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Heartwarming / Moana

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The Ocean spirit and the young protagonist first meet.

As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

  • From the first International Trailer: The ocean itself is alive, and it is quite playful and gentle with Baby Moana.
    • The movie itself adds a prologue to that scene, showing baby Moana helping a turtle get to the ocean. It's completely adorable.
  • Maui's new tattoo at the end: Moana sailing the waves. After the conflicts they went through, it is such a sweet gesture toward his new friend, and will be something he'll always remember her by. Mini Maui now has a buddy to live next to. Best of all, the tattoo forms near his heart.
    • In an earlier conversation, Maui explained that the tattoos appeared on his body when he earned them. You can see the pride on his face as he proudly shows Moana herself aboard her canoe on his chest.
    • The meaning of its content of Moana on a sea canoe is also heartwarming: he got it not for vanquishing/tricking some beast or showing off some demigodly feat of prowess, he got it for... teaching. He got one for restoring the lost knowledge of Wayfinding through tutoring Moana, something that didn't require any Semi-Divine power at all to really do. A deed he can claim all his own without any attribution to the Gods' gifts. That was his part in this tale, not defeating Te Ka and restoring the Heart of Te Fiti (which was really just fixing his own fuck-up), so that's why Wayfinder Moana is the latest addition to the tapestry on his skin. And even long after Moana passes on, he will have a reminder of that spunky little girl who taught him that the Gods' gifts don't make him Maui, his will to use them for the betterment of all does.
      • It is all the more touching because he's showing her the tattoo just after declining to return to her island to teach her people Wayfinding. The confidence in himself his time with Moana has given him is more than enough for this previously glory seeking Demi-God.
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    • The hug Moana gives him after. Maui himself even begins to tear up.
  • Despite being a massive Tear Jerker, Gramma Tala's death has also a part of this, since she had encouraged Moana to follow her heart up until then, gives her the perfect occasion to start sailing and appears in the water, reincarnated in a manta ray, right after, showing her approval and leading her, also foreshadowing the moment right below.
    • She's not even given any time to grieve, as Tala is re-incarnated immediately.
  • During Moana's Heroic BSoD, Gramma Tala's spirit visits her saddened granddaughter. The real clincher comes when Tala states that if Moana wanted to return home, she would be there for her. The reason why this moment was so poignant is described here:
    It was such a good moment, because it validated Moana’s feelings and essentially said that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and it’s okay to take some time to feel better and sometimes?  It’s even okay to give up.  Moana had a huge burden placed upon her as the Ocean’s ‘chosen one.’  She’s a teenager and up ‘til now her life has been pretty sheltered, and she’s just been sailing around where none of her people have gone for decades if not centuries, being threatened by all sorts of terrifying dangers, trying to get a demigod to do what needs to be done…and it seems at this point like her journey won’t succeed.  Maui left her angrily, she feels like the Ocean was wrong to choose her because she’s not an experienced wayfinder/sailor and doesn’t have any magic talents of her own or anything…  How can she do what’s been asked of her?
    And the narrative validates this feeling! The Ocean appears disappointed when it takes the Heart back from Moana, but it does so gently, and doesn’t harm her at all.  And Tala, when she arrives, encourages Moana to see the worth in herself, but says, sincerely!  Not sarcastically, cajolingly, or with any sound of disappointment in her voice!  That if Moana wants and needs to go home, she will stay beside her and support her.
    • It's not just Gramma Tala who appears to encourage Moana. After she chooses to go, the spirits of the first chief and his entire fleet appear, singing to lift her spirits and give her confidence in herself again. The fact that the chief whom Moana sees in her vison of "We Know the Way" nods to Moana in respect is especially poignant.]
    • The mere fact that it's such a positive example of Trickster Mentor. Ultimately, Gramma Tala knew Moana didn't want to give up hope, but she let Moana discover that for herself instead of trying to persuade her.
  • Maui sincerely apologizing to Te Fiti for stealing her heart and not using his "I wanted to do it for the humans" line to excuse himself. And Te Fiti's response? Present him with his fixed magical fish hook.
    • For all we know, Te Fiti may have been one of the gods who raised Maui when his parents abandoned him. Even when she has every reason to be angry, Te Fiti still won't abandon Maui.
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  • Although it may have been a deception, Maui singing and dancing with Moana when they first meet was a little sweet, especially since Moana seemed to enjoy it.
  • After Moana gives him a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech, Maui starts to properly teach Moana about wayfinding without the snark or immature tricks he did earlier.
  • The scene where Maui thanks Moana for helping him in the fight against Tamatoa. While it doubles as a funny scene with Maui doing it with a shark head, it shows that Maui is being humble and appreciative towards the girl he had been trying to get rid of since he met her.
  • When Moana admits she doesn't know why the ocean chose her, Maui tells her that the ocean loved it when he pulled up the islands because people would sail between them, and the ocean loved the sailors. Now, after a thousand years of the people being landlocked by rough seas, it chose Moana because it wants the sailors to come back.
    • On a secondary note, this (and the fact that he seemed to have been friends with Tamatoa earlier) implies that Maui started out performing heroic deeds just to make people happy, rather than bring up his own low sense of self-worth.
  • Moana leading her people into wayfinding with Maui (in eagle form) showing up to greet her.
    • And a manta ray shows up to Moana. Her grandmother really is watching over her.
  • While they have discouraged their daughter from going sailing (especially Tui), both of Moana's parents have nothing but pride and belief that Moana is going to be an amazing Chief. And it's not just them either, the whole Motonui village has nothing but respect for Moana.
    • At the same time, despite not being able to sail in the sea, Moana was never unhappy in the Motonui village. She was genuinely dedicated to her people and part of her reason for even going out to return the heart of Te Fiti was because her people were faced with the threat of starvation.
    • Also some Meta Heartwarming: the woman who asks Moana for advice and then tells Tui "She's doing great!" is voiced by Auli'i Cravalho's mother. It's like she's telling the world how proud she is that her daughter is a voice actress.
  • In the beginning, when Gramma Tala tells the story of Te Fiti and Maui that scares the children (sans a young Moana), Tui walks in to calm them down. But it's cute to see him scoop up the baby Moana.
  • Te Fiti's gift for Moana for returning her heart is a new boat, for the return.
  • As Moana sails off to begin her journey, she sees the lights go out around Gramma Tala's deathbed, implying that the old woman has died. Moments later, a beautiful glowing spectral manta ray with the same markings as Tala's tattoo soars across the ocean and forms a path for Moana to follow. It's the spirit of Tala, manifested as the animal that she hoped to be when she died, guiding her granddaughter as she makes her way across the sea. True to her word, she really does stay with Moana even in death. Even better, at the end of the movie, a flesh and blood manta ray with the same markings as Tala's tattoo swims alongside Moana's boat, showing she got her wish and was reincarnated as a manta ray.
  • A minor one for Sina, but it still counts. When Moana finally makes the choice to leave the island to restore the heart, her mother catches her packing to leave. However, she doesn't go to call her husband, but instead goes to help her daughter. As much as she may not like the idea of Moana leaving Motonui, but she knows it's what Moana has to do.
    • This is even more poignant since she earlier gently discouraged Moana from pursuing her desire to go out to sea.
  • When Maui is practicing using his hook again, he turns into a whale to soak Moana as a light-hearted joke, and she finds it funny. It's heartwarming because before, he would only make mean spirited jokes at her expense, but this shows their new found respect for each other.
  • Moana's faith in Heihei displayed early on. She believes that Hei Hei is special deep down, way deep down, and in the end, she turns out to be right when he catches the Heart of Te Fiti from falling overboard in the film's climax, and returns it to her.
  • The entire song Where You Are is made of this. Yes, while it is a song about Moana's parents trying to discourage her from sailing, it's all out of the real sense of love they and the village have for her as their daughter and future chief respectively. What's better is that Moana returns this love ten-fold; she is happy in Montunui with her family and her future as chief. "The village BELIEVES IN US!" indeed.
    • Not only this, but it's implied later in the song that Moana is actively trying to repress her desire for the sea for the sake of her people. She looks at Tala dancing near the water at the end, right before delivering the line 'You can find happiness/Right where you are'. She's trying to accept her parent's philosophy for the village's sake, and the following scenes show her trying to totally commit to being their leader and renounce the sea.
    • Contrast this with Grandmother Tala's verses. The way she speaks sounds like she is actually talking about Moana. Especially when she talks about the water.
  • Moana and Grandmother Tala's relationship in general, really. The older woman understands Moana and her desire for the ocean more than anyone else, and actively encourages it.
    • During 'Where You Are', young Moana goes to dance with Tala. At first she's just copying her moves, but after the fade cut to Moana as a teenager she's perfectly in sync with Tala, suggesting she went to dance with Tala by the edge of the water a lot.
  • Moana's overjoyed reaction to her discovery during We Know The Way:"We were voyagers!" Her utter delight at realising her desire to go beyond the reef isn't something wrong or at odds with her future as chief but part of her heritage is beautiful.
    • The follow up to this in the film's climax when she realises where her longing for the ocean truly comes from.
      Moana: And the call isn't out there at all, it's inside me."
  • Meta: the film's advertising is quick to mention Dwayne Johnson, understandably. And yet, immediately afterward, they never fail to mention that Auli'i Cravalho stars as Moana. Disney is just as proud of its completely unknown leading lady as they are of the superstar playing her sidekick, and they're not going to let you forget the name Auli'i Cravalho. Considering Disney seldom advertises their voice actors at all, this is pretty awesome and sweet.
  • Meta: On the Graham Norton show, Dwayne Johnson reveals that Maui's look is heavily based on his own grandfathers.
  • When Moana confronts Te Ka to change her back into Te Fiti, she doesn't do anything badass or spectacular. Instead she walks up to Te Ka and sings the gentle, compassionate "Know Who You Are," and this scene frequently elicits Tears of Joy when Moana gives Te Ka her heart back.
  • While Lin-Manuel Miranda was on the Red Carpet before the Oscars where "How Far I'll Go" was nominated, he was surprised by several current Hamilton cast members having created a brief medley of that show's songs built around the one being honored. Both he and his mother (his date to the ceremony) were driven to Tears of Joy.
  • After opening up about his parents throwing him away as a baby, not only does Maui get words of encouragement from Moana, but also a big hug from Mini Maui. It is as adorable as it sounds.
    • Maui then gives Mini Maui a little pat and reluctantly goes "Yeah, I love you, too." It's somewhat comedic, but it could be interpreted as Maui finally starting to have a little bit of actual confidence.
  • Right before Moana leaves, she has an argument with her father and Tui then says outright that he should have burned the boats a long time ago, actually bringing a torch with him. The only thing stopping him is his mother dying. While the timeline is rather vague, there's plenty of time for Tui to have followed through... but the boats are just fine when the village hauls them out.
  • Though it is part of his Inferiority Superiority Complex, the fact that the initially-selfish Maui is talked into restoring the heart of Te Fiti - something he was adamantly against trying to do - not due to the promise of any sort of handsome reward, but rather so that the mortals will admire him as a hero again, and to make up for what he's done to them by stealing it in the first place.
  • Maui returning in the nick of time to save Moana. She says, "Thank you." He answers sincerely, "You're welcome."
  • The ending 'Voyager' scene. Tui is on the tiller and so happy to be finally living his boyhood dream. Not to mention hugely proud of his little girl.
  • And, before that, when Moana tells him that she may have gone "a little ways beyond the reef", he simply tells her "It suits you."


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