A lot of people will tell you that the starting point is the worst, because you have no idea what to do with just a blank page in front of you.
I dunno about all of that. Blank pages have a lot of opportunity. You actually can’t mess up a blank page, its only after you’ve gotten a little ways into a project that you start to realize it’s awful.
And, as we started to compile the list of potential fairy tales, we had a pretty blank page of opportunity. A friend suggested that we look beyond the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and look at folktales that don’t usually make it to Disney’s typical audiences. She suggested some Japanese folktales to look at.
I was all for this idea, mostly because I didn’t realize exactly how many fairy tales we have floating around in English, (Oscar Wilde made a book of fairy tales. Oscar. Wilde.) nor did I realize how many adaptations of various fairy tales exist.
In related news, I’m about to raise all kinds of alarms at the local library when I check out most of their YA romance section. Again. Luckily, I still look like I’m 16. Also, that is probably the only time I will ever type that sentence.
Anyway, I started reviewing some more popular Japanese folk tales, and things started out tame enough. I had even added a few I liked to the list potential candidates. I made a sub-folder of kitsune myths to sort through later, and found some pretty good summaries of The Tale of Genji. And then I ran into tanuki.
I wasn’t ready for tanuki. Or rather, I wasn’t ready for their massive testicles. Let me clarify– massive magical shape shifting testicles.
This is a thing that exists. And it existed before the Internet. A few more searches using my patented process of “skimming the first page of Google” have shown that they are popular image in culture, often seen hanging in shops and places that I’d assume children would pass by.
I also have to assume that they all show off the massive testicles, because it was disturbingly hard to find images without massive testicles. Then again, my primary source of tanuki information is from other WordPress blogs that have authors who I hope are less lonely than they look.
Also, this goes to show that my Disney knowledge isn’t perfect. I have not seen Studio Ghibli’s movie Pom Poko, in which tanuki play a part. From a screenshot I could find, it looks like a pack (is that the right collective noun for raccoon-dog-ish creatures?) is either flying or skydiving with their scrota*.
So, I had to cross tanuki off the list. Not from the imagery, but because Disney had already gone there.
*I had to Google the plural of scrotum. I didn’t have safe search on. I’ve officially suffered for art.