From those descriptions right there, I realize you may be skeptical as to how these movies could be possibly similar. Noriko is a 27 year old female living with her father in post war Japan in the 1940’s-early 1950’s. The movie never goes in depth as to what she might have been doing during the war, but it is hinted she had been in bad health recently, working long days, and was on the road to recovery. Her father, Professor Shukichi Somiya, lives at home with Noriko, and has never given much thought to Noriko getting married. They live happily together, with Noriko taking care of the house, cleaning, cooking, and entertaining guests. It isn’t until Noriko’s Aunt Masa brings up that the father is reaching his final years, that once he dies Noriko will be left alone, she is running out of time to be suitable, etc. Her father reluctantly agrees that it is time to find someone for Noriko.
Disney movies always seem to follow a specific outline. You have a young girl who really wants to do what is right. She wants to either make her family proud, follow instructions, do what she is supposed to do. But if that were to happen, there wouldn’t be much of a movie. Instead, the main character defies what is right, then in the end pleases everyone, making everything right again. In the beginning of the movie, Mulan is sent to be all primped and made over to go meet the ‘match maker’ to make her family proud by marrying into money and finding a husband. Before she leaves to go get ready and all beautified, her father says “Mulan, bring honor to our family.” Instead of bringing honor, Mulan brings disaster, ruining the entire meeting with the matchmaker. It is never stated, but I get a sense that Mulan never really wanted to have an arranged marriage, she was just in it to make her family proud.
Noriko, when told of this idea of the arranged marriage, is not eager nor willing to go through with it. The aunt, who could be labeled as the antagonist of the film, pressures the father into asking Noriko about her feelings towards his assistant Hattori, whom she seems to have feelings for. The two had gone on a biking trip to the beach, and been spending a lot of time together. When her father asks, Noriko almost spits her tea all over the table from laughing, as Hattori is indeed engaged to be married.
Noriko and Mulan possess many similar qualities. Both want to make their fathers happy and both are against the idea of arranged marriage. After ruining her chances with the matchmaker, the plot thickens and war breaks out. A letter is sent to every family requiring one male to go and serve in the war to honor China. In an attempt to protect her father, Mulan cuts off her hair, dresses in his armor, and goes to fight in the war. It is here, when her ancestors send a guardian to help her along the way, much like Aya is for Noriko in Late Spring. Moshu is a little dragon who guides Mulan and brings her out of the war alive.
As the movie continues on, Noriko eventually agrees to get married. Prior to her doing so, her father lies to her and agrees he will remarry as well. This is untrue, but it was done so to force Noriko into doing what is right. Noriko and her father take one last trip together before the wedding to Kyoto. There is an emotional scene towards the end, where Noriko and her father are laying in bed about to go to sleep, and are conversing about getting married. The father dozes off in the middle of Noriko talking about her distaste in marriage. The next scene,…