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Lots going on at the house of Totoro this week – first off is an excellent and insightful interview with Ghibli animator and art director Kosaka Kitaro (Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, Akira, Spirited Away and Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea among many, many others) over at Ghibli World. Here’s a tasty extract:

In fact, it is evident how Miyazaki’s films, notwithstanding their highly imaginative stories, tend to present characters which are deeply human in their behavior and sensibility…

I believe that the fantasy elements, which are so evident in the latest Ghibli productions, have a meaning which is deeper than what may superficially appear. That is to say, I do not think that Miyazaki’s stories have to be considered as simple flights from the real world of everyday problems. On the contrary, I think that Ghibli fantasies are a form of criticism of the human intellect. A criticism that works in the way of a negation. The contemporary society is something familiar to us, and we are used to its positive or frightening aspects. Ghibli films allow a critical separation from this context, because they show the world we passively live in from a whole new perspective. For example, we may have lost interest in blades of grass: however, I hope that someone, after having seen blades of grass in a Ghibli film, moving and transfigured by the detailed stylization of the drawings, will find a new pleasure in looking carefully when passing by a real meadow.

Also over at Ghibli World, news that VIZ Media is translating and releasing Miyazaki’s book Shuppatsu Ten 1979-1996 (Starting Point: 1979-1996) in the west. From the site:


Shuppatsu Ten includes about 90 essays, talks, lectures, movie plans and texts that were contributed to various newspapers, magazines and other publications from 1979 to 1996. During the last 13 years of those, his most active period, Miyazaki Hayao established Studio Ghibli and directed & produced 10 masterpiece films: Nausicaa, Laputa, Totoro, Kiki, Only Yesterday, Porco, Pompoko, Whisper and Mononoke. Miyazaki tells many episodes around these films and insider anecdotes on Japan’s animation industry. And… every one of them is interesting.

It’s out in June, to coincide with the Ponyo theatrical launch – GW has more details, along with an interview with VIZ editor Nick Mamatas.

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And finally, following on from my recent review of the excellent Kazuo Oga Blu-ray, is news of a further documentary release: Ghibli no Fūkei: Miyazaki Sakuhin ga Kaita Nihon/Miyazaki Sakuhin to Deau Europa no Tabi (Ghibli’s Scenery: The Japan Depicted by Miyazaki’s Works/A Trip of the Europe Encountered in Miyazaki’s Works). According to Anime News Network, it features:

..two television documentaries about the real-life locales that inspired the movies of studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. In the 2008 Miyazaki Sakuhin ga Kaita Nihon documentary which ran on the BS NTV satellite channel, actress Mayu Tsuruta visited the Japanese sites of yesteryear that informed the artwork in My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.

In 2006′s Miyazaki Sakuhin to Deau Europa no Tabi documentary from the same channel and upcoming home video release, actress Yui Natsukawa (Gedo Senki, Onmyoji) visited Stockholm and Gotland, two locales in Sweden which served as the model for the fictional town of Koriko in Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service film. In addition, actor Tetta Sugimoto (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Mei-chan no Shitsuji) travels to the French region of Alsace to “find” the hometown of the heroine Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle.

Sounds like yet another essential – though probably expensive – purchase, judging by the quality of the Oga-san BR, and one I might see if I can pick up next time I’m over there. It’s good to see Ghibli taking the format seriously, though still no word on when we can expect releases of their actual back catalog…