Riff Spectacular - The Heidi Tree

Time to get back into the riffs with a vengeance. Here's one of the most important riffs of them all - The Heidi Tree.

I've shown a number of riffs from Miyazaki and Takahata, and if you're observant, you'll notice that most of them quote the early works - Horus and Puss in Boots and Panda Kopanda and what have you. The motherland of all riffs, however, is Heidi. It's the most heavily riffed work from the masters' careers.

It's easy to see why, considering the enormous success of Heidi, its immense influence upon anime culture and spreading its popularity in the '70s. The series continues to be ranked near the top of favorite anime series and films in Japan. And it marks Isao Takahata's triumph, his vindication for everything he fought for in Horus.

I've been cataloging every riff I find in the series, and now I'm starting back from the beginning again to catch anything I've missed. Nearly every episode of Heidi contains at least one riff. Many episodes contain several. I've counted at least six in the first episode alone. And it continued to be riffed extensively by Miyazaki and Takahata into the present day. I'll guarantee that at least a couple Heidi quotes will appear in the next Miyazaki film.

The Heidi Tree - sounds like a great name for an album, dontcha think?

The Heidi Tree refers to a specific kind of shot that comes from the first episode of the series. It's a low-angle shot of a large tree, looking high upon the trunk and branches. It's an excellent shot, and it's significant because it reappears again and again over the years. So, basically, a Heidi Tree refers to this kind of shot - that should become the official name for it. :P

First, here's the original Heidi Tree from Heidi, Girl of the Alps, episode 1.

Here's a different shot from a later episode, something I call "Heidi Tree With Sparkles."

Now let's see all the places Miyazaki and Takahata riffed this. First one's from episode 13 of Future Boy Conan:

Then, episode 3 of Anne of Green Gables, although I may be stretching it a bit:

Here it is again in Gauche the Cellist, using the same camera tilt as in Anne:

A Heidi Tree With Sparkles pops up in Nausicaa:

Another riff in Laputa: Castle in the Sky:

Miyazaki's third Heidi Tree in three films, this time My Neighbor Totoro:

Finally...or is it??? Studio Ghibli's Umi Ga Kikoeru, I Can Hear the Sea, a very lovely Heidi Tree With Sparkles:

To the best of my memory, these are all of 'em. But that really means I haven't sat down recently and watched all of the Ghibli movies. Why not find out for yourselves? See if you can find a Heidi Tree in any of the other movies. Oh, and have I mentioned that you can make a drinking game out of spotting the riffs in the Ghibli movies? I'll tell you all about it later. Happy hunting!


J.R.D.S. said...

There's a (very big) "Heidi Tree with Sparkles" in Baten Kaitos. Lots of sparkles, in fact. First there's a lake reflecting the stars, then a cave with sparkling crystals in the walls, and a huge tree through which are seen sparkles of sunlight. I can't remember the others. The whole game is also very Iblard and Laputa-inspired. All stupendously pretty and surprising, if you can be bothered with games.

Chris Sobieniak said...

I think I have a "Heidi tree" in my backyard, a giant maple leaf type, though over the years it's branches have fallen due to age and storms, so the sparkles are becoming less and less it seems. I just wanted to mention that! :-)

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Well, then, you should pull out your camera and take a picture. Heck, let's all take pictures and I'll post them here on the blog!

Heidi Tree said... this a real thing.. my name is Heidi Tree.. I just came across this..... what in the actual hell ... lol ...

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