Dramatic Themes, Humor, and Production techniques of Miffy & Friends

To my delight, I found that there’s a show on one of my favorite childhood cartoon characters growing up: Miffy! Side note: I used to collect all my stationery as a kid (pencils, erasers notebook featuring the adorable white rabbit.

Here is my brief review of Miffy at the Beach – http://www.nickjr.com/miffys-adventures/videos/miffy-at-the-beach-s1-ep116-full-episode/

  • The structure of the show is quite short – only 7 minutes per episode. It starts with a prosocial theme. In this episode, it’s about teamwork. There is a quick establishing shot of the environment (the beach), and we are introduced to the 3 characters: Miffy, Melanie, and Miffy’s mom. Early on, we hear the the male narrator’s voice, which is an interesting use of breaking the fourth wall. The narrator asks Miffy why he doesn’t ask for help, to which Miffy replies that he wants to be independent and do it on his own. Miffy then decides to collect seashells and the episode breaks into a musical moment where we here Miffy sings a sweet tune. Eventually, the story reaches the climax where Melanie suggests to integrate Miffy’s seashell to her castle and the resolution quickly follows with the theme of teamwork and success. Another short song follows after the resolution, with Miffy singing about the joy of collaboration.
  • Because the show relied less on perceptually salient features (see below) and more on narration and dialogue, this show is appropriate for preschool age children. Other markers for the show’s targeted demographic of preschool children’s attention include the use of child voices animation, and female and child characters (Kirkorian & Anderson, pg. 305). There is not a lot of humor in the show nor dramatic themes. It’s slower paced, perhaps this allows the viewer to pay closer attention to the prosocial themes, dialogue, and character development.
  • Formal features include some perceptually salient features: a few transitions, sound effects, slow pacing and gradual movement; heavier on the informative features which include Miffy’s dialogue with himself, the narrator, Melanie, and his mom. The animation is done with simple primary colors that is appealing to the eyes, and the character’s texture is almost like Claymation (though this show might have rendered the texture with CGI). The upbeat music is done with simple chimes and wind instruments.

Some more thoughts:

Does the narration helped to aid children’s comprehension, or was unnecessary duplication of content that imposed additional cognitive load on child viewers? I personally thought that the narration distracted me from the story, I can see how it can prompt the child to think about the potential issues of Miffy’s choices.

What do I think of the 3-D CGI  version versus the original 2-D animation? While I wish the producers used actual claymation, I can why the CGI version is preferable, as it is a more efficient way to produce the episodes. Aesthetically speaking, the minimally designed animation with saturated colors and emphasis on geometric shapes parallels the 2-D traditional animation in terms of form and composition. For the first time in my comparison of 2-D vs. 3-D animated versions of shows, I’m torn! It is interesting to note the growing trend of using 3-D CGI animation in children’s shows though.

 

 

Image source – http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/miffy-and-friends/

3 Comments

  1. An interesting analysis! Where did you learn these concepts and this framework for analysing media aimed at children?

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    1. Hi, thanks for checking this post out (and I’m sorry for the delayed reply). I was taking a class called Psychology of Children’s Media at Teachers College, Columbia University and we read a lot of journals about social cognitive and multimedia theories of learning.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cool, I’ll have to look into this more. It’s fascinating!

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