Joy Story: A Magical Short Film About Giving

Joy Story: A Magical Short Film About Giving
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Joy Story is a magical short story. In fact, this animated picture teaches us the value of solidarity, as well as the powerful effect of giving from the heart. It tells us that every good deed has a wonderful reward.

If we allow ourselves to give from our hearts, sooner or later, we’ll be rewarded generously. This is what we discover in Joy Story, this beautiful animated short film that tells the story of a puppy who goes fishing with his owner and meets an elegant yet annoying heron. What happens between the two is an example of kindness, affection, and understanding.

There are lots of films of this type. Indeed, every so often, Pixar surprises us with one of these little stories that, as a gift and an exercise in reflection, always goes straight to our hearts and wins us over. This film is one such story. It comes from China and is directed by Kyra Buschor, Constantin Paeplow, and Kenneth Kuan. It seeks to open us up to the idea of solidarity.

Furthermore, with this film, the creators of Passion Pictures wished to pay a small tribute to the year, 2018. Because, within Chinese culture, this was the year of the dog. Therefore, the protagonist of this story, which lasts for just over fours minutes, is Joy, a small puppy with a huge nose who’s full of both enthusiasm and suspicion.

Joy is shaken by the appearance of Heron, a friendly bird of the same name. In oriental culture, a heron symbolizes the good in people.

“The best life is not the longest, but the richest in good deeds.”

-Marie Curie-

Joy Story's protagonist in a car.

Joy Story: An afternoon of fishing and surprises

Joy Story has no sound. In fact, it doesn’t need any. That’s because the magic of this animated picture and the powerful expressions of curiosity, restlessness, surprise, and kindness say it all. In fact, the only human figure in the story always remains with his back turned, ignoring all that happens on the boat.

The plot begins with little Joy and her owner, ready to start a quiet afternoon of fishing. The setting is idyllic, suggesting a good day ahead for the man and his little puppy. Joy has a happy heart, her eyes shine, and she has a glossy wet nose. She’s extremely vigilant. In fact, she knows that she must be very careful, in order to not disturb her owner’s fishing.

Joy Story: A strange encounter

Suddenly, something happens. We see a strange and somewhat bizarre creature enter the scene. This is Heron, a friendly heron who stands in the corner of the small boat. Heron appears to have one very clear objective: to take the hooks and steal those juicy worms. Little Joy doesn’t hesitate to attempt to foil Heron’s plans. As a good dog and faithful friend to her human, she rushes towards the heron in order to hamper his intent… but she fails. Heron takes the worm.

This scene is repeated several times. The heron is always skillful and firm in her purpose and doesn’t hesitate. She takes the appetizing worms, leaving a few for the fisherman and his dog. In each of those funny yet frustrating scenes, Joy fails to protect the worms and consequently gets reprimanded by her owner. Meanwhile, Joy’s owner is unaware of what’s happening. In fact, the only thing Joy’s owner perceives is the movement of the boat.

Joy Story's protagonist duking it out with Heron over worm.

The message of Joy Story: Giving from the heart

The protagonist is a dog, who’s limited to doing only what she’s been taught. In other words, to protect her owner’s property. However, the outcome of the story teaches us something extremely important. In fact, Joy Story tells us that taking concepts and motivation for granted is counter to giving from the heart. Additionally, it teaches us that we should avoid making blind assumptions.

The bird was somewhat bizarre and its appearance certainly didn’t inspire trustworthiness. Likewise, her actions seemed unkind in stealing Joy’s hooks. However, it’s easy to get carried away with first impressions, just like the protagonist of Joy Story.

If we take the time to observe our surroundings, we’ll discover that there are more worlds and perspectives outside our own little boat. For example, we might realize that behind the peculiar appearances and behaviors of others, there are other beings, sometimes magical, with their own agendas. These creatures exist beyond our own observational capacities and what we’re able to define with our biases, stereotypes, and labels.

As a matter of fact, Heron wasn’t stealing for pleasure and neither were the worms for herself. On realizing this, little Joy quickly understands and doesn’t hesitate to open her heart to her, offering Heron all of the worms. It’s wonderful, an act that shows us the powerful effects that can happen when we dare to give from our hearts.

Let’s take a lesson from this special short animation. Let’s learn from Joy Story, from the little dog, and the heron. If we do, we might avoid becoming like the fisherman who didn’t notice a thing and hence missed out on something truly exceptional.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.