- “I like you better as a sister than a mom...”
- ―Lilo to Nani
Nani Pelekai is the tritagonist of the Lilo and Stitch franchise. She is the older sister and legal guardian of Lilo. She first appeared in the 2002 film Lilo & Stitch, and has been voiced by Tia Carrere in most of her appearances.
Nani is the elder sister of Lilo's, and was appointed the girl's sole guardian after their parents were unexpectedly killed in a car accident. Nani is said to be nineteen in the first movie, making her at least thirteen years older than Lilo, who is said to be six.
As a result of having to support herself and Lilo, she's often stressed and busy. Her intense schedule often interferes with her friendship with David, who also holds an obvious crush on her, and makes several attempts to treat Nani on a date, only to meet rejection due to her busy schedule. Despite their sometimes rocky relationship, Nani and Lilo care deeply for each other, and this strong bond is shown continuously throughout the film. Though her sister, Nani is shown to have a motherly side, and often makes decisions based on Lilo's best interest, alone. In the original film, her custody over Lilo was put to the test at the hands of social worker, Cobra Bubbles who, despite regretting the thought of the two sisters having to separate, is looking for Lilo's best interest, as well, knowing she needs a figure who can handle the task of raising a child.
Two things that Nani is known for are her inability to hold down a full-time job, partly due to the antics of her sister and Stitch, and for being a terrible cook. Although Nani excels greatly in mathematics and chemistry.
Nani is a beautiful young woman; voluptuous, though fairly slender, with fair skin, black hair that reaches a little passed her shoulders, and brown eyes. Throughout the film, she can be seen wearing a number of outfits, though her most prominent (in the film) tends to be a pinkish beige short-sleeved belly shirt with a heart designed onto it, blue jeaned shorts, white socks, brown hiking boots, blue (sometimes brown or dark yellow) sandals (on her occasion). In subsequent appearances in the franchise, and in certain points of the original movie, Nani is often seen wearing a blue belly-shirt, beige calf-long pants, and sandals. One of her more iconic outfits is her blue and green bikini, which she dons during the "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" scene.
Nani appears in the film, having become Lilo's sole guardian after their parents' recent death. Nani is visited by a social worker named Cobra Bubbles who is concerned that Nani cannot adequately take care of Lilo. He is considering putting Lilo in foster care, but Nani refutes this by citing that she is the only family (A.K.A. "ohana") that Lilo has left. However, Nani will have to prove that she is capable of caring for Lilo in order to prevent Lilo from going to a foster home, a task that proves to be a difficult one.
After realizing that Lilo has no friends at hula school (Mertle Edmonds and the other girls bully her), Nani allows Lilo to get a pet from the pound. Lilo chooses Stitch, who, unknown to either girl, is actually an alien. Later, Nani is forced to take Lilo and Stitch with her as she tries to find a new job. Unfortunately, Stitch's attempts to evade capture by Jumba and Pleakley keep ruining her chances. Nani's friend David, having seen Nani, encourages Nani to take Lilo surfing with them to improve their mood. However, Jumba makes an attempt to capture Stitch from underwater. To everyone, it appears that Stitch had tried to drown Lilo. Mr. Bubbles sees the whole thing and tells Nani that he will come for Lilo in the morning.
While waiting for Mr. Bubbles the next morning, Nani is informed of a job offer by David. Nani orders Lilo to stay at home while she goes to apply. While she is gone, a fight between Stitch and Jumba results in the house being destroyed and Lilo calls Mr. Bubbles for help. Nani returns at the same time as Mr. Bubbles arrives and the two have a brief argument over Lilo's well-being. When Lilo is kidnapped by Gantu, Nani accompanies Stitch, who has revealed his alien origins, in Lilo's rescue. At the end, Nani and Lilo are appointed as Stitch's wardens by the Grand Councilwoman while Cobra Bubbles, who is revealed to be a former CIA agent, is enlisted to supervise the new family.
Nani returns in this film, now dealing with Lilo's hula recital and the constant arguing between her and Stitch. Nani is featured as the main subject of the subplot involving David and Pleakley, as David feels that Nani has lost interest in him and Pleakley attempts to provide romantic advice.
Nani is usually seen working a variety of jobs to support herself and Lilo. As always, she is concerned for Lilo's well-being, though she does allow Lilo to capture the rogue experiments. The episode "Retro" features Nani's middle school friends, who mistakenly believe that she is the Vice President of the company she works for. She sometimes helps with the experiment-hunting, such as in the episode "Phantasmo" where she saves Lilo and Stitch from a ghost-like experiment. She also rescued Lilo from being annihilated by Gantu in "Fibber", where she also briefly pretended to be Pleakley's fiancée.
Nani is seen after Lilo, Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley return from the Galactic Federation with awards for the successful extraction of the 625 experiments. Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley turn down their awards at first to stay on earth, so as not to break Lilo's heart. However, Lilo notices that they really do want their dream rewards and Nani convinces her that she's doing the right thing and showing aloha spirit by letting them go. Later on, after an evil clone of Stitch named Leroy arrived on earth to kidnap the experiments, he sneaks into the house and pretends to be Lilo when Nani almost notices him. At the end of the film, Nani is seen alongside David, Lilo, Jumba, Pleakley, Stitch, Mertle and all the experiments, taking an ohana picture.
Nani appears briefly in flashbacks in "Reunion with Lilo!", including a brief scene where she, Jumba, Pleakley and Stitch see Lilo off to college. Somewhere during this time period, she had a child or was about to have a child, which delayed Lilo when she planned to come back from college to visit Stitch, leading him to leave Earth.
Nani makes a brief appearance in the finale of World of Color with Lilo and Stitch, despite the film not having any other role in the show.
- It is quite possible that Lilo and Nani were both named after Queen Liliuokalani, the last ruling monarch of Hawaii. Lilo has the same first three letters of the monarch's name, while Nani has the last three letters of her name.
- Lilo & Nani
- If this truly is indeed the case, then that would make their connection to the song "Aloha `Oe" that much more meaningful, as they, as a whole, represent the last Queen of Hawaii, the one who wrote the song.