And have her cat just die like that and held a funeral for her dumb cat?!!!!Only stupidly 1 week old?!!!😡 She never had an iguana or cat. But has a dog.

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