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A Tribute to Animation for International Animation Day

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They’re more than just movies.

They’re more than just characters.

They’re more than just stories.

They’re us.

They’re pieces of our hearts, of our dreams, of our lives.

In the twinkle of every eye, whether hand drawn or computer generated or sculpted from clay, we see a bit of ourselves as well as who we want to be.

These fictional characters and their stories teach us how to be real. How to be human.

When the sands of Agrabah danced across my screen and I saw Princess Jasmine for the first time as a young girl, I saw myself in her raven hair and dark eyes. Her teal costume was practically glued to my body after that day. But now I see past the physical similarities and recognize myself in her determination and desire for adventure– for a whole new world.

Jasmine taught me, and many others, to be strong. Judy from Zootopia emphasized the power of positivity and equality. Po from Kung Fu Panda proved that you are capable of so much more than you think. Hiro from Big Hero 6 showed the world that revenge is not the answer. Tiana from Princess and the Frog illustrated the importance of hard work and belief in your dreams. Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon conveyed the power of kindness and understanding toward the misunderstood. These animated characters and many more reach out from the silver screen and touch us in ways that go beyond what many understand.

Of course, these characters and their stories would not be possible without animators. These artists, these storytellers, bring to life the fictional people whom we adore line by line. From a blank page and a pencil, an animator’s characters are born. It is the animator’s innate talent to breathe life into colors and shapes, and for this, I have always admired them greatly. I look up to all animators, writers, directors, and producers, who combine their passions and skills to create beautiful masterpieces for me to enjoy time and time again.

So here’s to animation.

Here’s to the animators.

Here’s to you and me, the animation addicts.

Here’s to every film, show, short, or otherwise that have changed our lives.

Happy International Animation Day.

Which animated films have changed your life?

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About Hannah Ortega

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Hannah found Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel, and a fangirl force was awakened inside her. Hannah’s favorite animated movies are Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and Aladdin. Movies such as these inspire her writing, which is her biggest passion. Hannah is an aspiring author and journalist, as well as a Christian, a horseback rider, and a cross country runner.
  • Well said Hannah. Animation is more than just cartoons for kids,
    it’s an art form that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. For me,
    I guess it was Pixar movies like Toy Story and Cars that impacted
    my life. For example, Cars taught me to be open-minded and in
    addition, it make me like real cars. Thus why my name is CarFan.

    • Manuel Orozco

      That’s awesome

  • Manuel Orozco

    As an 11 year old boy, I was in Special Olympics track and field in 2004. I cared more about winning than how I play the game. I quit after one season feeling like I wanted to be on a team where victory always mattered. That’s why I related to Lightning McQueen’s journey in Cars. I always had family and friends by my side through it all. This story of finding what’s truly good in life taught me that winning and being on a team meant the reward and not that gold medal. Never came back to Special Olympics but I will always remember running to that finish line and being on my town newspaper receiving a medal.

  • Here’s to animation!

  • Jordan Briskin

    To animation!

  • Firecat

    To animation!

  • Sebastian

    Reading this was really inspiring on it’s own. From the words I could feel the passion and love for those you mentioned, simply beautifully written.

    HTTYD has changed my life, big time on so many levels.
    Lion King is simply stuck in my heart and makes sure I’ll never forget the greatness of imagination and maturity while Tarzan is the need for wanting to learn more.
    And Finding Dory is a safe and playful movie that shows your flaw or struggle is not always your weakness. In the end what makes you different will lead you to the place you belong.

    Happy International Animation Day.

  • Chelsea Warner

    I have no idea why, but animation seems to make everything better to me.

  • Eli Sanza

    Great shout-out to the animators, artists, and storytellers responsible for many of our favorite films. They don’t get enough credit in the film industry even though they work harder than most live-action filmmakers. Many of the Disney films between Snow White and The Lion King were the movies that made the hugest impact on my childhood, but I’m constantly being inspired by their films even into my adulthood.

  • Animation helped me find myself through some of my not so happiest times, it lets me see myself in special ways and let me know its ok to feel not so happy and that it’ll get better

  • Jeremiah

    Love this party. I’m glad read this beautiful article, late as I am. Here’s to animation. To characters we never forget, to imagination brought to screen, to computer graphics, drawings and paintings, and music all harnessed to tell a story through images no live-action film could ever offer. When I’m saddest and lowest, the Incredibles remind me my family’s there for me, Pooh reminds me friends will stick by me, and most of all, Cinderella reminds me to be strong, kind and happy no matter what hell you’re in. *slurps chocolate milk*

  • Amber Dvorak

    Hannah, I know I’m late to the game here, but this is an absolutely beautiful piece. As others have commented, I can feel your passion and admiration flowing through your words. Animation has been a part of my life since I was very young, opening my eyes to its endless storytelling possibilities. I spent many, many hours watching The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, becoming entranced by the characters and their many adventures. Then I saw Hercules, The Little Mermaid, and Mulan in theaters, and my fate was sealed. There was a brief period of time when I lost my interest in animation, partially because it was Disney’s less-than-stellar period, starting with Home on the Range, and partially because I thought I had outgrown it. But then Tangled came out and I was a bit surprised to hear it getting such amazing reviews. I finally watched Tangled before I saw Frozen in theaters, and I realized what I had been missing. It was like returning to my childhood as an adult, and it happened at just the right time. Coincidentally, Frozen has since become incredibly meaningful to me, and Elsa’s story in particular has been an inspiration ever since.