Otherwise Known As: Vaiana (In Some Countries)
Name Meaning: “Ocean”
Premiered In: Moana (2016)
Voiced By: Auli’i Cravalho
Of all the Disney Princesses, official or not, Moana is by far the most distinct of them all. How distinct? Oh, let me count the ways… First and foremost, as one can rightly assume by her name above, Moana is the only official Disney Princess to have a last name as far as the film canon is concerned. True, characters like Vanellope and Elena have last names but Vanellope technically abdicates her throne for a presidency and Elena, for all her rising popularity is not technically a Disney Princess again, as far as the film canon is concerned.
More to the point, and by her own admittance, Moana does not consider herself a princess and rebukes any such thoughts to Maui, demigod of the wind and sea, straight to his face despite his own apparent evidence to the contrary. That being her style of clothing and the fact that she has an animal sidekick that in his eyes combined with her habit of singing on occasion makes her a princess.
However, contrary to the demigod’s evidence, I find myself agreeing with Moana. Personality wise, Moana is nothing at all like any Disney Princess that’s come before her. Though she is a teenager, being all of fourteen years old or so, there is no real “teenage rebellion” in any way, shape, or form.
While she is drawn to the sea, Moana does not let it become an obsession that leads her, and those closest to her. Heck, the only reason she initially goes out past the reef at all is to try and prove that there can be more fish, and thus more food, for her people and not because she simply wants to go out onto the ocean.
Though Moana does not shy away from her responsibilities as chief of her people and is not deterred by her father’s, or her people’s, actions towards her but is inspired by them and becomes a better leader for it. When her father showing her the stack of stones that each chief before them carried to the island of Motunui’s tallest mountain, she was not worried for the possibility that she might not live up to such a legacy but embraces it and overcomes it.
Even when her father, the still in charge chief, is standing right there next to her, villagers still go to Moana and seek her counsel in regards to the withering, if not outright infected looking, crops of coconuts.
What is truly one of the most defining aspects of Moana is that her story has not even the slightest bit of romance involved. True, the same could be argued for Merida but one must remember that a majority of the plot revolved around her unwilling engagement to any one of the three visiting clan heirs. Even Elsa, being technically a queen and thus exempt from inclusion, still has to deal with her sister’s far too over-the-top attitude in regards to true love and love-at-first-sight. That’s not to say that Moana has no love at all, far from it in fact.
It is her love of her home and her people that drives her, that inspires her, and what raises her to become the hero of her own story. From the very start of her journey, we are told that Moana is to find Maui and aid him in returning the Heart of Te Fiti that he had stolen all those centuries ago and thus doomed the world to a slowly eroding darkness. Even Moana herself believes herself to be nothing more than an aid to Maui and even then, not much of one as she, initially, had no experience in sailing, or wayfinding as it is properly named.
Initially until Maui himself taught her all that he knew of the art, though not willingly so as the Ocean took matters into its own… waves…? Yes, waves, and all but forced Maui into have to rely on Moana to at least reach the entrance to the Realm of Monsters in order to get his magical fish hook back from the clutches of Tamatoa.
But think about it, for just a moment… Moana is given the Heart of Te Fiti, chosen specifically by the ocean for the pure heart and courage she displayed as an infant, and look at what she accomplishes specifically throughout her story. She finds Maui and, with a little help from the ocean, gets him to help her put the heart back. She even goes so far as to outright deck him in the stomach with her oar and grabs him by the ear to loudly proclaim that he is not her hero.
I’m not going to lie Moana instantly went to being my personal Best Princess with that kind of gumption.
While one could say that Moana’s home island of Motunui is her domain, I do not believe that to be so. Aside from the fact that she, and by extension her people, are voyagers of the ocean and are more akin to nomads who make their homes wherever they may find them, I firmly believe that Moana does not find her island to be her domain.
While she cares greatly for her island home, which in itself is a tropical paradise that makes anyone even remotely familiar with the bitter hoarfrost and icy winds of winter weep with envy, Moana’s chief concern is first and foremost, her people. True, the island of Motunui will likely forever hold a special place in her heart.
Contrary to most Disney Princesses of the more recent eras, Moana has not one but two animal companions and neither of who are portrayed as being anything more than slightly above average animals. Or slightly… alright extremely less in the case of one. The first, a pig named Pua was initially supposed to be the defacto animal sidekick to Moana and still is insomuch that he is most distinctly Moana’s actual pet and not one that belongs to the village as a whole like Heihei the rooster.
Originally, Heihei was going to be something rather like Flick from Pocahontas in that he’d be a rude, rash, and outright arrogant little snit of a bird if ever there was one before he ultimately became, and I quote one of the co-directors here, “the stupidest character in Disney Animation.” That… might be a bit understated but honestly, seeing is believing has never been more true in concern to the stupidity of a rooster…
As of the time of this post, Moana does not have either a “Palace Pet” nor a “official” royal get-up of any sort. If she does attain a Palace Pet, I’ve no doubt it’ll either be something that makes little to no sense for her to have, and yes I’m still upset that Ariel gets a freaking a cat because darn it she’s a mermaid for criminy’s sake, or will be right on the mark.
If I were a betting man, I’d say something to do with the ocean, either a turtle or perhaps a hermit crab. As to a royal get up… hopefully it will not go the way that Pocahontas and Mulan initially did and, if at all, will be similar to her ceremonial attire that was shown in the film proper.