Long time readers may recall my girlfriend’s love for making things Totoro related – including my Valentines Day card and some Halloween pumpkins – and after a busy few months she finally got round to adding something new to the list. These Totoro cupcakes where made for a little friend of ours – a four year old fledgling Ghibli fanatic – who broke her arm right at the begining of the summer break. Look great don’t they? Trust me, they actually tasted even better. More pics after the jump.
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.
As mentioned in an earlier post, we survived the melee of the Ghibli Museum shop, even if we were left more than a few thousand yen poorer by the experience…
First of our spoils is this beautifully printed Mei and the Kittenbus book. An essential purchase for us, especially as we were so lucky to catch the film, it’s a short but glossy leaflet style affair, featuring tons of great scenes telling the story of the short. It’s the only official way of seeing any images from the film outside the museum, and as far as I’m aware only available from the shop. Click the thumbnails below for more glimpses…
Despite having been
boringly safely back in the UK for over a month now, I’m still only just managing to mentally process everything we saw and experienced in Tokyo. A major highlight for us, in fact one of the main reasons for going in the first place, was our trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum in the suburb of Mitaka.
You could be forgiven, on first arriving at Asakusa on the Ginza subway line, that you’ve descended into Japanese tourist-trap hell. And to some extent you’d be right; it certainly seems to be the most touristy place I visited in Tokyo at least – as soon as you pass under the impressive Kaminari-mon (“Thunder Gate”) you’re greeted by a line of literally dozens of stalls selling everything from woodblock prints to Gundam model kits. Further down though, towards the Senso-ji temple, they give way to more traditional craft stalls, with giving you a unique chance to see artists in action. The Temple at Dembo-in, where Japan’s two leading religions Buddism and Shinto meet, and it’s surrounding gardens and pogodas are breathtaking, and a welcome break from the initial chaos.
Kiddy Land is a pretty mainstream toy shop, and wouldn’t normally warrent a mention here – except that this is Tokyo, and mainstream means something completely different. Spanning five floors, of most interest are the anime and Ghibli sections. While the former caters for more kodomo and shonen level stuff, the latter is worth checking just for it’s huge selection and the over sized plush Totoro (pictured above) that sits as it’s centerpiece. Yours for just 676 quid. Worth a mention too are the hugely helpful (like everywhere so far in Tokyo) and mainly bilingual staff. Worth a visit, for sure.