There are classic Mickey Mouse shorts that everyone has probably seen. The Band Concert and Steamboat Willie are good examples. Right behind those, though, has to be Mickey and the Seal. From the days growing up with Disney Channel to the redone version that airs on the channel today, this is a short that I have literally grown up watching.
Why does this short endure? There could be several reasons, but for me it boils down to three simple ones: Mickey, Pluto and the seal. All three are superbly designed characters that have great appeal. The designs of Mickey and Pluto are slightly different here than they’ve been in the past, but still carry forward the rounded, soft edge appeal that makes them popular. The seal follows that design aesthetic and makes for a great character.
All three characters are spectacular in this short, and fall into the natural roles you would expect if you were given the basic story. Mickey goes to the zoo, a seal follows him home and Pluto tries to warn his master about the seal interloper. It’s simple, sure, but very effective. This isn’t a short that tries to surprise you, it’s trying to delight you. That’s a perfectly acceptable way to approach things provided you can get the delightful part correct.
It works in Mickey and the Seal because the characters fit so well. Mickey at the zoo and when he discovers the seal in his house reacts the way he is supposed to – with a laugh and charm. He is obviously having fun with it, enjoying life and overcoming complications with a smile. Pluto, meanwhile, is completely put out by the newcomer in his house. He attacks the situation with loud barks and frantic gestures. That’s what Pluto is supposed to do.
The seal comes off perfectly as well. He’s a simple creature, looking to find a fun, safe spot to play around in the water. The ending extends that same ethos to the other seals, which is a nice touch. It’s the consistent characters and superb animation that makes Mickey and the Seal a classic, and I’m sure you’ll all agree it’s one of the best Mickey shorts ever.