Ni no Kuni (Another World) Trailer for PS3
As Ghibli Freaks everywhere are well aware, Studio Ghibli is working in tandem with videogame studio Level 5 to create the adventure/RPG title, Ni no Kuni, or Another World. The game first emerged in Japan for the Nintendo DS, and now is being ported to the Playstation 3. I'm sure you'll agree that this is the better platform, as we'll be able to enjoy the vivid artwork and skillful animation on our television screens.
To be honest, I haven't really spent any time on Ni no Kuni because it doesn't appear very inspiring. Yes, it's always great to see something new from Ghibli, and it's especially nice to see the younger staff involved in side projects. But there's something rather predictable in the character designs and art direction. It feels a bit formulaic, almost stereotypically "Miyazaki-esque." I'm reminded of the Disney movies that followed after Walt Disney's death: competent, skilled, yes, but uninspiring and lacking that creative gusto that made the original classics, well...classics. Fantasia was an act of courage, a work of mad genius. Direct-to-DVD sequels are just cynical cash-ins.
I feel the same way towards Ni no Kuni. Richly colored fantasy worlds, tending towards the surreal, cutesy animal sidekick, elements that could have been swept off the cutting room floor from Howl's Moving Castle. But Howl was a great movie by a great artist, one who knows how to transcend the banalities of children's fantasy. Miyazaki is a deeply personal storyteller with a strong Kurosawa and Fellini bent, and he is willing to take creative risks when necessary. And he honestly doesn't care if he alienates everybody in the process; he's lost money on movies before, he's survived.
Ni no Kuni is a work-for-hire, one that deliberately cashes in on the Ghibli name, without really adding to its legacy in any meaningful way. It's an interesting experiment, and perhaps a template for future video game projects; I can see the studio expanding its output considerably in the post-Miyazaki era. At this point, anything is possible, so this is a valuable learning experience, if nothing else.
Anyway, these are only my fleeting opinions on the matter. If you enjoy this video game, by all means, buy it for the DS or PS3 and have fun. If Level 5 releases a Sega Saturn or Dreamcast version, I would be interested. Hey, stranger things have happened, kids.