Minorities in cartoons: “Lilo and Stitch”

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This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is the 2002 Disney animated movie “Lilo and Stitch.”

Background

The movie centers around the titular characters. Lilo is a young, eccentric Hawaiian girl. Stitch, also known as “Experiment 626,” is the product of an unauthorized experiment by Russian-accented alien mad scientist Jumba.

Lilo lives with her older sister Nani; both of their parents are deceased. Lilo spends her time listening to Elvis Presley records (actual vinyl ones), going to hula practice, and believing in the most bizarre things. Snobby local girl Mertle and her yes-men-like group of friends all tease Lilo for this.

Early in the film, Stitch escapes from confinement. He travels to Earth to attempt to carry out his purpose in life, destroying major cities. However, Stitch crash-lands on the Hawaiian island Lilo lives, which lacks any cities to destroy. Stitch ends up at the local dog pound, where Lilo soon adopts him. He eventually learns to overcome (somewhat) his more destructive tendencies.

Jumba and Pleakley, an easily-excitable representative of the “Galactic Federation,” are sent to Earth to try to capture Stitch. The same goes for Captain Gantu, a stoic Federation armada captain. Eventually, Stitch gets to stay with his new family on Earth, as do a now-reformed Jumba and Pleakley.

Elements of traditional Hawaiian culture are presented in the movie. Lilo’s hometown relies heavily on tourism. As such, Nani and her boyfriend David work at various tourist traps. The soundtrack’s a mix of traditional Hawaiian music and Elvis Presley songs.

Other media

“Lilo and Stitch” was the last successful non-CGI animated film for Disney until 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog.” Its success spawned several direct-to-video sequels and a Saturday morning animated series. A spin-off anime series also aired in Japan, where Stitch was quite popular.

The TV series was similar in some ways to “Pokemon.” The premise was many of the 625 pre-Stitch experiments were unleashed on Hawaii. Lilo, Stitch, and company attempted to capture them all and reform them, like Lilo did for Stitch.

Also in the TV series was Gantu. Here, he’s working for a hamster-like alien mad scientist trying to capture the experiments for his own ends. The final direct-to-video movie, “Leroy and Stitch,” wraps up the TV series’ run.

Voice actors

Daveigh Chase voiced Lilo.

Tia Carrere voiced Nani.

Jason Scott Lee voiced David.

(Updated 10/9/16)

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