In the film Zootopia, a major theme is the classification of characters in the category of predator and prey, with the feral or predatory characters being viewed as a danger to the society. The film faces a challenge in effectively exhibiting this to audiences through animated visuals without having to be vocally obvious about it. With the characters being standardly anthropomorphic, there must be an occurrence in their physical behavior and design to efficiently evoke them becoming feral and predatory. Through physicality, the characters’ kinetic design plays an important facet for how they communicate as a danger to others.
By changing the physical design and nature of these characters, they are able to properly be displayed as a predator. The utilization of anthropomorphic along with kinetic designs in the film Zootopia exhibits the contrast of animal and human behaviors within its characters corresponding to its theme of predator and prey distinctions.The main protagonist of the film, Judy Hopps, is the idealistic rabbit who represents the prey aspect of the world. Noting her appearance of an anthropomorphic rabbit, her elongated ears display her emotions accurately so that the audience is better able to empathize with her thus, distinguishing her as a humanistic character. This, however, is also countered as she is perceived as a physically fast character, consistently on the verge to complete her goals quickly. One of many instances of this is comedically portrayed in the scene in which Judy and her eventual partner, Nick Wilde, are at the DMV operated by sloths in which Judy frustratingly attempts to speed up the process in obtaining desirable information. This behavior presents the animal side of Judy as in reality, rabbits have an agile ability of sporadic kineticism. These facets of Judy compliment and contradict her as an animal and human character but, collaborate effectively in making her characterization unique.
Interpreting the use of anthropomorphic and kinetic designs of Judy even further, she perpetually is referred to as a prey being obviously surrounded by larger animals, typically predators, who acknowledge her as different. This is also represented by her quick animated movements reminding the viewer of her abilities as a prey creature in getting out of situations that often involve severe danger. With her kinetic movements, Judy is exhibited as agile and expressive. By expressing emotion as well, Judy is effective in this with the film’s animation lending to her facial features. When happy throughout the film, Judy’s face literally rises with her eyes opening up and her smile widening and oppositely, when gloomy or upset, her face sunken, eyes lower and ears droop, connecting yet again to the emotional, human side of her. Judy through her anthropomorphic design to distinguish her as a humanistic character, combined with her various skills such as hopping high and running fast, correlate to the film’s theme of her identification as prey.Interpreting the character of Judy’s partner, Nick Wilde, there appears to be a more complex exploration of him. As Nick notes about himself, he is a sly fox, clearly exhibited by his anthropomorphism and kineticism.
Observing the way he moves in particular scenes, he tends to be quiet, similar to his real counterpart of a fox, trying to keep a low-key status in his surroundings. Observing his anthropomorphism, Nick dresses similarly to humans, with a shirt and tie, and moving about on his two back legs, similarly to Judy, however, having a sort of charisma to it, adding to the specificity of his character’s personality. Similarly to Judy, Nick is also quick, particularly in his introductory scenes of when he goes about Zootopia swindling other animals, metaphorically aligning him as a predator. This corresponds to the theme of predator or prey with the film also raising questions about the natural identity of particular animals.Although referred to his nature as prey, Nick is a unique character in the film as denoting his allegiance as unidentifiable. He appears to have no interest in the ongoings of the social segregation implemented in the film’s world and that adds to the audience’s interpretation of him as well. Noting his natural predatory instincts, the plot of the film is heavily founded on an outbreak of feral behavior by animals.
Toward the end, the film tricks viewers by making it seem Nick is turning savage. He growls ferociously and appears keen on killing Judy. This, however, is a ploy to stop the antagonist of the film, Bellwether. From this context, it shows Nick is self-aware about his own nature and regardless of the kinetic movements he performs naturally, is able to distinctly identify his own behaviors and traits, noting the overall human aspect of him.Interpreting the utilization of anthropomorphic and kinetic designs to focus on a predatory animal along with its behaviors, one could observe the character of Renato Manchas who is the first feral creature Judy and Nick encounter. Manchas is a limousine driver who eventually becomes feral, viciously chasing after the film’s protagonists.
Noting the black jaguar’s anthropomorphic design, he is of a large stature, imposing an intimidating figure especially for Judy and Nick who are both smaller than him. Manchas displays human characteristics through his anthropomorphic design of evoking fear, raising up his face and ears in the possible presence of danger. His anthropomorphic design also allows him to be able to drive an automobile, making him more relatable to human behavior. Although Manchas is a predator by nature, he appears to be properly assimilated and morally good in the film’s world.Focusing on the character of Manchas’ predatory nature singles him out as very distinct compared to other animals in the film’s world. When turned feral, Manchas’ kinetic design evokes movement to be ferocious and rapid.
When chasing Judy and Nick, Manchas has the ability to become incredibly agile, jumping high lengths and using all four of his legs to run. Adding to this, the design of his character exhibits his sharp teeth which he exposes, explicitly communicating to the viewer his aggressive predatory savageness. When confronting Nick alone, Manchas slowly approaches him as a predator slowly going in for the kill of his prey, with eyes locked onto its desired target. Along with opening his mouth wide and expressing other forms of predatory behavior, Manchas’ anthropomorphic design is quickly replaced by the kineticism of which he evokes visceral animal instincts.Understanding Zootopia’s notion of separating animals into a particular divide creates the distinction between predator and prey within the film’s world. Focusing on predators initially, the film abandons any form of anthropomorphic design to delve away from humanistic elements related to them.
Observing the characters of the “predacious” Nick as well as the feral Manchas and their designs in the portrayal of a predator, the film instead favors kinetic design related to their movements. Exhibiting the character’s using all of their paws to run and walk, the kineticism implies only animal behaviors. This as well applies to how they use their teeth to growl in an attempt to simulate wanting to eat their prey. The film displays these predatory behaviors in all animals who turn feral to distinguish them from others who are prey or have not yet turned.
Looking at the separate distinction of predatory behavior, the prey characteristics apply more thoroughly to the specificity of the protagonist, Judy. Through making her as well as other characters anthropomorphic, this establishes that many characters appear to have a prey-like conduct. This notion, however, could be debated as all characters in the film tend to be anthropomorphic regardless of before turning feral if they are predators or prey.
This aside, anthropomorphism in the film helps establish a humanistic element to the particular characters but also adds a facet of better distinguishing prey from predator. From this arises the concept of prey behaving with the ability of a predator, but instead utilizing only their two back legs to perform humanistic physical abilities such as running or walking. With the character of Judy, along with many others from the film, Zootopia utilizes anthropomorphism to better distinguish prey from predator.The utilization of anthropomorphic along with kinetic designs in the film Zootopia exhibits the contrast of animal and human behaviors within its characters corresponding to its theme of predator and prey distinctions. Observing the character of Judy in this context, her behavior presents both animal and human sides through anthropomorphism and kineticism. Judy through her anthropomorphic design is able to be distinguished as a humanistic character specifically thus, correlating to the film’s theme of her identification of prey.
With the character of Nick, it is identifiable to view him as a sly fox, clearly exhibited by his anthropomorphism as well as kineticism. From this as well as the context of him evoking humanistic behaviors and emotions, it is easier to establish Nick as a more human character, even though by nature he is deemed as a predator.Observing the nature of predators within the world of Zootopia, the character of Manchas initially displays human characteristics through his anthropomorphic design.
However, once turned feral, Manchas’ anthropomorphic design is quickly replaced by the kineticism of which he evokes visceral animal instincts. Observing characters of predatory nature, the film favors kinetic design related to their movements. Anthropomorphism is instead used to help establish a humanistic element to prey.
Through the utilization of both anthropomorphic and kinetic design, Zootopia helps establish predator and prey animals by physical behaviors and characteristics.