Bojack Horseman

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Analysis of characters in BoJack Horseman.

BoJack Horseman is a well known Netflix show that gained a lot of popularity. I think many people know it for sure. I am thinking of doing character analysis about some characters in this show for my first try for an article. So, I have some occurring thoughts about it.

The main character in the series is BoJack. He is a very complicated personality that has psychological issues, hidden and unspoken traumas. However, he is also a horse, not a human. That is a really important point – the character represents the human trauma and human personality traits but has a form of an animal. Since I am interested in Animal Studies, this occurs to be a very significant point from a psychological point of view. The viewers can identify with BoJack, however, a certain distance will still remain between the character and viewers because of the character’s physical appearance. BoJack feels like a human suffers like a human, but yet is not the same as a human. Because of this reason, viewers that have similar problems to BoJack’s can identify with him better than with a human character experiencing the same problems – the "psychological distance" makes BoJack like an imaginary friend of every viewer having traumatic experiences. BoJack becomes like a symbolical figure of human trauma but he still has horse traits and horse behaviour stereotypes. Actually, these traits are much harder to be than for example in other characters like Princess Carolyn or Mr.Peanutbutter.
Basically, while analysing BoJack’s personality, there are many paths to do it.BoJack’s personality can be viewed from the angle of Animal studies, from psychology (I think Carl Jung’s psychology is the best here) or simple analysis of his changes during the seasons.
I gotta point out, I am a big fan of Princess Carolyn as well. Her character is not the main, however, it is well developed. We can see many references of cat stereotypes in her behaviour and also we can see her well-developed personality, facing other challenges and problems than BoJack. Actually, in one of the first episodes, we see a very clear reference of A.Kamiu philosophy in her character.
Overall, BoJack is a pretty good show with some truly well-developed characters worth speaking more of.

  • I like where you are going so far with this. There is a rich history of anthropomorphic stories and I wonder if certain animals were chosen for particular reasons; whether it was intentional, for comedic effect, or for just being straight up absurd. Lisa Hanawalt, the art director for the show, has some great comics that might be of aid to you in this topic, alongside what she has spoken of in regards to the show. Though he is human, Todd is another great character that is worth exploring further as there really aren't that many respectable, nuanced asexual characters in any form of media. The same goes for Diane, in that she is a three dimensional woman who can be both confident and have episodes of depression and anxiety. I wonder if the emotional connection you speak of in regards to the animal characters is more felt or less felt with the humans on the show? – AnthonyS11 1 year ago
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  • I absolutely adore this show not just because I find the humor entertaining, but as I watch these characters and learn their back stories, they also morph and grow and change from episode to episode (even if these episodes may or may not be connected story-wise. I have only thought briefly about the choice to make some characters animal while have other remain human. I think it's a fascinating avenue to explore. You mentioned how this choice creates a relatable distance; however, doesn't the medium of animation do this as well? Opposed to being a live-action show with human characters, what does having this show be animated do as well -- especially since cartoons are initially thought of as being for children? How does adult animation function for this specific show/story? – msimon 1 year ago
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  • @AnthonyS11, speaking of animal and human characters, i think both are very complex and expressed in a really detailed way. In animal characters, we see both traits of humans and animals and that's why this mix makes me so curious. However, I choose to focus on anthropomorphic characters simply because I had a course "Animal Studies: Introduction" and for this course, I wrote an essay about BoJack Horseman :) so this topic hooked me up, I am just really curious about animal-human features in these characters. But I totally agree that it would be really cool if somebody analysed Todd or Diane. Todd's an amazing character, one of my favourites :) p.s. this is probably totally not the best way to show this (maybe my comment will even be deleted haha) but i started my own blog about animal studies and media. honestly, i am gonna change many stuff, but if any people want to check and read my shit and give me feedback, i would be thankful.there's the link: http://www.justinavondanzig.com/blog/anthropomorphic-characters-in-bojack-horseman-princess-carolyn-modern-sisyphus-or-a-suffering-neurotic-cat/ – JustinaVonDanzig 1 year ago
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  • @msimon, that's a very good point. personally, i have just read one article about children education. when children(age 5-6) learn from books that have personalized or 'humanized' animals, they score better at answering the questions. Very interesting, isnt it? animals for some reason are understood as something different in our cultures but they still are symbols to us. just remember, humans used to glory or worship animals in the past and yet they still remain some 'magical' that triggers our mind and helps us in one way or another. I think it might be connected with our biologyical and psychological conditions. And speaking of BoJack,i think that BoJack is a pretty good imaginary friend to every person who has a mental disease. for people who have mental diseases watching shows with human characters that have the same conditions or similar issues it might be too hard because it would simply remind their own pain. while BoJack is something more like an imaginary friend. he acts like a human, he suffers like a human, but yet he has a human horse. and this little details plays with out imagination and psychology because we as humans create a distance between us and BoJack just because he is biologically different. sometimes, or actually,often, it is too hard to watch something that reflects your condition or pain, but when this pain is 'hidden' under the curtain of anthropomorphism, it doesn't strike so much. or maybe it even helps to heal or see oneself from a different perspective. but that's just my opinion, lol. i haven't dig this specific topic yet, but it is worth attention. thanks for bringing this up! – JustinaVonDanzig 1 year ago
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