Cecile Corbel - Arrietty's Song

Cecile Corbel is the french musician who composed the music for Arrietty.  She sent a CD to Studio Ghibli in 2009, and they were so impressed that she was brought on board for their adaptation of Mary Norton's "The Borrowers."  Her wonderful celtic music is one of my favorite things about this film.

If you're wondering why this song is being sung in Japanese, well, welcome to America.  This is the song that plays during the closing credits in the Japanese version.  Instead of that quiet, peaceful coda, Disney decided to Rick-Roll the movie with an unnecessary narration, followed by a wretched, Auto-Tuned mess.  It's much more important to ruin another person's movie if it means advancing the careers of your fake plastic Barbie dolls, right?

And despite Disney's claims that this - to Rick-Roll Studio Ghibli - is what will make Arrietty a hit at the box office...The Secret World of Arrietty will finish with $20-25 million at the box office, only a little more than Ponyo.  The Lorax will blaze past that on its first show.  Mission: Failed.

On that happy note, enjoy Cecile Corbel, a real musician who sings and plays actual musical instruments - for real!  No special effects required at all!  Hard to believe in the age of American Idol and the Disney Channel, but such persons actually exist.  Imagine that.


2013 "Summer of Ghibli" - Takahata and Miyazaki's Final Bow?

Recently on his radio show, Toshio Suzuki hinted at an "incredible plan" for Studio Ghibli in the summer of 2013.  This "Summer of Ghibli" remains a mystery of yet, but Isao Takahata's long-awaited feature film ("The Story of the Bamboo Cutter") currently scheduled for release next summer.  In addition, Hayao Miyazaki's next feature (almost certainly based on his 2009 Kaze Tachinu comic) is also planned for a summer release.  Does this mean 2013 will see a double-feature release by Ghibli's founders?

Perhaps, perhaps not.  It's best not to speculate on these things, as Westerners are notoriously terrible at guessing Ghibli's intentions.  Every Ghibli movie of the last 15 years is heralded as "Miyazaki's retirement," for example.  But next summer will be a critical milestone for the studio, as it completes its "Five Year Plan."  This plan introduced the next generation of feature film directors, while Miyazaki prepares to move to a more background role.  Can Studio Ghibli survive in a post-Miyazaki era?  Would the public accept the new directors?  Fortunately, The Borrower Arrietty and From Up on Poppy Hill became hits, and Goro Miyazaki is already in the planning stages of his next film (a samurai period piece).

Although no official word has been made, it's entirely reasonable to me that "Bamboo Cutter" and "Kaze Tachinu" will be the final directorial feature films by Takahata (75) and Miyazaki (71).  Advancing age and the long production times necessary for feature animation almost requires it.  The time may be coming for Studio Ghibli's legendary founders to take the stage one final time.

Mind you, this is only my speculation at this point, so don't quote anything as the Written Gospel.  But I think this is where Ghibli is headed, and I wouldn't at all be surprised if Toshio Suzuki's plans involve this in some fashion.

Here is the translation from Suzuki-san's radio show, provided by T. Ishikawa and posted on GhibliWiki:

One of the guests asked Suzuki a question near the end of the radio show.

Guest: When is Takahata-san's film released?

Suzuki: Well, Miyazaki... (narration is inserted on top of Suzuki's voice)

Narration: Sorry, we cannot yet broadcast this talk, but, actually Suzuki-san seems to have an incredible plan which is not swept irresistibly by the current of the times.

Guests: Wooooow! (Guests are astonished by Suzuki's plan)

Suzuki: I'm so sorry, but we make all of next summer into Studio Ghibli.

(Laughter and the applause by guests)

Narration: Probably, Calcifer's flame begins to blaze like a brick from now on.

Dracula Burger - Hippos

Yeah, I'm bringing Drac back.  Why?  Because I can.  And also because I need to pad out my publishing so I look productive.  But mostly it's because these comics make me laugh.  Here's a quick single-panel comic that's destined to become a holiday classic.

(Shakes tip jar, cough)

Ghibli Blog Comix - Let's Play Yahtzee

We're long overdue for some comics, so here we go.  Wow, I didn't realize Yahtzee had become so competitive.  Toss in Gabe Caplan and this is just as good as late-night poker.  Yeah, Mr. Kotter is now an old man playing for chips at 2am Saturday nights.  Sigh.

This comic comes from a television commercial created by Studio Ghibli, and appears on the Short Short DVD, in case you're curious.

Poster - The Story of the Yanagawa Canals

Behold, Studio Ghibli's only live-action feature film!  The Story of the Yanagawa Canals (Yanagawa Horiwari Monogatari) is a 1987 documentary directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Hayao Miyazaki (who financed the project with revenues from his Nausicaa comic).  It aired on Japanese television (NHK, I think), and has been released on home video.  It has never been seen outside of Japan, and I doubt many Westerners even know it exists.  In that sense, this is the great "lost" Ghibli film.

The Story of the Yanagawa Canals is a three-hour documentary that chronicles the vast and immensely complex network of waterways and canals in Japan's Yanagawa region.  Takahata explores the region's history, the evolution of the canal system, its importance to the ancient culture, and the symbiotic relationship between man and nature.  In the 20th Century, these waterways fell to disrepair and pollution, as post-war Japan quickly embraced a new, Western mindset.  Do you remember that scene in Spirited Away when a polluted water spirit gushes out an immense pile of trash and debris?  Yeah, this is the real-life version.

Indeed, this is a Studio Ghibli movie in thought, word and deed.  The environmental themes are obviously present, as are the many questions about the modern world and its values.  What has become of ancient Japan, and what has been lost in this mad rush to embrace the modern, Industrialized world?  This, I believe, is THE central theme to the Ghibli movies of Takahata and Miyazaki, a nostalgia that sharply questions modern cultural values.

Despite the length of the movie, Yanagawa Canals is broken into concise chapters, which makes this a perfect movie for watching in segments.  I could easily see PBS airing it in three, one-hour segments.  I really wish they would, in fact.  This is a terribly fascinating subject about a part of Japan few Westerners know about.  We're captivated by the canals of Venice; how about this?  The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, the stories of life among the rivers and canals are captivating, and there's the drama of a modern town learning to repair the connections to its past.  There are also several animated sequences in the film.

I bought the DVD some years ago, and this is one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films.  The disc not only includes English subtitles, but a complete English-language soundtrack as well!  This was a real surprise for me, and whoever was responsible did a perfect job.

I'm happy that I was finally able to find a movie poster after all these years; I wasn't sure if one was ever made.  Where can we buy a copy for our collections?  I have no idea.  We'll have to keep searching the Google and the eBay, and keep our fingers crossed.

Cool Retro Toys - Horus, Hilda, and Captain Silver

Here's something for the die-hard toy collectors out there: figurines based on Horus, Prince of the Sun and Animal Treasure Island.  As you may know, these are my two favorite Toei Doga movies, so I'd be pretty thrilled to have these sitting on my shelf.  Horus and Hilda make a good pair, but Captain Silver is the big surprise.  I never expected to find any merchandize related to ATI anywhere on the web.  Once again, Google proves its worth!

You can buy these items from this website.  It's a Japanese merchant, so be careful when clicking around.  They're a bit pricey, at 5,980 Yen (roughly $65), but these are vintage collectables.  If that's your thing, happy shopping.


Kiki's Delivery Service T-Shirt on Sale

Artist Jason Cryer has a new t-shirt design on TheYetee this weekend, a cool graphic based on Kiki's Delivery Service.  It's a clever, iconic design, look stylish, and is sure to make all your friends jealous.  Also, have you noticed that it uses the original Japanes title, "Witch Delivery Service?"  Very nice.

This Kiki's shirt will be available today (2/26) and tomorrow (2/27) for $11.  After that, it will no longer be available on that website, so be sure to get yours today.


The Secret World of Arrietty Opens Today in USA

Arrietty has finally arrived in the States!  Studio Ghibli's 2010 feature is now playing on 1,200 screens across America.  Everyone should attend during this crucial opening weekend to show their support.  Take the whole extended family, from the kids to the grandparents, and have a great time.  I'll be attending for a second go-around this weekend.

Personally, I really enjoyed this movie, and I think it may benefit from multiple viewings.  It's shorter and leaner than most Studio Ghibli fare, but I think this may work in Arrietty's favor.  It's a gentle, quiet, often reflective movie, and despite its roots in Mary Norton's books, this is still very much a Japanese movie.  I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks.

Also, sometime this weekend, I have to sit down and watch Arrietty's UK and Japanese dubs, and see how it compares to Disney's soundtrack.

Just as a word of warning, there's another hideously awful fake, auto-tuned "song" that plays during the closing credits.  Sam Hiti tells me it also plays during the movie, but I'll have to watch again to see if that's true.  In any case, Cecile Corbel's wonderfully celtic music is far, far better, and anchors the movie very strongly.  We'll have to track down her Arrietty soundtrack CD for sure.


The Secret World of Arrietty Clips - That Wasn't So Hard

This Arrietty clip is one of my favorites, and definitely a terrific scene in the movie.  I love the sense of scale that Yonebayashi-san brings to this film, and the kitchen scene is loaded with great little bits of animation.  Also, this clip has very little dialog, which keeps the syrupy Disney overacting to a minimum.  Snark.

Only a few more days to go, folks.  I'm very interested in seeing how much attention Arrietty receives.  I'm of the belief that Americans view animation on purely functional grounds (animation as babysitter), and they remain highly resistant to foreign animation, especially anime.  Most folks are convinced that "all anime" is little more than naked girls, giant robots, and buckets of blood.  It's a bit strange, really.  Let's see if this movie can make progress on that front.


Arrietty - Optimum UK Blu-Ray Packaging

While we Americans are only days away from finally seeing Arrietty in theaters, Studio Ghibli's 2010 hit film is already available in many regions on DVD and Blu-Ray.  Here's a look at Optimum's Arrietty BD/DVD deluxe edition, released just last month.  I'm highlighting this version of Arrietty for two reasons: one, Ghibli Blog has a lot of UK fans (thank you, all), and two, this version has a unique English-language soundtrack, recorded exclusively for the UK theatrical run.  Disney's US dub is a completely different beast.

Now that I've seen Disney's version of Arrietty, I'm curious to hear how well the British performed.  Hopefully, the actors don't all speak in that syrupy, slowed-down tone that sounds like stroke victims.  It's either a Disney thing, or it's just the way American parents speak to small children.  Either way, it's a slightly odd, goofy thing to my ears, and I've never been able to make my peace with it.  But that might only be me, so I'm perfectly fine with being in the minority.  In any case, I'm honestly curious to hear the British cast of Arrietty, to see if Mary Norton's books serve as a reference and an influence.  I suspect an English accent will suit this story better than Southern California.

I've always been an admirer of Optimum's packaging of the Studio Ghibli movies.  Having them listed as part of a "Studio Ghibli Collection" is very smart, and helps to establish itself as a separate brand.  And the packaging itself is just terrific.  Look at the gatefold that holds the discs, and that magnificent illustration of the tree.  Notice the collection of postcards from the movie.  This is a quality design, through and through, and a model of how Ghibli BDs should look.  Japan, of course, has the best packaging, but Optimum deserves the silver medal.

It would be nice if Disney packaged the Studio Ghibli films this way, but they seem more interested in moving their own product lines off store shelves, and pushing their computer-processed, machine-assembly manufactured "pop singers" than anything.  Ahem, excuse me.  In any event, I think the UK Arrietty would make a solid addition to your Blu-Ray library, and if you're looking to support Optimum, here's yer chance.


Studio Ghibli BD Wallpaper - Free Download

Jason is a long-time reader of the blog, and he felt inspired by the new logos to create this cool wallpaper for your computers.  After a couple revisions, this quick evening project is now ready to share with the world.  Yeehh!  Very nice.  Enjoy, everyone.


Ghibli Blog Comix - Inspiration

I'm working to score a press pass to this Saturday's preview screening of Arrietty at the Mall of America.  This comic will no doubt help me to reach that goal.  See, this comic has a wholesome moral lesson.  Fun for the whole family!  William S. Burroughs would be so proud.

If you get a chuckle out of this, toss a couple coins into the tip jar.  Comedy of this caliber costs money, ya know.

Artist Spotlight: The Borrower Arrietty

Continuing this new series of "Artist Spotlight" posts, I thought we'd like to have a look at some drawings based on The Secret World of Arrietty, which opens here in the States next week (maybe you've heard).  I'm really impressed with the skills of these artists, and I'm sure you'll enjoy their work.  Let's take a look at our four artists, each with a unique take on the Ghibli film:

Artist Spotlight: The Borrower Arrietty

This first drawing is my personal favorite, titled "Morning Dew."  It's created by Riysse, who also has a DeviantArt page (just click the link).  I really enjoy the warm color tones and abundance of complimentary oranges and greens.  The characters have a slight anime flair, but not too much, with a touch more vibrancy in their hair and wardrobes.  The arrangement is balanced without becoming symmetrical, and I just want to explore these mysterious woods, and sit and talk and laugh.  I also appreciate how the sunlight doesn't completely overpower and wash out everything.  For some reason, I'm now hungry for some oranges.

Artist Spotlight: The Borrower Arrietty

The second Arrietty drawing was created by Ashcats.  The dry textures and colors suggest light pastels or colored pencils.  The mood is quiet, reflective; the surrounding leaves and flowers feature prominently in this piece.  Arrietty herself appears to slightly to the side, and allows the scenery to take center stage.  The complex, integrated composition reminds me of my own work, although my skills are nowhere near as good as Asha.  This is very nice.  I can tell that a very thoughtful person drew this, and that's what I really like about it.  It feels very personal, like a self-portrait in disguise.

Artist Spotlight: The Borrower Arrietty

Poster number three was created by Anndr.  This piece has the feel of wet acrylic paints, the kind I often see at the local art fairs.  It's really terrific.  I'm impressed how these Arrietty artworks are focus on the natural world, and use the characters in a supporting role.  Perhaps you need to live near lakes and rivers and trees to appreciate this beauty; an artist living in Manhattan probably couldn't paint like this.  Anndr draws Arrietty in a Western style, avoiding the anime look and carving a unique identity for herself.  I'm reminded of science fiction and fantasy artwork in this piece, an influence that really shines in Ann's other works (her gallery is fantastic).  Kudos!

Artist Spotlight: The Borrower Arrietty

Finally, we have this piece created by Kamoji, from Japan.  This is a very detailed and colorful anime-style drawing, with a terrific watercolor pattern in the background.  I really like it.  There's a lot of interaction between the two characters, and a lot of unspoken dialog.  You can imagine just what is going through their minds.  Kamoji-san is clearly influenced by anime and manga, and there's a directness, a purity to his/her style.  The American artists incorporate some of the more iconic elements of anime, but it's blended together with Western influences.  It's a very fascinating contrast, and I'm happy that there's enough diversity for all four of these talented artists to learn from one another.

Spirited Away Hanafuda Cards

Hanafuda cards are a special kind of Japanese playing cards, originally imported by the Portugese three centuries ago, and became a Japanese cultural icon.  The company Nin Ten Doh was originally founded as a maker of hanafuda cards, for example.  This official card set is based on 2001's The Spiriting Away of Sen and Chihiro (yes, that's the full translation of the Japanese title), and fits the characters perfectly into the classic designs.

The only reason I know anything about hanafuda (aside from Nintendo's brilliant Clubhouse Games on Nintendo DS) is because they feature prominently in two of Isao Takahata's movies, Jarinko Chie and My Neighbors the Yamadas.  If you have a keen eye, you can probably spot some of the cards that were used in those films.  For that reason, the idea of Spirited Away hanafuda cards makes perfect sense.

This is the sort of thing you expect to find at fan conventions.  Collectors and die-hard fans go gaga for memorabilia of this sort.  Definitely one of Studio Ghibli's more offbeat merchandising ideas.


The Secret World of Arrietty Clips - Captured

The fine folks at Disney were kind enough to supply Ghibli Blog with a full list of their movie clips in promotion of The Secret World of Arrietty, which opens nationwide (US) on February 17.  I'll share them here over the course of the next week, although I don't really have a plan.  We'll just use the Schwartz and play it by ear.

No doubt you've already seen some of these clips on YouTube, so we have a nice surprise for you: Free Downloads!  This is really, really nice.  It's been a long time since I was getting any kind of swag from PR people.  Takes me back to the video game zine days.  Maybe I can get another writing gig at GamePro outta this.

Feel free to download and share the clips, everyone.  Think of this as Disney's way of apologizing for SOPA and PIPA.  Burn baby burn!

Arrietty Clips - "Captured"

Windows Media (.wmv) - Low - High

Quicktime (.mov) - 480 - 720 - 1080

Apple iPod (.m4v) - clip


The Ideal Ghibli Women: Violent Redheads and Single Mothers

Back in December, a Japanese poll asked 1,000 people (700 women and 300 men) to name their favorite female Studio Ghibli characters, the ones that "best embody the characteristics that women aspire to.  Both genders picked the moody Redhead with the violent mood swings.  Interesting findings.

I can understand why guys would want a strong, confident and aggressive person like Nausicaa.  I hail from Minnesota, after all.  Our girls play ice hockey and win championships (go Gophers).  But what really makes me chuckle is that Nausicaa is the number one pick from women.  Don't let the stereotypically polite, demure appearance fool you; these gals are probably looking to bust some heads.  And when we look at Japan's population decline, I'm guessing they have to tolerate a lot of clueless, clumsy boys.

Protip for all the males in Japan: Hurry up and learn some skills, boys.  Put down the toys and the video games, and learn to impress the gals before they beat you up and take your lunch money.  Hah, hah.

Well, that's worth a chuckle.  Back to the Ghibli "Ideal Woman" poll.  For the most part, it's a standard sampling of Miyazaki characters.  The men's picks are, frankly, a bit boring.  Sheeta (Castle in the Sky) probably fits the "damsel in distress," so there's an appeal, but Kiki and Shizuku (Mimi/Whisper)?  Those are very much girls' coming-of-age movies.  Porco Rosso's Gina is a singer and owns her own business, but she's also a very lonely character, who escapes into a series of doomed marriages because her one true love is too being a self-loathing pig to notice.  I'm not sure what this suggests about the men in the poll.

Meanwhile, the women pick San, the Mononoke Hime?  She's basically Nausicaa's aggressive, darker side (Ashitaka, conversely, embodies all of Nausicaa's gentler, more "feminine" virtues).  And at the end of the picture, she tells the boy that, sorry, I need my space.  Ouch. 

Osano, the pregnant owner of the bakery in Kiki's Delivery Service, is an interesting pick.  Am I the only one who honestly thought she was a single mother?  Is that cook her husband?  Family or friend?  Co-worker?  The movie (in its original Japanese) never explicitly declares anything, one way or another.  I may be wrong on this one, but that was always my honest impression, and I greatly admired the movie for its honesty.  It's a good lesson for girls, don't you agree?  Your life doesn't revolve around men.  You can take command of your own life.  Heck, even if the cook is Osano's husband, she's clearly the one in charge.

Here's the complete rankings from the poll.  I'm interested to hear your opinions.  Feel free to tell me I'm completely bonkers in my hypothesis, by the way.

Women's Results:

1) 20.0% - Nausicaä (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind)
2) 18.9% - Osono (Kiki's Delivery Service)
3) 15.0% - Sheta (Castle in the Sky
4) 13.1% - San (Princess Mononoke
5) 11.7% - Kiki (Kiki's Delivery Service

Men's Results:

1) 18.7% - Nausicaä (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind)
2) 17.3% - Sheta (Castle in the Sky)
3) 13.0% - Kiki (Kiki's Delivery Service)
4) 11.7% - Shizuku Tsukishima (Mimi wo Sumaseba/Whisper of the Heart)
5) 09.0% - Gina (Porco Rosso)


The Secret World of Arrietty to Open on 1200 Screens

Disney will open The Secret World of Arrietty on 1,200 screens this month, according to an article in Monday's Wall Street Journal.  The article features an interview with John Lasseter, who shares his drive and determination to make Studio Ghibli a success in America.

Disney hopes to boost Studio Ghibli's box-office punch with the English-language release of "The Secret World of Arrietty."

Disney will open "Arrietty" on at least 1200 screens, in what will be its largest Ghibli release in the U.S. As comparison, "Ponyo" opened on about 900 screens, and "Spirited Away" opened on 750 screens.

"I just want to do everything I can to help make sure people can go see them because they're just magnificent films that are very different than any other animated films these days," [John] Lasseter said in an interview. 

This WSJ piece is hidden behind Rupert Murdoch's Paid Firewall of Doom, proving once again that the dinosaurs of Old Media have no solution to the internet but to shut everything down.  If I'm able to find more clips, I'll be happy to share them.

This is very big news, and a great surprise.  I wasn't expecting Disney to support Arrietty so strongly.  This is the widest theatrical release for an anime film in America.  Heck, before Spirited Away and Ponyo, anime has never broken out of the art-house circuit.  Let's see if this translates into robust business at the box office.  Looking at Ghibli's schedule, I believe Arrietty will have the best chance for breaking wide open.  Mary Norton's "The Borrowers" are a beloved and well-known property, the story is simply and easily presented, and the movie's animation is stunning.

If Studio Ghibli is going to have a hit in the States, it has to be now.  Lasseter-San and Disney should be thanked for their support and efforts.  Now give us the DVD and Blu-Ray films!  More, more!

Update 2/8/12, 11:15pm: I found the article in Monday's paper. It's a very short article, and you didn't really miss anything.  We already have the important part.  Thank you, public library!

Photos - Animal Treasure Island

Every once in a while, I have to throw up some screenshots from Animal Treasure Island, one of my all-time favorite anime cartoons.  It's probably my favorite Toei Doga movie after Horus, Prince of the Sun, and usually the one I reach for when I need a quick laugh.

This is easily the most "Miyazaki" of the Toei films; he really seems to be in the driver's seat on this picture, instead of being part of a larger team.  Or perhaps everyone was just in the mood for a fun, rollicking adventure movie.  It's basically a cliffhanger adventure serial with a lot of slapstick comedy.  The colors are terrific, the character designs are memorable (in that iconic Toei way), and the action scenes are terrific.  The epic pirate ship battle, animated by Hayao Miyazaki. is worth the price of admission alone.

Discotek released Animal Treasure Island (DVD) on our shores a few years ago, alongside 1969's Puss in Boots and 1979's Taro the Dragon Boy, all anime classics that seem to be, strangely, ignored by most anime fans.  It may be tough to find these movies at most retailers by now, so your best bet is to order directly from the Discotek website.  These folks do a fantastic job, and they're sticking their necks out by delivering classic anime to a scene that only wants what's "NEW."  Whatever that means.  I'm sure to a teenager today, Akira is ancient history.

Buy a copy of Animal Treasure Island (and Puss in Boots) if you haven't done so already.  This is a great, old-school cartoon.  You can't ask for much better than that.

Ghibli Blog Menu Pages Are Now Updated

The Ghibli Blog menu pages have now been updated and overhauled, whew!  My weekend fix-it project is finally finished.  Have a look around you'll find things are much easier to find.  After nearly six years, there's a small mountain of information available on this site.  The challenge is to make the most important information available to you easily and efficiently.

I really like the new logo designs, they fit in perfectly, they add a bit of color, and they help break up pages that, otherwise, would just be one long list after another.  As you can see, everything fits into five main categories: Studio Ghibli (you know who they are), Pre-Ghibli (earlier Takahata-Miyazaki anime), Anime Western (animation by everybody else), Live-Action (movies, videos and interviews), and Manga Comics (ya, know, comic books).  I probably spent more time this weekend coming up with good names than anything else.

I'm still thinking of adding a fifth menu item, a "Gallery."  This would be the main page for movie posters, maybe screenshots.  I would also like to include fan-made artwork, such as the Totoro Noir poster that everybody loves. My ideas aren't fully fleshed out yet, and I'd still have to figure out how to arrange such a gallery using a blog format.  It's a bit of a challenge, and one that might not be realized just now.  But keep in mind that it's something that I'm planning for the future.

So here ya go, kids.  Take a look around, read some of the essays, scan through some reviews, sit back and watch some videos.  There's a lot to be discovered, so have fun.


Ghibli Blog Comix - Say What

Hey, kids! You could print out Ghibli Blog Comix and use them as Valentines' Day cards.  I'm sure the other kids in your classroom will love to get this.  Why bother with those cheap cards that are nothing more than tv & movie commercials with lousy puns?  This is waaay more fun!  You'll probably become a legend in your school.

C'mon, this is worth some tip money, don'tcha think?


Poster - "Totoro Noir"

I found this stylish and very original Totoro poster online, rendered in the style of Turn-of-the-Century French posters - very nice!  I do enjoy unofficial movie posters if there is enough creativity behind them; as the art of poster design is replaced by soulless marketing and cheap Photoshop tricks, original artistic designs become ever more important.

I wasn't able to find the identity of the artist who created this "Totoro Noir" poster, as their original art page has since vanished from the web.  Whoever it was, they did an excellent job, and I hope it inspires more imitators out there.  How about a theme of Ghibli posters in this style?

Now I feel like getting a pint of beer for some reason.  Where's my Totoro Lager?


Poster: From Up on Poppy Hill (France)

From Up on Poppy Hill Poster

Studio Ghibli's  Japanes movie posters for Poppy Hill are, surprisingly, underwhelming.  They're very nice, and I'm more than happy to add them to my collection, but they appear strangely colorless, a little bland.  This French poster is much better.  It's nice to have some warm colors on display, and it delivers its teen romance plot more directly.  This is the film's best poster yet, and I'm looking forward to what Australia and the UK will offer.

Naturally, Poppy Hill has that typically Ghibli-esque nostalgia that only works in Japan.  So many of their movies are set in the 1960s, to that first post-war generation, the emerging youth in the "new," Westernized Japan.  It also just happens to be the same era that Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata came of age.  It's arguably the most common thread through the Ghibli films, welcoming this radical change, embracing it, while also questioning its values and its disregard for the mythic past.  Those themes don't translate as easily to a Western audience.  Fortunately, we can all relate to a coming-of-age story, so if we miss the specific cultural references, we can relate to the broader themes, the broader brushstrokes.

Fortunately, Studio Ghibli is blessed with so many excellent movie posters.  I think everyone should have one or two hanging on their walls.

Ghibli Reveals Plans for Tokyo Anime Fair 2012

Studio Ghibli: From Up on Poppy Hill

Studio Ghibli has revealed their plans for the 2012 Tokyo Anime Fair.  The fair runs March 22-25, and is a popular venue for announcing new movie projects and exhibitions.  This year is no exception.

The biggest announcement will be From Up on Poppy Hill on Blu-Ray and DVD.  Goro Miyazaki's film was Japan's highest-grossing domestic film of 2011, and is currently playing in theaters in France.  This newest addition to Ghibli's prestigious Blu-Ray library.  Cover design and packaging will also be unveiled at the Tokyo show in March.

 Leading the lineup of museum exhibitons will be a new show featuring Ghibli friend (and Evangelion director), Hideaki Anno.  "Director Hideaki Anno's Japanese Special Effects Museum: craftsmanship of Showa & Heisei Eras Looked Thru Miniatures" will arrive at the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art, Summer 2012.

The Ghibli Museum will have exhibits honoring American artist and Disney designer Mary Blair, and Canadian animation legend Frederic Back.  The Ghibli Museum's latest release, "Tales of the Night," will also be shown at the Tokyo Anime Fair.  All in all, this promises to be an exciting event.

John Lasseter, Fashion Icon

We never say enough good things about John Lasseter here on Ghibli Blog.  Pioneer, visionary, movie guru, story-teller...and fashion icon.  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  And he is gonna party like it's 1985.

Just in case you were curious, this photo comes from Lasseter-san, Arigatou, a direct-to-DVD video diary of Hayao Miyazaki's visit to the United States in support of Spirited Away.  Lasseter-san was almost single-handedly responsible for making that happen, and has been Ghibli's patron saint in the US ever since.  Ghibli created this DVD as their way of saying thanks.  It's a terrific little movie; Disney should release it over here.

The Ghibli Blog Reviews Index - Better Than Ever

The Ghibli Blog Reviews Index is now better than ever.  It has been given a complete overhaul, with a cleaner arrangement, easier navigation, and all-new graphics icons based on the site's stylish logo.  Everything really looks terrific and I'm quite proud of the result.  There are four main sections: Studio Ghibli, Pre-Ghibli (Takahata-Miyazaki), Anime Western (everybody else), and Live-Action (my old movie reviews from, RIP).

I will also begin overhauling the other menu items - Downloads, Reviews, Videos, and hopefully everything should be finished by this time next week.  The Contact item has been removed, as I put my email address right on the main page.  There will likely also be a new menu item, called "Gallery" or "Library."  It will be an index for movie posters, books and Miyazaki comics (excuse me, manga).

We don't have a complete reviews index, but we're getting very close.  I really need to write more anime reviews!  And Pixar...oy, don't remind me, I know, I know.  We also need reviews/essays on all the Ghibli Museum shorts, their direct-to-video movies, and the masterful 1987 documentary, The Story of Yanagawa Canals.  The good thing is that it proves that I'm nowhere close to running out of ideas.

Enjoy the new Reviews Index, kids....(quietly shuffles the tip jar forward). :P


Artist Spotlight: Studio Ghibli Paintings by Zeta

Artist Spotlight: Studio Ghibli Paintings by Zeta
Artist Spotlight: Studio Ghibli Paintings by Zeta
Artist Spotlight: Studio Ghibli Paintings by Zeta
Artist Spotlight: Studio Ghibli Paintings by Zeta

Here is another series of excellent Studio Ghibli artwork by a dedicated artist named Zeta, who shares my love of anime and video games (although I'm decidedly more retro).  In addition to his primary art site, he has a blog dedicated to his Ghibli paintings.  These paintings are my personal favorites, but I'm sure you'll have your favorites, as well.  Enjoy.

A Spectacular Totoro Painting

This is a truly spectacular painting!  Inspired by My Neighbor Totoro, this painting is rendered in lush detail and wonderful color.  It's challenging to create a great watercolor painting; the best I could muster was to just splatter paint everywhere and make a spectacular mess.

This is easily the best Totoro rendition I've seen, apart from Hayao Miyazaki himself.  And this piece has a certain vitality that is truly unmatched.  I love how the Totoros are so fluffy and furry, the leaves and moss and wood wild with texture.  You can just feel those trees in your hands, can't you?  This painting is thrillingly alive with an expressionist flair.  There's also something in the textures and poses that reminds me of the great Yuri Norstein, but maybe that's just me.

Akreon is the name of the artist, and this comes from his DeviantArt page.  You can find many more works there; I think his Totoro painting is the best.  I'd be thrilled if he created more Ghibli-inspired watercolors like this.  A series of works based on Miyazaki and Takahata's movies?  Yes, please, I'd like that very much.

As an added bonus, Akreon also shot a time-lapse video of the creation of his Totoro painting.  Very impressive!  Consider this your art lesson for the week, kids.

More Ghibli Blog Posts To Discover