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READ ALL ABOUT IT: Be sure not to miss the latest Studio Ghibli news. Like Arrietty at Ghibli retrospective (22nd of February), an interview with Suzuki (20th of March), new Ghibli CM (19th of March), new short by Miyazaki in the making (24th of January), Miyazaki's project plan for "Karigurashi no Arrietty" (20th of December), "Karigurashi no Arrietty" theme song and Youtube channel launch (19th of December), press conference details of "Karigurashi no Arrietty" (17th of December), Studio Ghibli's new film "Karigurashi no Arrietty" (16th of December), a Spirited Away Blu-ray (19th of October), new Ghibli director (11th of October), Miyazaki & the environment (10th of October), an exclusive interview with Tomm Moore (7th of October), Starting Point review (5th of October), Ni no Kuni impression (3rd of October), new Ni no Kuni trailer (25th of September), new Takahata film (12th of August), video of the new Ghibli CM (1st of August), Miyazaki talks Ponyo (31st of July), an on-stage conversation with Miyazaki (31st of July), a new Ghibli commercial (31st of July), Miyazaki at Berkeley teaser (30th of July), Miyazaki in the US (29th of July), a Ponyo CM (27th of July), Miyazaki at Comic-Con footage (26th of July), a visit to Ghibli Museum's Ponyo Exhibition (25th of July).

(new!) GHIBLIWORLD.COM NOW ALSO ON TWITTER: Next to a RSS feed to provide our readers with the latest updates, GhibliWorld is now also to be found on Twitter. To get the very latest and more, just sit back and relax and follow us @GhibliWorld.

22th of February, ARRIETTY AT GHIBLI RETROSPECTIVE: Good news for those who appreciate the legendary works of the famed Japanese Studio Ghibli. At least for those living in the Netherlands or willing to make trip over that is. Coming March "Melkweg", the popular Amsterdam based music and film venue that normally brings concerts of bands like Coldplay and N*E*R*D, will transform itself into Ghibli heaven with a special dedicated Studio Ghibli retrospective. Not only will numerous works of maestros Miyazaki Hayao and and Takahata Isao be screened on their big screen, the studio's latest creation "Karigurashi no Arrietty" by Yonebayashi Hiromasa will have its Dutch pre premiere there as well.

Furthermore, Melkweg is currently looking into the possiblities of displaying a part of the original Japanese Studio Ghibli poster collection of editor-in-chief & Twitch writer Peter van der Lugt (indeed, none other than myself). All in all, reason enough to be there, but for those not fully convinced yet: take a look at the programme.

Studio Ghibli Retrospective - Screening Programme:
- Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Borrower Arrietty) - March 9 19:00
- Kaze no Tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) - March 11, 12, 19, 26 and 30 7:00 P.M.
- Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) - Thursday March 10, Sunday March 13 7:00 P.M.
- Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko (Pompoko) - Sunday March 13 7:00 P.M.
- Kurenai no Buta (Porco Rosso) - Monday March 14, Tuesday March 15 7:00 P.M.
- Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (Howl's Moving Castle) - Wednesday March 16 7:00 P.M.
- Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) - Wednesday March 16, Wednesday March 23 7:00 P.M.
- Gedo Senki (Earthsea) - Thursday March 17 7:00 P.M.
- Tenk? no Shiro Rapyuta (Laputa: Castle in the Sky) - Friday March 18, Sunday March 27 7:00 P.M.
- Sen to Chihiro no Kamikashi (Spirited Away) - Sunday March 20, Thursday March 24 7:00 P.M.
- Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Tototoro) - Monday March 21, Tuesday March 22 7:00 P.M.
- Neko no Ongaeshi (The Cat Returns) - Wednesday March 23, Wednesday March 30 7:00 P.M.
- Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo) - Sunday March 27 7:00 P.M.
- Mimi wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) - Monday March 28, Tuesday March 29 7:00 P.M.

20th of March, SUZUKI TOSHIO - AN INTERVIEW WITH A CREATIVE LEADER: Hosted by one of Studio Ghibli's advertizing agencies Dentsu, some time ago Suzuki Toshio held a talk at the Berlin School, a non-profit organization dedicated to research and leadership education for executives in creative industries such as advertising, design, entertainment, interactive, journalism, media and marketing. Friendly as he is, Suzuki also gave them an interview which has been uploaded on Youtube by the Berlin School itself. As it has not caught much attention (81 viewers on the moment of writing), it is time to give it some.

19th of March, NEW STUDIO GHIBLI CM: Yet another small project was announced today. This time Studio Ghibli brings a calligraphy styled CM, directed by Miyazaki Goro and with animation by Kondou Katsuya, to celibrate the 110th anniversary of Nisshin. The two companies started working together back in 2008 when the the Nisshin Seifun Group began to co-sponsor Studio Ghibli's foreign animation distribution label Ghibli Museum Library. With their new CM which features Konyara, a kitten with a strawhat (Miyazaki's idea) that was inspired by one that Suzuki drew, their collaboration will be further continued. Nationwide broadcasting will start tomorrow and impressions can be found here.

24th of January, NEW SHORT FILM BY MIYAZAKI IN THE MAKING: This week's episode of Suzuki Toshio's radio show Ghibli Asemamire just aired some hours ago and brought noteworthy news. The main guest was Google Japan president Tsujino Koichiro and during their talk, Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki told that the famed Japanese animation studio is making a new short film; 10 minutes in length and made by Miyazaki Hayao. As many of the studio's animators are working on the new feature Karigurashi no Arrietty, Miyazaki himself is even working on animating it as well. Though the short will have no dialogue, Suzuki mentioned it is very interesting, but can't tell about anymore details yet. These days Suzuki and Miyazaki, after a long time, have gotten interested in the internet and are considering how to use it for Studio Ghibli's future. They are even thinking about releasing the short on the internet like Youtube. To help them, Japan's biggest advertising agency Dentsu is giving them advice, for example attaching a CM to the movie, but there are some points at issue though. Will it be abble to earn enough money? Even just a 10 minute short costs so much and soon after its release a lot of copies that cut the CM will be uploaded. Google president Tsujino adviced Suzuki that to act without worrying about the results is the Google way.

Suzuki didn't tell how and when the release of Miyazaki's new short is planned. During this internet era they will know that their current business model (theatrical releasing/DVD sales/TV broadcasts) can't last forever, though even at this moment they have a strong love for theater screens.

20th of December, MIYAZAKI'S PROJECT PAPER FOR GHIBLI'S NEW FILM "KARIGURASHI NO ARRIETTY": The world of film and animation lovers is longing for new information on Studio Ghibli's new film Karigurashi no Arrietty and so today GhibliWorld brings details on Miyazaki Hayao's original project plan for the film:

The project of the feature length animation Chiisana Arrietty is based on Mary Norton's The Borrowers. Its location has been moved from England 1950s to Japan 2010 though. To be more exact, its specific detail location is around Koganei where things are familiar to us. A family of tiny people live under the floor of the kitchen of an old house; the fourteen year old Arrietty and her parents. They are "borrowers"; to live they borrow everything they need from the humans above them. They can't use magic, nor are they fairies. Instead, they fight against mice, suffer from termites, dodge pesticide spray attacks, escape from cockroach traps and live cautious in order not to be seen. There still remains a classical family image though. The father has enough bravery and patience to go hunting for his family, the mother is responsible for keeping the house with creative thinking and the daughter Arrietty is a curious girl with a rich sensibility. With this, seen by 10cm tall tiny people, a world familiar to us will be restored with freshness. The story starts from the tiny people's life. Arrietty meets a boy, makes a fellowship and separates. Finally, they escape from the storm blown up by callous humans and go into the field. The wish for this film is to comfort and encourage people who live in this chaotic and anxious time. - July 30th 2008

On Miyazaki's project plan Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio commented, "As can you see, Miyazaki's original title was Chiisana Arrietty (Little Arrietty), a bold change he made compared to the title of the original novel. I asked him why and Miyazaki said he liked the sound of "Arrietty" and had kept that memory for a long time. He used to tell me about "borrowing life", but his title didn't have it. When I pointed him about this, he instantly changed it to the film's current title Karigurashi no Arrietty."

19th of December, "KARIGURASHI NO ARRIETTY" THEME SONG AND YOUTUBE CHANNEL LAUNCHED: Today Studio Ghibli released the theme song of their new full length feature film Karigurashi no Arrietty. Co-written and performed by the celtic harpist/singer CĂ©cile Corbel, the song is now available in the Japanese iTunes store. Though Corbel herself is French, the song is sung by her in (not rather well pronounced) Japanese and tells about Arriety's life and her feelings. Also, for those interested, CĂ©cile Corbel has now also commented on her involvement with Karigurashi no Arrietty on her own website.

Furthermore, as was announced yesterday by GhibliWorld on Twitter, Studio Ghibli is going modern with a special Youtube channel called Nandemo Arrietty (a pun for "Everything Exists"). It started today and is lead by Studio Ghibli public affairs / advertising manager Nishioka Junichi, who will regularly be posting videos till July. In his first video Nishioka spoke about things like a larger amount of people attending the press conference than were expected (about 80, instead of 20), though no new details about the film itself were revealed.

(part I) 17th of December, PRESS CONFERENCE DETAILS FOR GHIBLI'S NEW FILM "KARIGURASHI NO ARRIETTY": Following up yesterday's official announcement of Studio Ghibli's new full length feature film titled Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Borrower Arrietty), today GhibliWorld brings details from the press conference which was held yesterday.

Q: Studio Ghibli usually starts production before completing the e-conte (storyboards). We heard the scenario is being written by Miyazaki. Has he already finished it?

Suzuki Toshio: When Miyazaki directs, he does it by pattern. If the story is set in four parts, then we start the real production when Miyazaki completes the first two parts of e-conte. Checking real production pieces like the film's sakuga or rushes, Miyazaki subsequently reconsiders his development. According to him it isn't interesting to work on a story of which the ending is already known. Instead, he wants to experience the thrill. Actually, we have two ways of making film. The first one is that the director leads everything, the other one is that the project takes the lead. In this case, a producer leads and Arrietty has the latter pattern as we can't recommend Miyazaki's way for a newbie director. Miyazaki has already finished the scenario using a co-writer named Miwa Keiko who once worked on Gedo Senki, the e-conte was completed by Maro himself (Maro is Yonebayashi's nickname at the studio).

Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio at Karigurashi no Arrietty press conference

Q: Will the story of your film be the same as that of Mary Norton's original novel?

Suzuki Toshio: Miyazaki read her book and got the idea of turning it into a film when he was in his 20s, which was about 40 years ago. To tell the truth, he wrote the scenario without re-reading the novel, but solely relied on his memory. Indeed, he has a good memory, but he often makes a reading mistake. For example, he sometimes recommends me his favorite novels. If it has a nice garden set in it, he instantly likes it, like The Secret Garden. He really likes gardens and wasted ones are better, so he first made a garden plan in this scenario.

There is an old house where two old women live, one is the owner and the other is her housemaid. As they are old, the house and the garden are a little wasted. It is there where a small human family lives; father, mother and their 14 years old daughter, and they have the rule never to be seen by normal human being. One day a 12 year old boy moves into the house to get health therapy and is on that day that the 10 cm tall girl Arrietty is seen by the boy. From there these two start their calf love...

On a sidetrack, during a different interview Miyazaki Hayao commented about the film's debuting director Yonebayashi Hiromasa, "I'm watching him on tenterhooks. Like the old saying goes "The cure is worse than the disease" so too much advice might spoil him".

(part II) 17th of December, NEW UNSEEN PICTURES AND MORE PRESS CONFERENCE DETAILS OF "KARIGURASHI NO ARRIETTY": The second part of yesterday's press conference for Studio Ghibli's new full length feature film titled Karigurashi no Arrietty follows below.

Q: Did you have a reason for appointing Yonebayashi?

Suzuki Toshio: To tell the truth, there was no specific reason. After we, Miya-san and I, reached the decision of making Arrietty, we were talking about the needed story angles. Suddenly, Miya-san asked me who should be the director. Now I know he always wants concrete answers and then an idea popped up in my mind and in a whim I said "Maro" (Yonebayashi's nick name at the studio). Hearing that, Miya-san seemed to be a little surprised and scowled and I knew why: for his next movie plan he assumes to use Maro as the main animator and if Maro becomes a director, then Miya-san can't use him.

Karigurashi no Arrietty Karigurashi no Arrietty Karigurashi no Arrietty

Anyway, we called Maro to our room and told him about it. Of course Maro was much surprised. Back then my idea was just a whim, but now I can tell about the reason behind it. He's an immensely skilled animator with world-class talent. Plus, after he began working on the production, I also got to know he has enough talent as a director. Furthermore, he has a good personality and is loved by everyone in the studio. When I informed everybody about the new director the whole the studio was in a state of turmoil. However, now everyone agrees. Though there are many elder veteran animators in the studio, they don't hesitate to help Maro. Now I know you wonder why Yonebayashi doesn't attend this press conference, but actually Miyazaki told Maro never to show his face in public. According to him "making a movie basically can go two ways, either being successfully released or end up being shelved. Sometimes it can even be cancelled halfway and furthermore he is just a newbie as a director. If production fails he'll be publicly humiliated. Never chatter about it in public.

Karigurashi no Arrietty Karigurashi no Arrietty Karigurashi no Arrietty

Q: Why are you digitally releasing the theme song on iTunes and as a ringtone?

Suzuki Toshio: Well, young people tend not to buy CDs, but instead get their music online. We want as many people as possible to hear this music.

Now let me tell you why we use CĂ©cile Corbel. I get a lot of CDs from all over the world sent to me time asking for a trial listening all the time. There are too many for me to listen to and so usually I leave them without breaking the seal. However, when I was worrying about Arrietty's song, as always a CD was sent to me. Like taking any port in a storm, I happened to open the CD. It had a small piece of paper with a short English hand written text in it. I'm not good at English, but CĂ©cile-san had written in easy English "This is my new album. All of these songs have been influenced by Ghibli movies." It got my interest. Listening to it, I first heard a Celtic harp and her voice followed. In an instant I thought it could show a "small people"'s world. Maro also liked it very much and we asked her to join work with us.

Q: How is the movie progressing?

Suzuki Toshio: To tell the truth, I don't want to be asked that question. No doubt it goes slowly and Maro must hurry. When the new year comes, we don't have much time left.

(part I) 16th of December, STUDIO GHIBLI'S NEW FILM "KARIGURASHI NO ARRIETTY" ANNOUNCED: After yesterday's exclusive warming up on Twitter by GhibliWorld, today Studio Ghibli made the official announcement of their new full length feature film titled Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Borrower Arrietty). The film will be an adaptation of Mary Norton's Carnegie Medal winning novel The Borrowers and, as hinted earlier on GhibliWorld, will be directed by Yonebayashi Hiromasa.

Unlike the original novel, which tells a story about tiny people who "borrow" things from normal humans during the 1950's in Enland, Studio Ghibli have transferred their version to Tokyo Koganei in 2010 (Koganei is where Studio Ghibli is settled) and tell the story of 14-year-old little Arrietty (Chiisana Arriety was the films original title).

Yonebayashi earlier worked as a key animator on previous Ghibli works like Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo and Spirited Away and was animation director for Miyazaki Goro's Gedo Senki. Karigurashi no Arrietty will be his directing debut which is something he did not expect to happen (as told by Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio earlier this week). Nowadays Yonebayashi is encouraged by Miyazaki Hayao every single day, who also happens to be the one handling the planning of the film. Production, as always, will be handled by Suzuki Toshio.

Karigurashi no Arrietty's theme song has been co-written by the French celtic harpist/singer CĂ©cile Corbel who also is responsible for its performance. The theme song will be digitally released in Japan starting December 19.

Karigurashi no Arrietty is to be released summer 2010 and will have a length of about 80 minutes.

(part II) 16th of December, MORE DETAILS ON STUDIO GHIBLI'S NEW FILM "KARIGURASHI NO ARRIETTY": Many of our readers are asking about Studio Ghibli's new film Karigurashi no Arrietty and so a decision to bring more information was easily made.

Suzuki Toshio, executive producer at Studio Ghibli and responsible for producing almost every one of their works, remembers Miyazaki Hayao bringing the project up around early summer 2008. "I was planning another project and we discussed which one to be selected for many times. Both of us didn't give up, but at last I paid respect to the elder and his plan was accepted," Suzuki noted.

"About 40 years ago this project was once considered by both Miyazaki and Takahata and Miyazaki suddenly recalled it and recommended me to read the book. He led me being strong-armed into accepting his idea. Perhaps he has a strong longing for their youth. Anyway, we often have this kind of trouble at Studio Ghibli. So why The Borrowers now? To that question, Miya-san in desperation answered "The situation of "karigurashi" (borrowing life) is very nice. It just fits to our present age. The age of mass consumption is ending now and the idea of "borrowing" proves the advent of it with depression. He immediately wrote down the project paper of the movie."

(sticky) 7th of October, AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR TOMM MOORE: Though it is not part of it, in terms of quality the Irish animated feature Brendan and the Secret of Kells is a film that would perfectly fit in the Ghibli Museum Library next to titles like Kirikou, Les Triplettes de Belleville and My Love.

Recently an exclusive and extensive interview took place with none other than Tomm Moore, the director of this lovely film, and to find out what he had to say continue reading nowÂ…

(sticky) 25th of September, FULL NEW TRAILER FOR GHIBLI'S "NI NO KUNI": After less good news on a delay into the spring of next year, there now is better (must-see) news on Ni no Kuni: The Another World.

Tokyo Game Show, one of the world's most interesting video game expos, is currently being held and independent video game developer & publisher Level5 is present there as well. Now what makes this so interesting is that they have brought their TGS public an entirely new trailer of their Studio Ghibli collaboration Ni no Kuni: The Another World. Filled with Ghibli animation it is a must-see, so be sure to watch it below and switch to full-screen.

19th of October, "SPIRITED AWAY" ON BLU-RAY: Paradiso Films, responsible for Studio Ghibli releases in the Netherlands and Belgium, have announced a Blu-ray release for Miyazaki Hayao's Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away). With Ponyo's Japanese Blu-ray release set on December 8 and the US and Australian release recently postponed, its release date of November 19 would mean their Spirited Away Blu-ray release would be the world's first Studio Ghibli full length feature Blu-ray release. Last Friday this outrun of even the famed Japanese animation studio gained people's attention, but Paradiso have informed that "it will be an upscaled version of our current master". For several years Studio Ghibli have brought the Japanese HD versions of their films in the form of upscaled broadcasts at NTV. Besides Ponyo, real Blu-ray releases of Ghibli's other features still need to be announced.

11th of October, NEW STUDIO GHIBLI FILM TO BE MADE BY NEW DIRECTOR: Today Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio has made a special announcement after a preview screening of Ponyo wa Koushite Umareta for over 140 students who seek a career in Japanese animation. During his comments Suzuki revealed that the next film by the famed Japanese animation studio will be lead by a new director. Preparation in the form of creating the first artwork has already started and the official studio announcement for the film will be made this coming December.

Some have mentioned that the still unnamed director is Yonebayashi Hiromasa, who for example earlier worked as a key animator on Miyazaki Hayao's Gake no ue no Ponyo and Hauru no Ugoku Shiro and as an assistant animation director on Miyazaki Goro's Gedo Senki. Suzuki Toshio is said to have made a comment on this in an interview with him that appeared in the March edition of the Chunichi Dragons Official Fan Club Newsletter. This has not yet been confirmed though.

Suzuki furthermore noted today that Miyazaki's next film is currently "proceeding as expected", though he could not confirm on any of its contents as these still keep changing. His expectations regarding a release date were that it might open in four years.

10th of October, MIYAZAKI & THE ENVIRONMENT - PART I: It is common knowledge that the environment plays an important role in the films of Miyazaki Hayao. In that way some weeks ago there was some news which very nicely illustrates this connection in the real world. Though it had been lying around on the desk for a while, it is still worth publishing and so it can be found below.

* * *

The people of the Hirabari Environment Protection Association have been working on protecting a small forest in Nagoya and asked Miyazaki Hayao to give them advice on it. Miyazaki replied to them with the following message:

Miyazaki cleaning up Fuchi-no-Mori Miyazaki cleaning up Fuchi-no-Mori

"I'm backing you people of Hirabari Environment Protection Association from the bottom of my heart." - Miyazaki Hayao, Fichi-no-mori chairman

"The age of an ever increasing population is over. The age of city outspread is towards the end too. We are now in an age during which we have to rebuild our country that is moth-eaten and fragmented by overdevelopment. It is an age in which we have to rebuild it for human and natural life forms to live comfortably in. In Tokorozawa and Higashi-Murayama we are working for growing the small forests that remain from development. Though we are far in distance, we are like-minded and we hope you can gather wisdom, power and money, and reach a good result." (July 12 2009)

As a result of Japan's latest general election, in September government changes were brought from LDP, which had governed for 50 years, to DP, which has much more interest in environmental concerns than LDP.

Recently, before the general election, the city mayor of Nagoya changed to Kawamura Takashi, who is part of the Democratic Party in a dilemma between environmental protection and land owner rights. On August 30th, Kawamura visited Miyazaki to get advice and the people of Fichi-no-mori Association held a cleanup at the forest. Known to some, Miyazaki has worked on this association for 20 years as a main member and contributed a lot of money by himself. Miyazaki generally doesn't like to meet politicians and so people wondered if he would appears at the cleaning activity, on the day of general election.

 Mayor Kawamura and Miyazaki Hayao

However, Miyazaki appeared in overall and rubber boots. There he began cleaning immediately, though the people urged him to meet Kawamura. And so they went into the forest where Miyazaki eagerly spoke about his activity and gave Kawamura advice. "It must be solved by local people. You should discuss with people, including developers, about what keeping green means. How about leaving the land development permission without signing? (laughing) This forest is our garden. It's a luxury, though we must pay its risk by ourselves." After the meeting Kawamura commented, "I much appreciated him. You know, he is a kind of forest god."

10th of October, MIYAZAKI & THE ENVIRONMENT - PART II: Furthermore, on October 1 there was big news about a certain judgment that people might have read about. The court ordered not to landfill Tomonoura port, stating "Tomonoura is the Japanese people's property. It would be impossible to restore the scenic beauty of the area after the project is completed..."

Tomonoura, located in the heart of the Seto Inland Sea, is just a small port but has long history that goes back 1300 years. It is the only complete port ensemble from the Edo period and the beauty of the moon-shaped harbour and small islands has long inspired poetry and strangely the local government had a plan to landfill it and build a road. It was not welcomed though, as the people who love the town have been a protesting movement for 20 years long and gathered over 15,000 e-mails from around the world to hold back construction and now finally have the court nixing the Tomonoura shore project, prioritizing scenic beauty over public works.

Tomonoura port

Of course Tomonoura has its Ghibli connection as well. In 2004, after a friend of producer Suzuki Toshio who works on a NGO asked Ghibli to visit it, the studio had a company tour there. Miyazaki, who liked the town very much, visited it again a year later and lived there at a house on a cliff for over two months. It was during that stay that he got his ideas for Ponyo on the Cliff by Sea. After the film's release and the broadcast of NHK Professional Shigoto no Ryugi Special - All about Miyazaki Hayao and the Birth of Ponyo in 300 Days Tomonoura became a big name all over Japan. It hugely affected the public opinion about preserving the landscape.

On the day of judgment, many mass media rushed to Studio Ghibli to get Miyazaki's comment. Miyazaki had a press conference there and told, "This judgment gives us a good step to think how we should make our nation from now. The judgment says that the construction project is too sloppy to keep a cultural heritage like Tomonoura. That's advisable. We should throw away illusions that public projects are almighty and can change our life dramatically. I hope the highest authorities think about this country's future from a philosophical and cultural viewpoint."

(Note: Tomonoura translates as "bay of Tomo" and so the town's name is Tomo. On a relevant sidetrack, Miyazaki's Ponyo has a supermarket in it where Sosuke got an ice cream and it is called "2Tomo".)

Tomo supermarket in Miyazaki's Ponyo

5th of October, STARTING POINT REVIEW: This summer VIZ Media released an English version of Miyazaki's book Starting Point: 1979-1996. Now for those who haven't purchased their copy yet, the following might get them convinced to get it. After's exclusive interview with Nick Mamatas, the editor of the book, Twitch colleague Ard Vijn brings a review on it as well. Starting Point: 1979-1996 can be purchased at Amazon.

3rd of October, NI NO KUNI SPECIAL - TOKYO GAME SHOW DEMO IMPRESSION: After last week's new, lovely and must-see trailer of Ni no Kuni: The Another World, it is time to bring our readers a special Ni no Kuni demo impression by Ryan N. Nagle, who was present at 2009 Tokyo Game Show for to discover all about it.

Ni no Kuni, is a fan's dream, a collaboration between three popular studios, one of which is the venerated Studio Ghibli. Famous for its award winning animated films, Studio Ghibli has never been involved in a video game, until now. The next partner celebrates its 10th anniversary as a video game developer. Level 5, the creators of such major titles as Professor Layton, and the White Knight Chronicles, is dedicated to making something special with Ni no Kuni. With music from the talented Hisaishi Joe, this collaboration is yet another exciting and enchanting Studio Ghibli story of magical worlds and fantastic characters. But for the first time, delivered in a fun and intriguing video game, transporting the gamer into the mystical world of Ni no Kuni, which translates as "the Another World".

Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression

Beginning the promotional demo, the famous Studio Ghibli touch of quality is felt immediately. Introducing the story through a beautifully illustrated picture book sequence, accompanied by Mr. Hisaishi's instrumental score.

The story concerns the oppression of "the Another World" by the evil wizard Jahbo, who has forbidden the use of magic, imprisoning those who might defy him. But the story begins when the colorful, and magical creature, Shizuku, is awoken from Jahbo's evil curse, and believes that the young boy who found him, can rescue Ni no Kuni from magical oppression. However, this boy named Oliver, is just a regular boy from this world, and has just recently lost someone very close to him. Surprised by Shizuku's sudden appearance, Oliver cannot believe that he can defeat the evil Jahbo, and rescue another world. However, despite his reservations, Oliver agrees to journey with Shizuku, on the promise of being able to learn magic, and see the world of Ni no Kuni. His enthusiasm is doubled upon learning that the souls of his world and of Ni no Kuni are inter-connected, and that he may find the soul of his lost loved-one within this magical world.

Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression
Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression

All the expected Japanese RPG game elements (turn-based fighting, challenging boss battles, random enemy attacks, and save points) are tight, and in place. At times working organically within the story, and at other times forced for the purposes of the game. Besides battling with monsters, the inclusion of a linear moral system, which urges the player to interact with people of the world, accepting tasks and missions that benefit the citizens of Ni no Kuni earning the morality points necessary to advance the game.

A conservative and simple game, yet also something that fans have only dreamt of until now. Studio Ghibli in a video game form! Ni no Kuni appears to meet expectations. Level 5's game is brought to life by Studio Ghibli's wonderful imagination, along with the collaboration of Hisaishi Joe's musical score. But no one has said anything about Miyazaki Hayao being involved, the director whose name is synonymous with Studio Ghibli, and responsible for their largest and most popular films has an absence which is felt. Ni no Kuni unfolds more in the vein of other non-Miyazaki, and non-Takahata related Studio Ghibli works. The feel of the game has more in common with Neko no Ongaeshi (The Cat Returns), or Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea). Yet it is also bears similarities in look and setting to Howl's Moving Castle. The central character, Oliver, is more in the fashion of Haru from The Cat Returns, or Shizuku from Mimi wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart), than he is like Pazu, Conan, or Ashitaka from the brilliant director whose absence must be mentioned.

Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression
Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression

Still, all the talent surrounding Ni no Kuni is exciting, and enormous. With more voice work than an average DS game, and from talented, well-known Japanese celebrities such as Tabe Mikako, and Furata Arata, breathing life into the characters. Of course there are a lot of un-voiced game sequences, but the acting and immersion overall is above and beyond the average title. Hisaishi's soundtrack shines with familiar brilliance while filling a subtle and supportive role to the larger picture. Delivering the sound quality, and the skillful instrumentation, for which he is famous.

Studio Ghibli approaches their first video game effort conservatively. With a standard fantasy story of a young hero being transported into a magical world. It is the sort of story that Studio Ghibli have told many times before, but the level of quality one expects from the popular studio is also intact. Not only the concept and animation of the game, but the environments are stunning in their beauty. With character animation flowing smoothly between gameplay and story. The characteristic nuance of Studio Ghibli is strong with Ni no Kuni. Visible everywhere, from a line of ants marching across the forest floor, to butterflies cavorting near a flower, the sparkle of water, the movement of clouds, the ambient sound of singing birds, and even the sunshine piercing through the trees illuminating the main character as well as the background. The game is absolutely beautiful, and pops with a style that is distinct to Studio Ghibli.

Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression
Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression

Oliver is controlled intuitively by sliding along the touch screen (although the option to use the directional buttons is there for those who prefer). There is a magic spell mechanic where the gamer writes symbols on the Nintendo DS touch screen to activate powerful magic for special story sequences. The intuitive gameplay, while maybe standard fare, allows anyone to bring the game to life. The graphics pull you into the screen, and the music fills the gap between gamer and game in no less terms than wonderful.

Level 5 certainly seems to be proud of their 10th year anniversary of making games. And what better way to commemorate their milestone, than to team up with some of the best in Japanese entertainment to create a game for all ages. There is indeed a dream team of talent bringing Ni no Kuni to life, and it appears that the quality we can expect from such powerful talents is something that every fan can be safely excited about.

Ni no Kuni is a video game by the developer Level 5 and the famed animation studio Studio Ghibli. With an expected Japanese release date of Spring 2010, it still awaits announcement of an international release. Based on the 2009 Tokyo Game Show promotional demo this article was written by Ryan N. Nagle.

Ni no Kuni Tokyo Game Show demo impression

1st of September, BRIEF INTERMISSION: For those wondering what's up with the lack of news posts lately, things have been immensely busy with non-Ghibli but film related things: interviews with for example Brendan and the Secret of Kells director Tomm Moore, but also Venice Film Festival which will take place starting tomorrow and for which coverage will be published over at Twitch. When all calms down full coverage will return asap. Please look forward to it.

12th of August, NEW WORK BY GHIBLI DIRECTOR TAKAHATA ISAO IN THE MAKING: With Miyazaki's latest film Ponyo being only two days away from a relatively wide release in the US, news on a new feature by Studio Ghibli's other animation master, director Takahata Isao, is brought.

Takahata's last film, My Neighbors the Yamadas, was released no less than 10 years ago, but the maestro of animation realism is finally to return with a new full length animated feature. Last Friday, one day after being awarded with an Honorific Leopard by his friend and director Michel Ocelot and while giving his public speech at Locarno International Film Festival, Takahata mentioned the film he is working on is based on the 10th century Japanese folktale Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter).

Taketori Monogatari is considered to be Japan's oldest extant narrative and tells the story about the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime. Discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant (note: a similar scene interestingly also appears in Takahata's My Neighbors the Yamadas), she is said to be from Tsuki-no-Miyako (The Capital of the Moon) and has unusual hair that "shines like gold".

Taketori Monogatari scene from Takahata's My Neighbors the Yamadas

Next to being a very old story, Taketori Monogatari shares a similar popularity to that of classics like Momotaro and Urashimataro and has frequently been made into live-action (for example by Ichikawa Kon) and animation. It is often parodied on Japanese TV (for example this deodorant CM is currently being aired) and every Japanese, even very small kids, know the story very well.

It is yet unknown if Takahata will faithfully follow Taketori Monogatari's story line, though this would be unlikely. Next to the fact that that would probably mean a boring movie for at least most Japanese, "Paku-san" (Takahata) is known for his always original and changing approach, with some assuming he will make a kind of sequel in which Kaguya comes from the moon back to the earth again.

Unlike Disney, who have been successful in making animations of old popular tales with their original arrangements of Cinderella, Pinocchio and Snow White, it would be the first time for the famed Studio Ghibli to film such a popular tale. Perhaps the studio considers making a movie based on a too popular tale as a risk and wouldn't be an easy guarantee for box office success, but with a story arrangement by Takahata it will surely be surprising.

Any further details, including a possible release date, have still to be announced.

Takahata Isao at Locarno talking about his new film

1st of August, VIDEO OF NEW GHIBLI COMMERCIAL BY MIYAZAKI GORO: As announced yesterday, Studio Ghibli has made a new 15 second commercial inspired by the work of manga-ka Sugiura Shigeru. The commercial, which has been made for Yomiuri Shimbun, planned by Miyazaki Hayao, directed by Miyazaki Goro and animated by Ohba Kamon, premiered today and Yomiuri Shimbun is currently streaming it online.

Video of new Studio Ghibli commercial by Miyazaki Goro

31st of July, MIYAZAKI HAYAO TALKS PONYO! Legendary Japanese animator Miyazaki Hayao has been making a series of rare public appearances in support of the American release of his Ponyo later this summer. On behalf of Twitch & GhibliWorld Senior Programmer of the Los Angeles Film Festival Doug Jones has hit a number of Miyazaki's appearances: the San Diego Comic-Con and the Ponyo press conference at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. What follows is not a transcript of any one of those events, but rather elements from each combined and organized by theme for a fascinating look at the man and his work.

Continue reading now...

Miyazaki at Ponyo press conference July 28 Beverly Hills

31st of July, FULL COVERAGE ON MIYAZAKI'S ON-STAGE CONVERSATION: Following yesterday's teaser, today full coverage is brought on the on-stage conversation with Miyazaki Hayao at Berkeley University. Michael Guillén, film critic and colleague over at Twitch, was present to cover this special event for GhibliWorld and the result simply is a must-read article.

Find out what animation maestro Miyazaki had to say and continue reading now...

An on-stage conversation with Miyazaki Hayao

31st of July, NEW GHIBLI COMMERCIAL BY MIYAZAKI GORO: Studio Ghibli is to bring a new commercial for their partner Yomiuri Shimbun. This time its production planning has been handled by Miyazaki Hayao and direction has been realized by his son and Gedo Senki director Miyazaki Goro. Stylewise the 15 second commercial has been inspired by manga artist Sugiura Shiguru, an influence that is not new to the studio. Next to Miyazaki and Takahata being fans of his work, Sugiura's name is to be found on Pom Poko's end credits as a thank you for inspiring the film's tanuki.

As brough by Comic Natalie, Studio Ghibli's new commercial will have its TV premier on August 1. Earlier Studio Ghibli - Yomiuri Shimbun commercials can be found on the Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short DVD.

New Studio Ghibli commercial for Yomiuri Shimbun by Miyazaki Goro New Studio Ghibli commercial for Yomiuri Shimbun by Miyazaki Goro New Studio Ghibli commercial for Yomiuri Shimbun by Miyazaki Goro

30th of July, MIYAZAKI AT BERKELEY COVERAGE COMING UP: Last Saturday Michael Guillén, film critic and colleague over at Twitch, was at a very special Miyazaki event to cover for GhibliWorld. Being currently converted into a must-read article, following is a teaser to warm you up.

"Still beaming from having been awarded the 2009 Berkeley Japan Prize by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley earlier in the afternoon, Hayao Miyazaki walked onto the Zellerbach Auditorium stage to a thunderous standing ovation. Miyazaki conversed with Roland Kelts (Tokyo University lecturer and author of Japanamerica). Their conversation animated the adulatory crowd."

With the actual article being posted soon, feel free to check out some of Michael Guillén's interviews with directors like Darren Aronofsky, Park Chan-Wook, Ang Lee, Kyoshi Kurosawa and Steven Soderbergh in the mean time.

29th of July, MORE IMAGERY OF MIYAZAKI IN THE US: With Miyazaki Hayao's visit to the US, yesterday more special events took place: a press conference at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills (more coverage on that soon), Ponyo's premiere at the El Capitan Theatre and AMPAS' The Marc Davis Celebration of Animation: Hayao Miyazaki. Presented by Getty Images are various pictures from the last two events, with more imagery to be found here.

Ponyo Exhibition at Ghibli Museum

27th of July, GHIBLI'S FUTURE FEATURE, LAWSON'S PONYO BOWL CM: This week's addition to the official Studio Ghibli diary, Itsumo no Ghibli Nikki, contains a line which very minorly hints about the time line for the next film: "Starting next Monday a new member will join the production section. It will help us much, because we will be busy producing the next feature length movie."

Furthermore, Studio Ghibli partner Lawson is having a special Ponyo Bowl campaign to promote their original bakery, deserts, sweets and sandwiches. From July 21 till September 30 everyone who collects 20 point (about 2000-2500 Yen) can get Ponyo bowls. In order to assist the campaign, a CM has been made which features executive officer of Ghibli Museum Yamashita Fumio (and former Lawson employee) eating Ramen Domburi.

Lawson Ponyo Bowl CM

26th of July, VIDEO FOOTAGE OF MIYAZAKI HAYAO AND JOHN LASSETER AT COMIC-CON: Last Friday the Disney Panel at this year's San Diego Comic-Con took place and one if its special guests was none other than Miyazaki Hayao. Mike Blake brought GhibliWorld word on Cinema Blend having video footage of it and, even though GhibliWorld was represented there as well and Miyazaki didn't tell anything new due to the basic questions, it is still much worth taking a look. Hence, Cinema Blend's video footage of Miyazaki Hayao and John Lasseter below.

Miyazaki at Comic-Con

25th of July, A VISIT TO GHIBLI MUSEUM'S PONYO EXHIBITION: Starting August 14 Miyazaki's latest creation will screen in US cinemas under the shortened title Ponyo. In Japan the people are somewhat past that moment though, as it has already been one year ago that the film was released there and since May 23 (till May 2010) it even has a dedicated Gake no ue no Ponyo exhibition at Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Occasional GhibliWorld contributor Kaonashi Tamura recently paid a visit and, together with additional background information and imagery, excepts of his experience can be found in italic.

Ponyo Exhibition at Ghibli Museum

"I went to Tokyo in the worst physical condition. And so, in order to save any physical capacity, I directly went to Mitaka. The bus ran along Tamagawa canal and soon arrived at Ghibli Museum. This was my 4th visit there. After giving a glance to Iwai Toshio's Totoro-pyonpyon, which once made Spielberg didn't want to leave, the Guru Guru film The Theory of Evolution was up next."

"Its complete background has been made with animation (note: "haido" to be more specific, a technical term that refers to haikei douga, meaning background animation) and in about 5 minutes it shows the history of evolution from plankton to human by action only. While male and female are chasing each other back and forth, the female evolves to a bird and flies away to the sky. Even though the male was left alone on the ground, we can still see a cute happy ending. Like Hoshi Wo Katta Hi supplements Haku or Howl, this "Evolution" perfectly corresponds to Ponyo, giving a hint to those who wonder why Sosuke puts Ponyo into tap water. Is this also the work of Tanaka?"

Ponyo Exhition at Ghibli Museum

In order to show how much Studio Ghibli stuck with moving everything, the exhibition consists out of various sub-exhibits that explain how the film was produced and all of these are added with panels that have been arranged in story order and are finished up with comments by director Miyazaki himself.

In the first room background pictures and douga have been arranged along the story added with Miyazaki's comments. There the visitors gain a new understanding on how a sequence of movements was made or how the Ghibli staff struggled on completing the animation (something that can't be fully understood by only watching the movie). One of the specialties in this room is that visitors can touch or pick up things like parapara-books. Furthermore, even though Ponyo was made with the idea of drawing everything with hands, computers were also used for coloring and special effects. The exhibit shows how computers were used in processing water edges.

Ponyo Exhition at Ghibli Museum

"And then the Ponyo Exhibition! Pretending to be Miyazaki I flipped the bunch of genga, needless to say it was a copy, over and over again. There were about 10 bunches of cuts and a group of visitors, perhaps animation college students or professional animators, seemed to be rather proficient in "parapara-ing" them. A pile of genga and douga of Ponyo, over 100,000 pieces of paper, was up for display. I hear some cuts got lost, even with strict oversight."

That enormous pile of paper actually is even bigger and radiates with the devotion of Studio Ghibli's animators. About 320,000 pictures were drawn till the completion of the film and even though Ponyo's length is only 1 hour and 40 minutes, it used by far the most pictures a Ghibli movie ever needed. To compare and be more specific:
- Ponyo (100 min 54 sec): 170,653 pictures
- Howl (119 min 11 sec): 148,786 pictures
- Chihiro (133 min 24 sec): 144,043 pictures
- Mononoke (124 min 35 sec): 112,367 pictures

Ponyo Exhition at Ghibli Museum

Also up for exhibition are Ponyo's hand painted end credit backgrounds and credit roll. Those who have seen the film will know these have a specific warmth, showing only the names in alphabetical order, but without position titles.

"After the Ponyo exhibit I went to Dosei-za (Saturn Theater) where they screened the Ghibli Museum short Yadosagashi. It's a tale without a theme or moral lesson that directing animator Kondou Katsuya refers as slapstick. It has no dialogue, but is filled with fun of animation, just like a silent movie. So lovely, you really need to see it."

Ponyo Exhibition at Ghibli Museum

"Finally, a visit to the souvenirs shop Mamma Aiuto. A trip to Ghibli Museum just isn't complete without it. Also this time they had various interesting items for sale. For example, the genga cuts that were displayed at the Ponyo Exhibition were to be found in the form of parapara books and needless to say without hesitation all seven of them were bought. "Ponyo chased by a troll net" by Yamashita Akihiko, "Surfing Ponyo" by Futaki Mariko, "Sosuke saves Ponyo packed into a jam jar" by Inamura Takeshi, "Ponyo revolting" by Otsuka Shinji and so on. Simply must-have items for any of those who appreciates the works of Studio Ghibli."

The Ponyo Exhibition runs till May 2010 at Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan.

Ponyo Parapara Video

24th of July, WEBSITE FOR GHIBLI'S "NI NO KUNI" LAUNCHED: The website for Studio Ghibli and Level5 collaboration Ni no Kuni: The Another World has been given a more serious launch. After having had only one single screen in the past, it has now been replaced with more details, containing basic character info and imagery (the same as published by Famitsu two months ago).

Ni no Kuni: The Another World is up for release somewhere this year. A specific release date still has to be announced.

Ni no Kuni website launched

23th of July, KANADA YOSHINORI PASSES AWAY: Sad news reached from Japan yesterday which due to a overloaded schedule we ashamedly weren't able to report about earlier. At the age of 57 former Studio Ghibli animator Kanada Yoshinori has died because of a heart attack, as also reported at ANIDO. In the past Kanada worked as key-animator on Ghibli's Tonari no Totoro, Majo no Takkyuubin, Kurenai no Buta and Mononoke Hime and as key animation supervisor on Tenku no Shiro Laputa.

 Kanada Yoshinori passes away at age 57

18th of July, MIYAZAKI'S STARTING POINT SOON UP FOR RELEASE: Remember last March's exclusive interview about the upcoming English release of Miyazaki Hayao's self written 500-page book Starting Point: 1979-1996? Its publisher VIZ just informed with the books' estimated street date: August 4th.

As the title hints, Starting Point covers the first-half of Miyazaki's legendary career, during which he rose from humble beginnings to create some of the most seminal animated features ever made, including Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso, as well as his launch of Studio Ghibli. Consisting out of numerous essays, interviews, and memoirs that go back to the roots of Miya-san's childhood, the formulation of his theories of animation, and the founding of Studio Ghibli, the book is as a certain must-buy for anyone seriously interested in the works of Miyazaki, animation or film in general. Furthermore, it is added with a fitting introduction by John Lasseter, director and Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney.

In addition, VIZ Media will also be releasing the Ponyo Picture Book and The Art of Ponyo, both due to release on August 4, 2009. Volumes 1 and 2 of Ponyo's film comic will be released on August 11th, with other volumes to follow.

English edition of Miyazaki Hayao's Shuppatsu Ten

14th of July, MIYAZAKI TALKS PONYO'S END CREDITS: This week Ghibli Asemamire, Suzuki Toshio's very own radio show at Tokyo FM, brought an inside look at Ponyo's end credits with none other than master animation director Miyazaki Hayao telling all about it.

On May 5th (Children's day in Japan) there was a film screening of Ponyo held in Shimanto, a small rural town in Kochi prefecture with a river that is famous because of its clear water. Like every Japanese, the children there very much wanted to watch Ponyo, but they couldn't as there is no theater and the nearest one is very far away. To try and solve that problem the people of Shimanto collected 5000 signatures and asked Studio Ghibli to screen it. Miyazaki accepted their wish and even decided to visit it as well. Just the day before, Miyazaki asked Suzuki to join him and the two both attended the city hall and had a small talk show after the screening.

Suzuki told, "To tell the truth, the home town of Fujimaki's wife's is here. Fujimaki often told Miyazaki and me how nice Shimanto River is and recommended us to visit it. In fact, Fujimaki's wife is somewhere in this hall now and listening to me as well."

 Ponyo's unique end credits

Furthermore, Miyazaki talked about Ponyo's end credits. "Usually, the end credits rolls of recent movies are very long. Sometimes a lot of names are endlessly scrolled on just a black background. Even our movies have more than 400 staffs working on them, so if it they would be scrolled it would take 5 minutes at least. And if a theme song is played along to it, it would be too short and Hisaishi should add a half-hearted stretched instrumental melody after the song ending. Sorry... (laughing) You know, if you go abroad and watch a movie, when the end roll begins, the theater is lighted and the entire audience leaves their seats. The end rolls only exist for the staffs' parents, who live in the home countries of the staff, so that they can expect to find their son's or daughter's name on it. If our films are made for small kids though, the end roll should consider about its style as well."

 Ponyo's unique end credits

"The first verse of Ponyo takes 1 minute and 50 seconds. I had to force 400 of names into it, so I cut all of the position titles and just arranged them alphabetically (note: not by ABC but in Japanese style A I U E O order). Even the company names weren't given an order of superiority. From large companies like Toho and NTV to tiny studios like Anime Torotoro, all of it is alphabetically. Furthermore, I even added the office cleaners of our studio and the nursery staffs to it. And to a space that was left open I added Shachi, Makkuro and Ushiko, the 3 cats that live in our studio who we fed too much and gotten fat. In conclusion, every staff member who saw the end credits was much pleased with it. It is a style with which nobody can complain about the order, font size or position titles. I'm proud of adopting this style and we'll keep it in future movies. As you can see, some of the main staffs and voice actors have their names on the opening credit roll. This is because they work with their special talent and I thought they should be treated appropriately in another way."

 Ponyo's unique end credits

Miyazaki also talked about what his latest movie means for kids. For example, some people worry about what Gran Manmare and Risa are talking about. "They, not kids but 50 year old ojisans, say that they can't get the story because of the lack of explanations. However, I thought if Gran Manmare and Risa's talk is heard clearly, 5 year old kids or younger can't understand it. I basically cut everything that 5 years old or younger can't understand."

5th of July, EXCLUSIVE IMAGES OF THE DELAYED PONYO 9-DISC BOX SET: It was already announced earlier this week, the release of the Making-of Ponyo documentary and the 9-disc box set has been delayed till December. Studio Ghibli recalled all of them, though Jerome Henault brings word on a photo set of a set that somehow was not returned. In terms of design it comes nowhere near the quality of the Nausicaa and Laputa sets, but in terms of viewing content it is a must-have. Can you wait till December?

Ponyo 9-disc box set
Ponyo 9-disc box set

2nd of July (second update), PONYO DVD GIVEAWAY WINNERS: is giving away three copies of Ponyo on DVD, which is to be officially released in Japan tomorrow. Today it is time to announce the winners of this nice giveaway and these are: jontilton, moye and SimonDownes. Please send us an e-mail with your name & address and your free DVD copy of Ponyo will follow. Congratulations!

2nd of July, STUDIO GHIBLI'S SUZUKI OFFICIALLY APOLOGIZES ON THE DELAY OF THE PONYO MAKING-OF DOCUMENTARY: As the title of this post already reveals, Studio Ghibli executive producer Suzuki Toshio has just officially apologized on delaying the release of the Making-of Ponyo documentary. It was simultaneously to be released tomorrow with the DVD release of Ponyo, but its release has now been moved to December (the same moment at which Ponyo will receive its Blu-ray release). The apology, which has been published on the official Studio Ghibli website, gives an interesting insight on the reasons of its delay and so below follows a translation.

Ponyo wa Kousite Umareta (This Is How Ponyo Was Born) and Gake no ue no Ponyo Tokubetu Hozonban (the special Ponyo box set which also includes the documentary) was scheduled to be released on July 3th. However, we found various troubles during its production and we are sorry to say that we decided to delay its release till coming December. Please accept our sincere apology.

The problem is that we had not handled its musical copyrights. To be more specific, in Ponyo wa Kousite Umareta there are many scenes in which Miyazaki is working while listening to music as well. Usually, the music recorded in documentary scenes also needs a green light to use due to copyrights, but we hadn't arranged these though. This is something I first got to know on June 24th, 10 days before release.

At first, the disputed music we recognized was only one piece: Valkyrie by Wagner, which was conducted by Karl Böhm and played by the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele. We thought that we could manage it if there was only one piece and scrambled to get an ok back. Firstly we considered a two week delay, but on the 29th it turned out that there were many other music pieces that needed to be granted. We decided to make a thorough investigation of 12 hours and a half of main video.

In addition, there are many music pieces from foreign CDs included in the documentary and generally those take a longer time to get granted than when they come from domestic record companies. At least one to three months. Sometimes there even is a possibility that we cannot get an ok. In those cases it would mean we might have to cut the scene including that music or re-edit the entire DVD. When we found this fact, we had to decide to delay the release for 5 months to work on checking copyrights and editing. Furthermore, we recalled all of the DVDs that had already been shipped.

The reason why we made a rudimentary error that shouldn't have been done by a movie maker resulted in confusion of responsibilities between Ghibli and NHK. Many people joined the production of the documentary. Speaking about myself, I worked hard on its basic idea, checking the narration and decoding Miyazaki's hard-to-reckon languageÂ… So I feel much more frustrated than anyone. However, it is obvious that we caused an inconvenience to many people. As the manager of this project, I apologize to everyone.

Please, wait for 5 months. We'll do our best to satisfy you customers and distributors.

29th of June, NEW GHIBLI MUSEUM SHORT IN THE MAKING: Studio Ghibli's collection of exclusive Ghibli Museum shorts is getting a new addition. Any details like a title or director of the follow-up to Miyazaki's Kujiratori, Koro no Daisanpo, Mei to Koneko basu, Yadosagashi, Hoshi wo Katta Hi and Mizugumo Monmon are still to be announced, but according to Studio Ghibli's diary it is in the midst of production. Thanks to all the staff (the director, the sakuga staff and the douga staff) the douga work of the new short finished on June 25 and the people at the studio play its rush film every week. There it gets a good reception from the staff and a bunch of laughter is regularly being heard from the screening room. It still needs coloring and audio though. They can't wait to see the completed film.

The Ghibli Museum Shorts are getting a new addition

28th of June, MORE OF MIYAZAKI'S NEW MANGA "KAZE TACHINU": Recently part V of Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) has been released. Miyazaki's formal follow-up to his Mousou Nouto (妄想ノート, Delusion Notebook) further continues in the August issue of Model Graphix.

This time Miyazaki's story continues with Jiro just having finished the test model for his carrier fighter type-7. It was an ugly duck with a performance that was far from expectations. Furthermore, two of the test model planes crushed during test flights and put the company and Jiro in an uncomfortable situation. Around the same time rival companies were also struggling to develop a new mode though. It was during these times of hardship that Jiro was ordered to come up with a new single seat fighter test model. Before he started the job, he got a month of holidays and stayed at summer resortÂ…

A random picture from Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga called Kaze Tachinu - part V

Kaze Tachinu part V, which Miyazaki signed with "OSOO" instead of "HAYAO" (as noted before, HAYAI means fast, OSOI means slow and Osoo means "slow man"), is found in Model Graphix's August issue and is now available for sale all over Japan and at online shops like For those who's interest has been raised be sure to purchase it. As previously announced as a plan, has decided on releasing free personally registered, watermarked and 256-bit AES secured English translations for all those who own a copy and legally agree & sign to not redistribute it in any way. More information at a later moment.

25th of June, PONYO SWIMMING IN REAL LIFE: It is somewhat less recent news, as it was already published earlier this week at newspapers like Yomiuri Shimbun, but it is still worth mentioning for those who missed it. Studio Ghibli's official Japanese DVD of Miyazaki Hayao's latest masterpiece Gake no ue no Ponyo is to be released on July 3rd and to back up its marketing campaign Ponyo is temporarily swimming around in Osaka's Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest public aquarium in the world. Of course it is only a plastic doll attached to several transparent wires, but doesn't she look to be right at home?

Ponyo at Osaka Kaiyukan

24th of June, FREE PONYO DVD GIVEAWAY REMINDER: As it hasn't been given that much promotion, this will have slipped under many people's radar. is giving away 3 DVDs of Miyazaki Hayao's latest masterpiece Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) which won't screen earlier in the US than August 14.

Studio Ghibli's official Japanese DVD is to be released on July 3rd, so the closing date of this giveaway is just in time to pre-order just in case you don't win. More importantly, it will contain English subtitles for the Japanese impaired, so it will be a perfect solution for those who can't wait to see Miyazaki's newest creation at home as well.

What do you need to do?
1. Simply set up a Twitter account if you haven't already.
2. Enable you to follow our updates by adding (new!) to your favorites.
3. Leave a nice message on your Twitter account, for example "Just entered the free DVD giveaway competition of Miyazaki's Ponyo" + URL.

Be sure to join if you haven't already and perhaps you'll be one the lucky winners of one of the three Ponyo DVDs! The final entry date has been moved to June 30th.

Free Ponyo DVD giveaway contest

23rd of June, PONYO US RELEASE TRAILER: The trailer of Miyazaki's Ponyo as to be released this summer by Disney in the US has been posted online. Find it here.

8th of June, PIXAR'S JOHN LASSETER VISITING GHIBLI: As is widely known Pixar Animation Studios and Studio Ghibli have more than just a business relationship. At this very moment Pixar's John Lasseter is visiting his friends at Studio Ghibli and Pixar's dedicated Twitter account UP dates just posted several of the pictures that were made today. Like Miyazaki's nursery, John Lasseter, Miyazaki and Suzuki in front of Nibariki, John Lasseter at Ghibli Museum, John Lasseter drawing on Studio Ghibli's wall of fame, the finished drawing and John Lasseter and the BOLT filmmakers chatting with Miyazaki and Suzuki.

On a side note, had a personal interview with Pixar animation director Mark Walsh some time ago which will be posted this month. Look forward to it!

 Lasseter visiting Miyazaki and Suziki in Japan

2nd of June (third update), NISHI GHIBLI FEATURED IN MONOCLE: Monocle, a global briefing covering international affairs, business, culture and design, features an article on Studio Ghibli's latest expansion Nishi Ghibli (West Ghibli) in their June issue. Explore their short writings on it as brought to by Mark Hartsuyker and feel free to subscribe.

2nd of June (second update), MORE OF MIYAZAKI'S NEW MANGA "KAZE TACHINU": Recently part IV of Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) has been released. Miyazaki's formal follow-up to his Mousou Nouto (妄想ノート, Delusion Notebook) further continues in the July issue of Model Graphix.

In this issue, Miyazaki again manages to write a large amount of dialogue and comments. Also his way of signing is manga is yet again interesting. While on the April issue Miyazaki signed his name with Hayao (fast man), in May it's Guzuo (halting man), in June it was Noroo (slow man) and in July he signs it is as Nobio (delaying man). Miyazaki's self-depreciating humor is funny as always.

This time Miyazaki's story further continues in the 1930s in which the technology of military airplanes was constantly rapidly advancing. Every plane engineer in the world was anxious to see when their plane would become out of date because of someone else's new technology. Jiro started designing his first work as a chief designer for the test model of a carrier fighter type-7 and worked very hard in trying to establish a new trend and technology. Many trials awaited ahead of his journey though: Japan's low level of basic industrial power, hard-headed navy officers and pilots and so on and so on. When the test model was finished, Jiro found an ugly duck in the factory hangarÂ…

Three random pictures from Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga called Kaze Tachinu - part IV

Kaze Tachinu part IV is found in Model Graphix's July issue which is now available for sale all over Japan and can also be found at online shops like For those who's interest has been raised be sure to purchase it, because as previously announced as a plan, has decided on indeed releasing free personally registered, watermarked and 256-bit AES secured English translations for all those who own a copy and legally agree & sign to not redistribute it in any way. More information at a later moment.

2nd of June, STUDIO GHIBLI'S MUSIC VIDEO "PIECE" BY MOMOSE YOSHIYUKI COMING TO DVD: Studio Ghibli latest creation, Momose Yoshiyuki's animated music video for Aragaki Yui's single piece, is coming to home cinema. Starting June 17th Aragaki's full album hug will go on sale in shops across Japan and will also be available in a CD+DVD combination of which the DVD will include the piece music video.

As noted before, Momose, famous for directing Ghiblies Episode 2, is not new to directing animated music videos. In the past he already directed several animated music videos (Capsule's MVs for Portable Airport, Soratobu-toshikeikaku and Space Station No.9) and piece is his fourth creation.

Studio Ghibli's animated music video piece is to be found on Aragaki Yui's album hug which is now available for pre-order at Previous Momose music videos can be found on Ghibli's Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short DVD.

Momose Yoshiyuki's animated music video for Aragaki Yui's newest single

24th of May, THE FULL STORY ON GHIBLI'S "NI NO KUNI": Earlier this week the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu published an interview with Suzuki Toshio on which he told about Studio Ghibli's collaboration with Level5 for the video game Ni no Kuni: The Another World. Gaming website 1UP brought some excerpts on it and initially "should" have brought a full summary as well. UnlessÂ… the interview was actually part of a larger conversation for Suzuki's own radio show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM which has only just aired. Reason enough for bringing the full news now. Later, but completer and backed up with more new imagery.

Every week Suzuki Toshio extracts the real feelings of his guests involving to his way of talk. He does so at his personal office Renga-ya, which' wall is covered with bricks (note: hence the name, as 'renga' means brick), and this time Suzuki was joined by three guests: Level5 president Hino Akihiro, Famitsu chief editor Bakataru Kato (note: Bakataru is his pen-name and means 'stupid' or 'idiot') and Fujimaki Naoya. Together this joyful party extensively talked about Studio Ghibli's participation in Ni no Kuni: The Another World.

New details on Studio Ghibli and Ni no Kuni

Studio Ghibli's involvement with the Ni no Kuni project began not long after the studio completed Miyazaki Hayao's latest feature film Gake no ue no Ponyo. Fujimaki, one of the lead singers of its theme song, arranged the introduction between Level-5 and Ghibli and Suzuki recalled, "After Ponyo was completed we were all beside ourselves with happiness. While we were all in a state of rapture, Fujimaki and I were the ones thinking about what we were going to do next," "We had to do something, because otherwise the crew's going to be free. So he said to me 'You aren't doing anything right now, are you? Why don't you do this Ni no Kuni thing? There's this game industry guy who likes Ghibli's work a lot; I could introduce him to you.'"

At that time Fujimaki also told Hino, "The production of Ponyo has finished and they are all free now. Now is your only chance. Do NOT miss it!" Fujimaki noted, "I thought Hino was a lucky man. It was a period in which all of the Ghibli staff was free. Miyazaki says he doesn't like video games, but Suzuki is a manager and he mustn't make his staffs free."

According to Suzuki, "We usually outsource work to other studios when we are free. I was just thinking of it at that time. Fujimaki is great. He isn't just singing, but sometimes even works as an agency man."

In addition Suzuki mentioned, "In the past we had had video game offers before, but never did something with them because of bad timing. We would have no interest in it and usually rejected such offers. But when I met Mr. Hino, he talked passionately about his work. I got to know he lives and works in Kyushu and that he is an honest and good person. I was wondering at first, but in no time at all we began working with him."

Note: Kyusyu is far from Tokyo and perhaps Suzuki thought Kyushu people are more honestÂ…

New details on Studio Ghibli and Ni no Kuni

"At first, I told Hino that 'We can't promise you we'll be able to deliver our highest level of work. We might have to drop the quality because of when we have another schedule. Is it OK?', but we ended up spending more than 10 months on it." "Now Ghibli has a problem with it. You know, we spent more than 10 months using the entire Ghibli staff and we still haven't finished yet", told Suzuki furthermore.

Fujimaki, "Adding to that, music by Hisaishi!"

Suzuki, "Look at my worrying face! Terribly red ink!"

Fujimaki, "Don't ever say that!" (laughing)

Hino, "Thanks to that, the quality is really great!"

Suzuki, "When Ghibli has its entire staff working on a project, they can produce about five minutes worth of theater quality animation a month. I wasn't planning for this to take longer than three months, at worst! But that's the way it always happensÂ… Ghibli always works at that theater-level quality. Someone is now in a bad mood, because of it."

Fujimaki, "That must be Miyazaki!" (laughing)

Suzuki, "What the hell happened to Ghibli?" (laughing)

New details on Studio Ghibli and Ni no Kuni

Fujimaki, "At first, Suzuki pointed out that the title was bad, didn't he? What was the original title?"

Hino, "To be honest, I'm ashamed to tell what it was. Hearing Suzuki's opinion, I agreed with him. After that, I thought and thought for a long time... and found Ni no Kuni. Telling Suzuki about it, he replied that he could develop a wider kind of image with Ni no Kuni."

Fujimaki, "Suzuki meant that Japanese style is better than Western style?"

Hino, "Not always. He suggested the title should not be so smart. People are bored to see such trendy English titles. The title should be simple."

Ni no Kuni literally translates as 'The second land'. It is a title seldom heard and in Japanese sounds old fashioned and mysterious. On the other hand it is impressive and new as well and this makes it a title quite fitting the fantasy subject. Studio Ghibli's video game project is to be released somewhere in 2009 for Nintendo DS and "another gaming console". The official trailer can be viewed here.

23rd of May (second update), NEW NI NO KUNI SCREENSHOTS: Back in September and October 2008 brought news on Studio Ghibli's collaboration with Level5 for the video game Ni no Kuni: The Another World. The video game is even backed-up with a soundtrack by none other than Hisaishi Joe and this week more news about the project was finally brought: an interesting interview with Suzuki Toshio about it was published in the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu (excerpts can be found at 1up). Though simply a must-read article, sometimes pictures speak louder than words, so following are various new screenshots.

New screenshots of Studio Ghibli's Ni no Kuni

23rd of May, PONYO PRE-ORDERING GIFTS: Placing pre-orders on Japanese Studio Ghibli releases often means getting nicely rewarded. A 1/24 second film cube, an extra promotional DVD or, as with Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) will be the case, a special pre-order gift seal book. For those not getting excited by that, Lawson luckily provides a good pre-order gift alternative: Ponyo playing cards. Each face side has a different picture, enabling card players to follow Ponyo & Sosuke's story. Can you imagine playing a game of poker with these?

Starting July 3rd the official Japanese Ponyo DVD release will be available at Japanese shops and

Ponyo playing cards, a pre-order gift at Lawson Ponyo playing cards, a pre-order gift at Lawson

22nd of May, AT GHIBLIWORLD OFFICE: Things have been busy on non-Ghibli related things, but finally being at back at GhibliWorld office new writings should be coming up. Having received questions on in what kind of working environment this takes place, not much is actually needed: a notebook with Dreamweaver, Photoshop CS4 and internet connection andÂ… inspiring surroundings! Logically that means our own Studio Ghibli library is close at hand and while most of the books, DVDs and artwork remain in boxes at the other side of the room, it manages to do its work quite well.

To give a better close-up, the picture below is also available in more detailed and extremely detailed resolution.

A part of the GhibliWorld library

12th of May, FREE PONYO DVD GIVEAWAY: With an earlier contest ended, a new one startsÂ… is giving away DVDs of Miyazaki Hayao's latest masterpiece Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Three to be exact!

While Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) is slowly receiving its cinematical release all over the world (for example in the US it will be released on August 14), Studio Ghibli's official Japanese DVD release will already be available at Japanese shops starting July 3rd. As usual it will contain English subtitles for the Japanese impaired, so it will be a perfect solution for those who can't wait to see Miyazaki's newest creation at home as well. Reason enough to enter the contest, isn't there?

What do you need to do?
1. Simply set up a Twitter account if you haven't already.
2. Enable you to follow our updates by adding (new!) to your favorites.
3. Leave a nice message on your Twitter account, for example "Just entered the free DVD giveaway competition of Miyazaki's Ponyo at" + URL.

Enter now and perhaps you'll be one the lucky winners of one of the three Ponyo DVDs! Entries are open till June 25th.

Free Ponyo DVD giveaway contest

11th of May, GHIBLI BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST WINNERS: About 3 weeks ago announced a giveaway of five copies of Kamera Books' just released book Studio Ghibli - The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata by Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc. Today its winners are announced. Those mentioned below are the lucky ones who will soon receive their copy by in the mailbox:
- John Jacobs, UK
- Benjamin De Schrijver, USA
- Sami Kahkonen, Finland
- Markus Rosse, Switzerland
- Jennifer Chau, USA

9th of May, MORE OF MIYAZAKI'S NEW MANGA "KAZE TACHINU": Recently part III of Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) has been released. Miyazaki's formal follow-up to his Mousou Nouto (妄想ノート, Delusion Notebook) further continues in the June issue of Model Graphix.

This time the story transfers to 1932. Around that time young Jiro was entrusted with designing the test model of the carrier fighter type 7. He began to develop his ideas for it and wanted to put a low-wing monoplane into practical use, something quite ahead of time. In order to get inspired, he went to Tokyo to see a navy engineer officer and while being there, he happened to meet his old friend Hori Tatsuo (a novel writer and best known for his work Kaze Tachinu). Having had a good time for a while at a restaurant near Tokyo University, afterwards Jiro's ideas changed into something more concrete.

Notable in this part of Kaze Tachinu is that Miyazaki wrote large amounts of text which were divided over only five pages. In spite of it, the story does not really develop and this is something Miyazaki probably realized that as well: at the beginning he writes, "Prepare yourself, this time should be annoying".

Two random pictures from Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga called Kaze Tachinu - part III

Kaze Tachinu part III is found in Model Graphix's June issue which is now available for sale all over Japan and can also be found at online shops like For those who's interest has been raised be sure to purchase it, because as previously announced as a plan, has decided on indeed releasing free personally registered, watermarked and 256-bit AES secured English translations for all those who own a copy and legally agree & sign to not redistribute it in any way. More information at a later moment.

4th of May, A RARE LOOK AT MIYAZAKI'S & TAKAHATA'S NEVER RELEASED "PIPPI": Who does NOT cheer up when (re-)seeing the magical scene from Miyazaki's Tonari no Totoro in which Mei falls into a tree hole after following chibi-Totoro and encounters Totoro for the fist time? Mei climbs up his furry tummyÂ… "Anata wa dare? Makkuro korosuke?" Â… "ToooÂ… toooÂ… ROOOOOOO!!!!"Â… and finally ends up falling asleep.

The unforgettable character of the little Mei was of course inspired by Panda Kopanda's Mimiko, and on her turn Mimiko was unmistakably inspired by the character of Pippi Longstocking. Which brings us to the subject of this short little writing: Miyazaki's and Takahata's never realized animation: Pippi Longstocking, The Strongest Girl In The World (Nagakutsushita No Pippi, Sekai Ichi Tsuyoi Onna No Ko).

Back in 1971 Miyazaki Hayao left Toei for A Pro together with Takahata Isao and Kotabe Youichi. There he co-directed six episodes of the first Lupin III series with Takahata and shortly after they also began pre-production on Pippi Longstocking, The Strongest Girl In The World. In order to come up with ideas, Miyazaki made his very first trip abroad and went location scouting in the port city of Visby on Gotland Island, Sweden. Unfortunately after meeting with the original author, Astrid Lindgren, their permission to complete the project was denied. Pippi got cancelled.

Even though the Pippi animation never got realized, it has still been "unmissable" for those who have watched Miyazaki's later works. Its ideas and influences cannot only be found in Panda Kopanda with Mimiko and her the two long red pony tails and freckles, or the cute characteristics of Totoro's Mei, but also in Heidi's swinging scene or in Kiki's Delivery Service's settings (the pictures Miyazaki took during his trip to Sweden were used to create the port city of Koriko) and even the protagonist of Miyazaki's latest film Ponyo has inherited Pippi's lively features.

Sadly though, not a lot of people, even avid appreciators of the works of Miyazaki, have actually seen the work Miyazaki did for Pippi. Extensive imageboards were made by the master animator, but these can be found only in a book on Miyazaki's imageboards that was released back in 1983, a book that has been long out of print. Especially for the people who don't own a copy of that book, some of these rare & lovely water color imageboards of Pippi by none other than Miyazaki Hayao follow below.

Pippi imageboards by Miyazaki Hayao
Pippi imageboards by Miyazaki Hayao
Pippi imageboards by Miyazaki Hayao

24th of April, PONYO'S GREAT ESCAPE - LIMITED EDITION STYLE: In the past the films of Miyazaki Hayao were often joined with beautiful limited edition statues. Frequently these were made by manufacturer Cominica, but after the collectible firm's head conviction of tax evasion things all quieted down. This silence is about to disappear though, as starting the 10th of June Miyazaki Hayao's latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff on the Sea) will be given a limited edition merchandise treatment as well (note: not by Cominica though). The statue will depict the great escape of Ponyo and her sisters, will be made out of polyester resin and come with built-in LED lights to add extra depth.

For those interested, the W160Ă—H242Ă—D156mm sized statue will be sold at a price of 18,900 Yen. Reservations need to be made online at LAWSON before the end of this month.

Ponyo's great escape - limited edition style

21st of April, MIYAZAKI TALKS ABOUT TEZUKA OSAMU: Recently Yomiuri Shimbun brought a noteworthy interview with none other than Miyazaki Hayao. It was held at Studio Ghibli and in it the master animator talked about the "the god of manga" Tezuka Osamu. As it contains some rather interesting comments a summary for the Japanese impaired follows below.

Before the start of the new Tezuka exhibition, which is currently held Edo-Tokyo Museum, Miyazaki told about his Tezuka experiences. In his words, I felt his respect to the great senior, but also a sense of sparkling rivalry. Miyazaki noted, "I've been wrestling with Tezuka. So I'm kind of obliged to him. However, it isn't easy to tell it simply."

There is a famous episode between these two maestros of animation and manga. When Tezuka died in 1989, Miyazaki caustically criticized him in a magazine which commemorated Tezuka, referring him to be just like an "Ooya no gidayu" animation creator.

Miyazaki Hayao talks about Tezuka Osamu

(note: This story can be read in Miyazaki's must-read book Shuppatsu-ten which will have its first English release on July 7. In a way Miyazaki says Tezuka's animation was amateur like, referring to Nedoko, a Rakugo story from the Edo era. Rakugo is a traditional Japanese verbal entertainment in which one man sits alone on stage and uses only a paper fan and a small cloth as props. Without standing up from a seiza sitting position, the rakugo artist depicts a long and complicated comical story always involving the dialogue of two or more characters, which are depicted only through change in pitch, tone, and a slight turn of the head. Either way, in the Rakugo story Nedoko a landlord who likes Gidayu (old entertainment like singing opera aria) one day plans to have his private concert. Needing an audience he ordered his servant to gather his employees and house-renters. At first they don't like to attend it at heart as the landlord's singing is terribly bad, but they are forced to listen it by landlord's intimidation and attractive food.)

After that magazine moment, Miyazaki hasn't told much more on his thoughts of Tezuka and his work, though this time he revealed that he was unspeakably much stunned by Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island, 1947) which he read when he was 7 years old. "The later generations might not be able to imagine how much our generation was shocked to see Shin Takarajima in the ruins of World War II. It showed us a quite different world and we felt the black curtain ahead of us clearly opened. Such a big impact couldn't be told as an imitation of Disney or an influence from American comics", Miyazaki told.

Miyazaki Hayao talks about Tezuka Osamu's Shin Takarajima

Also the trilogy of Lost World, Metropolis and Kitarubeki Sekai (Things To Come) stole the heart of the then young boy Miyazaki. Miyazaki noted, "The world that Tezuka showed us wasn't only bright, but often scary, absurd, painful or hopeful. Modernism meant prosperity and mass consumption and at a time it invented destruction. At the corner of Asia, only Tezuka found it. He realized the absurdity of modernism more deeply than Disney."

Miyazaki guesses Tezuka had a black hole in his fundamental, something which only the ones who saw a heap of corpses had. Because Miyazaki's own father was like that. However, Tezuka gradually came to hide that "darkness". Miyazaki told, "The reason the TV version of ATOM wasn't interesting was because Tezuka operated a business with "humanism" only. I guess he nihilistically thought he needed "humanism" to get success."

Miyazaki's opinion of "Tezuka anime is like "Ooya no gidayu"" still hasn't changed. He told, "I might have felt easy to see his terrible anime. That way I could compete with him." Originally Miyazaki wanted to become a manga writer. The reason he shifted from that and became an animator was because his manga seemed to be an epigone of Tezuka. Miyazaki confessed that his way of looking at things as an animator came from the impact of Shin Takarajima. He said, "Because of that, I didn't want to be an admirer of Tezuka." On the question "You who tells like that are the orthodox successor of Tezuka, aren't you?", Miyazaki replied "No. The invention of destruction came from the essence that the 20th century had. However, how will it change in 21st century? We are seeking the sign of that..."

The Tezuka Osamu exhibition takes place from April 18th to June 21st at Edo-Tokyo Museum.

18th of April, FREE GHIBLI GOODIES TO GIVE AWAY: April has been kind of quiet in terms of Studio Ghibli related things, hasn't it? That is the downside of a schedule filled with for example writing for other publications like Twitch (like this interview with director Gianni di Gregorio of Venice Film Festival winner Pranzo di Ferragosto and Cannes Film Festival winner Gomorra). However, perhaps we can make it up with some free giveaways.

UK movie book publisher Kamera Books has just released a new title called Studio Ghibli - The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and written by Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc. With a total of 157 pages the book tells about all major (pre-)Ghibli works and is intended mainly as a Ghibli primer whilst offering established Ghibli fans something nice to own. While not having finished yet reading the free review copy received, the first impression is rather good and more importantly is giving away five free copies of the book. Interested? Just send an e-mail with your name & address and maybe you will be one of the winners. Entries are open till May 10th.

Studio Ghibli - The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata is now available at shops like Amazon.

Studio Ghibli - The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata

4th of April, A SPECIAL ON MIYAZAKI GORO'S "ROJOU NO HITO" AND "TEIKA TO CHOMEI": It has been a while having last heard of Miyazaki Goro, director of Gedo Senki, former managing director of Ghibli Museum and son of Miyazaki Hayao. Reason enough for a special looking back at some of his recent works, the first being Ghibli Museum's special Rojou no Hito exhibition which will end this coming Monday.

Rojou no Hito exhibition - Some time ago Studio Ghibli had an exhibition called Hotta Yoshie Ten: The Troublous Time Depicted by Ghibli. Its first part was the introduction of Hotta with his notebooks, handwritings and so on and it was followed with a second part exhibited by Studio Ghibli which was titled Trying to make a plan on filming Hotta's work. Numerous image boards were made and displayed and one of its themes was Rojou no Hito (A Person on the Road) which has been given a special exhibition at Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.

Miyazaki Goro's Rojou no Hito exhibition at Ghibli Museum

Rojou no Hito follows its main character Yona De Lotta, a vagabond who lived in Europe's early 13th century. Before nations were formed Yona traveled around Europe earning his living as a servant of knights, monks and traveling entertainers. During his traveling, he saw lots of things like poverty, bandits, the church's irreducibility, apostate priests, pure devotions, heretics, the brutality of the crusade and so on and so on. Seeing them made Yona think "Why?" and in that sense Yona, who watched the facts from the street, was just like Hotta and his way of life. A person on the road who questioned the livings of the people who lived in these troublous times.

Miyazaki Goro and some of the Ghibli staff depicted a chaotic Europe from the Middle Ages, resulting in an exhibition with 79 imageboards and 6 artboards that show Ghibli's wish of Hotta's work needed to be read more often as nowadays we too are living in a troublous time.

A project plan for Teika and Chomei by Miyazaki Goro - "Studio Ghibli depicting the world of Hotta's work." That was the assignment given to me in this exhibition. But how? Ghibli is an animation studio. So how would it be if we would make his work into animation? We thought of making a plan & imageboards out of it as a thing we could do and so all of that incarnated as this exhibition. In other words, this exhibition is the preparation-of-the-preparation for filming Hotta's work.

Art for Teika to Chomei by Miyazaki Goro

Hotta made his works from a point of view that looks down the world beyond ages or borders. I tried to make a plan of filming his representative works Houjouki Shiki and Teika Meigetsuki Shisyou which depict Japan's troublous times at the end of the Heian era in which the social system changed from aristocracy to warrior rules. Another work was Rojou no Hito, which depicts the inquisition in Europe in the same age. I thought these tries could express his world-view.

Houjouki Shiki's Kamono Chomei and Teika Meigetsuki Shisyou's Fujiwara Teika belonged to the same generation and lived in Kyoto during the same time. However, their origins were different. Chomei lived on the border of nobles and normal people, like a part-time worker in modern word. On the other hand, Teika was an aristocrat, although bottom rank. Chomei had a journalistic sense and was curious about everything, while Teika had a pure stance on literature. Perhaps Hotta shared common characteristics with the both of them.

Artboards for Teika to Chomei by Takeshige Yoji + upper right by Miyazaki Goro

Chomei wanted to be a witness to the world. Teika only lived in his internal world, ignoring the Taira-Minamoto War. The difference between the points of view of the two will decide the ways in their subsequent lives. The main characters are no marked young men and hadn't gotten fame yet. During a period of 100 days they see many natural disasters and man-made disasters. The difference of what they experience and consider would become the difference of their way of lives. Assuming so I tried to make a story by mixing fictions. In short, that is the project plan for the movie about Chomei and Teika.

Hotta used to create his works in a way like this. He saw common things in a world and age different to that of his own. And that point of view I emulated. Even if it was 800 years ago, people had the same usual days, problems and emotions. The same things are common nowadays. They too had worthwhile lives. I hope I could create a film plan that is able to tell that. And I hope some day I can produce a real animation of Teika and Chomei, because I believe we will surely need Hotta's point of view in the days ahead of us.

After a study and career in landscaping, Miyazaki Goro started his work at Studio Ghibli as managing director of Ghibli Museum. In 2006 he made his directing debut with Gedo Senki. Afterwards Goro has been spending time on leading several Studio Ghibli related exhibitions and it has been confirmed he will be making a second film.

31st of March (2nd update), PONYO BLU-RAY AND DVD OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED: Noteworthy news from Japan: starting July 3rd Japan's shops will be filled with copies of the highly awaited DVD release of Miyazaki Hayao's animation masterpiece Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea).

Miyazaki's latest film will be available in two tastes: a standard edition at a price of 4,935 Yen (containing English subtitles and a Dolby digital stereo and DTS-ES 6.1 audio track) and a special edition at a price of 19,110 Yen. Next to the film, the latter will contain a separate 12 hour 5-disc Making-of Ponyo DVD plus a DVD of last summer's Hisaishi Joe 25 year commemoration concert. For those longing for Miyazaki's first Ghibli in full HD the waiting is not over though. A Blu-ray edition will not be released earlier than December. In the mean time these will have to do with Hisaishi's concert and Ponyo's 12 hour long making-of which will also be released on 1 and 2-disc Blu-ray.

Note: none of the specials will contain English subtitles!

Ponyo to be released on DVD and Blu-ray

31st of March, MIYAZAKI HAYAO DRAWS COVER ART & ILLUSTRATIONS FOR NEW WESTALL PUBLICATION: Japanese publisher Iwanami Shoten has released Suishin 5 Hiro, a first ever Japanese translation of Robert Westall's novel Fathom Five. In continuation to their publication of Westall's Blackham's Wimpey, which contains Miyazaki Hayao's multi-page illustrated essay A Trip to Tynemouth, Suishin 5 Hiro contains specially made cover art as well as an abundance of separate illustrations by Miyazaki.

Suishin 5 Hiro's story interestingly fits one of Miyazaki's interests: World War II. The children's book takes place in 1943, at a small pot town called Garmus in northern England. At midnight, the 16 year old Chas McGill sees a U-boat sinking a cargo ship. The next morning, he finds a transmitter at the beach. He and his friends start searching spies for fun, but this results in a serious situation...

Iwanami Shoten's release of Suishin 5 Hiro is now available in stores all over Japan and can be bought at online shops like

Suishin 5 Hiro with cover art and illustrations by Miyazaki Hayao

28th of March, MORE & NEW MIYAZAKI MANGA: This week Model Graphix's May issue has been released and contains part II of Miyazaki Hayao's new manga Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) . As mentioned before, the graphic novel is a formal continuation of his Mousou Nouto (妄想ノート, Delusion Notebook) and the last edition of Miyazaki's "delusional notes", called Doromamire no Tora and a memoir of German tank commander Otto Carius, was published over seven years ago.

Earlier it was noted Kaze Tachinu would only consist out of two parts, but it seems Miyazaki is enjoying to draw some new manga as it doesn't end here, but instead will continue in next month's issue as well. Next to his film works, Miyazaki's mangas are known to be worthwhile as well, so in this case one can only say "The longer, the better!"

Part II of Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga called Kaze Tachinu

In this issue, protagonist Horikoshi Jiro began his career as an aircraft designer. He, just a newbie engineer, only worked in calculating and designing parts. A competition to come up with a new model for the military was held at Tokorozawa air field (note: Tokorozawa is the place Totoro lives, of course), but their plane crashed at the test flight. This was not completely unexpected, the industrial level of Japan was still like an infant in those days in 1920s. Luckily, during one of Jiro's business trips by sleeper train, Caproni ojisan appears in his daydream and gives him an advice. After that, he was appointed as the chief designer of the navy's new fighter plane.

Interestingly, for part II of Kaze Tachinu Miyazaki did not sign his manga with "Miyazaki Hayao" but "Miyazaki Guzuo". For the Japanese impaired, guzu means something like sluggish, slow or stupid. The "o"-part is often added at the end of a male name, so Miyazaki's funny self-depreciating sign means something like "Slow Miyazaki". Taking a look at the story it might continue a bit longer as in 5 or 6 parts. From historical facts, Jiro must still design the 0-fighter plus many other WWII planes and after the war he designed a passenger plane.

Part II of Miyazaki Hayao's latest manga called Kaze Tachinu

Kaze Tachinu part II is found in Model Graphix's May issue which is now available for sale all over Japan and can also be found at online shops like For those who's interested has been raised be sure to purchase it, because as previously announced as a plan, has decided on indeed releasing free personally registered, watermarked and 256-bit AES secured English translations for all those who own a copy and legally agree & sign to not redistribute it in any way. More information at a later moment.

6th of March, GHIBLIWORLD.COM EXCLUSIVE - AN INTERVIEW WITH EDITOR NICK MAMATAS ABOUT THE UPCOMING ENGLISH RELEASE OF MIYAZAKI'S "SHUPPATSU TEN: 1979-1996": After this week's exclusive interview with Studio Ghibli's animation director Kosaka Kitaro, is bringing its readers another special. This summer, starting July 7, VIZ Media will be releasing an English edition of Miyazaki Hayao's self written 500-page book Shuppatsu Ten: 1979-1996. For those interested in Miyazaki's works it is an unmissable book and to say it is "recommended" is an understatement. As a preview to the book's upcoming English release had an interview with its editor Nick Mamatas. Find out what he had to say and continue reading now...

Miyazaki Hayao's Shuppatsu Ten to be released in English starting July 7

4th of March, NEW GHIBLI DOCUMENTARIES COMING TO DVD AND BLU-RAY: Studio Ghibli's releasing company Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment Japan have announced two new additions to their "Ghibli ga Ippai Collection Special" documentary label which will be released on June 10th.

The first one, Ghibli no Fuukei (Scenery of Ghibli), asks its hosts and viewers the question "Why don't you go travelling to seek the new attraction of Miyazaki anime?". With the use of Miyazaki's ekonte (storyboards) 3 travellers, actress Tsuruta Mayu, Natsukawa Yui and actor Sugimoto Tetsuta, visit the places and towns related to the images from Miyazaki's animated works. BS-Nippon re-edited the European part that aired on their TV channel back in 2006, as well as the Japanese part which aired in 2008 on BS-Nittere. In The Japan Miyazaki depicted (95 minutes), Tsuruta Mayu visits the places of "good old Japan" and discovers profound attractions like Totoro and Spirited Away and also shows the charm of Ponyo. In A Trip of the Europe Encountered in Miyazaki's Works (85 minutes) Natsukawa Yui visits Stockholm and Gotland to seek Koriko town from Kiki's Delivery Service. Sugimoto Tetsuta visits Alsace region to seek the town where Sophie lives in in Howl's Moving Castle. Ghibli no Fuukei will be released on 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray (without subtitles). Watch the trailer for an impression.

New Ghibli documentaries coming to DVD and Blu-ray

The second announced documentary, Suzuki Toshio no Ghibli Asemamire, 99 no Kotoba (Suzuki Toshio's Ghibli Asemamire, 99 Words), follows the motto of "There are words that reach to you because it isn't visible". Hattori Jun, the editor of the radio program Ghibli Asemamire, re-edited the sound source of the program and made it into DVD. Since October 2007, Suzuki's Asemamire is aired by Tokyo FM as its key-station and netting on 38 local stations nation-wide. The show is recorded in Suzuki's personal office Renga-ya which wall is covered with bricks. Every week, Suzuki extracts the real feelings of his guests involving to his way of talk. Suzuki's guests included on the DVD are 49 different persons, varying from film directors, actors, singers, musicians, journalists to cultural anthropologists. More than 40 hours of recordings are included with a still background image of bricks making you imagine as if you are listening to the talk just at the place. The "99 words" is shown in Suzuki's chirography and voice and will help you to understand the meaning. Suzuki Toshio no Ghibli Asemamire, 99 no Kotoba will be released on DVD (no subtitles) and is up for pre-order at

3rd of March, GHIBLIWORLD.COM EXCLUSIVE - A PERSONAL INTERVIEW WITH GHIBLI'S ANIMATION DIRECTOR KOSAKA KITARO: is proud to bring its readers another personal interview. Following up people like Takahata Isao, Miyazaki Goro, Gualtiero Cannarsi, Enrico Casarosa and Michel Ocelot is none other than Studio Ghibli's animation director Kosaka Kitaro. Marco Bellano especially met up with Kosaka in Torino, Italy which resulted in another must-read interview for anyone.

Be sure not to miss it and continue reading now...

28th of February, NEW MIYAZAKI MANGA “KAZE TACHINU” RELEASED: This week the first part of Miyazaki Hayao’s latest manga called Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) has been released. The graphic novel is a formal continuation of his Mousou Nouto (妄想ノート, Delusion Notebook) in Japan’s monthly scale model magazine Model Graphix. The last edition of Miyazaki’s “delusional notes”, called Doromamire no Tora and a memoir of German tank commander Otto Carius, was published over seven years ago.

For Kaze Tachinu the legendary animation director has again chosen to paint in water colors and starts his story with “ojisan” Caproni, the airplane designer made who made the Caproni Ca 309 Ghibli (one of the origins of Studio Ghibli’s name). Following the black hatted Caproni struggling on his plane designs, the readers discover his unique and fantastic planes just like Miyazaki did when he was presented the company history book from Caproni’s grandson after he made Kurenai no Buta (紅の豚, Porco Rosso), eventually being introduced to Kaze Tachinu’s protagonist: Horikoshi Jiro.

Miyazaki Hayao’s latest manga called Kaze Tachinu

Horikoshi Jiro, designer of Japan’s Zero fighter plane, is met when still being a small kid who dreams to be an airplane designer like Caproni and, as Miyazaki has done many times before, is portrayed as a cute little pig. Jiro studied aerospace engineering at Tokyo University and after his graduation got employed at Mitsubishi heavy industry to become an engineer. During those days (the 1920s), Japan’s technical level of aerospace engineering was not high and it was like this that young Jiro started his career.

Part I of Miyazaki Hayao’s Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) manga is published in the latest edition of Japan’s monthly scale model magazine Model Graphix. It is available for sale all over Japan and can also be found at online shops like Part II of Kaze Tachinu will be published in next month’s edition of Model Graphix and will go on sale starting March 25th. Like previously announced as a plan, has decided on indeed releasing free personally registered, watermarked and 256-bit AES secured English translations for all those who legally agree and sign to not redistribute it in any way. More information at a later moment.

Miyazaki Hayao’s latest manga Kaze Tachinu

22nd of February, THE MAKING OF PONYO, MIYAZAKI HAYAO PLANNING NEXT FILM: This sunday interesting details on Studio Ghibli’s latest activities were revealed at this week’s episode of Suzuki Toshio’s own radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM. This week’s guest was contemporary artist Murakami Takashi, an avid appreciator of Miyazaki Hayao’s films, and Suzuki told him they (Studio Ghibli or NHK) will release a special Making-of on Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) by editing the videos NHK shot during a period of two years. Some of it was already broadcasted during NHK programs like NHK Professional, but in this case there will be a major addition: the making-of will be 14 hours long.

In the past Studio Ghibli released a similar extensive making-of on Mononoke Hime, called "Mononoke Hime" ha Koushite Umareta (「もののけ姫」はこうして生まれた, How "Princess Mononoke" was Born), but that behind-the-scenes look was “only” 6 hours and 40 minutes long and took 3 VHS tapes / 3 DVDs. Suzuki told the majority of the making-of will contain close-up shots of Miyazaki and also told his catch copy: “Can you bear watching Miyazaki's face for 14 hours?”. Any further details on the making-of’s release date, price and quantity of discs still have to be announced.

In addition, Suzuki Toshio also noted Miyazaki Hayao is currently planning his next movie. Miyazaki often tells him small details, but does not tell the whole image. Though no further information on Miyazaki’s next film was revealed, it is at least good news Miyazaki is not planning for retirement as he had already unsuccessfully tried to in the past.

How Princess Mononoke was Born

15th of February, A FIRST UNSEEN LOOK AT GHIBLI’S NEW “PIECE” MV BY MOMOSE YOSHIYUKI: Last Friday Studio Ghibli brought official news on their latest creation, Momose Yoshiyuki’s animated music video for Aragaki Yui’s newest single piece. Today, for all those interested in how it looks, specially brings a first look with various unseen images from the music clip. Taking a look at the still imagery makes it hard to feel the quality of animation, the interesting integration with 3DCGI and the way it all blends and fits Araguki’s song, so look forward to watching Momose’s music video!

Aragaki’s CD single piece will go on sale in Japan on February 25th. Audio samples of the song can be heard over at Warner Music Japan and pre-orders are up at (limited Momose edition).

Momose Yoshiyuki’s animated music video for Aragaki Yui’s newest single

13th of February, STUDIO GHIBLI REVEALS NEW WORK BY MOMOSE: Studio Ghibli brings news on one of their latest creations: Ghibli director Momose Yoshiyuki has made an animated music video for piece, the new single of Japanese model, actress, singer, seiyū and occasional show host Aragaki Yui.

Last Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) Aragaki served as a host in NHK’s Disney and Studio Ghibli music special called Hirake! Mahō no Tobira ~Isshoni Utaou Yume no Uta~, which led to an offer to make the music video.

Cover designs for for Aragaki Yui piece

Momose, famous for directing Ghiblies Episode 2, has already proven in the past to be an interesting director. Having directed three animated music videos before, being Capsule’s MVs for Portable Airport, Soratobu-toshikeikaku and Space Station No.9, Momose has shown he dares to come of out of the comfort zone of what people conceive to be the “Ghibli look”. Needless to say, piece’s music video will have a unique feeling as well.

In addition to the music video, Momose also illustrated one of the single’s two limited CD jackets (middle) which will be released next to the single’s regular edition (right). The other limited cover design has been made by Aragaki herself (left).

Aragaki’s CD single piece will go on sale in Japan on February 25th. Audio samples of the song can be heard over at Warner Music Japan and pre-orders are up at (limited Momose edition). Momose’s three previous animated music videos, Portable Airport, Soratobu-toshikeikaku and Space Station No.9, can be found on Ghibli’s Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short DVD.

Momose Yoshiyuki directs animated music video for Aragaki Yui

11th of February, MIYAZAKI HAYAO BRINGS NEW MANGA: Two and half years after A Trip to Tynemouth Miyazaki Hayao is to return with a new manga. Following up Zassou Nouto and Mousou Nouto, Ghibli’s acclaimed animation director has made a another graphic story for Japan’s monthly scale model magazine Model Graphix called Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises). Like in the past, Miyazaki will be using his expertise on military machines and World War II, this time focusing the story on Zero fighter designer Horikoshi Jiro.

Miyazaki Hayao’s new manga Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) is to feature in Model Graphix’s two upcoming editions which are to be released on February 25th and March 25th. There is good news for the Japanese impaired as well: is planning on possibly releasing personally registered, watermarked and 256-bit AES secured English translations for all those who purchase the magazines and legally agree on not redistributing it. More information on this at a later moment.

Miyazaki Hayao to make a new manga for Model Graphix

1st of February, STUDIO GHIBLI LAUNCHES LUPIN III WEBSITE: Starting today a dedicated website on Lupin III’s 1st TV series has been launched by Studio Ghibli. The reason for lauching the website is that the series, made back in 1971 by people like Miyazaki Hayao, Takahata Isao and Otsuka Yasuo, will receive a limited cinematic release by Ghibli Museum Library from March 14 till April 10. In addition to containing background information on the series’ story and staff the website also features a trailer.

For those unable to view the first series at the cinema, there also is a fitting alternative: back in December the series has been released on Blu-Ray together with the Blu-Ray release of Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro).

Lupin III receiving a limited cinematic release by Ghibli Museum Library from March 14 till April 10

12th of January, SUZUKI TOSHIO MEETS UP WITH STEVEN SODERBERGH: Last Sunday the latest episode of Suzuki Toshio’s own radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM brought a special guest. This time it was none other than director Steven Soderbergh who came to Japan to promote his latest film Che featuring Benicio del Toro. Logically, Che, which premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, was the subject of their talk. A translator translated Suzuki's questions and Soderbergh answered in English.

In the 1960s, Guevara was the most respected hero for left-wing minded young people and Suzuki seems to have much interest in him. Suzuki even made a catch copy for Soderbergh’s movie without being asked and gave it to Soderbergh. “The era without Guevara is an unhappy one. But the era – the contemporary time which needs Guevara, is an even more unhappy time.”, to which Soderbergh commented, “Exactly! I agree! Very much!”. Suzuki also brought Soderbergh some gifts, including a 2009 Studio Ghibli Calendar and various US version Studio Ghibli DVDs. He told him “Watch it later by all means!!” and Soderbergh enthousiastically replied, “Absolutely! It’s fantastic!”.

Those who are curious about Suzuki’s conversation with Soderbergh can listen to it in English on the podcast version which will be released for download somewhere later during the week. When it is up it can be found here. Next week’s Asemamire will continue the on feature Che.

Suzuki Toshio meets up with director Steven Soderbergh

5th of January, MIYAZAKI HAYAO’S 68TH BIRTHDAY, PONYO & OKUI ATSUSHI: Today is a special day for the man who brought the world numerous animation masterpieces: Miyazaki Hayao. Chances are he will not be taking the time to celebrate his 68th birthday properly, but either way: “Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu!”.

Furthermore, would like to remember you about a special article on Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) and its director of photography Okui Atsushi. Though this time will not release a summary, even those who are unable to read Japanese might want to check it out as it contains some beautiful high resolution Ponyo imagery. Examples include these images of Ponyo's father Fujimoto: picture 1 and picture 2.

Miyazaki Hayao is celebrating his 68th birthday today

31st of December - 1st of January, HAPPY NEW YEAR: In some places over the world it is still December 31, but in Japan it is already January 1 2009. Reason enough for to wish everybody a happy new year!

After an unforgettable Ghibli year, what will 2009 bring us? More on the highly awaited new film by Takahata Isao? More on Miyazaki Goro’s latest feature? The new Ghibli Museum Short? Either way, there are some good things are coming up. Not long ago had two personal & exclusive interviews, one with Aardman’s Peter Lord and one with Pixar’s Mark Walsh, so expect more on that soon. To sum things up, below two scans of this year's New Year card as sent by Studio Ghibli and Ghibli Museum to its relations. In the style of 2009: the year of the ox. Furthermore, for those interested, below also some of the older Ghibli New Year cards.

Studio Ghibli Happy New Year 2009 Some of Studio Ghibli’s previous new year cards

30th of December, AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF MIYAZAKI’S “A TRIP TO TYNEMOUTH” AT GHIBLIWORLD.COM: It does not take much effort to find out that one of world’s most acclaimed animation directors has made interesting comics as well. Having illustrated quite a number of manga, Miyazaki’s best known work in this format is of course the seven-volume version of Kaze no Tani no Naushika. That being Miyazaki’s only comic that has been released outside of Japan, is now making an effort on making one of Miyazaki’s other manga, A Trip to Tynemouth, accessible to the English speaking world. And so a free 25-page digital English translation is now available to everybody.

To obtain the A Trip to Tynemouth translation there are two very basic conditions:
1. You need to own a copy of the original Japanese version.
2. You will not redistribute it in any other way.

Wanting to stress does not support activities like illegal bootlegs, only those who have purchased the Japanese original (ISBN 4-00-024632-1) are able to receive the free 25-page digital English translation. If you do not own a copy of the Japanese version, then just simply purchase one at a shop like or Yesasia. Those who do not have the original will not receive the translation. No exceptions!

Two small sample pages of Tynemouth’s English translation

Furthermore, fully wants to avoid this translation ends up scattered all over the internet. If you want to own a copy of the translation, then you do not only have to have the original, but you will also need to oblige to the fact that you will not redistribute it in any other way. To furthermore prevent it from being redistributed, each copy of the translation will be personified & watermarked and will contain a unique password with 256-bit AES encryption.

To receive your own personal copy of the English digital translation of Miyazaki’s A Trip to Tynemouth manga, just send an e-mail to Next to its subject line being “Tynemouth” and the e-mail itself containing your name, address and agreement on keeping the translation strictly to yourself only, it will need have a photograph attached of you holding the Japanese original. This might sound silly, but a photo is the best kind of proof you actually purchased a Japanese copy. Note that your photo will not be published and it is a small effort to obtain a free translation. If all is well, then a personified English digital translation of A Trip to Tynemouth combined with some good reading will be on your way.

A Trip to Tynemouth is an illustrated essay that is part of Break of Dark, a collection of three young adult short stories by Robert Westall, being Blackham's Wimpey, The Haunting of Chas McGill and The Making of Me (first published in Japan by Iwanami Shoten in October 2006). Miyazaki based the manga on Westall’s stories and his own visit to Tynemouth and North Shields, Westall’s birthplace in the UK.

15th of December, NHK PROFESSIONAL COMING TO YOU: Good news from our friends at NHK. After their Professional special on Suzuki Toshio, now Professional Shigoto no Ryugi Special - All about Miyazaki Hayao and the Birth of Ponyo in 300 Days will also receive a release. Starting January 23 the behind-the-scenes look at Miyazaki and Ponyo will be available on DVD in shops all over Japan. Pre-orders are open at

NHK Professional All about Miyazaki Hayao and the Birth of Ponyo in 300 Days coming to DVD

30th of November, A NEPPU INTERVIEW WITH MIYAZAKI HAYAO: The November edition of Studio Ghibli’s monthly report magazine Neppu features a highly interesting interview with Miyazaki Hayao in which he talks about the latest Ghibli Museum Library addition: 1954’s animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (動物農場). One of the strengths of the interview is that it not only reveals the studio’s reason for re-releasing the film a half a century after its production, but that it also is very well able to portrait Miyazaki’s thoughts and explore his opinion on Marxcism, socialism and his labor union work. That being already a prime opportunity for Japanese fans, would like to share it with the Japanese-impaired as well and so a summary follows below.

Question: What was your first memory of Animal Farm?

Miyazaki: The reason why I remember Animal Farm is because I read a book which Halas and Batchelor wrote about animation technique: The Technique of Film Animation written by John Halas and Roger Manvell. When I began working in the animation industry back in 1963, there were only a few books about animation techniques, like this and a Russian one. The Russian one was not so useful, but I can only remember one lesson "The one that is interesting in linguistically isn't always interesting visually".

J&H's book was very thick and told about their experiences on filming, sakuga and various techniques. In it, there is a phrase, "Those who try to make a feature length animation surely feel a sense of cultivating a waste land that was never plowed before." They really must have felt such a sense, because they wrote this book just after they made Animal Farm. The film terribly failed in business.

Cover of Ghibli's Neppu November 2008 which features an interview with Miyazaki Hayao about Animal Farm

After World War II in the 1950s, there appeared some feature-length animations here and there. Like Le Roi et l’Oiseau in France, Snow Queen and Ivan and His Magic Pony in Russia, and Animal Farm in the UK. Of course Disney had made many feature length animations in US. However, Disney was too far from us in its technique to understand how to learn all of it.

So Le Roi et l’Oiseau and Snow Queen were close to un in theme or technique. For our generation Animal Farm was one of the examples. However, it took some time till I watched the movie after I read the book. I watched it on TV and felt "Why could they make such a movie?". It wasn't assumed to be watched by children at all.

Question: An animated film aimed at adults was unusual at that time, right?

Miyazaki: At that time in the UK, WW2 ended and it was the beginning of the cold war. People had a fear for WW3 and nuclear bombs and also felt a crisis for the Soviet Union and communism. George Orwell noticed that and wrote Animal Farm and 1984. Halas and Batchelor must have had the same thoughts as Orwell. Halas was a Jew from Hungary. I guess he exiled himself from Hungary and went to the UK. During the war his homeland was occupied by the Nazis and after that by the Soviet Union. A totalitarian tyranny existed there and he surely felt such a reality in Animal Farm. Animal Farm had a nowadays theme for him. I think he wanted to depict the ugliness of dictatorship.

Miyazaki Hayao talks about Animal Farm

However, exploitation is not only found in communism, capitalism is a system just like that. I believe a company is common property of the people that work there. But that is a socialistic idea. Nowadays, American style capitalism has become mainstream. The stock holders have voices and change managers to get more profit in the current term. In addition to that, they downsize or restructure regular employees and enlarge temporary workers and part time workers. For them, temporary workers are just disposable. On the other hand, regular employees also are completely exhausted in hard work. Such a system is quite Animal Farm like.

Its scheme used to be common sense to the world. Now, everyone has forgotten about that. Everyone assumes he or she is in middle-class and blinded by the mechanism of exploitation. At a time, during the economic growth after the war, business managers also had to work hard. Because of its graduated taxation, the income gap In Japan was small. Before the bubble years, our society was like that and they didn't feel the reality on exploitation. But all were crushed by the burst bubble. Lifelong employment and seniority system were thrown away. Efficiency pay and target settings were brought. In my opinion these efficiency pays will bring workers nervous diseases. It is obvious that talented people must do their best at work without thinking about its return. Don't work for money. Actually, we need money though... anyway, we've thought that "Work is one's partner for life".

Studio of Halas and Batchelor

Question: In this movie, there is a scene that shows the delight of labor after the animals forced the farmer away and worked together in helping each other.

Miyazaki: The pig Napoleon from the movie absolutely is a greedy dictator. He is the only one to eat delicious meals, leaving the other people to bear with poor meals. Our real-world is more roundabout than this farm though. Nowadays we can't see any 19th century style hateful capitalists. Even a starveling horse does stock trading on the Internet these days. Many people have come to think that earning money by stock trading or merchandise on the Internet is a nice life style. Everyone wants to become a Napoleon.

Those who can't be Napoleon are considered to be lacking effort. Usual people can be Napoleons. Speaking of a familiar example, they call Japanese animation "Japanimation", but in fact it is supported by animators in China and Korea. If the Japanese outsourcer has a good will, pays enough and gives technical assistance, the people over there see the outsourcer staying at luxury hotel and reigning over them. There is a huge disparity in wages between them and us. If the Chinese is motivated much, he never can say to Japanese, "I'll do your work in place of you." We mustn't forget that.

We mustn't assume that we are good human beings even if we have a good will. We shouldn't assume us as innocent, because we don't earn so much money or have an easy life. We too can be Napoleons in the system. Indeed, the problem of the system can't be solved soon. However, if ones are unconcerned in it, then it means they are napoleons. We should always be aware of what our presence means in the role or position of society.

Animal Farm

That is why we will release Animal Farm, which was made over a half a century ago. Society has a fundamental scheme in which there are workers and exploiters, even though it nowadays became much more complicated. So Animal Farm has an interesting meaning in order to learn about it. Just like Kanikousen (note: 蟹工船, Crab Factory Ship, a novel from 1929 written by Kobayashi Takiji, a famous Japanese author of proletarian literature, currently popular with young people in lower levels of society); a crab factory ship is isolated from society, so it is easy to show the scheme of society and nation schematically. In a same way Animal Farm shows an apologue of the world as well.

Question: During the time one is watching the movie, one usually empathizes with the working horses. We shouldn't forget that we can be the egoistic pigs as well.

Miyazaki: If I would make this movie, I would depict Napoleon as a more complicated character. I think it would be more interesting in setting it like this. Napoleon wasn't an indirect fellow at first. Rather than that, he was honest and making a serious effort at reformation. But little by little he becomes bored with foolish animals that never doubt the orders from above. I'm sure humans aren't so simple.

Question: After watching this movie, we awake to a socialistic justice, as if democratic socialism should now be reviewed.

Miyazaki: How can we go in peace without any dictators? The biggest bet of humankind to that question was socialism. It was grown in Europe during the 19th century and tested during the 20th century. As a result, it failed. We got to know there is no paradise on the earth.

Animal Farm

I believe paradise only exists in the memories of our childhood. Because of that, many social movements that aim to make a paradise always end up failing. So we must accept that our world isn't a paradise. That is something which is too bitter for us though. That is why mankind created some ways to comfort themselves with several virtual ways.

Still, we necessarily need to acknowledge the reality that "There is no paradise on earth and around it". Around 1970, an Economics Minister of Sweden visited Japan and gave a speech. I watched it on TV and was much touched by it. He said, "There is no paradise on earth and around it. On the acknowledgment of that, we must think what nations can do and play a role." I was struck with his realism. Without realism, nations often make huge mistakes. Japanese stratocracy fell in a big mistake for a few decades because they lost realism.

Europe got disenchanted in socialism during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During that war, not only socialists but also anarchists, democrats and several movements gathered in the people front. In the war, they were betrayed by Soviet Union. It was a big experience for George Orwell and he wrote "Homage to Catalonia" as a betrayed revolution. As they got to know more about the reality of the Soviet Union, progressive young people broke down with socialism. After WW2, the communists in France and Italy looked for ways of democratic socialism. At last, Europeans reached to EU. It isn't built by the socialists though, that is the only way to survive for Europeans.

Animal Farm

Can we build democratic socialism? If it is possible, then I believe it can exist on the opposite side of globalism. In that sense I mean local production for local consumption. The wave of things like slow food or slow life comes more than once. That is kind of that. The desire of humans must be controlled. The idea that human desire can be grown infinitely must be changed at the moment when they get to know that the resources of the earth are finite.

My little wish is to wear domestically produced underwear. Maybe there are some if we pay enough. However, all underwear that can be purchased for reasonable price are all from China.

Yes. Maybe that's useless to say so because there is a huge disparity in wages between Japan and China same as animation outsourcing. But despite of that, I imagine there are shoemakers or tailors in the area we live and we can order them custom made underwear. The tailor says to me "Your tummy has developed? Not good!". The society is run by local production for local consumption and there aren't any large social changes. I only dream like that. It might be a foolish dream though... Animal Farm tells a similar story at its ending: "We have a right to try again and again". Though it’s an ending that differs from the story in the original novel, I agree with that idea.

Miyazaki Hayao talks about Animal Farm

Question: There are some counterviews against the changing of the ending though. John Halas told that he wanted to give the audience hope for the future.

Miyazaki: I agree. If they raise a revolution or a coup d'etat and exile the dictator and try to build an ideal world, then they soon will find a new dictator appearing in it. That is something history can easily show us. Despite of this, we should stand up again and again. I mean we have a right to revolt. To speak of my own private concern, during the 1960s I was very active in the labor union. I don't intend to say our activity was good or wrong. However, it was better to do than to do nothing, knowing human often makes mistakes. Recently young people begin independent labor unions. Revolutions should be raised everywhere.

Question: In fact, it became apparent that the CIA concerned itself to this movie and gave it financial assistance.

Miyazaki: The CIA’s involvement is of no matter me. I believe that Halas and Batchelor wanted to make the movie without regarding the investors. Any faucets are OK. We should make what we can make with the water that comes out from the faucet. Even for me, there is much possibility to do things like that.

Animal Farm

What can I say to the question if Animal Farm is a masterpiece? I don't think it is of such a level. I mean, it has its weakness on depicting human complicacy. However, although it has some weaknesses, it is worth watching. Viewing it from the present perspective, it also has a certain unskillfulness in terms of technique. I can accept the movie including its unskillfulness. I can guess they struggled with it so much. I'm sure it was so hard for them to make a feature length animation during that age. We mustn't evaluate it only because of CIA money. Were all those who made a living during Japan’s militarism period dirty? Never. As I told it in the beginning, it was a visceral need for Halas and Batchelor to make this movie. I think they completed what they wanted to make with the clever use of CIA money.

Starting December 20 Animal Farm will screen at a selected number of theaters in Japan. For those who are unable to see it there, a DVD release is also available for purchase.

26th of November, EXCLUSIVE NEWS ON PONYO’S ENGLISH VOICE TALENT CAST, MIYAZAKI HAYAO’S BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: Loved, adored & respected by almost every Japanese, movie critic, cinephile and animation fan around the world, the films of Miyazaki Hayao are yet only one step away in fully reaching the west’s mainstream audience. Next year’s release of the English dub of Miyazaki Hayao’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) is likely to finally make this step and win the hearts of everyone. Besides the film’s adoring high qualities, an exclusive word on the English dub voice cast has reached

The US audience version, produced by Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, is to feature an all-star voice talent cast including Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Fankie Jonas, Noah Cyrys and Cloris Leachman. Though one will not deny using stardom does not automatically guarantee a good voice dub, it will at least be useful in gaining the mainstream audience’s attention. Those wanting to find out what the end result will be still have the wait a bit though. Test screenings are currently being held, the final version will screen in US theaters in 2009.

News on Ponyo's English VC & Miyazaki's book recommendations

Shining on the cover of this month’s edition of Iwanami Shoten's information magazine Tosho (図書, Books) is an illustration by Miyazaki Hayao. The magazine, freely available at bookshops all over Japan, is released as a commemoration of its 70th year anniversary and Miyazaki, widely known as quite the airplane enthusiast, especially made a watercolor illustration of a Caproni Ca 48 passenger plane from 1918 for it (note: Studio Ghibli’s name comes the Caproni Ca 309 Ghibli). Furthermore worth noting is the magazine’s inclusion of book recommendations. Numerous knowledgeable persons and celebrities included recommendations on their favorite "Iwanami shinsyo" paperback educational books. Miyazaki’s list included 3 books: The Alienation of Modern Man by Fritz Pappenheim, The Origin of Cultivated Plants and Agriculture by Nakao Sasuke and Literary Fragments of Spain by Hotta Yoshie.

Regarding Miyazaki’s own books, though most of these have been published by Studio Ghibli’s former parent company Tokuma Shoten, some of them, like Blackham’s Wimpey and Orikaeshi-ten, are published by the above mentioned Iwanami Shoten, said to be one of Japan’s most highly regarded publishers.

14th of November, AN INTERVIEW WITH MIYAZAKI GORO ABOUT HOTTA YOSHIE: Early last month Japan’s acclaimed Studio Ghibli took some of their exhibition talents and transferred them over to Yokohama. At Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature a special Hotta Yoshie Exhibition subtitled The Troublous Times Depicted by Ghibli is being held and the studio’s favorite webstore 7andY had an interview with Miyazaki Goro to talk about the project.

Question: At Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature you are currently exhibiting your tries on making an animation film based on Hotta's works. One is Teika to Chomei and the other one is Rojou no Hito. With the image boards being exhibited so powerfully, it feels as if we are watching a movie. Why did you decide to give the exhibition such a style?
Miyazaki Goro: In this exhibition, the 1st part has “the usual style”, showing Hotta's history, pictures, hand scripts, materials, his favorites and so on. The 2nd part is done by Ghibli. At first, we thought it might have been enough if we had been involved with the 1st part. However, the museum staffs are all experts in that field, so I thought it would not mean much if we amateurs would join in. We at Ghibli are a movie company. And so we made a plan on how it would be if we make Hotta's into movie by image boards.

Miyazaki Goro talking about Ghibli’s Hotta Yoshie Exhibition

Question: Teika to Choumei is not based on novels, but on critical essays. What was your intention of making them into animation?
Miyazaki Goro: Indeed, it is true that they aren't novels. Though they are interesting, it wasn't easy to make it into animation directly from the essay.

Question: What kind of impression about Teika and Chomei did you get from Hotta's work?
Miyazaki Goro: Well, Teika was a minor nobility and couldn't succeed in his career. In his middle age, he was poor and physically weak. We know him as the editor of Shinkokin Wakashu (新古今和歌集, an anthology of short poems) and as a person of culture though. Chomei lived a complicated life and was nearly jobless through his entire life. He was born as a son of a Shinto priest, but he couldn’t succeed him. He had an excellent talent in literature and music. However, he was cynical and had an ax to grind.

Question: You set Chomei's age as 25 and Teika as 19. You decided to depict their youth…
Miyazaki Goro: I think they must have drifted this way and that way during their youth. It isn't interesting to depict the latter half of their lives. I wanted to depict the beginning of their troubles and difficulties.

Question: The theme of this project is "depicting troublous times". We usually think of the Heian era as an elegant age in which the aristocratic culture flowered as seen in Genji Monogatari (源氏物語). However, it was much troublous and there were many extraordinary natural phenomenons, right?
Miyazaki Goro: Not only just extraordinary natural phenomenons, but also the establishment by Imperial court had imploded.

Teika to Chomei - Miyazaki Goro talking about Ghibli’s Hotta Yoshie Exhibition

Question: Hotta told that troublous times have continued to our age. In the case of assuming our time is a troublous time, do you see any commonality with it and the Heian era?
Miyazaki Goro: For normal people, it isn't easy to recognize what is happening all over the world. Although we live in an information society, we can only know what we see just in front of us; we can't see or understand what moves the society. In the troublous time, the people at the bottom of the social pyramid are involved in the social change without understanding what is happening. Such big power involves people always exists in all-time. I often feel it when I read Hotta.

Question: Hotta had never been involved in such a big wave, right?
Miyazaki Goro: It was possible only for real intelligentsia like Hotta. At the end stage of WWII, he went to Shanghai despite of knowing Japan was losing the war and its danger. At the age of 60, he immigrated to Spain. It wasn't easy for a normal person. He did that because he wanted to see by his own eyes, I guess.

Question: Do you think it is hard to keep the mind like Hotta?
Miyazaki Goro: We should know history in order to do that. The thing that has continued from the Heian era has formed us. If there is something we have accomplishment of that, is that we can avoid losing our mind.

Question: The climate during the Heian era was warmer and more humid like the one South East Asia currently has. That was something I found out from your exhibition. I was surprised to see the old Kyoto covered with dense woods.
Miyazaki Goro: Half of it is my imagination (laughing). There was a climate change from the end of the Heian to the beginning of the Kamakura era. It caused disasters and famine. During the Heian era, it was much warmer than it is now and people wore less clothing. As it had passed more than 300 years after Kyoto was built, there must have been many large old trees everywhere in Kyoto. And basically Kyoto was built in the wetland, it was a malarial area.

Teika to Chomei - Miyazaki Goro talking about Ghibli’s Hotta Yoshie Exhibition

Question: Hotta was not only a really great intelligentsia, but also had a human mind. For example, he romanced passionately.
Miyazaki Goro: Indeed. He had much energy and was really passionate. Furthermore, he had both objectivity and subjectivity. Basically, the highbrows from his age are in another league to today. In terms of literature, music, art... there is a world of difference between them and us. Especially Hotta, who was born in a rich ship owner family, grew up surrounded by high-quality goods and very much had a sense of beauty.

Question: Is it possible for us to have another Hotta in the 21st century?
Miyazaki Goro: I don't think that’ll be easy. That kind of intelligence was built on some sort of high-quality education and not at school. I can only say we should read classics.

Question: We are looking forward to see Teika to Chomei to be filmed. Thank you very much.
Miyazaki Goro: Not at all.

Note: Teika and Chomei lived from end of the Heian to the beginning of the Kamakura era. During the Heian era (平安時代), which took place from 794 to 1192, the capital was set in Kyoto, which was then called Heian-kyo. During the Kamakura era (鎌倉時代), which took place from 1192 to 1333, the military government existed in Kamakura near Tokyo.

27th of October, ON YOUR MARK AT GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE: Yesterday Japanese radio listeners could yet again tune into another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM. As usual, brings coverage and during the week a podcast version will be available for download over here.

This week’s Ghibli Asemamire guest was none other than Chage of Chage and Asuka fame. Unheard of to many in the West, an introduction to those fond of the works of Studio Ghibli is quite unnecessary; knowing them of course due to Miyazaki’s short musical film On Your Mark from 1995. In those days Chage and Asuka were in their peak and during this week’s Asemamire Suzuki told about the history behind this animated musical.

On Your Mark discussed on Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire

Back then Japan’s major audio and visual soft manufacturer Pony-Canyon was planning the promotion video of C&A's next CD On Your Mark. They had a meeting and planned to turn it into animation. As Studio Ghibli was Japan’s most famous studio, one of the producers got the idea to ask Ghibli about it. Everyone wondered if they would accept to make “just an promotion video”, but the person who initiated the idea thought they had nothing to lose and called the studio. Suzuki usually never accepted such orders, but still tried to tell it to Miyazaki, who during those days struggled to make Mononoke Hime’s final concept. Based on the original Mononoke idea Miyazaki made 10 years earlier, he was absolutely stuck at it and accepted the offer as a switch of mood.

Before that, Studio Ghibli had had a company tour to Nara. There Suzuki, Miyazaki and some others enjoyed a SEGA game arcade. They rode a virtual space simulation and all felt it was amazing. Except for Miyazaki, who told, "I'm never deceived by such cheap illusions." Interestingly, when Miyazaki started working on the e-conte of On Your Mark, Suzuki found it contained a similar image to that from the SEGA ride. Miyazaki seemed to had taken an idea from it and said, "I can make a much better one than that of SEGA."

On Your Mark discussed on Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire

Later on, when Pony-Canyon had ordered the video, they also asked for the characters of C&A to appear in it. Suzuki refused. However, Miyazaki cared for it and showed them as the main characters. At that time, C&A visited Studio Ghibli and talked with Miyazaki. Chage, who was surprised that it was just a common office and Miyazaki was just a common oji-san, got a cel from Miyazaki and has treasured it even till now. “On Your Mark proved to be a good diversion to Miyazaki. After finishing it, his work on Mononoke Hime proceeded smoothly,” noted Suzuki.

26th of October, MIYAZAKI TALKS NEXT MOVIE, HOTTA AND PONYO: This week NTV’s Zoom in Super talked to Miyazaki Hayao at Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature, which is currently holding a special Hotta Yoshie Exhibition subtitled The Troublous Times Depicted by Ghibli.

Question: Why is Ponyo a kingyo (goldfish)?
Miyazaki: In my first concept, it was a tin frog. However, frog stories are commonplace and as we usually take about 3 years to complete a movie, avoiding trends like that is a necessity. They often become out of date when the movie is finally completed (note: Miyazaki refers to popular animations like Kerero Gunso and the older Dokonjo Gaeru). Some time ago, before the TV age, a tin kingyo was very popular as a kid bath toy. So I thought it was better.

Question: So when is your “pleasant hour”?
Miyazaki: That is a difficult question to answer. When I get a book that seems interesting and I don't have to get up early next morning… I usually read books in bed… Before reading I just smoke and that is the happiest time for me. Or talking about a movie just after I get an idea that can be turned into a movie, that is the most pleasant time. After that, production starts and so does the misery.

Question: How about your next movie?
Miyazaki: After finishing a movie, I want to make one that is quite different. For example, a live action movie might be nice. However, I'm sure we can't recover the costs. It'll take a lot of money. When I told Suzuki about it, he replied that he would only permit a 30 million Yen budget (laughing). With such small money it's impossible to make any kind of movie. Anyway, I don't think I must make animation only. No problem with live action. To tell the truth, I have a clear idea about what I want to make, though I'll never tell other people what it is (note: the way Miyazaki speaks does not imply he will surely make a live-action film, but rather leaves all options open).

Furthermore, Miyazaki gave a lecture on Hotta Yoshie, containing some rather abstract subjects. Following is a short extract:

Hotta was like a coordinate to me that always showed us where we were. When “sailing in this world”, we often fell into left or stray into right on a tidal stream or due to some big waves. When we lost our position on the ocean, looking at Hotta’s work showed us where drifted to and where to go to. He was like a towering rock that never moved.

Once, I happened to meet him and he told me, "How about making Houjouki Shiki into an animated feature? I'll give it to you." When I read it - I usually read books in my bed - I felt I had been in the Kamakura era (note: about 800 years ago). I thought that if I had woken up and opened the windows, I could have seen Kyoto on fire. Like a scene from the Great Tokyo Air Raids. At that time, B-29s dropped bombs from just 3000 meters above. People could see the red reflection of fire on the ground on the bodies of the B-29s. Hotta’s novels are that real. I replied to Hotta, "It's not easy.", to which Hotta said, "Then how about Rojou no Hito?" After that, I have always considered about the concept of Houjouki Shiki. For example, for the bombing scene in Howl’s Moving Castle, for that I got imagination from Hojouki Shiki.

My experience of being bombed was just little. However, after the war I gained much knowledge on them. While learning about it, I decided that I should not depict bombing from the bombers’ eye point, but from those being bombed. Yes, I know to say such things is useless, though. When I was a newbie animator at Toei, a TV series anime called Zero-sen Hayato (0戦はやと), a story of an WWII ace pilot in the South Pacific, began and some of my coworkers worked on it as their second job. I was really frustrated. I knew I was the most skilled person to draw Zero fighters and air fights. Even now I believe I'm the number one at it. However, I never joined. I mustn't make that kind of animation, because of Hotta (laughing). If I were allowed to make a cool and exciting anime about weapons, I would like to try it, but it is forbidden for me to do so. That's the rule I impose myself on. Later, I realized the air fighting scenes in Porco Rosso in a twisted way. Uchusenkan Yamato(宇宙戦艦ヤマト, Space Battleship Yamato)--宇宙戦艦ヤマト,1974-) was as well. Why didn't they let me work on it - drawing battleships? I was the best authority of military, I thought. BUT, I never do that. I shouldn't do such work.

When I was a kid, I saw fighter planes and felt them to be very cool. Why did I think them, such “sharpened things”, to be cool? After the war, Japan was forbidden to manufacture “sharpened things” (fighter planes), because the USA wanted to sell them to Japan. So instead of planes, they sharpened the trains (laughing) (note: Miyazaki refers to Shinkansen trains). What do these “sharpened things” mean? In another way of saying, they are a kind of human aggressiveness or form of violence... like the soccer hooligans in Britain. Humans might essentially have such tendencies. We shouldn't reason that the whole of humanity hopes for being in peace. Humans are rather outrageous creatures. That is also one of the things I learned from Hotta.

20th of October, CINEKID FESTIVAL OPENS WITH PONYO: Saturday 18 October an invitation-only opening of Cinekid Festival took place at Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek. This year's edition was officially opened by Dutch Minister of Culture, Education and Science Ronald Plasterk and joined by countless industry professionals and their children. The festival’s opening film: Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea).

Cinekid, a festival stimulating and developing activities for children in the areas of film, television and new media, collaborated on the opening with Studio Ghibli’s international distributor Wild Bunch. Furthermore, Japanese Ambassador Shibuya Minoru was present and held an introduction speech on Miyazaki and his films. Telling about his own daughter, Shibuya told she has been in love with Miyazaki’s work since she was young. “She once made a phone call to Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki coincidently was the one to pick up the phone. My daughter asked him what to do to become an animator. “A loooot of hard work!”, was his answer.”

“I enjoyed Ponyo very much. It was fascinating. It was not only good for small kids, but also moving for adults. Some of Miyazaki’s previous works had a profound meaning small kids might not be able to understand, but Ponyo is very simple and I think everybody is able to enjoy it!”, commented Shibuya after the screening to

Other guests at Cinekids’ opening included Sandra den Hamer, former director of the acclaimed International Film Festival Rotterdam and current director of Filmmuseum (Holland's museum for cinematography), who noted, “I am big fan of Miyazaki’s work. Several years ago Howl’s Moving Castle was part of the IFFR and that really, REALLY was one of my favorite films of the year. And of course we also screened Princess Mononoke in the past. Actually, back then we even shortly thought of making Howl’s Moving Castle into the opening film of the festival. It’s THAT special. However, the film had already been screened at Venice and for an international film festival (like Rotterdam) one always tries to search for a world premiere to open with. Anyway, I think his works are marvelous. I was once asked to write down “one of those lists’’ and Miyazaki’s work is definitely part of it.”

Sandra den Hamer, former director of International Film Festival Rotterdam and current director of Filmmuseum

Concerning Ponyo Den Hamer was enthusiastic as well, “It was beautiful. What I had not experienced as much with Miyazaki’s previous films, is that this time Miyazaki really “took place in a children’s seat”. Something which was less the case with his former works, which were great for young and old. I also noticed it was sweeter than what I am used of Miyazaki doing, and I don’t mean that in negative kind of way. Visually Ponyo is of course more simplistic, and proves that can be beautiful as well. Sometimes there are movies which make you completely dizzy after seeing it, instead of Ponyo, which was more toned down.”

“In terms of strengths I think Ponyo’s greatest one lays in the way everything is visualized and animated. Howl’s had some plot holes and in a way Miyazaki slightly repeated that in Ponyo as well; story wise there are some things that are hard to understand or kept unexplained, for example “What is the exact relationship between Fujimoto and GranMare? How did they get kids?”. However, that doesn’t really matter, I don’t need to understand all of it.”

Next to a children’s program, Cinekid pays special attention to industry professionals as well. In addition to a Junior Film Market and screening club, the Cinekid Professional program includes several readings and seminars. Examples include a master class by Pixar’s Supervising Animator Mark Walsh, who will be focusing on the creative process that produced Ratatouille. Also part of the program is a seminar called Scriptwriting for children - Creating Modern Heroes, which includes the participation of Avatar - The Last Airbender creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. DiMartino and Konietzko, widely known to be admirers of Miyazaki’s work, will be using excerpts of the Avatar series to illustrate their personal view of today's children's heroes.

The 22nd edition of Cinekid Festival takes place from October 19 till 26 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) will screen in competition contending for a Cinekid Lion on:
- Monday 20 October 16:00, Movies 1
- Tuesday 21 October 14:15, Transformatorhuis
- Thursday 23 October 12:15, Transformatorhuis
- Saturday 25 October 12:00, Ketelhuis 1

15th of October, GHIBLI RELEASES CHEBURASHKA LIMITED DVD BOX, MIYAZAKI LECTURE TEASER: Earlier this month the classic & non-Japanese animated feature label Ghibli Museum Library added a new title to their line-up: 1954’s animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (動物農場). And with a new title being added to the Library, the former one, the Soviet animation classic Cheburashka, is being pushed to the DVD release schedule. Next to a standard edition (3,990 Yen) which will be released on November 21, starting December 17 Japanese shops will be selling a limited edition box set (12,600 Yen).

Cheburashka Limited Edition Box Set

Furthermore, last Saturday none other than Miyazaki Hayao himself gave a lecture on the Japanese writer Hotta Yoshie called Houjouki Shiki and me (方丈記私記と私) at Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature. Preparing for’s coverage, it is time for a small teaser:

In the midst of a big applause Miyazaki Hayao starts talking… "I was asked to talk for 1 hour and half. I'm afraid I’m not good at giving speeches though, but I'll do my best. There will be a question-and-answer session later. When my wife heard about my lecture of this time, she said, "That is the worst choice of selecting a person!" I agree with that, usually rejecting such offers. Actually, I was asked to give this speech about one and half year ago. I was struggling to make a movie around that time. In those days, I didn't know if I could complete it. Or I thought a huge earthquake might occur and we’d have the world’s end next year. So I thought I would not have to do it a year and a half later and accepted the offer. However, one year and a half has passed as quick as a flash. Anyway, Hotta is a very important person for me. I'll talk what Houjouki Shiki means for me and what I have considered about for a long time..."

11th of October (second update), NI NO KUNI TRAILER RELEASED: Last month's announcement of Ni no Kuni: The Another World, a Level5 video game in which Studio Ghibli is involved, has been given a follow-up. With the Tokyo Game Show currently being held at Makuhari Messe, a trailer has now also been released. Not only containing beautiful Studio Ghibli animation, but a lovely Hisaishi Joe soundtrack as well.

Ni no Kuni: The Another World follows the adventure of a 13-year-old boy whose actions lead to the death of his mother. One day, the boy encounters a fairy who gives him a book which promises to lead him to the mysterious world of Ni no Kuni, a reality parallel to his own. There he encounters alternate versions of people he knows (for example his neighbor's cat is a king there) and attempts to save his mother. The door to Ni no Kuni opens in 2009.

© 2008 Level5 ・Studio Ghibli

Ni no Kuni: The Another World

11th of October, STUDIO GHIBLI’S NEW “FILM” TEIKA TO CHOMEI: Last week the opening of a special Hotta Yoshie Exhibition subtitled The Troublous Times Depicted by Ghibli took place at Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature in Yokohama. The exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of Hotta’s death and, as Miyazaki Hayao and Suzuki Toshio have respected Hotta and had a relationship with him, Studio Ghibli has joined the exhibition. Based on Hotta's works the studio showcases about 400 image boards of Teika to Chomei (定家と長明, Teika and Chomei), the Studio Ghibli film by Miyazaki Goro that eventually did NOT get realized.

Not coincidentally, this week’s episode of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM also dedicated its air time to the exhibition. Its special guest was Hotta Yuriko, Hotta Yoshie’s daughter.

Looking back at past times Suzuki told, "When Miyazaki was making Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta (天空の城ラピュタ, Laputa: Castle in the Sky) back in 1985, I was the chief editor of Animage and editing a guide book about it. I wanted to encourage Miyazaki and asked Hotta to contribute an article to the book, because I knew Miyazaki was a big fan of Hotta. Hotta did not only write literary novels, but had also written the scenario of TOHO movies like MOSURA."

To let Hotta know about Miyazaki, Suzuki once visited his house with a video player and showed Nausicaa to him. Both Suzuki and Yuriko can’t quite remember if they met each other at the house though.

Coincidentally Suzuki and Yuriko attended Keio University at the same time around 1970. Suzuki joined the student union and an anti-American-imperialism movement. Yuriko did not join any of those, but experienced more serious facts at home. Hotta Yoshie supported such movements and hid persons who evaded from the police net at his house. For example, Yamamoto Yoshitaka, who was the chairman of Tokyo University struggle committee, and US Army deserters who refused to fight in the Vietnam war (note: during the Vietnam war Japan was a logistic base for the US). Episodes like these show Hotta really had a backbone and was a brave man when he was still alive.

Concerning the exhibition, today (October 11) Miyazaki Hayao will be giving a special lecture on Hotta. As Hotta was quite an influence to Miyazaki, this was not fully unexpected. "Hotta was like a rock towering in the ocean for me. When I was drifted by tide and lost my location, I was saved by him many times." Suzuki titled the lecture Houjoki-shiki and me (方丈記私記と私). This was however without Miyazaki's permission, making Miyazaki worry about what to talk about.

The lecture is not Ghibli’s main part of the exhibit. Studio Ghibli made it up as a theme Making a try to the Filmization of Hotta's Work directed by Miyazaki Goro. Suzuki was considering about Studio Ghibli’s next movie and decided Goro to be its director. Asking him what he wanted, Goro replied that he wanted to make a story of Teika to Chomei (定家と長明, Teika and Chomei) that was inspired from Hotta's books. Goro has read Hotta’s works since he was a university student in effecting by his father. Having read them again after he was offered this exhibition a year ago, his film plan became "How would it become if Hotta's work is animated?". However, Suzuki immediately rejected it to be made into a movie, "Crazy!".

Note: Teika, a noble and a poet, and Chomei, a monk and an essayist, are not even that well known in Japan. Only intellectuals would be interested in them. Hence there would be no capability of making Goro’s film plan into a box office hit.

When Suzuki told Miyazaki Hayao about the kind of movie Goro was planning, he was much surprised and said, "No joking!!". Actually, Miyazaki also has had a big interest in Houjoki Shiki and tried to make a conception of it in the past, but later gave up on it. He was really surprised to hear his son had the same plan.

Still, Suzuki allowed Goro to study it and the result is currently being showed at the exhibition. Goro selected three of Hotta's works: Houjouki Shiki, Teika Meigetsuki Shisyou and Rojo no Hito. On the first two, he focuses on Fujiwara Teika and Kamono Chomei during the time that they were young and weren't famous yet. What did they see and feel to see turbulent times and disasters? Mixing fiction, he made a story and painted sketches and image boards. About 400 pictures are exhibited.

7th of October, GHIBLI MUSEUM LIBRARY ANNOUNCES NEW TITLE: Ghibli Museum Library, the Studio Ghibli label that fully focuses on releasing classic and non-Japanese animated features, has announced a new film to be part of their already very interesting line-up. Joining masterpieces like Le Roi et l’Oiseau, Azur et Asmar and Panda Kopanda is the animated version of George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm (動物農場). Starting December 12 will the 1954 animation classic, said to be the first British animated feature film on general release, fill up the screens of four Japanese cinemas (Tokyo *2, Osaka and Kyoto).

Pigs don't get fat now - “The modern society we live in seems to be more sophisticated than that farm, though its basic structure has not changed at all. Now, that's not one of pigs, these have been replaced with something else. Being a celeb means being a pig, doesn't it? Nowadays pigs aren't fat. They often go to the gym to exercise and are usually slim.” - Miyazaki Hayao

1st of October, MEMORIES OF MIYAZAKI – A RARE LOOK AT AKADO SUZUNOSUKE: For over 45 years has Miyazaki Hayao been working in the animation industry. Creating works like Tonari no Totoro, Mononoke Hime and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, the films the maestro made at Studio Ghibli are needless to say his most well known works. However, the establishment of Studio Ghibli was led to the success of 1984’s Kaze no Tani no Naushika, leaving lots of years before that.

Mirai Shonen Konan, Rupan Sansei, Arupusu no Shoujo Haiji… These are just some of the countless animation classics “Miya-san” made during his pre-Ghibli period. Some of them are however less famous, with Tokyo Movie Shinsha’s Akado Suzunosuke being one of them. This 52 episodes TV series, about a young red suit armoured samurai fighting evildoers who want to invade his homeland, was based on the 1950s radio drama by Tsunayoshi Takeuchi and somewhere around the production of Panda Kopanda and Panda Kopanda - Amefuri Saakasu no Maki Miyazaki did key animation and storyboarding on episodes 26, 27 and 41 for it. And Akado Suzunosuke’s co-chief director? None other than Takahata Isao. Furthermore, people like the famous Kotabe Yoichi, Kondo Yoshifumi and Dezaki Osamu also joined the crew.

In 2002 the series was released on DVD in Japan (without subtitles), though sadly that release is completely Out of Print. Reason enough for to feature a special look at Akado Suzunosuke episode 26.

Akado Suzunosuke - Yattazo Akadou Shinkuu Giri
- Scenario: Yamazaki Haruya (Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro)
- Storyboard: Miyazaki Hayao
- Animation director: Kawauchi Hideo (Hotaru no Haka)
- Animation: Kondo Yoshifumi
- Air date episode 26: September 1972

28th of September, FIRST DETAILED LOOK AT STUDIO GHIBLI VIDEO GAME: Earlier this week details on a new Studio Ghibli project were released. The famed studio is aiding Level5 on making a video game called Ni no Kuni: The Another World, which is being made to commemorate Level5’s 10th anniversary. Ni no Kuni: The Another World is scheduled for release somewhere next year and some first HQ screens have just been released.

21st of September, LUPIN III ON BLU-RAY, GHIBLI MUSEUM LIBRARY TITLES BECOME ENGLISH-FRIENDLY: Notable news from Japan. Miyazaki Hayao’s full length feature debut from 1979, Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro), will receive a Blu-ray treatment. Starting December 3 the BD will be available in Japanese shops at a price of 5,040 Yen and will include 1080i visuals (note: no 1080p!) and audio in 3 different tastes; a PCM track, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby True HD 5.1. Specifications of any bonus features have not yet been announced. In addition, a BD-box set of Lupin III’s first and second TV series will be released on December 12 2008 and February 2009.

Furthermore, Waiting for Kalki’s Jordan Scott has just informed with other newsworthy information. Michel Ocelot's Azur et Asmar, which was released theatrically, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc by Studio Ghibli in Japan, will get a DVD release in the USA on 11 November 2008 (it is already available as such in the United Kingdom). His Kirikou et la Sorcière and Princes et Princesses are already available in the USA; in fact the only Ghibli Museum Library titles which have never had a domestic release there are Le Roi et l'Oiseau and Moya Lyubov – neither of which have had an English-friendly DVD anywhere in the world (though Moya Lyubov is available to buy with English subtitles from Apple's iTunes Store as My Love in both the USA and UK – search for 'Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts 2007' to find it).

18th of September, NEW GHIBLI PROJECT: The September edition of Ghibli’s monthly report magazine Neppu brings an update on one of the studio’s latest projects. Isao Takahata’s new film? Miyazaki Goro’s new film? Nishii Ghibli? Something else? Neppu’s cover already hints about its content. Shining on its cover is a painting by Miyazaki Hayao which the maestro earlier made for Jidai no Kazeoto (時代の風音), a book from 1992 that includes a talk of Miyazaki, Hotta Yoshie and Shiba Ryotaro. Needless to say, the project Neppu tells about is the one with which Ghibli focuses on Hotta Yoshie, a Japanese writer who watched and considered about humans at wars and conflicts of all over the world during a large part of his life.

Hotta sadly passed away in 1998 and, marking the 10th anniversary of his death, Studio Ghibli is currently cooperating with Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature in Yokohama on an exhibition about the writer subtitled Troublous Times Drawn by Ghibli.

As always, this exhibition has its history as well. Miyazaki Hayao and Suzuki Toshio have been big fans of Hotta and had contact with him till his death. Furthermore, Studio Ghibli republished his books, released a related DVD-box and Miyazaki once wrote an essay on him. Also, one of Miyazaki's comments tells, "Hotta was like a rock towering in the ocean for me. When I was drifted by tide and lost my location, I was saved by him many times."

The Troublous Times Drawn by Ghibli exhibition is to take place from October 4 to November 24 and the project’s main staff member is none other than Miyazaki Goro, who also made a related movie plan. Its subject is "If Ghibli produced an animation based on Hotta's two essays Hojoki Shiki (方丈記私記) and Teika Meigetsuki Shisho (定家明月記私抄" and takes two works that were both written about 800 years ago. Using Hojoki, an essay by Kamo Chomei, and Meigetsuki, a diary by Fujuwara Teikam, Miyazaki Goro planned a story about what these two persons saw and considered during a time of war and turmoil. Furthermore worth noting is Neppu’s inclusion of a Miyazaki Goro’s pencil drawn image board and two character sketches from that particular plan. Nothing is said about its filmization though.

On a related note, Neppu’s September issue also includes some of Suzuki’s written episodes about Hotta. Hotta, who had lived in Spain for ten years and had much knowledge of its history and that of Europe, wrote many books about Spain. One of those, Rojo no Hito (路上の人, A man lived on the road), was read by Suzuki and tells of a story about those who lived during Europe’s Middle Ages and roamed around from Italy to Spain and France. Suzuki told Hotta, "This novel must be interesting if it's made into animation.", to which Hotta replied, "I'll give you the filming rights right now!". Suzuki added, "However, it would not be easy to realize." It seems that the novel also raised Miyazaki Goro’s interest, though again nothing concrete is yet said of making it into a film.

8th of September, GHIBLIWORLD.COM’S VENICE REPORT & PONYO REVIEW: Some time went by before we were able to post our report on Miyazaki Hayao’s presence (+ Suzuki Toshio, Hoshino Koji and Fujioka Fujimaki) at Venice Film Festival (as it was far from over), but that fun has now come to an end so it is time to post our details.

Read's personal report here!

1st of September, LIVE FROM VENICE – “IMPRESSIONS” OF PONYO: Sometimes a short post is all there is… The 65st edition of the lovely Venice Film Festival is in the midst of taking place and while spending words on it is a very nice thing, for the moment our priority lays in visiting the countless press screenings, premieres, press conferences, interviews and so on. There is one thing we can say: Ponyo was extremely well received! Next to a over-5-minute standard ovation, critics were raving as well, currently leading the list in CIAK (“La Mostra”’s daily magazine) for winning the Golden Lion. Look forward to our report.

29th of August, COUNTDOWN TO VENICE: Only little time is left before Miyazaki's Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) is to be shown at the 65th edition of the ever lovely Venice Film Festival. For those who haven’t seen the film in Japan, be sure to pay the sunny Lido a visit!

Press screening:
- Saturday, August 30, 22.00, Sala Perla
- Sunday, August 31, 9.00, Palalido
Press conference:
- Sunday, August 31, 12.00, Casinò
Official screening:
- Sunday, August 31, 17.00, Sala Grande

27th of August, MIYAZAKI DESIGNS KOGANEI CITY MASCOT: Recently Miyazaki Hayao designed a special character for Koganei, the city where Studio Ghibli is based. On August 20, Studio Ghibli president Hoshino visited Koganei city hall and handed over the character to mayor Inaba. We once saw mayor Inaba before at the Ghibli nursery opening ceremony and he said they will definitely put it into practical use. Currently the boy has no name yet, but Koganei city is publicly soliciting for a name.

Miyazaki said, “Only a town where small kids grow well can develop.” The baby wears a kind of apron red cloth which is called a "haragake" and used to keep the stomach warm. On the character’s harakage “金” is written, which is kanji for “kin” or “kane” and means “gold”. The kanji is taken from the city name Koganei (小金井) and on the other hand it is a typical traditional design for a harageke. The Japanese folk tale boy hero Kintaro also wears it.

20th of August, PONYO EXCEEDS 10,000,000,000 YEN AT JAPANESE BOX OFFICE: In only 31 days after its release has Miyazaki's heart warming fantasy Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) managed to exceed the 10 billion Yen on Japanese box-office sales.

Since last year's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End it is the first movie to exceed this mark and for Ghibli the first since 2004's Howl’s Moving Castle. Compared to their previous releases, Ponyo’s 10-billion-in-one-month record is beyond that of Chihiro (25 days), though shorter than Howl’s (33 days) and Mononoke (43 days).

Even in Ponyo’s 5th week of release its vigor doesn't drop down, not only attracting a wide range of people from kids to adults, but bringing a lot of second-time viewers to the Japanese theaters as well. Logically, Ponyo’s future expectations remain to be good. Distributor TOHO forecasts its number of viewers will exceed 10 million in August. Even more, after September it is expected to beat Hauru no Ugoku Shiro and Mononoke Hime as a megahit in the long run box office.

19th of August, AN INTERVIEW WITH MIYAZAKI HAYAO BY ROBERT WHITING AT GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE: With another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM having passed, brings another summary as well. As usual, during the week a podcast version will be available for download over here.

This week’s Ghibli Asemamire featured an interview by Robert Whiting with Miyazaki Hayao. Whiting is a sport journalist who has been living in Japan for a long time and has the same age as Miyazaki. A written version of the interview can be found in this book which was released this month. At the beginning of the interview, Miyazaki asked if Whiting would have a problem if he’d smoke…

Robert Whiting: So how much do you smoke per day?
Miyazaki Hayao: Nowadays, about 30 cigarettes a day. I decreased a lot. Both of my parents were heavy smokers, though they didn't die of lung cancer. So I'm OK. I scanned my lungs the other day and there was no problem."
Robert Whiting: When and where were you born?
Miyazaki Hayao: I was born 1941 in Tokyo and moved to a local city in 1944 to avoid air attacks. I experienced a big bombing at that city (note: Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture, which is about 100 km northern to Tokyo).
Robert Whiting: Was that by B-29s?
Miyazaki Hayao: It was a cloudy day and I couldn't see the planes, though most of the US bombers were B-29 in those days.
Robert Whiting: When did you return to Tokyo?
Miyazaki Hayao: In 1950. But that was a different place than where I was born. It was a western suburb and I didn't see any tall buildings. Only fields and straw-roofed houses.
Robert Whiting: How was the wartime shortage?
Miyazaki Hayao: For me, a lack of food was ordinary, because the war had already begun before I was born. So I didn't worry about it. After the war, I was surprised to see bananas and caramel candies.
Robert Whiting: Did you read any books when you were kid?
Miyazaki Hayao: Yes. I read a lot, everything.

Robert Whiting: Did you have any scary experiences?
Miyazaki Hayao: An air attack when I was four years old. My family escaped to under a rail bridge to avoid an incendiary bomb. My mother covered me with a futon and put a tatami mat on it. I couldn't breath at all and nearly died. A lot of people died because of the bombings in Japan, though many crews of the US bombers were also killed. A B-29 was shot down near my place and all of the 11 crew members died. I saw the pictures of the dead, very young and looked rustic. They didn't look like inhumane murderers at all. I thought the war brought tragedy to everyone.
Robert Whiting: So when was the first time you saw Americans?
Miyazaki Hayao: In 1954. They were Allied Occupation army soldiers. My father had a business relation with.
Robert Whiting: Did you ask them for chocolates?
Miyazaki Hayao: Never. I thought that was humiliating.
Robert Whiting: Did you join the struggle movement to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1960?
Miyazaki Hayao: No, at least not the big movement from 1959, I joined it after 1960.
Robert Whiting: To protest against the Vietnam war?
Miyazaki Hayao: Yes. I joined the demonstrations thousands of times. We didn't think we were supporting the Vietnamese people, though we were supported on our movement. I thought there should have existed a fairer and more equal world.

Robert Whiting: So, is Studio Ghibli a stock company?
Miyazaki Hayao: Yes. I have my own company called Nibariki (note: 二馬力, 2 horse power, its name is inspired by a CitroĂ«n 2CV, one of Miyazaki’s cars), which is a stock company as well. However, I do not have any interest in their stock price. My father liked trading stock… I couldn't understand why it was interesting. Someone has to lose money to let me gain… Everyone only talks about money and economy. So stupid. We see everything gathering in Tokyo. That's too much. It’s an overplus. And where in this world did we start needing so much entertainment? Like when making a drama, they need a murder to make a big scene. That is reverse order.
Robert Whiting: So do you use internet?
Miyazaki Hayao: No. I don't have a computer or fax. I don't have a DVD player either and I forgot how to use a video recorder. I even seldom watch television.
Robert Whiting: How about the use of e-mail?
Miyazaki Hayao: No. I write letters when I need.
Robert Whiting: And video games?
Miyazaki Hayao: No. I once played Shogi (note: a Japanese kind of chess) with a computer and lost. The PC checks all approaches. That's not fair.
Robert Whiting: …sigh…
Miyazaki Hayao: He is sighing… (laughing).

Miyazaki Hayao: I once took a Hitchcock-like methodology: planning the last scene first. That is the way I did things when I was young.
Robert Whiting: For example?
Miyazaki Hayao: Like Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro). Towards the ending I built up the structure in great detail. I designed all the details of the castle, the lake and so on. I made some rules. For example, I always used the same place twice, never once. The first shot from here and the second shot from the opposite side. A kind of brain teaser. It was interesting, but I thought it would be decadence to try such a way once again. So I quit that approach and took another methodology.
Robert Whiting: What methodology?
Miyazaki Hayao: A methodology of “I don't know where the destination is”. The only thing I can do is just to start. It’s too thrilling and bitter though. It takes a certain amount of time to see beyond the full view of it all. I need to write a certain amount of e-konte till I can understand where the story goes.
Robert Whiting: Do you often lose the story development?
Miyazaki Hayao: Always. Then I rewrite all of the memos and consider again where I came from and where I should go to. If I find the way 1 meter ahead, I tentatively crawl there.
Robert Whiting: What do you do if you can't find any ideas? Drink?
Miyazaki Hayao: Only worrying. Worry, worry and worry in front of a piece of paper. At the end of a long, long worrying, the lid opens in the deep. Anyway, the first storyline surely breaks. I always tell it to my staff as a joke… the real movie producing starts from the point where we lose the way to go to.

16th of August, INSIDE NHK PROFESSIONAL - ALL OF MIYAZAKI HAYAO – PART I: Early this month NHK’s Professional featured the 2nd part of their special on Miyazaki Hayao (a follow-up to that from March 27 2007). Japan's public broadcaster aired an exclusive documentary titled Professional Shigoto no Ryugi Special - All about Miyazaki Hayao and the Birth of Ponyo in 300 Days and, for those who were unable to see it, will be zooming in on its content, with this being part 1.

Two years ago Miyazaki started conceptualizing Ponyo. With water colors he began painting the image boards, painting only the images he wants to paint. "Whenever and whatever I'm painting, the drawer of my brain begins to open little by little. Rather than that, I'm wishing it."

Miyazaki has a motto, "within a 3 meter radius", usually getting ideas from the things close to him. The model of Ponyo is Kondo's one and a half year old daughter Fuki. While listening to the stories Kondo told about his daughter, the character of Ponyo began to change. Its character grew to abandon and started getting selfish. A character we have never before seen in Miyazaki movies.

After he painted many image boards, he began making his e-konte (storyboard). Whenever Miyazaki finishes some pages of e-konte he stops, ending by writing つづく (tsuzuku, to be continued) at the lower end of e-konte page. Next to it he writes "Everyone, wait for the next page!" and then he takes a break for a while... A few days or few weeks… considering the next developments.

Suzuki says, "Despite of having already started production, we staff members cannot guess where the story goes. Miyazaki himself doesn't know it either. He and us both must experience the thrill, thinking it might brings the movie a good result." The finished part of e-konte is handed to the animators.

Miyazaki checks the all genga and often re-draws them by himself. "When I'm checking and drawing the lines, little by little I get to understand what the characters are thinking or how they behave!" He checks the scene of genga in which Ponyo returns to Sosuke and hug each other. He redraws the genga drawn by the staff to make the action of Ponyo more vivid and dramatic. "The true line truly exists somewhere. We must find it."

Why don't you start producing after you complete the story? Do you have the clear storyline in your head? Miyazaki says, "That doesn't go well either. If I start working on the e-konte with a detailed conception, the e-konte never traces the original plan. The plan surely breaks. I can realize where the story should go only while I see the rush film or when I'm struggling on checking genga and making e-konte."

When making the e-konte reached its final phase Miyazaki’s pencil completely stopped moving. He thought the film needed an impressive sequence before ending, even if would not effect anything on the story development. "The story has already been decided in my head. I know how the ending will be, but tracing the story with e-konte isn't good. It lacks Wasabi…", tells Miyazaki. In the fall of 2007, his e-konte stopped and didn't proceed for a long time. Every week Miyazaki called the massage service to come by to the studio. Because of the e-konte delay the production department got into some serious trouble. They had a meeting with Miyazaki and asked him to hurry. Miyazaki was driven into a corner…

After quitting Toei, Miyazaki worked on TV series animation with Takahata. On Heidi, he showed enough of his skills under director Takahata. However, he began to wish wanting to make his own movie. In 1979, when Miyazaki was 39 years old, he made his director’s debut with the full length feature Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro). It was not a young start as a director and unfortunately while going to the theaters he found only few audiences watching it. After that, he had a hard time for some years.

He proposed some movie plans to a certain film company (note: Telecom animation) like Totoro, the prototype of Laputa and the prototype of Mononoke Hime... But they didn't accept them at all. There was a rumor in the anime industry business that Miyazaki's plan smelled horseshit. His projects were out of date and never expected to result in box office hits. Those were the days in which Space Battleship Yamato got its success in Japan. Miyazaki joined working on some of the Telecom productions, like Little Nemo and Sherlock Holmes but quit the company because he couldn't do an original movie.

How did you feel about the fact that you weren't accepted to the anime industry in those 3 years? "Of course I was frustrated. But I didn't want to give up. I really wanted to make animation. However, I didn't think I would have any opportunities. There was a possibility my plans would never see the daylight. I finally completed Totoro thirteen years after the moment I first proposed it. I think it was not so long. During those thirteen years, I kept the idea and matured. For example, when I happened to see a street or an atmospheric sloping road, I thought I would take them to use for certain scenes or for backgrounds. Therefore those thirteen years made Totoro richer than the original idea."

One day during that time, the editor of Animage (note: Suzuki Toshio) visited Miyazaki and proposed him to write a manga for the magazine. Miyazaki started Nausicaa on it. He had no job without it and dedicated his days to it. After a year, Nausicaa became popular on Animage and Suzuki offered to make it into a movie. Miyazaki thought it was his last chance and accepted to be the director. On such day, his mother died after a period of long, long battling illness. He couldn't be present at her death. Nausicaa got a good box office result and achieved universal popularity. Miyazaki was 43 years old then.

14th of August, A BETTER LOOK AT THE ART OF PONYO: In the midst of Miyazaki Hayao’s release of Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) in Japan and its presence at Venice Film Festival being only about two weeks away, it is time to take a better look at The Art of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. This another fine edition of Studio Ghibli’s “The Art of...” book collection has been available starting August 2nd and contains a variety of sketches, storyboards, background information, and cel reproductions (with backgrounds). This must-have for anyone interested in the works of Studio Ghibli can be purchased at a price of 2,900 Yen at international webstores like

12th of August, GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE 45 WITH OSHII MAMORU: With another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM having passed, brings another summary as well. As usual, during the week a podcast version will be available for download over here.

This week’s guest was director Oshii Mamoru. He created an outspoken talk about Ponyo, as having a long friendship with Miya-san and Suzuki enables him to tell anything he thinks of.

"That movie doesn’t have any theme and structure. It is just the result from Miya-san's delusion. There is no inevitability in the story development. For example, why does Risa take such a risk coming back home from Himawari-no-ie in the storm? After she comes home, she again returns to Himawari-no-ie. She could have stayed with Sosuke. There is no reason in her behavior." Suzuki replied, "Maybe it is needed for Ponyo to meet Sosuke again." Oshii disagrees, "That is nonsense. Audiences never accept a story that does not show any rationality. Still, every single scene was interesting. The first 10 minutes are amazing. That jellyfish scene is really fantastic. The reason why we can somehow watch the movie till the end is just because of its excellent expressiveness during every single scene." Suzuki didn't make an effective rebuttal on him.

Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers, which like Ponyo is also going to be screened at Venice, was also discussed. Suzuki told, "It was interesting. I felt it contained a lot less dialogues than what your films usually contain. And the characters were lacking facial expression as well." Oshii, "That is just because I intended so." Suzuki, "Before the cuts change the characters speak their dialogue and show some small gestures. Like touching their hair. How would the movie have been, if you had removed all of these gestures?" Oshii "Nothing would have been left. Telling a story, the effect of a small gesture and the presence of silence can be found in Japanese traditional plays like Nou or Joruri. I intended it that way." (note: Nou is a kind of traditional masque play from 500 years ago, Joruri is a traditional puppet theater from 300 years ago).

"The characters that are on the ground are depicted by 2D, while the air battle scenes are depicted by 3D-CG. What did you intend?". Oshii replies, "This has a simple reason. No animator can draw fighter planes or moving clouds by hand now. Generally, we can't choose hand drawn animation if we want to keep preserving quality. If it's so, I should have taken CG positively. In the air scenes, the pilots wearing helmets were drawn on cels and later on added to the CG. The taste of keeping the pilots hand-drawn filled the airplanes with soul. However, I believe none will try that way again. It takes so much time and effort. Maybe the mass media will admire Miya-san's try on insisting to use hand-drawn animation as a kind of touching tale, but I doubt it will. We cannot rely on high quality hand drawn animation anymore. At least not for theatrical features. For mass-produced anime TV series they don’t even care about its quality (note: most of them are outsourced to other Asian countries)."

(note: honestly, Oshii’s clever talk is very interesting, though it is hard to transfer all the nuances into this summary)

Oshii, "Indeed Ponyo shows the appeal of handling skills. Even if CG could have showed the jellyfish scene more realistically than how it was done in Ponyo, it can never show the taste we can enjoy due to the handling skill of Ponyo. However, hand drawn animation is a kind of craftwork. Craftwork cannot be mass-produced, because it takes a lot of time and sacrifices to grow skilled craftsmen. Behind one skilled craftsman growing up, lots of young talents are dumped into the dustbin. About 20 of the very skilled animators that have supported the high quality of Japanese hand drawn animation are already in their 40s now." Suzuki, "No. They are over 50." Oshii, "We don't see any skilled animators after them." Suzuki, "Haven't you cultivated any young animators at Production IG?" Oshii, "Yes, I tried. But the ones having that kind of level haven't appeared." Suzuki, "That is why we are planning to make another try to cultivate young animators at Nishi Ghibli" (note: Western Ghibli, Studio Ghibli’s training center in Toyota)

Suzuki, "When we were young, the anime industry was rising and lots of young people rushed in. That was something from which many skilled talents grown. It was the same in each kind of business." (note: this was during the baby boom after WW2). Oshii, "Indeed, many peopled rushed towards the anime industry as if there weren't any recruitments. However, there was another point of view. They didn't have any place of employment. I was in the same position. I wanted to work in the movie industry, though I couldn't find any work and was finally forced to an animation studio. In that age I found that business allowed us to try everything we wanted to do. Due to the luck of that age, many skilled animators were grown during that time. I don't think it is possible to recover the bad situation artificially." Suzuki, "From a historical point of view that is usually true." Oshii, "However, if there is demand and the will to make anime movies, we should apply using CG."

8th of August, VISITING THE HISAISHI JOE CONCERT AND GHIBLI LAYOUT EXHIBITION: For those who were unfortunate to miss the recent Hisaishi Joe concert and have not yet been able to visit the Ghibli Layout Exhibition, presents a small visual journey by one of its visitors especially sent to us.

Visit the picture gallery! (click to zoom in, use keyboard arrows to navigate)

30th of July, ENRICO CASAROSA TALKS TOTORO FOREST PROJECT: About three weeks ago reported about the official launch of the “The Totoro Forest Project”, a great project organised by people like Dice Tsutsumi, Yukino Pang, Ronnie del Carmen and Enrico Casarosa. Held in association with none other than Totoro no Furusato National Trust Fund, Studio Ghibli, Pixar Animation Studios, Cartoon Art Museum, General Consulate of Japan and Give2Asia, they brought over 200 top international artists together to do one special thing: donating artwork especially created to preserve Sayama Forest (Totoro’s forest). Truly a wonderful way of giving something back for all the years of wonder and magic Miyazaki has given them.

Being such an amazing project, it deserves everyone’s attention so very much wanted to spend more writing on it. What more could Pixar storyboard artist Enrico Casarosa tell about it? How did this project get started?

“Well the idea was born on my commute to work with good friend Dice Tsutsumi. He started work at Pixar last summer, we've been friends for years, since when we were working at Blue Sky Studios on Ice Age. We hit it off immediately at the time in big part due to our passion for Miyazaki and Ghibli.”

“So here we are driving into work and Dice mentions he read in the news that the foundation Miyazaki started a few years ago to protect Sayama Forest (the place where he got the idea for Totoro) was still struggling to protect this land from development, mostly due to the ever-raising real estate costs. So we started talking about how we totally could lend a hand to such a cause. Seemed only fair really, do it as a big heartfelt thank you to Miya-san himself, for the years and years of inspiration he gave us. Dice also knew that last year I had done an art auction benefit to raise funds for Emergency (a wonderful non-profit that builds hospitals in warthorn countries) so we though, why not do something like that? Gather all the amazingly talented artists we know from all around the world, have them donate a piece inspired by Totoro and make an art auction event out of it! Seemed like a plan!”

“We enrolled the help of good friend Ronnie del Carmen and Yukino Pang from the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco, with the four of us forming the core committee. Because of copyright issues we quickly realized we wouldn't be able to use Totoro in any of these images ... so we thought the theme would roughly be "What is your Totoro?". What does this movie bring you back memories of, in your own childhood? What kind of nostalgic memories can you dig for when thinking back to the sense of wonder of childhood and nature. So what at first felt like a limitation, the fact we could not use anything resembling too closely Totoro, turned into a wonderful blessing in disguise: the pieces we got from artists are all personal and heartfelt and have very often wonderful stories behind them.”

Casarosa also explained how Pixar's and Studio Ghibli’s association came across.

“Well, one of the key factors was getting Ghibli's permission and blessing. Thanks to Dice we were able to do that. He went back to Tokyo (where he grew up) and had a few meetings with several people from Ghibli and the Totoro Forest Foundation. They've been supportive since. They think this effort could really help the foundation, not only in a monetary sense but even in helping raising awareness. We talked to the heads of Pixar a few months later and they've been totally excited about this project. They've given us the ok to host the event here at the studio and their support has been huge from that day on.”

Furthermore, Casarosa shared us his expectations for this fantastic fundraiser.

“Well, the event is turning out to be a pretty huge endeavor. At every turn the project has gotten bigger in scope and reach. There's many facets to it: The book, the auction and the exhibition. Dice and Yukino have been the driving forces behind most of this effort and I am very grateful for their hard work. As far as the auction goes, we are extremely excited about it and we are working hard to make it a very very special evening. We've just this weekend, seen the whole collection of more than two hundred pieces all together in one room and it's just breathtaking. We really hope people will be flying in for this one (laughing).”

“What else can I say. Well, I think this is a great cause, it's a wonderful little urban forest we are trying to help save and it's more than that, it's a big thank you for the dreams and wonders Miyazaki has given us through the years, it's also a communal symbolic gesture: different artists from different parts of the world coming together for a good cause. I love that.”

The Totoro inspired artworks will be auctioned on September 6th at Pixar Animation Studios. All the proceeds of this fundraiser will benefit the Totoro Forest Foundation. The official website is already filled with amazing Totoro inspired art, so be sure to check it out.

To sum things up, be sure to check out a lovely video version of Enrico Casarosa’s artistic contribution for the Totoro Forest Project. And while you are at it, why don’t you support this great cause and give something back for all the years of wonder and magic Miyazaki has given you? Helping out is easy:


29th of July (second update), MIYAZAKI GORO TALKS LAYOUT: Last weekend the opening of Studio Ghibli’s latest exhibition called Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata/Miyazaki Animation took place. Taking place from July 26 till September 28 at Tokyo’s MOT, none other than Miyazaki Goro is supervising editor of the exhibition and Yomiuri Shimbun had an interview with him.

Question: What is a layout?
Miyazaki Goro: It is the final blueprint containing information to make a cut like camera work, camera speed and the position relation of characters and backgrounds. When seeing a layout, every section staff can understand what they should do. We make layouts to whole of each cut. So there are about 1400 layouts in both Hauru and Chihiro. I heard this system was consolidated by Takahata and Miyazaki during their work on Alps no Shōjo Heidi (アルプスの少女ハイジ, Heidi, Girl of the Alps) back in 1974.
Question: Why was such a system needed?
Miyazaki Goro: The biggest purpose is maintaining quality. Generally, as animation is produced by a division of labor, blueprints were needed to give a movie the sensation of unity. For a year long that TV series (note: Heidi) was aired every week, so the production had to be done in a very short amount of time and such a reasonable system was needed. During Heidi, most of the layout was done by Hayao.
Question: What kind of indication is concretely written in it?
Miyazaki Goro: It contains a lot of information. For example, if the chimney smoke is cel animated or CG, if the background picture is place only behind or both behind and in front, how many layers of clouds are needed and so on and so on…

Question: Those pictures are drawn carefully, despite they are not being shown to people outside the studio.
Miyazaki Goro: On the surface they might seem to be “just pictures”, though they form the hidden secret of Miyazaki animation. Basically, picture composition should be drawn on rules of perspective. However, Miyazaki animation ignores it consciously and accentuates what we want to see with human eyes. Therefore the space often twists. However, as it is close to the sense of human eyes, we do not feel it as something strange or unnatural. On the other hand, Takahata tends to be faithful on keeping perspective. He does not want the audience to be dragged into his world. Some people have the impression that Takahata’s are cold or inaccessible unfriendly, though it is intentional.
Question: What is needed on making layouts?
Miyazaki Goro: The ability of grasping space. Even if he or she accepts the rules of perspective or not, it is surely needed to know the original form.

Question: Then that is your home ground, because you experienced building architecture and landscape architecture?
Miyazaki Goro: For Gedo Senki I checked about 1,200 cuts of layouts and drew about 400 by myself. However, to tell the truth, it was groping. In those days, I used to read Hayao's e-konte and got to know it was already a perfect blueprint. I worried about how much I had to do in layout. I realized the importance of layout after seeing the finished pictures and feeling unreasonable.
Question: What kind of advice did you give on this exhibition?
Miyazaki Goro: Not so much. Some proposals about the arrangement of pictures or the value of quantities. As Chihiro has the most cuts, putting the layouts all over the wall was a better way. I did only little. To tell the truth, it is presumptuous to say I am supervising.
Question: Have you seen Ponyo?
Miyazaki Goro: Yes. Simply speaking, it is like The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Although it is a very attractive work, I had the strange feeling of wondering if it is possible to keep being attached to it. That is my honest impression.