Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Top 10 Favorite Animated Couples

    It’s the month of Valentines, the season of love, and for today’s list I’m counting down my own personal top 10 favorite couples featured in animated movies or TV shows. From popular Disney couples to anime couples, I’ll do my best to cover a variety, and in the end it’ll all lead to what I honestly consider to be the best couple to ever come from the world of animation.

#10 Bruce Wayne and Andrea Beaumont from “Batman Mask of the Phantasm” (Movie) 

      Relationships with superhero’s are never without an undercurrent of remorse. Well, at least Superman and Spider-Man can still hold onto their trade mark girl friends, despite all the complications. Batman on the other hand isn’t so fortunate. He’s had his on and off again relations, but it’s his first love interest Andrea Beaumont that stands as the most beautiful, yet most tragic of his many relationships. This was the girl who almost pulled Bruce Wayne out of the shadows, his one shot at a normal life, but sadly just couldn’t hold onto ... oh, and I don’t mean she dies, no, something worse actually happens. However, going over it in every detail would take all day, so for simplicity’s sake I'll say this ... Their story adds another layer of depth and intrigue to the legacy of the dark knight, which most people aren’t even aware of. Aside from being a tragic spectacle, they do still have chemistry, their individual scenes are genuinely touching, and they even capture the subtle moments that I wish more live action movie couples could have. The movie “Batman Mask of the Phantasm” is a beautiful, tragic romance story combining the hopes and dreams of a good life with the darkness of reality, and it’s an animated couple that disserves more attention.     

#9 Sakura and Li from “Cardcaptors” (TV Series & Movies) 

     What is it about “Young Love” that just gets me in the “feels”. I don’t know, there’s just something really sweet about a love that starts at a young age. Sakura and Li looked like your average elementary school students, but secretly they were mystical young warriors that protected their home town from magical auditions that had a tendency to spring up, and ruin their regular day. At first they were rivals competing for respected titles, but over time they became partners in saving the world, then became best friends, and by the time the final movie came along to close the series ... their young hearts became one. Now “Cardcaptors” was something special that I personally grew up with, and this list just wouldn’t feel complete for me without including these two. Sakura is about as cute and lovable as young heroines get, which balances off of Li’s stern heroism. They may not be that popular when compared to any of those Disney couples, or as deep as the lovers featured in most of Hayao Miyazaki’s landmark Anime movies, but there warm chemistry, and built up relation made them something special.  

#8 Anna and Kristoff from “Frozen” (Disney Movie) 

    Disney couples can be hit or miss, but when they do something really good, it stands out like a jewel among coins. Their most recent couple from Disney’s runaway hit “Frozen” is one of their more unique and enjoyable. While obviously not the first film to create a formula of this sort, it’s still done with good taste, and a lot of charisma. In the beginning our princess Anna is engaged with a prince character, who she’s madly in love with, but then she finds herself going on an adventuring with a stranger named Kristoff, who’s her only companion on the journey. This character becomes the new love interest over the previously established Prince character, and it’s done with a lot of charm. The two naturally develop that same kind of Han Solo and Princess Leia chemistry, where they don’t like each other at first, make sarcastic comments and comebacks to one another, and then over time they start to warm up to each other. Even by the end of the film, there not 100% committed, but they’re still whiling to give their relationship a try, and I love that. Just about every other Disney movie ends with the couple getting married. I really appreciate this little twist where nothing is official, but there’s more than enough potential for things to progress between them. Finally, I also like how they poke at common Disney tropes and clichés ranging from the two people falling in love at first site, to the romantic song number that confirms their an item. It’s funny, it’s charming, its Disney romance at its best.     

#7 Hiccup and Astrid from “How to Train your Dragon” (Movies & TV Show) 

     DreamWorks 2010 animated movie “How to Train your Dragon” is personally one of my favorite movies ... animated or not, and it’s become a terrific long running series of films, short films and TV shows. One of its many great strengths is its cast of characters and their relations. The relation between father and son is great, the relation between pet dragon and rider is excellent, and of course the romance is just great. However, the romance is a small side note of the series that didn’t even need to exist, but it’s done very well. Actually, keeping the romance on the side line really works to its advantage. It allows our two Viking hero’s to just breathe, and have a relationship that develops naturally without any complex drama added in. They may only have a hand full of scenes together, and when they do there really short, but that's why it works. It’s simplistic, it’s touching, and their moments always get me to smile. To put it simply, in a franchise as big and epic as this, a little bit of heart can go a long way.  

#6 Marlin and Dory from “Finding Nemo” (Pixar Movie) 

     Now I know what you’re thinking ... these two don’t count, they weren’t actually in love, and there was nothing romantic going on between them. Well, you’re right ... and that’s why I like these two. “Finding Nemo” is a perfect example of how a lead male and lead female character can be a perfect match without being an item. Even though there not lovers, both their partnership and their friendship are as natural as they get. Plus, it’s an honest breath of fresh air. There’s even a set up at the beginning of the film where our main hero’s wife tragically dies, which could have led to such a predictable outcome with Dory being a replacement girl friend. Instead she’s just a close side kick to go along for the adventure, and in this regard I’d say that Marlin and Dory are a perfect pair, even though they’re not a romantic couple.  

#5 Aang and Katara from “Avatar the Last Airbender” (TV Series) 

      Oh boy, here I go again, highlighting two very young lovers that start off with opposite personalities, but after embarking on a grand journey together, a relationship is born, and ... well, I’m just as sucker for this. Aang has the heart of a grown warrior, but the personality of an extremely joyful child. Then by contrast, Katara has the mind-set of a wise adult, but she still has the heart of a young woman. In short, these two complete one another perfectly, have great chemistry, and have some really cute moments. Also, animated or not, I always tend to gravitate to couple’s from TV shows, because I feel like I’m going on the journey with them, experiencing all the highs and lows, and in the end it’s just more gratifying to see them come together. Of course I’m a long time fan of “Avatar the Last Airbender”, so this was one couple I just couldn’t leave off, even if I tried.    

#4 Belle and Beast from “Beauty and the Beast” (Disney Movie) 

     Of all the classic Disney couples to make my list, I’ll bet your surprised it’s Belle and the Beast. It’s often regarded as the most romantic animated movie ever made, with the best romantic couple of all time, and it’s well deserving of that reputation. It’s so famous, I don’t even need to talk about it, just listen to that classic “Beauty and the Beast” song and fall in love for this movie and its characters all over again.

#3 Robin and Star Fire from “Teen Titans” (TV Series & Movie) 

      Of the many different superhero couples and relations I’ve watched or grew up with, nothing brought me more joy or held my interest more than these two young Titans. One is an alien princess while the other is a famous side kick to an equally famous super hero, and somehow, despite being polar opposites, they both just work. It’s often said that opposites attract, and here’s why ... they complete each other. Both are heroes, yet they both have their faults. Robin can be a real “hot head” where as Star Fire can be a real “air head”. It’s Robin’s job to be the educator to this alien visitor who’s trying to find her place in the world. Then by contrast, Star Fire serves as Robin’s moral compos, and aims him in the right direction when he’s facing his inner demons. Together they’ve had their cute and funny moments, but they’ve also had their fair share of dark and serious conflicts. In the end, their just an all around awesome superhero couple that have always stood out in my impressionable and nostalgic memory.     

#2 Anastasia and Dimitri from “Anastasia” (Don Bluth Movie) 

     One of my favorite set ups for a couple is when they start off as two strangers that find themselves roped into a journey together, and through a series of events they gradually form a relationship ... as opposed to the common falling in love on site cliché. Don Bluth’s “Anastasia” followed this formula down to the letter, and then added an extra ingredient of charm, hummer and charisma into the mix. Both Anastasia and Dimitri exchange sassy remarks with one another, are chalk full of personality, and the voice acting provided by Meg Ryan and John Cusack is pitch perfect. They just have no shortage of witty banter, making them one of the most entertaining and funny animated couples I’ve ever seen. Then when all the wise cracks are said and done, they do ease their way into the more traditional romance we’d expect from a film of this sort. They also play around with conventions, and give us some refreshing surprises. There’s a moment when the two have that classic “misunderstanding” that would normally separate the couple, but one of our two hero’s is committed to resolving it as quickly and as professionally as possible ... which he does. I’ve always hated how in other films the “misunderstanding” is just used as an excuse to separate the characters, which just leads to them moping and doping until the end of the film. “Anastasia” breaks through that convention, and gives it some juice. Finally, there theme song “At The Beginning” is personally one of my favorite romantic songs to come from an animated feature, and it perfectly sums up the journey we embarked on with these two terrific characters.

Before I reveal my #1 favorite, here are my Honorable Mentions ...

Max and Roxanne from “A Goofy Movie

Aladdin and Jasmine from “Aladdin

Mavis and Johnny from “Hotel Transylvania

Satoshi and Serena from “Pokémon XY

Meg and Hercules from “Hercules

#1 Carl and Ellie from “Up” (Pixar Movie)

      No matter how good or how charismatic a movie couple can be, they’ll always be restricted to common conventions and formulaic storytelling. Belle and Beasts relation in “Beauty and the Beast” was done masterfully, but it was still part of fairy-tail formula that isn’t that relatable. By contrast, Carl and Ellie from Pixar’s “Up” is that rare case in which a movie couple is as genuine, as relatable, as emotional and as real as they get. There’s no common formula here, no clichéd misunderstandings, no villain that needs to be defeated ... it’s just the story of life. This couple isn’t even the main focus of the film, it’s only relevant for the first 10 minutes of the movie, but in those precious phew minuets, we see the complete story of their relationship from their child hood, to their adult hood, all the way up to their old age, which is a lot more then what other couples could accomplish in big film franchises. In the beginning, Carl’s a little shy young boy, while Ellie is an over the top energy-holic. Both different, but both have the same burning passion and drive, which keeps them together. It’s just a genuinely emotional experience watching all the different peaks and vales this couple goes through in their life’s journey. We see the positive moments, we see the tragic events they’ve had to endure, we see when they supported one another ... and (Spoiler Alert) even after one of them sadly passes on, we see how the other preserves their memory and keeps them alive. It’s beautiful, it’s sad, it’s touching, it hits every emotional bulls-eye you could possibly hit, and in my opinion, Carl and Ellie are the greatest animated couple I’ve ever seen.   

                The End


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