1. Despite the issues people have brought up already (gender, Westernization/whitewashing, etc.) Mulan is one of my favorite "Princess" movies. Her personal conflict is very relatable to me (who doesn't question who they actually are, and what their purpose in life is?) and I love that she values family so highly. While it does ultimately end up as a love story, that is really only in the last few minutes of the film. Overall Mulan's interest in Shang seems more in impressing him with her talent rather than seeing him as a love interest. The music ranges in the movie from very memorable (I'll Make A Man Out Of You, though this is partly because of the visual montage) to only slightly memorable (A Girl Worth Fighting For). Of note, there is no love song in this film. And let's take the time to appreciate that Mulan not only has both parents survive through the entire movie, but it shows one as disabled! Disability is such a rare thing in animated movies. 2. Shan Yu is middle of the road for me in terms of villains. There are much less effective villains in the Disney canon (looking at you, Ratcliffe), but there are also much more frightening and, yes, villainous characters out there. He seems more one-note and flat character development-wise than many of the villains that have come before him. Most of his villainous acts take place off camera. We hear from the soldiers what he's done, and we come across the destruction left in his wake, but we don't really ever SEE him doing most these things. What stood out to me, though, is how animalistic his character design was. They gave him claws instead of fingernails, fangs instead of teeth, and black eyes with yellow pupils. His outfit is mainly comprised of animal pelts. His voice has a growling nature to it, and even his sidekick is an animal. This reflects his personality, almost as if to say a human wouldn't be capable of the atrocities he committed. Only an animal would burn villages to the ground and slaughter children (and delight in doing so). This giving animalistic qualities to a person (when often it was the other way around with anthropomorphizing an animal villain) served to disconnect the audience from him - we shouldn't want to sympathise or find things in common with him. (I do feel for him with his death, though. That was a BRUTAL way to go. Having a rocket crash into you and drag you into a tower full of exploding fireworks has got to hurt!) 5. Thee symbol that stood out to me most was dragons. Dragons (specifically Chinese dragons) symbolize power and strength, which Mulan demonstrates - she gains physical power and strength through her training, but she also has great inner strength to take her father's place and place herself in danger to save him. They are also known to bring prosperity in the form of rain to parched lands. While she doesn't literally do this, she does almost single-handedly defeat the entire Hun army, which will theoretically lead to more prosperous times for those who lived in constant fear of the Huns. I read online awhile ago a theory that the reason Mushu was unable to wake the Great Stone Dragon is because Mulan is actually the spirit of the Great Stone Dragon, so there was nothing left in the statue to awaken. Watching through the movie with that in mind, I can see where this theory has some merit. The majority of dragon imagery throughout the movie is directly tied to Mulan (ESPECIALLY during the scene where she takes her father's place). Not just the fact that her guide, Mushu, is a dragon, or that there is a dragon on her sword hilt. (Pictured: a dragon directly over Mulan as she sees her reflection in the sword.) She comes to the decision to take her father's place while sitting at the base of the Great Stone Dragon. When she goes to pray to her ancestors before leaving, she places the lit match into a hanging metal dragon (and all of the shots in this mini scene are from above, with the dragon watching over her as she prays). The shots continually flash between her and the Great Stone Dragon. She parts the dragon-shaped handles of the door to get access to the armor. And the medallion of the Emperor, which he gives her to as a tangible signs of her honor, features a dragon. This is particularly interesting as most of the animal symbolism around the palace appeared to be lions rather than dragons. 9. This is my iconic shot. It is reminiscent of the half-makeup shot (I was waffling between using that and this), but this shot shows more of her strength, bravery, and resolve than the other shot does. She knows the danger behind her decision, but saving her father by taking his place is more important to her than anything in this moment. The mirroring ("reflection" if you will) of the half-makeup shot means that she is starting to understand who she actually is as a person. It also shows the respect Mulan has for family traditions, as she is going through the same ritualistic movements that her father went through while he was taking out the armor. 10. There are several pins or pin sets based on Reflection, and have Mulan shown in both matchmaker and Ping outfits. But this one I think is my favorite, because it LITERALLY shows who Mulan is inside. It's a hinged pin with Matchmaker Mulan on the outside and Ping on the inside, and is designed in such a way that you can open one flap and (kind of) recreate the shot with Mulan in half makeup, or open them both to reveal the true warrior inside. Pin# 24494 - WDW - Journey Through Time Pin Event 2003 (Mulan) Artist Choice Honorable mention to this. It's not the best representative pin, but I am IN LOVE with this pin. (Even though it doesn't make total sense since one of the first outfits Mulan wears is pink!) Pink has always been my least favorite color and hated wearing it until very recently, and even now there has to be a very specific reason for my outfit to be pink - like when I Bing Bong bound. Pin# 96853 - Mulan - 'Not All Girls Wear Pink' Random Thoughts ~ Mushu's line about corn chip smell really bothered me. I sat there for a few minutes going "Were "corn chips" even invented by then? I know tortillas have been around forever but do they count as "corn chips?" Did they even HAVE corn in China back then?" The same goes for the blue plastic toothbrush and tube of toothpaste Mushu pulls out. Normally I can forgive anachronisms, but these two just stuck out in the wrong way. ~Why in the name of all that is holy did they hire BD Wong to play the voice of Li Shang and then have SOMEONE ELSE do the singing? I mean, Donny Osmond did a great job with it, but THEY ALREADY HAD BD FREAKING WONG!!!!!! ~ Crossing Jordan is one of my favorite older TV shows, but ever since I pieced together that Dr. Macy and Shan Yu were the same actor, half the time when I watch a scene with Miguel Ferrer in it, I just picture Shan Yu in his place. ~ HOLY GLOB why did I never put together that the Matchmaker was played by my very own head of house, Professor Sprout? :O ~ Wait, wait, wait...SO, they *didn't* have time to break the door down with the battering ram to save the Emperor, but they *did* have enough time for the guys to get into full dresses *and* makeup? (Where did they even GET the dresses and makeup? Especially ones in Chien Po's and Yao's sizes?) *strongly sideeyes* ~ SHORTEST LIFE DEBT REPAYMENT EVER. ~ While some of the lyrics are problematic ("Did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?" for one), I'll Make A Man Out Of You is hands down one of my favorite montage scenes of all time.