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Analyzing the Disney Villains: Namaari (Raya and the Last Dragon)

Origin: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Is it right to teach the children no one’s really evil, just misunderstood? I’m having a hard believing that in this day and age. Maybe that idea’s good for reality but it’s not good for stories. Let’s just proceed as if Namaari is the antagonist. Because I’m not writing an essay about a faceless purple plague that looks like Gloom from “Tears of the Kingdom”. (Fun fact: she’s the first combination Disney princess/antagonist.)

Motivation: Long ago, the four five nations tribes lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation Fang Tribe attacked.

During her dad’s company picnic, Raya thinks she’s made friends with little Namaari, a dragon-loving martial arts nerd. Being a moron, she shows her new buddy the dragon spirit stone, which is kind of like showing Russia where you keep the nuclear codes. You see, everyone believes this bit of dragon magic is the key to Raya’s tribe’s prosperity. It’s not, but good luck explaining that when your tribe is suffering from either bitter cold, corrupt and cutthroat commerce, starvation, overpopulation, or infertile desert. On her mother, the Fang’s chieftess’s, orders, she tries to steal the gem. All the other tribes get in on this in a classic case of “nice job breaking it, hero“. This re-releases the Druun.

Fast forward six years. The world turns into fantasy-flavored Mad Max land. Raya has been searching various river termini, believing that Sisu is at one of them. But to do this, she needs “the dragon scroll” which she has already stolen from Namaari’s tribe when the story starts (God, that’s a lot of backstory). Obviously pissed, Namaari pursues Raya, figures out her plan, but wants the broken pieces of the dragon crystal maguffin because only they can repel the Druun and protect their tribe. So she has both a personal motivation and general/external motivation, which I kind of like.

Character Strengths: She’s got numchuck skills, bowhunting skills, ninja skills, and so on. But Raya has all those too. So what makes Namaari a threat? What does she have that Raya doesn’t?

Like her tribe, she is very feline in personality and appearance, like a tiger. Smart, resilient, loyal to her tribe. She has her nation’s soldiers at her feet. (I don’t know where Raya’s soldiers went. Did they all get Medusa-ized?). She’s more mature than Raya. More of a leader, because she has to be train. She’s kept very close to her mother’s tutelage. She wants what’s best for her people, but in doing so, fails to care about other people.

In addition, she grew up with a dose of reality whereas Raya had everything handed to her. It exemplifies how the rich, the haves, perceive the have-nots. I have seen too often where the wealthy do not understand what it’s like to not have wealth. To cut coupons and pray that a toothache goes away. But her tribe didn’t have everything.

Evilness: Namaari has eschewed her emotions to become a cut-throat warrior. She will not tolerate any questioning of her orders. Like her mother, she rules with an iron fist (I mean it might literally be an iron fist, she has so many weapons). Her primary traits are mistrust and pride (which allows her to be manipulated, like when Raya goads her into a one-on-one when she’s clearly outnumbered. What a moron.)

Tools: In combat, she uses dual short swords. For long distance, a crossbow. Besides that, she has her nation’s army. But apparently, just going to war isn’t an option (maybe they already tried that) so she has to use her individual strengths at tracking, combat, and spywork to find Raya and Sisu.

Complement to the Hero: They could be twins. I mean, the whole way their characters are set up is like Batman and the Joker. They’re both ninjas, both daughters of chiefs. They each only see violence and conquest as the way to get things done. The whole point of their relationship is to show the “flip side” of Raya. What she could be if she were consumed by negative feelings like jealousy, anger, and power.

Fatal Flaw: Like a lot of leaders, Namaari will not admit when she is wrong. She will continue making the mistake even after she’s already realized it because to do otherwise is to appear weak or deficient in front of her people. And leaders can’t have that. Her mother taught her to make “smart decisions, not emotional ones”. The lack of trust, even in the one thing she holds dear, is what causes Sisu to die. This evaporates the water around Fang and lets the Druun in.

Method of Defeat: After an actually pretty good fight, Namaari falls, but tells Raya that she’s to blame for Sisu’s death too. She aimed the crossbow, but Raya pulled the trigger. All because neither of them had faith in an alliance. As they come together in the courtyard, fending off the Druun with the last remnants of the fading dragon gem, Raya realizes its power doesnt’ come from dragon magic, it’s from trust. So the representatives from each tribe make a leap of faith and give their gems to Namaari. This converts Namaari from villain to fellow hero.

Final Rating: 2 stars

Previous Analyses
Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph II: Ralph Breaks the Internet)
Dawn Bellwether (Zootopia)
Bowler Hat Guy (Meet the Robinsons)
John Silver (Treasure Planet)
Yokai (Big Hero 6)
The Agent (Bolt)
The Spirits (Frozen II)
King Candy (Wreck-It Ralph)
Abuela (Encanto)
Prince Hans (Frozen)
Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp)
Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Percival C. McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
Pinocchio’s Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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