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Mimishu1995's avatar

Is this cartoon in bad taste?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (19930points) 1 month ago

The cartoon in question. It is a direct adaptation of a fairy tale. It’s about a woodcutter who discovers a tree that can revive the dead and uses it to help people. The cartoon is clearly aimed at children.

There are two moments in the cartoon that I find rather for lack of better word problematic. It’s not in English so I will try my best to explain the contexts.

Between 1:10 – 1:50 mark, the woodcutter sees a bunch of baby tigers playing around. The woodcutter decides to kill all the little tigers because he fears that the babies will grow up to be big tigers and cause troubles to his village. So he jumps right into the spot and attacks the tigers, in the most cartoonist way possible. The scene ends with all the tigers lying dead on the ground. Ignoring the ridiculous reasoning for a senseless murder, the way the cartoon jumps from the cartoonist fight to the graphic depiction of dead tigers really rubs me the wrong way. There is also a screenshot around the Internet showing that there was another version of this scene with blood all over the place, but I’m not sure if that was the truth.

At 12:49 mark, you can see a man holding something next to a dead woman. The man is a local bandit who is curious of how the woodcutter manages to revive people from the dead, so he has an idea to kill the wife then rips out her internal organs and throws them in a well. Yeah, the thing the man holds is her organs!

Personally I don’t know what to think of the cartoon. On one hand I can’t really fault the creators because the original fairy tale itself is chock full of questionable details. On the other hand, I expect them to be more tactful when they present the story to children. The cartoon just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

If the cartoon was in English, would you show it to children?

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15 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

No I wouldn’t.

Zaku's avatar

I watched the whole thing.

I think that the terrible murderous/selfish human behavior (even by the main protagonist) is part of the message of the fairy tale, and while it is disturbing, that is what fairy tales are supposed to do. It’s a way for children to get information about some of the terrible aspects of some of the adults in their culture. Children can handle it, and I think it is valuable and appropriate to expose them to such stories.

However, the animation and the cartoon-like visual representations of horrible things in this caroon, I don’t like. I think there probably should be blood and terribleness shown at least a little bit more, rather than covered up in a violence cloud, or panned away from (the murder and butchery of the woman). I think it’s too sanitized in a weird way.

For example, the hunter would need to chase down the cubs, and it would/should be awful. The hunter would have a really hard time escaping into a tree (the timing is wrong, and tigers can climb trees) though ultimately it is shown that the tiger, though angry, is wiser and more merciful than the human, and known how to appropriately use forest healing magic when needed (not in the exploitive way the humans do). If the tiger were clearly shown to be in a position to be able to kill the farmer easily, but chose not to, I think that would be more effective visually.

I think the talents of the artists would be better used in still format rather than animation.

I think many of the images are well-drawn, but the animation is distractingly strange.

The weird disconnected movements of the farmer’s eyes is disturbing to me.

The way the view pans erratically, and the way it often moves to show odd places and move part of the scene out of view, are also disturbing to me.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Zaku I’m pleasantly surprised that you actually watch the entire thing :)

So to provide you with a better context, here’s the original fairy tale: the story begins with the woodcutter going into the forest and finding the baby tigers you already know how that plays out. Then the scene with the mother tiger plays out, and that’s how the woodcutter discovers the tree.

The guy cuts the tree and walks home when he sees a dead old man. He uses the leaf to heal the old man. When the old man wakes up, he tells the woodcutter that the tree has to be nurtured with clean water, or else it would fly into the sky don’t ask me how he knows that. I don’t know how either :P The woodcutter comes home and starts to use the leaves to heal people, including the dog you see in the video. One day a rich man goes to find the woodcutter to help revive his daughter. The woodcutter revives the woman and she immediately proposes to him. They get married and move to the woodcutter’s house.

Then the bandit hears the tales of the woodcutter and decides to test if the rumor is true. He leads his gang into the house, robs the house and butchers the woman. The woodcutter tries to revive her but fails because she has no organ. The dog he saved earlier wants to sacrifice itself for the wife, so the woodcutter takes the dog’s organs and stuff them into her instead. This time the leaves work.

But because the wife is now living on the dog’s organs, her mind starts to malfunction. She is unable to remember anything for long. The woodcutter tries to help her remember that she has to water the tree with clean water. One day, when the woodcutter is away, the wife forgets the warning about the tree altogether. She urinates on the tree. The tree then flies into the sky. The woodcutter sees the tree flying and jumps onto it in an attempt to pull it down. The tree keeps flying and sends the woodcutter to the moon. So today, when you look at the moon and see dark spots, that is the woodcutter along with his tree.

So yeah, I agree with you that the cartoon is sanitized in a weird way. I kind of appreciate that they change some details to fit younger viewers like the dog actually having a chance to live again or the wife using dirty water instead of urinating on the tree. But it also comes off quite strange too, as if they want to both show the fairy tale in it entirely and make the story “bearable” to children. They couldn’t decide what they want, so they did both, and they ended up accomplishing neither. So if they really want to show the ugliness of people at the time, I agree with you that it needs some more realism. But if they just want a nice little story for small children, this is just too graphic.

I have never thought of the story the way you said. I always thought of it as a pointless story about why the moon has black spots. You just gave me a new appreciation for the story.

And about the animation, you are disturbed, but I just find it unintentionally funny. It’s like a really bad Powerpoint presentation :D

Zaku's avatar

“But it also comes off quite strange too, as if they want to both show the fairy tale in it entirely and make the story “bearable” to children. They couldn’t decide what they want, so they did both, and they ended up accomplishing neither.”
– Yes, I think the sanitation attempts distract from the tale, and are not wise changes.

“So if they really want to show the ugliness of people at the time…”
– I think the ugliness is at least as present, and as valuable to include in art and fairy tales, as in the past. Humans unwisely destroying things and selfishly trying to control, and so on, and the unforeseen consequences, are timeless and essential themes. And even in the form in this cartoon, they’re still the essential message.

“And about the animation, you are disturbed, but I just find it unintentionally funny. It’s like a really bad Powerpoint presentation :D”
– Yeah, it’s hilarious! The farmer’s eyes in the first part are so funny!
– If they gave up on trying to make anything look realistic, and let things be surreal and symbolic, it might be more visually effective.

It would be really hilarious if someone made a version where the farmer disembowels the dog and puts the organs in his wife with silly cartoon graphics, and then she pees on the tree.

A funny thing is, the kids that some adults worry about, probably would have no real problem with those added details – it’s the overly-concerned adults that people tend to sanitize children’s drama for. But kids can usually handle a lot of violence and weirdness.

SnipSnip's avatar

No idea what it says.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@SnipSnip you don’t have to understand what it says. You only need to move to the time mark in the description and read my description of the scenes and tell me your opinion.

raum's avatar

What the heck?! Most definitely would not show this to kids!

My mom used to sing me a song about the main character up on the moon. Though I’ve never heard the actual story before. And I totally misinterpreted his name as a word for old man. (Whoops.)

Killing the baby tigers was sad. But I realize that they had to have a way for him to realize what the tree could do. And protecting the village from baby tigers (that would grow up to be adult tigers) is sad from a first world perspective. But I’d imagine it was a pragmatic decision when the story was first written.

Two instances during the cartoon, I thought it was going to turn into a horror film.

The first was when he sees the carcass of the dead dog floating down the river. And he remarks that it looks like it’s been dead for awhile. (Are zombie movies not a genre in Vietnam? Pet Cemetary anyone?)

Then after the bandits disembowel the wife, the dog sacrifices his own intestines to save her. (Hello? Frankenstein with dog guts?) Then the dude just up and makes the dog a new set of intestines from dirt?

What in the world?

I have to say my parents made the right call skipping the story and just teaching me the song. Haha

raum's avatar

Also, it’s pretty hilarious that his main concern when his wife is walking around in some Frankenstein-dog-gut stupor, is that she forgot to make him dinner.

Wow, dude.

Brian1946's avatar

@raum

Thanks for the succinct review and saving me from the visuals. ;-o

I hereby sincerely affirm my appreciation for your treatise.

raum's avatar

Haha…you’re welcome? :P

Mimishu1995's avatar

@raum if the cartoon upsets you that much, then you will have a heart attack if you know the original fairy tale.

- In the original story, they don’t even explain why the woodcutter kills the tigers. They just say he kills them and pass it off as that. The cartoon actually makes an effort to explain his reasoning for that, though that’s still a bad excuse.
– The dog doesn’t get to live in the original story. The dirt intestine is completely made up by the cartoon.
– The floating dog is a thing in the original story. It is meant to be a plot device that leads to the scene with the flying tree. We are supposed to go “awwww” at the guy’s kindness and the dog’s loyalty, not horrified by why there is a dead dog in the first place.
– The original story says that the woodcutter is furious at why the wife keeps forgetting things. In the cartoon, he sounds like he still cares for her, but just mildly irritated ar her absent-mindedness.
– Read my response to @Zaku. There are also a few more details that they change.

If anything, I think the cartoon actually makes an effort to make the story more bearable to children. Any questionable stiff happening is the fault of the original fairy tale. But like @Zaku said, they do it so half-assedly that it comes out really jarring.

What do you think about the cartoon apart from the story? (Art style, animation, voice acting…). I think the cartoon looks like it was made by some poor students in a basement in need for some quick cash, not an actual movie studio with a budget.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@raum and yeah, I agree that the woodcutter is kind of an asshole. From killing the tigers to treating his wife like dirt, I’m nor sure why we are supposed to like him. The only reason why he gets sent to the moon is because he refuses to give up on his tree. I don’t feel bad for him.

And imagine being a rich upper-class woman, and one day dying and being revived from the death by a random poor dude. And the first thing you do is propose to the dude and move to his house? The wife may already has issues and it only worsens after the massacre :P

raum's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I agree. I think the attempt at white-washing the original story just made it more confusing.

The cartoon style is…funny, if you’re being ironic. Terrible, if you’re being serious.

@Zaku ‘s description of it as “many of the images are well-drawn” made me wonder if we had watched the same video.

raum's avatar

Marrying a random poor dude that saves your life probably isn’t the worst fate for a woman with a super creepy father. (Dude, listen to his laughter. Totally creeps me out.)

SnipSnip's avatar

I don’t need to do that.

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