With the English language release of Ponyo imminent, and his recent promotional and speaking visit to the US causing a stir, there’s no denying that there’s a buzz around Hayao Miyazaki at the moment. And it’s a buzz that’s not just getting the attention of anime fans, but also grabbing the interest of the wider mainstream media and audiences – something that is, arguably, long overdue. As such it’s either luck or great timing that Manga Entertainment have just released Panda! Go Panda! on DVD here in the UK, and while it’s been out in the US for several years, this was the first time I’d had a chance to sit down and watch this early chapter in Miyazaki-san’s career.
Some of you may remember that I picked up several special treats on my visit to the Ghibli Museum in November. Chief among them was the Blu-ray of the Kazuo Oga Exhibition: Ghibli No Eshokunin – The One Who Painted Totoro’s Forest. It was something I’d been planning to grab ever since I knew I’d be visiting the museum, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I finally managed to sit down and watch it. If you’ve ever seen any of the major Ghibli releases, then you’re already familiar with Oga-san’s work and his lovingly hand painted backgrounds that have brought films such as My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke to life. Quite frankly he is the very best in the business – quite possibly the greatest animation background artist of all time – and this disc, in it’s very elegant and typically Ghibli way, shows you exactly why.
Some exciting news for Ghibli fans: Spirited Away director and animation god Hayao Miyazaki is creating another manga. Although it’s by no means a first, it is a relatively rare event, with the legendary artist preferring to concentrate on his celluloid based work. What is most exciting is that it is another series for Japanese hobby magazine Model Graphix, and as such see’s Miyazaki returning to his intricate mechanical designs, as Ghibli World explains:
Some interesting news that could feasibly affect the future of
Japan’s the world’s greatest animation studio – Ghibli colour designer Michiyo Yasuda retired last week. Responsible for picking the palettes of just about all of the studio’s output for the last 20+ years and a close personal friend of Miyazaki and Takahata, Yasuda-san has obviously been a massive and important player in the creation of the Ghibli look.