Disney / The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning

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Every tale has a beginning, but only one begins Under the Sea.

A 2008 Direct-to-Video Prequel to Disney's The Little Mermaid, and the last of a very long chain of DTV Disney Animated Canon sequels, prequels, and midquels. This film reveals the cause of King Triton's fear and hatred of humans to be the death of his beloved Queen Athena, Ariel's mother.

During a family excursion on the surface, Triton gives his queen a music box. A pirate ship appears, and Athena is killed while attempting to save the music box. Heartbroken, Triton bans all music from Atlantica.

Years later, a now teenage Ariel, dissatisfied with life, joins an illicit music club. Meanwhile, the princesses' governess Marina Del Ray, with the help of her manatee assistant Benjamin, is plotting to get Sebastian's job as Triton's right-hand man.

The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Family: Athena and her daughters Alana, Adella, Aquata, Attina, Arista, Andrina, and Ariel.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Marina isn't satisfied as a governess and wants Sebastian's job.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Seems to be the standard for mermaids, due to the Seashell Bras.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Stern but well-meaning Attina, who is the oldest and as such, the next in line for the Atlantican throne.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Played with via Andrina, the second youngest. She is good-natured but is a known wisecracker who is perfectly capable of deadpan.
  • Disney Death: Ariel, after a Diving Save for Sebastian. She awakens as Triton sings "Athena's Song".
  • Doomed by Canon: Anyone who watched the film this story is a prequel to already knows Marina won't keep Sebastian's job or even her previous one as a governess.
  • Dumb Blonde: Subverted with Arista, the third youngest. She is simple-minded, but when the sisters hit the Catfish Club together, she shows off her musical talents and plays a mean saxophone.
  • Fantastic Racism: King Triton's hatred of humans is due to his wife's death at the hands of pirates.
  • The Fashionista: Alana, the second oldest, who is highly interested in glamour and makes her own beauty products.
  • Fiery Redhead: Ariel is more than willing to make known her dissatisfaction with her father's laws.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The screen quickly fades to black just as the pirate ship kills Athena. Yikes!
  • Grand Finale: Of the Disney Animated Canon's sequel/prequel films.
  • Karma Houdini: The pirates receive no comeuppance for killing Athena.
  • Little Sister Heroine: Ariel herself, the youngest of the seven.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Ariel has six older sisters: Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, and Alana.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens with Ariel and her sisters as young children, then has a decade Time Skip.
  • Nostalgic Music Box: King Triton gives his wife a music box as a gift. She is then killed while trying to save it from being crushed. Later, Ariel finds the music box, and its haunting melody helps persuade her father to lift the ban on music by reminding him of his late queen.
  • Pursuing Parental Perils: Athena is killed during a visit to the surface while trying to save a music box. Ariel shares her mother's love of music, and in the TV series and the original movie she is infatuated with the surface world.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: In Ariel's Beginning, Ariel joins Flounder, Sebastian, and the Catfish Club Band after escaping from Atlantica.
  • Seashell Bra: As in the first movie, this is standard mermaid attire. One of the sisters even has a "lucky" Seashell Bra.
  • Sibling Team: Ariel and her sisters. Each of her six older sisters has their personalities differentiated to an extent not yet seen in previous Little Mermaid literary, TV or film installments.
  • Skewed Priorities: At the beginning, whilst Ariel's family tries to get away from the ship, Athena goes back to grab her music box. She ends up being crushed and killed by the ship because of this.note 
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Ariel strongly resembles her mother, only Athena has green eyes.
  • Theme Music Powerup - I Remember, which is Ariel's first (chronologically in the Little Mermaid series timeline) signature song and goes a long way towards revealing her beliefs and personality. (It also has an element of a Lonely Piano Piece before it slowly but surely shifts into gear.)
  • Villain Song: Marina Del Ray's "Just One Mistake", which could also double as a villainous "I Want" Song.
  • Water Is Air: Merpeople swim down the 'streets' in a completely upright posture, as if they were walking on feet, even though their tails don't touch the ground.
  • Widely Spaced Jail Bars: Sebastian can clearly fit through the bars of the jail cell he and the Catfish Club Band are stuck in. It's even pointed out by one of the prisoners trying to convince him to pick the lock.

Alternative Title(s): The Little Mermaid Ariels Beginning, The Little Mermaid 3

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