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Welcome to the first page of the News Archive of The News Archive has been made to make the main news page a bit faster to load. Although the Ghibli news posted over here is less recent, it's worth reading as it contains a lot of exclusive news! Page two of the News Archive can be found over here.

29th of July, PONYO AND MIYAZAKI AT VENICE FILM FESTIVAL: This morning, at a press conference at the Excelsior in Rome, the line up of the 65th edition of the famed Venice Film Festival (August 27 - September 6) has been officially announced. As noted some weeks ago and insiders had already secretly confirmed us, Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) will be one of the movies to be screened there, with its festival premiere taking place on August 31. Moreover, unlike Miyazaki Goro’s Gedo Senki, it will be in competition: it will contend for the Golden Lion. The Mostra programme furthermore includes another animated film, The Sky Crawlers by Oshii Mamoru, which is in competition as well.

It is not the first time for Miyazaki to visit the festival, who commented, "The Lido is a very beautiful place. I'm glad that I can walk there again." Certainly sharing his opinion, will be present to cover the festival.

26th of July, OPENING OF GHIBLI LAYOUT EXHIBITION: This weekend the opening of Studio Ghibli’s latest exhibition took place. This unmissable exhibition, called Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata/Miyazaki Animation, takes place from July 26 till September 28 at Tokyo’s MOT. For detailed information on the exhibition, visit the official website and read our detailed post about the exhibition.

Furthermore, a photo impression of the exhibition is featured at Buta Connection. Pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and more.

25th of July, MORE EXTENSIVE TALK WITH MIYAZAKI HAYAO - PART 2: This week posted a Ghibli Asemamire summary on a very extensive talk with none other than master animation director Miyazaki Hayao himself. It was so extensive and interesting that it will be extended with some more additional parts. This is part 2.

A conversation between director Miyazaki Hayao, executive producer Suzuki Toshio and company president Hoshino Koji - A short question by Hoshino opens the talk. He asks, “So have we been recruiting newbies every year?”. Miyazaki replies, “For these last few year we have not done so. I ordered to stop it.” Of course Hoshino would like to know why and asks Miyazaki, “Why did you stop it?”. An interesting story about one of Studio Ghibli's new plans unravels. Miyazaki starts telling…

“Every year we used to accept four to five newbie sakuga staff members. However, they were soon swallowed in the elder group and brought nothing new to the studio. They did not behave as freshmen at all. There did not blow any fresh wind from them, so I quit recruiting. These days the Japanese anime industry outsource their work to foreign countries like China or the Philippines. So the relation of labor supply and demand is not so tight as it used be. We can outsource douga easily these days.” Hoshino aks, “You mean, the gross amount of anime work is decreasing?”. Sadly Miyazaki’s answer is affirmative. “Yes, at least in Japan. For example, the douga of a short program for a TV series can be finished in one or two days by outsourcing it to China. Moreover, they add color on it. Let alone its quality. They all spill from over the TV screens. Some say the head (note: of the anime industry) still remains in Japan. I do not agree with it. The head might be like a sponge.”

“Basically they (note: meaning regularly recruited animators) are not curious and do not have interest in other persons. They do not want to give influence to others or get influence from others. They usually work with wearing earplugs (note: meaning an iPod). I do not know what they are listening though. I think they consist of a group of shit guys. Have I said too much (laughing)? Anyway, our staff might have realized that good movies cannot be made by elder staff members only. So we changed our policy and are planning to recruit young animators.”

“How many persons are you going to take?” Miyazaki replies, “About 20 at once. If we take little by little, they will surly be swallowed by that group soon. Basically, the value of setting up a studio is keeping its torso. If we need the head or hands, then we can bring ones from outside. So the torso is necessarily needed to set the head, face or hands on it. The torso is not needed to be so clever or like a rapier, but it must be a group of faithful and patient people. It is needed to have a strong stomach, guts and anus. However, it is not easy to maintain.”

“So do you mean you will build the torso by using newcomers?” Miyazaki answers, “That’s right. Our torso has gotten deteriorated now (laughing). Once we had recruited many animators and taught them everything. They have grown up and some became sakuga directors or genga staff. We have already got our return on investment.”

“Did you get more in return than seeding money (laughing)?”. Miyazaki affirms again, “Right. Rather, I grated them like radish again and squeezed them out again (laughing). Making animation needs sucking the lifeblood from young talents like a vampire.” Suzuki adds, “Explicitly saying (laughing).” Miyazaki, “However, I am not able to suck the blood anymore. The torso has thinned down to skin and bone. All I can suck is just water, but no blood. So we need to freshen the torso. If we can build it again, then good a head or hands might sprout from it. I do not want those newcomers to be influenced by tattered elders. And I want them to have a steady and quiet life. So the training institute should be placed in a local city.”

“I must tell them: You will need to spend one year and a half as an ascetic monk. You do not need to see anything, any information or news. Get up early and come to the institute at 9 and work hard till 5. During that time you must not use a cell phone, e-mail or iPod. Devote yourself in looking at the world and drawing pictures. Then we will ensure your salary and life. You can learn everything you need, even if it is in a rural city. If you bear with this one year and a half, you will get much more than spending ten years slobbing around in Tokyo.”

“Do you intend on recruiting people that have some experience?” Miyazaki, “No. We’ll be looking for quite newbies. I will go and teach them how to draw one day once a week. If they can complete a short movie and see children having fun at the museum, they will get a big confidence.” Suzuki adds, “We might be able to find big talent in them.” Miyazaki, “I visited Aardman studio in England. Instead of London it is based in Bristol. By train it takes about one hour from London to get there. Bristol is just a local city. Around the studio there are only some factories and green, but nothing more than that. It has a nice company cafeteria run by two male chefs. They are both tall and muscular. I guess on Sundays they are hooligans at the football stadium. I want chefs like those… (laughing)”

“Anyway, If we continue our style any longer, hand-drawn animation might perish. There is one way that we also join the consumers who consume everything and entertainment. Many of our staffs already joined them.”. Suzuki asks, “Consumers are not able to create, can they?” Miyazaki replies, “No. We do not need to be consumers. They must not watch Korean dramas or purchase the DVDs (laughing). I do not mean all of our staff should be the way I wish them to be. However, at least the core of the creators that assume a responsibility to take the studio to our goal must be stoic. A group that has the common experience of spending a hard time together is what we need. During their training, if they learned hard and can find the secret of the world of animation - even if it as small as the eye of a needle - they will be able to go on as animators.”

Studio Ghibli recently announced having started recruiting interns. The training center will be in Toyota city, in Aichi prefecture, a city of course famous of world’s biggest car company Toyota. Satsuki and Mei's house that was build at Aichi Expo is near it.

- Period: April 1 2009 to March 31 2011
- Age: graduating high school or university March 2009 (meaning 18 to 22 years old)
- Salary: 167,000 Yen per month, social assurances and holidays included
- Needed: two hand drawn B4 pictures to apply and prior examination

23rd of July, MORE EXTENSIVE TALK WITH MIYAZAKI HAYAO - PART 1: This week posted a Ghibli Asemamire summary on a very extensive talk with none other than master animation director Miyazaki Hayao himself. It was so extensive and interesting that it will be extended with some more additional parts. This is part 1.

At the beginning of the production of Ponyo - Miyazaki tells, “At first, Ponyo didn’t exist in the plan. A boy existed, though he had no name. There was also a house on the cliff. It had been empty for a long time, until a strange guy began to live there. That person was already Fujimoto (note: Ponyo’s father in the final version). Fujimoto asked the boy, “Didn’t you see anything strange near here?”. At that point, what Fujimoto was searching for was not Ponyo, but a tin toy frog. This was because I planned a story based on Nakagawa Rieko’s Kaeru no Eruta (Elta the Frog). I tried to develop it into a story for a while, but I realized it was impossible and I gave up on it. I still brought the book with me to Tomonoura though. Anyway, Nakagawa’s stories are usually incredibly lacking in logic. She is a writer who can explain everything without logic. She says ”Why does it need anymore explanation?” She needs no rules.”

Then when did you began to have the intent of your new movie not needing any rules, logic or background explanation? Miyazaki replies, “If I would tell about all of the events that happen during the time process in which the story takes place, then it must take many hours. What should I do? I decided to take the risk of using drastic skips. There is a theory of how to build up a story, like first someone meets somebody else, the story develops, a small catastasis comes in the middle, a big catastasis comes at the end and then a happy ending closes the story. It is very common in Samurai-plays, Westerns and detectives. If a director repeats that particular pattern, then his movies begin to decay. I know there are such guys repeating that style over and over again and without any doubt. However, we should notice its corrupted smell by ourselves. If I start making a movie with a foreseeable story development, then it soon begins to emit a corrupted smell to me (laughing). In that case I should throw it away. Working any longer on it will only degenerate things. I believe so.”

About Ponyo, we felt your intention of completely pruning away the extra drama… Miyazaki notes, “That storm was caused by Ponyo. She just wanted to meet Sosuke again. So she did not have any bad intentions. We cannot blame her. That is the kind of character I wanted to make as a heroine.”

22nd of July, ORIKAESI-TEN, PONYO MERCHANDISE: This month publisher Iwanami released Miyazaki's new book Orikaesi-ten 1998- 2008, a follow-up to Shuppatsu-ten 1979- 1996. With a page number of 522 pages it includes 60 project proposals, essays, interviews, talks and lectures and manages to leave a highly interesting 12 year trace of Miyazaki’s thoughts. From Mononoke to Ponyo. A must-have for anyone who is able to read Japanese.

Furthermore, with the release of Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) a lot of merchandise is being released as well. Time to take a better look at what kind of Ponyo goods Lawson has the Japanese to offer: page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

20th of July, AN EXTENSIVE TALK WITH MIYAZAKI HAYAO AT GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE 42: Yesterday the moment was finally there: Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) received its official release. As was announced last week, Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM dedicated full (expended) airtime to its release and brought an extensive conversation with Miyazaki Hayao. As usual brings a summary and a podcast version can be found over here.

“After I made Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (ハウルの動く城, Howl’s Moving Castle), I regretted that people said it was not understandable. Basically, my belief was to make movies for children. Despite of this, I made Howl’s. I had worried till I decided to make a next movie.”

Miyazaki stayed at a small port town for two months to ease his mind and body - Around that time I was suffering from an autonomic imbalance. Natsume Soseki once told that humans tend to have an autonomic imbalance when civilization progresses. Because we are always living in crowds, we need time to be alone. If we live alone and have a simple life, the autonomic imbalance gets better. By simple life I mean to cook and wash by myself, take a walk, read and sleep and repeating it everyday. When we had a company tour to that town (Tomonoura) and I stayed at a old house on a cliff, the owner told me that was OK to continue to stay there for a while without any pay.

I just walked the same road everyday and had 2 an-pan (bean-jam bun) for lunch. All I could hear was the bush warblers tweeting in the woods and the engine sound of the fisher boats. Each boat had a different sound. So quiet. Once a bush warbler got angry and attacked me when I smoked. We are not able to have experiences like this in Tokyo. When we are pushed into a corner, we can see the scenery more beautifully. My nerve touched the scenery directly. The sunset touched me very much in that situation. I got an image of someone watching sunset from on a cliff. I didn't knew where the piece of jigsaw puzzle slipped into, but I wanted to make a film that included such an image.

Miyazaki talks about nature and earth - Various disasters attack us, but we should not think governments are to be blamed for them. It is Ponyo that causes them (laughing). That way we feel less stressed. When a big earthquake occurred in Noto peninsula, an old man smiled to see his house completely collapsed. I liked that old man. Maybe he did not know what to do and all he could do was laugh, but I empathize him. In my opinion the sea level should raise and we should be having earthquakes. Also in Tokyo. Like Jomon Kaishin, a raising sea level is not that strange when looking at the geological time scale.

(Note: The Jomon period is said to have lasted about 10,000 years, starting 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. During part of that period, the seas rose and submerged low-lying areas in Japan. This phenomenon is called Jomon Kaishin. When the sea was highest about 6,000 years ago, Tokyo Bay stretched 65 km inland to what is now the city of Tatebayashi in Gumma Prefecture. The sea level would have been several meters higher then, and mean temperatures were more than 3°C warmer than they are now.)

The Japanese islands itself were also shaped by volcano activities. Everything is moving. Rocks, continents, planets, stars... Gaia theory says earth is like a creature and alive. If we look at things from that point of view, disasters cannot be seen as just tragic events. Generally, creatures must meet several disasters. Recently, people tend to call other to account them for disasters or accidents. Such tendency brings difficulties on running a nursery for example. Children can even drown in a shallow pond. If we get rid of the pond and stairs and just flatten the ground, will that result in a situation in which children can grow well? Impossible. Children must experience falling down, getting hurt or burning themselves... like people from the stone age experienced. After that, human brains can work well, I guess. Kids must master how to kindle a fire, keep it and put it out.

We live in a virtual reality like world. We consume things manufactured in backstreet factories somewhere in far away countries we don't know. Basically, we should eat things we make by ourselves. I do not believe a system like this can continue.

Although having said that, talking about my own life, I have lived being part of the animation industry for 45 years long. It is a rare lucky life to see from a world historic point of view. However, I am not sure young people working in animation are still lucky. No one knows if it will exist forever. I doubt it will. Of course when we were young we also had angst in the future of animation. But as a result, we have lived in a lucky age. In a certain sense, staying for 45 years in the anime industry is a very rare thing. Sorry to have spend so much paper. Seems I have spend paper and pencils mostly. Animation wastes a lot of resources. It’s not good. Looking around Tokyo from the top of the NTV building, I wish everything will sink under the sea. It is a useless apology that I'm making good films or working for children, I just happened to have a had job that has karma. All I can do is make animation. It is a kind of an atonement that I made a nursery. However, I'm not forgiven or have corrected any balance. I keep walking in the twilight (laughing).

Miyazaki Hayao’s words of Ponyo: Where does he place in children? - I made this movie with the intent that 5 year old children can understand it, even if 50 years can't. Watching children at the nursery, 5 year olds have enough language ability and intelligence, even though they can't express it by words.

I do not think Japanese animation has a bright future. Because children and young people are growing up surrounded by virtual things. Making animation needs remembering of his or hers real life experiences. Of course it includes watching movies or theater play, though most of it is about physical movements. We must remember how our bodies move in every situation. While growing up we have stocked it in our memory. The most important factor is our experiences. The ones that have grown up playing virtual games are lacking this. For example, he who hasn't lighted a match, because his father doesn't smoke. He who has never burnt a burner, because his kitchen doesn't have any stoves but only has a microwave. How can he who has never seen a real flame draw it? I once ordered a young animator to watch a flame for four hours. It is very difficult for such guys to draw a fleshly play, even when making a big effort. I think, the human brain is basically programmed based on using a needle or knife or to color or bend things. It is impossible to only do things metaphysically without the physical side.

Sosuke enjoyed being poured with water by Ponyo. Another kid felt uncomfortable. If all of the audience feels uncomfortable and can't empathize with Sosuke, then the character Sosuke doesn't work out and the movie must fail. I have watched children at our nursery and gotten confidence of the probability of Sosuke's character and completing this movie.

18th of July, FINAL PONYO TRAILER: Ponyo ga kuru! Time is running up and only ONE day is left before the release of Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Today its final trailer was broadcasted on Japanese television and, for those who unfortunately were unable to see it, words cannot express how good it looked.

Miyazaki’s idea of fully hand drawn animation, the pastel & water color backgrounds, the waves… it all just perfectly fits together. That is all that needs to be said. Like Miyazaki wants his movie to be, explore the rest of Ponyo & Sosuke’s adventure by yourself. It will certainly blow you away.

Due to copyrights will not be hosting the trailer, all will be kept at one picture with four screenshots of Sosuke only. Your understanding is appreciated.

17th of July, MIYAZAKI HAYAO TALKS PONYO AND HOSHINO KOJI TALKS ABOUT GHIBLI’S FUTURE: Ponyo ga kuru! Only two days are away before the release of the latest film of master animation director Miyazaki Hayao. The huge amount of Ponyo news and advertising it brings is almost too much to keep track of. However, much of it is interesting and manages to raise a lot of people looking immensely forward to Miya-san’s newest creation. A recent example is NHK’s Ohayou Nippon which featured an interview with Miyazaki himself.

Miyazaki “I intended to make a film that 5 year old children can understand. They don’t watch it by logic but by feeling. However, it wasn’t easy.”

The water and waves in Ponyo move intricately. It has been said that in the use of animation it is not easy to depict them. Miyazaki says, ”Well, I don’t put the emphasize on the interface of water and air. When children dive into the water and open their eyes, of course they can’t breath, but they will see a quite different world. It is really exciting. I hope my film can help them trying to get such a small adventure.”

Since Mononoke Hime Miyazaki had innovated CG into his films. However, this time he tried to make an animated film all by hand and without the use of CG. As a result, 70 staff members had to draw a total of 170,000 pictures in period of one and a half year. Miyazaki notes, “Talking from our experience, people tend not to be so surprised at things that have been done “by electricity” (note: of course Miyazaki hints at the use of computers here). We have drawn with pencils for a long time, so then we thought we should do it with pencils only. That is our advantage. Even we ourselves felt fresh to see the completed film.”

Unlike with CG, hand drawn lines often warp or misalign. However, those lines sometimes bring unexpected and sensitive motions. Miyazaki intended to bring this kind of dynamism onto the entire screen, even to the backgrounds like the jellyfish or seaweed. It would bring more appeal to the film. As Miyazaki tells, “I want to move whole of the world. Basically, we became animators because we wanted to move everything. So it isn’t good if only the characters move. Even on buildings, it is OK if not only curtains, but also the building itself can move. Not only the grasses, but even the ground can move. Such fluctuation gives the movie a sense of being alive.”

One of the ideas for this film Miyazaki got while he visited and stayed at a small port town. There he felt the beauty of the sea and the Japanese people’s mind to the sea that they had felt since long ago. Miyazaki mentions, “I think we should respect the sea, including the hills and trees around it. All of it has not been lost. Though we often lose to the power of money. However, I believe it still remains deep in our Japanese mind that has lived in this island country for a long time.”

(Note: Miyazaki hints at destroying nature for development. For example, the Tomonoura port earth filling or the Isahaya bay reclamation).

He hopes children to keep respecting nature. He wants to tell it to children by his movie. Miyazaki tells, “When they go to the sea, they might think the waves are alive. That’s the clue so that they become to care about nature. Of course, they never think waves have eyes and chase children. They might think nature is alive. In fact, small children usually do so. I’m afraid their precious time is spoiled. That’s all.”

(Note: Miyazaki wants children to have more time to get in touch with nature. While speaking he often skips his words, so to somewhat get the meaning in English some gaps were filled.)

Furthermore, Nikkei Waga Maga features an interview with Studio Ghibli president Hoshino Koji. Following is an interesting except of Hoshino talking about Studio Ghibli’s future.

Ever since Hohokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun (ホーホケキョとなりの山田くん, My Neighbors the Yamadas) in 1999, Takahata hasn't produced anymore films. In fact, his new movie is now being prepared. We can’t tell the details, though it has been more crystallized than it was some years ago. He hasn't produced movie in these 10 years, but was busy on writing or lecturing. If Miyazaki is the one who gathers attention under the sun, Takahata is the type who quietly cruises underwater. If they have any common point, then they both have amazingly deep fountain of creation. Takahata is now very fine. Please, expect his next film. Goro is also preparing his new film.

There is a possibility we will promote a new director coming from the Studio Ghibli staff or invite a director from outside. We are always considering to employ various producers and directors because Studio Ghibli is a production company that can earn by only producing.

In Japanese animation business Studio Ghibli is the first company that employs animators by a monthly salary system. This April the staff of Ghibli Museum also became permanent employees. Furthermore, we started a nursery for employees. Maybe these reforms seem to row against the current, though we think it is important to do what we want to do.

16th of July, KONDO KATSUYA TALKS PONYO: The August edition of the Japanese animation magazine Animage features a talk with Studio Ghibli veteran Kondo Katsuya. Since 1986, starting with Laputa, he has been working on countless Studio Ghibli movies as one of their top animators and during the years his resume has expanded to more than that. Kondo’s job has ranged from key animator and character designer to animation director and so on.

Needless to say, the latest project on which Kondo worked is Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). After most of the information on Ponyo having come from Suzuki Toshio (and somewhat sporadically from Miyazaki Hayao), this time it is Kondo to share his thoughts on working on Ponyo. It adds an interesting new perspective. For those who can't read Japanese, a GhibliWorld summary follows below.

Question: How did you join Ponyo?
Kondo Katsuya: When I was working on one of the Ghibli Museum shorts as an animation director, Miyazaki-san alluded it to me. He said, "A movie that is able to get through by watching the pictures only without the dialogue. I want to try and make a future length film that tells its story by the animation itself."
Question: As sakuga director of Ponyo, what was your stance?
Kondo Katsuya: I did not change my style so much. Miyazaki used to say, "In commercial animation, the technique of “maximum advantage with a minimum of labor” has been developed. We will choose the way that had been thrown away. The way of the more labor and cuts being spend, the higher the quality gets." Of course we did not spend much on scenes that didn’t need many sakuga, but poured 10 on the important scenes which we used to spend 5 on or so in the past. I had aimed on balancing such density of sakuga.
Question: Are there any scenes you had a tough time on?
Kondo Katsuya: When talking about that, every scene was. I don't mean there were some scenes we spared effort. Keeping level was important.

Question: How about the characters? Were there any of those you had a tough time on?
Kondo Katsuya: The character of Gran Manmare was a hard one. We had to be delicate, because she is an absolutely beautiful woman.
Question: Of course Gran Manmare is glamorous. This time, I got the impression that the female characters were being depicted with glamour.
Kondo Katsuya: Ultimately, a sakuga director's job is to burnish and glaze everything. If there is nobody to notice it, there is no raison d'etre for me. They add the fruit around the pit, I am to one to polish it and hand it over to the douga staff. My job is doing the makeup on each character at the final stage. Pictures can’t be interesting if the characters itself don't have any amorousness or burnishing. I believe that is the largest reason that I was told to be sakuga director.
Question: Reading Miyazaki's e-konte (storyboard), did you find anything that was different from the from his previous ones?
Kondo Katsuya: Yes, the e-konte was painted in color. This time we had to depict a real world or sea world and to let the staff know Miyazaki's intent, he had to paint it with color. As it was well-received he couldn't keep it at the beginning only, but continued till the last.
Question: Were there any characters that you were inspired from by your family?
Kondo Katsuya: Well, it was the exact opposite. Miyazaki was inspired to see my family and the character of Fujimoto seems to be taken from me. When we were recording the voices for the film and Miyazaki was directing the part of Fujimoto, he said, "Kondo does like this…". He often models a character on the ones close to him.
Question: Do you have any other examples?
Kondo Katsuya: Ponyo is modeled on my 3 year old daughter. When Miyazaki explains about Ponyo during work, he doesn't call her Ponyo, but uses my daughter's name.

Question: You wrote the lyrics of the theme song. Was it Miyazaki who ordered it to you?
Kondo Katsuya: Yes. He asked me, "Why don't your try?" and I replied, "Aha? May I? OK. I will." (laughing). It seemed like something very interesting. At that time, Hisaishi Joe already finished the music. I had been beside Miyazaki and I knew about his intentions. So I thought it was easy.
Question: So it was an easy task for you?
Kondo Katsuya: No, not at all (laughing). I wrote a few lines long memo and showed it to him the next day. He told me to do it in that line. After taking about 10 days to complete, I showed it to him. He said it was not bad.
Question: Seems like it went smooth.
Kondo Katsuya: Yes, till that time I thought I had done a good job and was satisfied. However, after that, it was made into a demo sung and while listening to it Miyazaki told me, "Kondo-kun. It's not good." I agreed it to listen it. Miyazaki said, "It's too vexatiously complicated. Make it more simple. When you come at the point where you understand it, that is the moment you must quit."
Question: That's severe.
Kondo Katsuya: At first, Miyazaki gave me a memo about the lyrics, saying something like "want hands, wants legs, it'll be nice if I had them". I had considered about it and written. I couldn't give up and tried it again for 3 or 4 days. Then it went well. Maybe I wrote too much about the story in the first version. So I re-wrote it more simply and focused more on telling about the physical side.
Question: How did you feel while you listened to the completed song?
Kondo Katsuya: That it was better. The first version was like a bouquet of small flowers. It was not so impressive. Showing a big flower like a sunflower gives a much larger impact.

(Note: Sunflowers play a notable role in Gake no ue no Ponyo. An example of this is Himawari-en, the nursery which Sosuke attends. Himawari means sunflower in Japanese.)

14th of July, GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE 41: 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.

Seven years ago Hiiragi Rumi acted the role of Chihiro on Miyazaki Hayao’s Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (千と千尋の神隠し, Spirited Away). She was in 2nd grade of middle school at that time. Now she is a college student and becomes 21 years old this August. They talked about that episode Nayo and Hiiragi Rumi were selected as voice actors (note: a rectification on Ghibli Asemamire 39 is needed here as information was mixed up. Hiiragi and Nayo only play the roles of husband and wife, they do not have a relationship themselves) and Suzuki told about the Ghibli Layout Exhibition. As news on this was already posted on, we will leave it at this. However, there was an announcement about the next episode of Ghibli Asemamire. On July 20, a special edition of Ghibli Asemamire will be aired. Its broadcast will be expanded to 60 minutes and will feature a long interview with none other than Miyazaki Hayao.

13th of July, MIYAZAKI GORO TALKS PONYO, DAISHI DANCE MEETS GHIBLI: Last Friday Miyazaki Goro’s Gedo Senki (ゲド戦記, Tales from Earthsea) received its TV premiere at NTV’s Friday Roadshow. In that line, Goro earlier spoke that morning about his father’s latest film, Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea), at NTV Zoom in Super.

Miyazaki Goro: In the scene in which a lot of jellyfish are swimming, all of them are drawn by hand. There aren't any the same ones. I'm afraid of its formidableness. A total over 170,000 pieces of picture were drawn for only 100 minutes of animation. The density is awesome.
Q: How is that in the case of usual animation?
Goro: They draw a few of jellyfish and copy & paste them by computer.
Q: How is your relationship with your father? Has it changed?
Goro: His presence has not changed at all. Maybe he thinks "I'll show you my power!".
Q: Do you expect Hayao's next film?
Goro: I wonder until when he will continue to make anime. He will surely be over 70 years old if he makes a next. It is really incredible that someone over 70 can produce anime.

Now when taking a look at other factors creating the magic of Studio Ghibli films, one cannot deny its soundtracks play an important role as well. Of course, in that case a name like Hisaishi Joe, who is having some gigantic Ghibli concerts at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan early August, immediately turns up. For those who sadly cannot join that party, there are two musical options. The first one being Ponyo’s soundtrack, which is to be released in only a couple days away (July 16) and an obligated buy for anyone interested in Hisaishi’s latest musical pieces. The second one, for those who want more, is Daishi Dance’s The Ghibli Set. It was released earlier this month and mixes Ghibli songs with a contemporary flavour.

Watch the promotional video of The Ghibli Set: Daishi Dance meets Studio Ghibli PV

12th of July, PONYO’S KEYWORD - PART 2: As noted last week, the official website for Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) has been given a major update. Besides the extra flash gallery on the main page, the newly added press section contains a keyword with more inside information on Ponyo. For the Japanese impaired, now presents a summary on its second and final part.

A secret of the ancient fish - In Ponyo there is typhoon that causes the sea level to rise, making the town sink into the sea and bringing underwater creatures that once existed in the Devonian period. Some examples are the Bothriolepis and Dipnorhynchus, which really used to exist and of which fossils were found. Another one is Devonencs. It is huge whale like shark and its body is flat. In fact, this is an imaginary creature created by Miyazaki, on which he says "Isn't it like " Ittan-momen?".

(Note: Ittan-momen is a kind of traditional specter. Ittann means about 10 meter long, momen means cotton, so it's a cloth specter. It became popular by Mizuki Shigeru's manga GeGeGe no Kitaro.)

Back with Nausicaa Miyazaki already created huge fictional insects. Like that, Ponyo’s water creatures stun the audience, without their form showing any unreasonableness. Instead, it shows Miyazaki's imagination and his deep knowledge about biology.

Love for Ramen - In Miyazaki’s films there often appear many kinds of delicious looking food. Like the sunny-side up egg and bread in Laputa, Tendon, Anman and Onigiri in Sen to Chihiro and the bacon and eggs in Hauru...

(Note: Tendon (天丼) is the shrimp tempura in a rice bowl which Kamaji eats for lunch, Anman(あんまん)are bean-paste buns Chihiro and Rin eat it in the night at the balcony and Onigiri(おにぎり) is the rice ball that Haku gives to Chihiro when she was crying.)

In Ponyo, the best is the Ramen which Lisa serves to Sosuke and Ponyo, even though it's just instant noodles. Miyazaki's favorite is the one with spinach added to it. However, it wasn't easy to draw and as a result it was changed to green onion as we can see in the picture. There are also two pieces of ham on the ramen to be seen. In that particular scene where Ponyo eats the ham, the animator drew Ponyo taking the upper piece first, however the Sakuga director checked it and corrected it. Ponyo takes the lower ham first, because it is dunked in the soup and can be much warmer than the upper one. It's a delicate persistency. Like this ramen episode, the movie shows various examples of delicate persistency and direction everywhere.

The depiction of waves - This time, with Ponyo, Miyazaki has put most of his effort on depicting waves "like creatures". He turned them into huge rushing fishes called "Suigyo" (水魚, water fish).

Miyazaki uses the waves to resemble these huge fishes and depicts roaring waves in an overwhelming volume. Those who can see them as fish are only children like Sosuke, but adults like Lisa only see the waves. We once saw such a thing in Totoro. Children can detect the entity with their pure eyes. This is a unbudging belief Miyazaki has kept consistently. He might have created a new depiction style of waves that is different from Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎).

A thought put into gladiolus - At Ponyo’s Himawari-en (the nursery which Sosuke attends) and Himawari-no-ie there are blooming gladiolus. In flower language they stand for passionate love, memory, endeavor and forgetting and there are not many flowers that have such various meanings in flower language.

When Miyazaki was discussing the art settings of Ponyo with its art director, he insisted on appearing gladiolus in the film. Gladiolus is a very familiar flower that many people have experiences of growing from bulb. Ponyo's passionate love. Sosuke's endeavor for his given trial. The people in the story who forget everything that happened in the movie and return to their daily life. The gladiolus flowers might clandestinely watch them from behind the scenes...

Again a sunken town - In Miyazaki’s films we sometimes see sunken towns. Famous examples are Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの, The Castle of Cagliostro) where a Roman town appears and Panda Kopanda: Amefuri Circus no Maki (パンダ・コパンダ 雨降りサーカスの巻, Panda Kopanda: The Rainy-Day Circus) where Mimi-chan's town sinks in the flood. This time, the town where Sosuke and Lisa live sinks in the water. A common thing they all share is that they all sink in clear water, instead of a muddy stream. The scene depicts just an accident, without recalling any tragic disaster, but instead something exciting and nostalgic that extraordinary events brought us in our childhood. When Miyazaki once watched Fantasia 2000, he mentioned "Nice try… though if I make it, I draw the sunken town under the water surface on that flamingos are dancing." In Miyazaki's conscious mind, there exists the persistence of wanting to visualize sunken towns.

(Note: Every summer Japan is attacked by some typhoons. They often bring disaster to adults, though children always look forward to its arrival, because they bring adventure and joy and school closing.)

10th of July, TOTORO FOREST PROJECT, ITALIAN GHIBLI STORM AHEAD: During our extensive personal interview with him Pixar storyboard artist Enrico Casarosa already informed about us a very neat project he was planning do with some of his friends. Organised by people like Dice Tsutsumi, Yukino Pang, Ronnie del Carmen and Enrico Casarosa himself, it is now finally there… “The Totoro Forest Project”.

Miyazaki Hayao has been (and continues to be) an enormous inspiration to countless people around the world and the Totoro Forest Project, an international charity effort to preserve Sayama Forest (Totoro’s forest), is their way of giving something back for all the years of wonder and magic Miyazaki has given them. Held in association with Totoro no Furusato National Trust Fund, Studio Ghibli, Pixar Animation Studios, Cartoon Art Museum, General Consulate of Japan and Give2Asia, over 200 top international artists from animation, illustration, and comics are donating artwork especially created for this cause. These will be auctioned on September 6th at Pixar Animation Studios, which will be hosting the art auction event. All the proceeds of this fundraiser will benefit the Totoro Forest Foundation.

The official website just launched, so be sure to check it out. It is already filled with amazing Totoro inspired art. And while you’re at it, why don’t you make a donation to help and preserve Totoro’s Sayama forest?

Furthermore, important Ghibli news related to Italy. The Italian distribution company Lucky Red arrived at an option agreement with Studio Ghibli. As a result, starting from autumn the whole Ghibli production might possibly be released in Italy on DVD, with new dubs. But there is more: the additional plan is that all the films by Hayao Miyazaki will be released also in cinemas! This huge Ghibli campaign is aimed to start on November 14, with the first release of Totoro in Italian cinemas. Then, all the other Miyazaki films will follow, with a schedule of two films per year. The official press communicate by Lucky Red will be published in the next days, so will let you know as soon as it will be available. Will all of this be a follow-up to a possible screening of Ponyo at the famous Venice Film Festival…?

9th of July, 7ANDY PONYO INTERVIEW - PART 1: The Studio Ghibli pages at the Japanese webstore 7andY have been updated with a talk between Studio Ghibli’s executive producer Suzuki Toshio and 7andY president Suzuki Yasuhiro. Logically, its subject was Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) and presents a summary of part 1 for the Japanese impaired (part 2 will be published on July 22nd). Their question was: Even for a 5 year old, the world is "male and female"?

Toshio: How was the movie?
Yasuhiro: A lot of fun. I felt I went into a wonderful world.
Toshio: What made you have fun?
Yasuhiro: Sosuke behaves very naively. I thought I was like that when I was small.
Toshio: Were you like Sosuke?
Yasuhiro: Ponyo and Sosuke ride on a boat in the sunken town. That scene excited me. When I was small, a typhoon came and electric power was cut. I blew up a vinyl boat in the candle light. I wanted to ride on it if it flood. I reminded that.
Toshio: You know Sosuke doesn't have male friends. So did you?
Yasuhiro: No, I used to play only with boys.
Toshio: Sosuke is just 5 years old though, he only cares about girls. I wonder how his future would be (laughing). Miya-san usually does such a thing. When we produced Kiki, we had an argument. The first person who Kiki meets at Koriko town is a boy named Tombo. I told him violently "The one she meets first is a male?" In my opinion, when one visits an unfamiliar place the first person to meet must be of the a same sex.
Yasuhiro: I see.
Toshio: After that, she or he becomes aware of the opposite sex. Twenty years have passed since then and he still follows the same pattern. This time, I asked him unobtrusively "Sosuke does not seem to have any male friends..?" He replied "In fact, he has some. They just don't appear because I'm too busy to draw them." I thought his belief has consistence. He believes even for 5 year old kids, the world is "male and female".
Yasuhiro: In a way, that's natural.
Toshio: No. I don't think it's natural. Usually, we first make friends with people of the same sex, and after that we get eased at mind, then we become aware of the opposite sex. I mean, Miya-san's characters have no interest in same sex. That's one of the points of attraction of his movie.

8th of July, THE ART OF PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA: Those being really fond of the works of Studio Ghibli will certainly not be unfamiliar with their “The Art of...” book collection. With some small exceptions like Hotaru no Haka and Umi ga Kikoeru, almost everyone of their films has received the “The Art of...”-treatment and of course Miyazaki Hayao’s latest creation cannot stay behind. A variety of sketches, storyboards, background information, and cel reproductions (with backgrounds) of Miya-san’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) will all be put in The Art of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. This another fine edition of Studio Ghibli’s “The Art of...” book collection will be released on August 2nd at a price of 2,900 Yen. Pre-orders at international webstores like or Yesasia aren’t up yet, but already has its highly attractive cover art. Mixing watercolors with pastels. Isn’t it lovely?

7th of July (second update), MIYAZAKI AND PONYO COMING TO VENICE FILM FESTIVAL???: Oricon brings word on the recently held preview report of Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Now for details please visit, because all this post will talk about is one thing: Ponyo will be screened at an “unnamed international film festival”.

Most very probably this will be the famed Venice International Film Festival. Note that nothing has been confirmed and the festival’s official programme still needs to be announced (during a press conference, to be held on 29th July at the Hotel Excelsior in Rome), but chances are as close as 99%. Besides Miyazaki’s love for Italy, Miyazaki and la Biennale have quite the history. Furthermore, last April Venice director Marco Müller already spoke of his wishes for the festival. One of it being Miyazaki’s Ponyo. Let’s hope Müller’s wish will be granted.

7th of July, PONYO’S KEYWORD - PART 1: As noted yesterday, the official website for Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) has been given a major update. Besides the extra flash gallery on the main page, the newly added press section contains a keyword with more inside information on Ponyo. For the Japanese impaired, presents a summary on its first half.

The wonderful shade the moon brought to the movie - At the opening of the movie we see an impressive moon. It is larger than usual and as it appears its existence becomes larger. Miyazaki mentions that "Because of the world’s balance disruption, the moon is getting close to earth." It brings the crisis of earth’s collapsing; the moon’s approximation causes a gravitational imbalance, making the sea level rise and cities sink into the sea.

However, the moon means more than that. Since early times, the moon has been said to be a female symbol. Ponyo's mother Gran Manmare always appears at night and radiates a strange moonshine-like light. Some say the moon can govern human spirit and increase the numbers of suicide during full moon. Or the moon's age and tide having some relation with human life and death. It may be no exaggeration to say that humans as a creature are controlled by the moon.

The relationship with the Ghibli Museum shorts - Some of the trials Studio Ghibli has accumulated during the production of six of the Ghibli Museum shorts have been reflected on this movie. From Koro no Daisanpo (コロの大さんぽ, Koro's Big Day Out), with its picture book style like backgrounds (the warm and nostalgic style painted by Yoshida Noboru was first accepted in that movie). From Mizugumo Monmon (水グモもんもん, Monmon the Water Spider), with its the detailed depiction of water. From Yadosagashi (やどさがし, House Hunting), with its depiction of trees, grasses and winds which were drawn using Sakuga. From Hoshi wo Katta Hi (星をかった日, The Day I Harvested a Star), with its three-dimensional depiction without using CG mapping.

These are the experiences that made it possible to make Ponyo without any CG. Because we nowadays don’t use cel animation at all, we necessarily need computer processing on the composition of characters, backgrounds and effecting of light. However, we can feel something awesome on this all hand drawn movie.

Listening to Wagner's Valkyrie - When Miyazaki was developing the idea of Ponyo, he used to listen to the entire composition of Wagner's opera The Valkyrie. Some staff say that Miyazaki was saying "Listening to this music, I can feel the adrenaline flowing". Like Hitler used Wagner in Nazi propaganda, Wagner’s music has an uplifting power to the human sprit.

No wonder such Valkyrie could effect something on the movie. The real name of Ponyo is Brünnhilde and was derived from the eldest of the nine flying girls named the Valkyrie. She is slept by her father Wotan, who is caring about her. From the very beginning, the world view of Valkyrie is the world of the gods fronting the end of the time. From these, the influence can be guessed. Wotan is the master of the gods, trying to avoid the end of the world. We can easily imagine Ponyo's father Fujimoto from it.

The root from Natsume Soseki - After the production of Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (ハウルの動く城, Howl’s Moving Castle), Miyazaki eagerly read the complete works of Natsume Soseki, which gave an unforeseen effect on Ponyo (note: Natsume is widely considered to be Japan’s foremost novelist of the Meiji Era). Natsume's novel Mon sets its main character as Sosuke. This Sosuke lives under a cliff and it is obvious that Ponyo’s Sosuke is derived from Mon’s Sosuke.

Furthermore, Natsume studied abroad in London when he was young. He must surely have seen Millais's Ophelia at Tate Britain. In his book Kusamakura (草枕, Grass Pillow), Soseki overlapped Ophelia on its heroine and mentioned about the picture of Ophelia. Miyazaki got an interest in Millais’s diabolical picture and visited Britain to watch it by his own naked eyes. He was shocked to see it and decided to change his way of depiction, which was too detailed and over mature to naiveness. And all of this started because of Soseki. Surprisingly, according to the old calendar Soseki's birthday is on 1/5. Miyazaki's is on 1/5 according to the new calendar. They might be linked by fate.

(Note: Miyazaki was shocked by Ophelia’s detailed depiction. He thought the way pursued by Studio Ghibli had already been completed by Millais and other European painters from the 19th century with a much higher level than that of Ghibli.)

Mother and Child, by Suzuki Toshio - This year Miyazaki became 67 years old. Last autumn, he told, "I became at such an age that I can count the rest of my days until "Omukae" comes to me. Then perhaps I can meet my mother again. When that time comes, what should I talk with her about?"

(Note: When we die we think someone like God, Buddha, an angel or death comes to invite and take us from beyond the grave or above the sky. In the Ponyo song Himawari no Ie no Rondo, the lyrics go "I want to dance again for a while until Omukae comes to me". This is the wish of the elderly wheel chaired women.)

During the production of Ponyo Miya-san was always thinking about this. During one of the days of production, a scene of seeing again came up in the movie. Of course it does not depict such a situation of Miyazaki himself. He borrows the character of the 5 year old Sosuke and lets him meet with an old woman. I won’t tell what they talk about. You will know it when it’s on the screen. Either way, no matter how old we get, the existence of one’s mother has a large and deep meaning for all of us.

6th of July, PONYO WEBSITE UPDATE, GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE 40: The official website for Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) has been given a major update. Its main page now has an extra flash gallery with a lot new beautiful high resolution pictures from the movie, making you long even more for its release. Also newly added to the website is a press section, divided up into sub sections like story, about, character, song 1, song 2, keyword, profile and credits. Scattered around various posts, most of its content has already been posted before on, but there still is enough information worth mentioning so beware of future updates.

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 Agawa Sawako (阿川佐和子). She is a novel writer and we once before saw her on Asemamire. She serialized Gyotto-chan no Bouken (An Adventure of Gyoto-chan) on Studio Ghibli’s Neppu for 2 years and it will be soon published as a book.

She also is a daughter of the famous writer Agawa Hiroyuki. When she was small, she used to go "Katsura-Bunko", which was a private library for kids and was run by children's book writer Ishii Momoko. Though Agawa wasn't a book lover, she enjoyed some series such as Kästner's and Doctor Dolittle.

At the end of program, Miyazaki Goro gave his comments on Ponyo. "I watched Ponyo today. I thought it’s kind of a scary movie. This judgment can be split clearly depending on the viewers: understand it or not. Those who can understand it, watch it by feeling. Those who can't understand it, watch it by logic. "Understand-guys" want to watch it again, because they can understand. "Don't-understand-guys" want to watch again, because they want to get the logic. Ponyo has such an enchantment. About me? I can understand, but don't agree (laughing). Maybe I'll get scolded for mentioning this. The reason I can't agree does not mean I'm critical towards Ponyo or Hayao. It just means that if I was ordered to make a movie now, I wouldn’t make something like this."

4th of July, MORE PONYO NEWS ON JAPANESE NATIONAL TELEVISION: Ponyo ga kuru! After last week’s release of the TV trailer of Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea), today the advertising blitz further continued with an interesting news item at NTV’s Zoom in Super.

One of its presenters, Hashima, was up to do some voice acting for Ponyo. He visited Studio Ghibli, where he was welcomed by Miyazaki Hayao and Suzuki Toshio. As a present Hashima brought some doughnuts with him and he was so excited, handing them over to Suzuki already made him nervous and exhausted.

In Ponyo, there is a scene in which Ponyo is longing to meet Sosuke again and causes a typhoon by using her father's magic. On TV news, an announcer tells about it in amphibolic radio wave signals. Hashima is the one to act the part of that news announcer and was directed by Miyazaki Hayao. "You should act cool as usual. I am sorry to say, but soon both picture and sound will get confused. You'll soon get it on screen."

Hashima went into the recording studio at the basement of Studio Ghibli, a room which is usually used as their preview room. As can be seen in one of the pictures below, there is a monitor at the front corner from which Miyazaki directs all the actors.

After only one time of rehearsing, the real thing started and Hashima became even more nervous. To enlarge that out even further, the TV show showed a caption "プレッシャー" (pressure). Hashima’s announcer reading went like this "There has suddenly occurred a small, but strong typhoon and it is coming up with 30 km/h and remaining its power. Please pay attention to the weather forecast and keep being aware of it."

Hashima's acting was over in 1 minute and 20 seconds. Miyazaki gave him a small applause and Hashima took a deep breath to loosen up his tension. After all was finished Hashima rushed towards Miyazaki. Miyazaki said, "No problem. That's OK!". "I was sooo nervous!", said Hashima, to which Miyazaki responded, "Why nervous?". Suzuki joked around bit and said, "We considered that we should add some more scenes that you act, but unfortunately we couldn't…" Hashima told "This was the most exhausted news reading that I've ever experienced."

Due to copyrights will post various screenshots only and will not be hosting this report in the form of a video file. All images are copyright of Nibariki and GNDHDDT (© 2008 二馬力 ・GNDHDDT)

3rd of July, OSHII AND STUDIO GHIBLI: While being competitors of each other, Oshii Mamoru and Studio Ghibli have always had a special kind of connection. This is something which recently came through again. Oshii’s latest film, The Sky Crawlers, will be released in August and its website has been updated with comments by Miyazaki Goro and Anno Hideaki.

Miyazaki Goro’s seem to be rather cynical, "Those guys on screen never eat a meal. They only live on liquor and tobacco. No, they didn’t ingest them, but just pretended to be ingesting them. And about sex, they just pretended to be having sex. There wasn't any smell of sweat or sperm. They rode on airplanes and motorbikes. However, all of them seemed like unsubstantial machines on the monitor display. Even those machines seemed to pretend being machines."

Evangelion director Anno Hideaki, who in the past worked as a key-animator on Kaze no Tani no Naushika and Hotaru no Haka and directed Shiki-Jitsu (which was released by Studio Ghibli offshoot Studio Kajino), just gathered his friends' impressions, "Interesting!", "This is Oshii's first film during which I didn't fall asleep halfway.", "Understandable", "Really sensitive romance!", "Its air battle scenes are long and very good.", "The CG is made very well", "Sound effects are awesome", "Want to watch once more", "Impressed", "It shows Oshii's love for anime and Miyazaki and I was titillated with my heart", "Oshii became an adult", "The dogs are cute"…… These are my friends’ positive impressions. I was also interested much. I love its stoic feeling.

Besides Miyazaki Goro and Anno Hideaki, Suzuki talked about the preview of The Sky Crawlers on his radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire. He only said, "It feels us as if it's very short", because the character motion is less than that of Ponyo. Furthermore worth noting is that today Oshii appeared on one of Japan’s most famous TV shows, Fuji TV’s Waratte Iitomo. It is hosted by the famous comedian Tamori, who was a foley artist on the Ghibli Museum short Yadosagashi (やどさがし, House Hunting).

1st of July, PRE-RELEASE PONYO ENJOYMENT, (PRE-)GHIBLI ON DVD AND BLU-RAY: Natsume Fusanosuke, one of Japan’s foremost manga critics and grandchild of the novelist Natsume Soseki, has posted his thoughts in short on Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). What makes his comments extra interesting is that the name of Ponyo’s Sosuske is derived from the main character of his grandfather’s famous novel Mon. During Miyazaki’s stay in Tomonoura, he read the book and got the name Sosuke from it.

Natsume noted, “I'm just back from watching the preview. Straightly, it was very interesting. Kids can easily enjoy it. As usual in Miyazaki anime, it also has a message. I like the pictures of Märchen-like standard and its colors. Both of them show the importance and the pleasure of figment. I cannot write any more, because it isn't long before its release."

Furthermore, a particular unnamed person who also claims to have seen Ponyo mentions that “It has all cleared up today: This summer, you should watch Ponyo at the largest theatre possible near you. Forget reading any magazines, TV programs or TV-CM that comment or advertise it as much as you can. You must go to the theatre, pay the fee and sit on that seat without any prejudice or knowledge. As far as I am concerned, I eagerly desire to watch it again."

Also worth mentioning is a reminder on tomorrow’s release of Ghibli Museum Library’s Panda Kopanda and Snow Queen. Later that month these will be followed by Blu-ray releases of Jarinko Chie and Meitantei Holmes on July 25, and on August 6 Studio Ghibli’s Ghibli ga Ippai Collection will release "Hotaru no Haka - the complete preserved edition".

30th of June, GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE 39: 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.

While opening this week’s episode, a live recording at the first preview of Ponyo shared the excitement of all of the people that came out of the preview room. Furthermore, this week’s guest was Kishimoto Taku, a.k.a. Nayo in Ghibli’s diary and part of the Ghibli staff. After graduating from university he started working at a magazine called SAIZO and often came to Ghibli to gather his news. Establishing a business relation with Suzuki, he ended up being recruited by him and transferred to Ghibli on February 1st. Just after it, in March, a female Ghibli staff member named Rumi got pregnant by him. As Rumi was Miyazaki’s most loved staff member, other staff around were afraid how angry Miyazaki would get. However, Miyazaki had an interest in him. His interest was why he could conceive a baby without thinking about the results. All of this took place during the days of a marriage boom at Ghibli, though they avoided to make babies. To hear Noya's deed, they suddenly began a pregnant boom.

Suzuki told, "One day, Miyazaki invited me to his room. He usually closes the door when he intends to tell something important. Most of the time it is not so important though (laughing). He told me, he wanted to build a company nursery for the children the Ghibli employees got. He was planning to make a movie about nursery around that time. I asked him what the nursery movie plan would look like. He told me the real nursery would be first and his movie plan would be quit. After that, he changed his new movie plans and began working on Ponyo. So I think Nayo was the trigger of Ponyo."

One day, during the recording of Ponyo’s voice dub, a serious trouble occurred. They were busy with a scene that Miyazaki considered to be one of the most important scenes. Some professional actors acted it, though Miyazaki didn't accept it at all and got very angry. Suzuki was told to find other actors by next morning. That night, because it was such an important scene that needed a young couple, Suzuki could not sleep at all and thought about it. He had a plan of an alternative professional actor, though next morning he proposed Rumi for the wife’s role. Miyazaki quickly agreed and decided Nayo as the husband.

Suzuki asked Nayo to act out that scene and Nayo shouted, "OHHHHIII!" Suzuki commented, "That idiotic acting perfectly fits the role!" Then Nayo's dialogue was only one word, "OHHHHIII!"??

Currently, Nayo is working under Takahata. The Ghibli diary wrote they started one big project and five main staff members had a meeting. The diary says it's a secret and can't tell any more details. What will it be? Takahata’s new movie?

29th of June, FIRST PONYO REVIEW: Ponyo ga kuru! Though it is still less than a month away from its release, industry insider and broadcasting writer Hashimoto Atsushi has posted the very first review on Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Needless to say, it deserves full attention, so read on below.

I have just watched 崖の上のポニョ. Yeah! Soo Nice!! Full marks! FIVE STARS!! Of course, I saw it later than Ghibli’s staff. I'm working on the Ghibli Special program which will air on July 25th and it gave me this opportunity. Hashida, who is part of the Ghibli staff, told me that the first preview for outsiders is called "Sho-go Shisya" (初号試写, 1st preview) and the one for inside the company is called "Zero-go shisya" (0号試写, 0th preview)". The one I attended was Sho-go.

On June 25th, when I visited IMAGICA in Gotanda, there were sooo many people to be seen. "Oh! That's Mr. Suzuki! I just touched him with my shoulder! Oh! There is his Majesty Takahata!" When I entered the preview room, I was surprised to see full seats of audiences, though its capacity is more than 100. It shows that Studio Ghibli’s new movie interests so many. I've never seen such a hot air during any of the previews I visited over the last two years. They all gazed at the screen to ensure they would never miss any of the cuts Miyazaki challenged himself to.

© 2008 二馬力 ・GNDHDDT

The movie has started. The content is… a secret! Of course that is the rule. BUT! I can tell only one thing… VERRRY INTERESTIIIIIING! Above all, the 5 minutes of opening will surely amaze you! It completely took my breath away and I felt like Miyazaki's soul was telling me "Look at my painting!!". Sorry, I can't tell about the story... only about the images.

The location is a rural seaside town. Sosuke lives at a house on a cliff with his mother. His father tends to be absent from home because he is a sailor. One day, Sosuke has an magical meeting. It is Ponyo, a fish girl. Then a story of friendship and adventure begins. It doesn't have an esoteric theme like Mononoke (though of course Ponyo does hide a deep theme)... It’s not densely drawn like Howl... Rather than that, it has a similar world-view to that of Totoro... The sceneries seem to have something nostalgic. Unaccountable creatures live in the daily life. People accept it naturally.

The visual impression is just like that of the poster. Round and simple, warm and handmade like. A 5 year old kid like Mei acts. For kids of that age, everything is an adventure. We are quickly invited to such bright good old days. I was surprised to hear from Hashida that the whole movie was drawn by hand. It is simple, but out-of-box so to speak. Overblown waves, fishes larger than a ship... All is rather comfortable.

I have thought that the development of 3G animation techniques has reached its limit and we can't distinguish if it’s CG or real. Which is of course amazing, but why must they must make animation as if it is live-action? Anime should be like anime. If that is the way you think, then you'll surely be beaten to watch this film. Miyazaki gave us a clear answer. He never cares about any law of perspective or the motion of real waves or to be close to live-action. He enlarges what he wants to show. That's OK if it's a fairy tale. Free imagination or thoughts are permitted.

Either way, I remet the anime I loved so much during my childhood. The 100 minutes was like that. And Ponyo, she's really cute! Sosuke, he's really noble! Mr. Tokoro! We decided you to be the narrator of the Ghibli Special. He shows an unusual side as Ponyo's father. It's quite good. Let us ignore any detailed logics. Maybe you will care for some questions in the story after watching, but it brings us a thought like "No problem. It's really delightful. That's enough!" It must be a masterpiece, surely leaving an important thing in your heart after watching!

27th of June, EXCLUSIVE - PONYO TRAILER AIRED ON JAPANESE TELEVISION: Ponyo ga kuru! With its premiere on NTV’s Zoom in Super today, those who did not yet watch the official trailer of Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) in one of the 2000 cinemas in Japan have been given a different, but great second chance.

Now it is obvious that any trailer of any kind of Miyazaki film deserves to be seen on the big screen, as it just works better, but even on television the trailer easily manages to catch its fish (note: “different” refers to its content, which is different from the trailer that can be seen in Japanese cinemas).

One of the first things to note upon opening of the trailer is its soundtrack. Used as background music is Ponyo’s Totoro-like theme song that was released last December. It is not the same though. This time it is the “flawed” test version sung by the little 8 year old Ohashi Nozomi, consisting of only her voice backed up by some piano play. While in advance some might wonder why Studio Ghibli has decided to use this test version, they will soon find out that the cuteness, spontaneity and childness of Nozomi’s singing perfectly fits the characteristics of Ponyo and its premiere target audience. In addition to that, using it makes one anticipate even more what new kind of masterpieces Hisaishi Joe has made this time.

As the music plays along, the viewer is introduced into the world of Ponyo and her sisters. A sea world that Miyazaki has filled with an abundance of all kinds of creatures and plants. All moving along with the movements of the sea, it kind of reminds the viewer of the tall grass catching wind from Kiki’s Delivery Service’s opening scene, while on the other hand bringing a new Miyazaki world one has never seen.

On a jellyfish gently floating up towards the sea surface, Ponyo is brought to the world of Sosuke. This is again where viewers will find out that master film maker Miyazaki has more surprises up his sleeve. Ponyo’s sea has a rather unique touch. Miyazaki has been intimately involved with its hand-drawn animation and preferred to draw the sea and waves all himself, and enjoyed experimenting on how to express it. Furthermore, as had been hinted, character designs are clean and simple and shadows seem to have disappeared.

Referring to those clean and simple character designs, it is indeed true what Miyazaki recently noted:

"The world we draw is not the one seen through a lens, but the one seen by naked eyes. The world seen by naked eyes shows the curious things in large, but ignores the things we don’t care for. That is the way it goes. When cutting out and drawing a scenery like that, the result is a world that we used to see somewhere, sometime. If you ask if my layouts fit to the perspective an architect draws, they never do. If we draw perspective lines before we begin making a layout, then the pictures will surely become dull."

While Ponyo meets Sosuke, who Miyazaki based on his son Goro (director of Gedo Senki when he was five, viewers will also find out that Ponyo is more than what Japanese call “kawaii”. Besides her immensely cute side, she is naughty as well, spitting water in the face of Kumiko. Furthermore, viewers will also notice is that art director Takeshige Yoji and Oga Kazuo have brought us new kind of background art. As requested by director Miyazaki, even these are simple and clean, combining water colors with pastels.

Gake no ue no Ponyo is said to be inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid as well as by the traditional Japanese folktale Urashima Taro. Based on this trailer however, Miyazaki will certainly add a highly unique touch to that. Ponyo ga kuru!

Due to copyrights will keep it at various screenshots only and will not be hosting the trailer in the form of a video file. All images are copyright of Nibariki and GNDHDDT (© 2008 二馬力 ・GNDHDDT)

26th of June, GHIBLI LAYOUT EXHIBITION: Yesterday the website of this summer’s exhibition Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata/Miyazaki Animation received an enormous update. As its content is so interesting, is bringing its details for the Japanese impaired. Needless to say, for those visiting Tokyo this summer, this will be an exhibition which cannot be missed.

Takahata Isao Interview - We animators often have a poor man's mentality. If we make e-konte (storyboard) or a layout without imagining the result, it can incur a big waste. So we make a detailed plan in advance of production to avoid such a waste. For me, in such a situation, I needed a reliable cooperator and I was very lucky. I did not think "layout" to be a "system", but I premised I had the excellent talent of Miyazaki. For me, it had a big meaning to meet Miyazaki. Maybe it was the same for him. I guess he learned much from the works that he did with me, but not from me. I think the reason Miyazaki became big world wide is not because he draws very well, but because his layouts already have a side of directing (a layout might be seen as a distorted picture, if you see it as a tableau though). Animation must show lies. We are struggling on how we can show the moving of flat pictures to close to reality.

© 2001 ニ馬力 ・GNDDTM

Miyazaki Hayao Interview - I've worked on animation for more than 40 years on struggling how we can show interesting things. However, there is no right way to do it. The world we draw is not the one seen through a lens, but the one seen by naked eyes. The world seen by naked eyes shows the curious things in large, but ignores the things we don’t care for. That is the way it goes. When cutting out and drawing a scenery like that, the result is a world that we used to see somewhere, sometime. If you ask if my layouts fit to the perspective an architect draws, they never do. If we draw perspective lines before we begin making a layout, then the pictures will surely become dull. Animation movies are "ayakasi", so to speak > ayakasi > deception. For the audiences, how they are tricked is the amusement of watching animation.

Suzuki Toshio’s Message - If I would explain what "layout" is with one word only, then it is a "camera man & live action film director". It indicates the positions of characters and acting and backgrounds and camera works.

Miyazaki says he was unbelievably busy during the time they worked on Heidi. The director, Takahata, just drew simple e-konte (Suzuki says it was "chon-maru", probably referring to circles and lines. Takahata basically doesn't draw, but only directs). These were re-drawn cleanly by Miyazaki and made into layouts, who soon had meetings with all parts of the staff. About sakuga with the animators, about backgrounds with the art staff, about color with the finishing section and about camera works with the filming staff. On top of that, Miyazaki had one more job: the job of being an animator. If he had free time, he drew and drew. Because of this, he returned home only once a week, the days on which the program was aired.

© 1997 二馬力 ・GND | © 2001 ニ馬力 ・GNDDTM

One day he heard Takahata was arguing with the producer for a long time. "Why must we make one episode in a single week!?". From the bottom of his heart Miyazaki wished that Takahata should have given him an next order, instead of wasting time.

One of his profound thoughts I once heard was like this: "I devoted 15 years of my youth under Paku-san (note: Takahata). I wish he will give it back to me some day...". What he devoted during his youth were the so many days of drawing and drawing layouts. After that, when he became a director and managed the entire production, he muttered "I need one more me!!". In this case, "me" meaning a "layout man".

Later on, Miyazaki began drawing more detailed e-konte. When he made Mononoke Hime, he enlarged the size of e-konte. Basically, e- konte indicates the acting of characters and backgrounds just roughly and sets the length of cuts. However, Miyazaki tried to make detailed e-konte and replace it into layouts.

As you can see, layout is the key-point of producing animation. It is unique and secret. It depends on one's capacity for imagination if the visitors can find the secret of Takahata/Miyazaki Anime.

24th of June, PONYO TRAILER ON JAPANESE TELEVISION: For those who live in Japan and have not yet seen the second Ponyo trailer that was released last Saturday, a different trailer will be viewable on Japanese television this weekend. Be sure not to miss it!

23rd of June, SECOND PONYO TRAILER FOLLOW-UP: Last Saturday, in more than 2000 cinemas over Japan, the second official trailer of Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) was released. As promised, would follow with an impression of that wonderful one minute and a half and so here it is (note: please be aware of any possible spoilers though).

Like always, the ever promising Studio Ghibli Totoro logo fills the screen. Fading away, the chaotic sea that we once saw in the first trailer appears together with the face of Fujimoto. He seems to be speaking something to himself. His voice seems a bit monotone, without being bothersome. Anyway, the cuts change so often, it is hard to catch up with them. Fujimoto talks with Gran Manmare. Is that in the large cave in the sea? The huge Gran Manmare sticks out her head from the water and talks with Fujimoto's ship.

Ponyo, Sosuke and Lisa appear. Sosuke runs down from the top of the cliff while his mother Lisa calls for him. Good voice. "Daisuki, Sosuke!" (I love you so much, Sosuke!), says Ponyo to Sosuke. Sosuke goes and look for his mother, calling "Lisa!!". Lisa shows her rolling-over in her sleeping scene. She looks attractive, as told in Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire. And for a short moment we can see the elderly women of Himawari no Ie...

At night, on the balcony, Sosuke sends a Morse code to the sea. A scene where all rapidly develops. A tornado… lots of huge fishes… the word "tsunami" is heard… In the bad weather and with great waves, a cargo ship is sailing. Ponyo, who has transformed into a human, runs and chases after the ship on sea. Played very well by Kazushige, Sosuke’s father Kouichi shouts, "A girl of about the same age as Sosuke is chasing us!!". The trailer ends with Ponyo's dialogue "I love you so much, Sosuke!" again and the catch copy, "Umaretekite yokatta!" appears. Lucky to be born!

As hinted before, the characters are very simple and have no shadows. Maybe those who are accustomed to Studio Ghibli’s movies might get a bit uncomfortable by this in the beginning. However, once they get used to it, they will surely be attracted to Ponyo’s impressive world! So what about the rest of Miyazaki’s visuals, the backgrounds or the soundtrack? Be patient and explore them yourself. You will certainly not be disappointed. However, let us forget about this trailer as quickly as possible. Why don't we enjoy Ponyo with an empty memory?! Ponyo ga kuru!

22nd of June, ALL DETAILS ON AN EXCLUSIVE TALK BETWEEN GEORGE LUCAS AND SUZUKI TOSHIO IN GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE 38: As a follow-up to Suzuki’s business trip from last April, when he brought a Ponyo demo film in his bag to promote it for the US market, this week’s episode of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM brought all details on a recent talk between George Lucas and Suzuki Toshio in Japan.

As its contents were highly interesting, is bringing an extra extensive summary. As usual, somewhere during the week a podcast version will also be available for download and can eventually be found over here.

Suzuki Toshio: I am very good friends and have had a long relationship with mr John Lasseter of Pixar. Was he at Lucas Film before?
George Lucas: Yes. San Francisco is an animation centre. It’s all sort of spun off from Lucas Film. Than we have Pixar and we also have DreamWorks in San Francisco, which made Shrek and that sort of thing. And we have another company now, a Disney animation company of which Bob Iger is in charge of. And than we have our own Lucas Animation which is also there, doing a Star Wars animated feature and some TV shows.
Suzuki Toshio: So you do a lot of animation as well?
George Lucas: Yes, we do. You’ll see animation is very big in San Francisco. There’s a lot of it. What we have developed is CG primarily. I think everybody in San Francisco does CG, but our new television series sort of changed around a little bit. It changed the look and made a different kind of animation, which at some point we would love to show you.
Suzuki Toshio: What is different?
George Lucas: Well, it is not very realistic animation, like Beowulf or one of those very realistic kind of animated movies. And it is not cartoon style animation like you would see in Pixar or Dreamworks. Ours is kind of in between those two. It’s very dramatic. Very dramatic lighting and figures that are actually painted. You can see the paint on them when you get close and that sort of thing, which is a little different.
Suzuki Toshio: It’s hard to imagine.
George Lucas: You kind of have to see it in order to see what it is. It’s not like anything else.

Suzuki Toshio: Actually, our new film at Ghibli has no CG at all, so it’s all hand drawn. What do you think of that?
George Lucas: Well, I like hand drawn animation as well. It’s just that there are two different ways of doing something. They have their own style and look and you can do different things in each medium.
Suzuki Toshio: It seems a bit sad, because we started out in animation all hand drawn, and somewhere the computer came in and that’s sort of taking over. There is an animator called Glen Keane, I don’t know if you know him, but he is such a great artist. I would love to see some work from America which is all hand drawn.
George Lucas: I think John Lasseter is doing an hand drawn film for Disney. I think, ultimately, it is really more about the ideas, than it is about the technique you use to express those ideas.
Suzuki Toshio: Well, I actually said he should do it (laughing).
George Lucas: But it is about the story as much as anything else. The development of the characters and that sort of thing. Weither you do it hand drawn or... With the computer you can make it look as if it is hand drawn, it is just a different way of doing it. It’s really ultimately about what the story is.
Suzuki Toshio: Maybe this is an influence from Miyazaki, but I watch Disney channel a lot and see all the old animations they used to make. Everything moves maybe too much. More than they should be moving. But it creates a certain kind of atmosphere. The effect of things being handled by hand. Things that maybe should not be moving in a movie. But just watching that is very, very interesting. Not with our new film Ponyo, which is already almost complete, but for the next film maybe we’ll go for that. I hope that maybe you will also do hand drawn animation at some point.

George Lucas: Well, we’ll see… (kind of mumbles). Sort of the early proponement of digital film basically, not only digital animation with Pixar, but some of the first things that were done in digital animation we did. Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, when he was working for us, before Pixar and before they did a feature film, and I very much helped developed the 24 frame digital cameras so we could shoot movies digitally. Which is like Star Wars. And those movies were all done digitally. And promoting digital projectors so that we can see the films better. So I am not sure if you are talking to the right guy, although I appreciate and love hand drawn animation.
Suzuki Toshio: Well, because you are that person, that is why I am telling you. It would be a big influence to the world.
George Lucas: (laughing) And Steven (Spielberg) on Indiana Jones, I could not get him to do it digitally. He did it on film.
Suzuki Toshio: So I ask to you, as an executive producer in the film industry, how much do you want to do on this film in Japan in terms of box office?
George Lucas: I don’t know. As a producer I am more involved in the action of making the movie. I think we will do fine, but we don’t have to go into movies now because of making money. We just want them to break even so that we can make another movie. But I do not think anybody, Steven or I or Harrison… Well, Steven and Harrison like to make the money, but I don’t have to make the money… I think we are at a point where we know it will do well enough to make its money back. Where it really comes down to is that we did not make it to see how much money we could make. We made it because we thought it would be a fun movie to make. We wanted to see it.
Suzuki Toshio: I really feel happy hearing from you that it is enough just to recoup, because I feel the same way on my films.
George Lucas: Ultimately, if you are just making movies and you are making them to make good movies, that’s the important part. As long as you can stay in business, meaning pay for what you have done and continue to go forward, than you have accomplished the main part of the job. There are a lot better ways of making money if that is what you trying to do and trying to make movies.
Suzuki Toshio: Actually, if I wanted to make more money I would quit this business (both laughing). Have you ever seen any of Studio Ghibli’s films?
George Lucas: Yes, definitely. It was a big influence on all of us. Very wonderful. It’s led by your studio, but is has pushed a very, very large market for Japanese film in America. Especially in the DVD market as opposed to the theatre market it is huge. It is as big as any other part of the American film. If you go into a store that sells DVDs in the United States, you will find a section that’s comedy, another section that’s drama, another section is action adventure and then… Japanese animation is like THAT (Suzuki laughing).

Suzuki Toshio: Actually, yes, we are doing quite well in the DVD market. We are hoping for the future to do better in the theatre. That is why with this new film, Gake no ue no Ponyo, we are getting Kathleen (Kennedy) and Frank (Marshall) to help us.
George Lucas: They are very good at bringing films to the United States and bringing them into the theatres.
Suzuki Toshio: So now we will leave everything in their hands, do nothing and wait for things to happen (laughing).
Kathleen Kennedy: Today we finished the movie… Today!
Suzuki Toshio: Today? Is that so? Congratulations!
Kathleen Kennedy: I have to assume that everybody is waiting for the movie to be shown in Japan and I think that they will be very, very happy with this new movie. It is everything that the other three (Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle) were and more. I am a big fan.
Suzuki Toshio: Can you give one comment on our new film Ponyo?
Kathleen Kennedy: Ponyo is going to break hearts. It is such an incredible new character that Miyazaki-san is bringing to the screen.
Suzuki Toshio: Thank you very much.

20th of June, RELEASE OF SECOND PONYO TRAILER: Tomorrow to be released nationwide in more than 2000 cinemas in Japan and with a run time over 1 and half minute is the second official trailer of Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). In it the audience will be able to hear the voices of the main characters for the first time and Studio Ghibli will reveal everything that they have kept a secret. Being quite different from the 1st trailer, it will surely change your image of Ponyo.

What is the identity of Ponyo?
What is the secret hidden in Gran Manmare?
How great will the success of Ponyo's sisters be?

More details on its content soon at

16th of June, SECOND PONYO CHIRASHI: Currently literally being spread in millions around Japan is the second chirashi (handbill) of Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). The front side contains a picture which is already known; it is the same as Ponyo’s second film poster. However, the backside is different. Showing a lovely picture of Ponyo in the sea near Sosuke’s house, it is the first time one can distinguish the difference in style of background art being used. It also gives a small amount of character info together with quite extensive synopsis info. Therefore some might not want to read ahead because of possible spoilers.

© 2008 二馬力 ・GNDHDDT
Gake no ue no Ponyo - Synopsis (spoiler alert)

A small town facing the sea.

Sosuke is a boy who lives at a house on a cliff. One day he meets a fish girl called Ponyo who rides a jellyfish and ran away from home. Ponyo puts her head into a jam jar, but can't get out of it and struggles. Sosuke happens to find it and helps her.

Ponyo falls in love with Sosuke and so does Sosuke. "I'll guard you", says Sosuke. However, Ponyo is brought back to the sea by her father Fujimoto. He once quit being a human and became an inhabitant of the sea.

"I want to become human!", says Ponyo. She asks her small sisters for help to steal her father's magic and starts in the human world where Sosuke lives.

The dangerous power of the water of life is released. The sea bulges up, a storm rages and the sisters transform into huge fishes. As a huge tsunami they all rush towards the cliff Sosuke lives at.

A boy and a girl. Love and responsibility. Sea and life. In the age of psychoneurosis and anxiety, this is a story of a mother and child that Miyazaki Hayao depicts without any hesitance.

15th of June, AN EXCLUSIVE ALL ABOUT PONYO AND MIYAZAKI IN 300 DAYS: Little time is left before Miyazaki Hayao’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) will finally be released. “Ponyo ga kuru!” and so the news keeps coming from Japan.

NHK’s Professional special on Miyazaki Hayao from March 27 2007 is getting a great follow-up. On August 5 Japan's public broadcaster NHK is to air an exclusive documentary which is tentatively titled Professional Shigoto no Ryugi Special - All about Miyazaki Hayao and the Birth of Ponyo in 300 Days. In this kind of second episode of their earlier special, NHK will give an unmissable behind the scene look of Miyazaki working on Ponyo, showing the real face of the maestro, even showing him shedding tears.

Back in January 2006 NHK began filming the documentary when Ponyo was just in a concept stage concept level. With a small movie camera director Arakawa got in close contact with Miyazaki and filmed a 2 and half year period in a total of 300 days.

Though in the past there were other documentaries featuring Miyazaki, this is the first one giving such a complete a close up look: from its preparation stage till the very end of production. The 90 minutes long program is fully loaded with valuable images like primary sketches of the film’s main characters, from when Miyazaki first revealed the concept to his staff when the character of Ponyo was solely a cute girl, till the stage where she gradually became an up-angled eyes and tough character.

On interview, Miyazaki professed about his early childhood, when his mother got an incurable disease and was in hospital for long time. Miyazaki projected her on some of his characters in Ponyo, Laputa and Totoro.

In the movie, there is a song that sings about the sentiment of an old woman close to death. It is called Himawari no Ie no Rondo, meaning The Rondo of the House of the Sunflower, and is sung by Fujisawa Mai, the daughter of Miyazaki’s “home composer” Hisaishi Joe. When Miyazaki listened to it he started to cry and responded "Damn! I remember my mother…". Director Arakawa explained, "His movie doesn't solely come from his imagination, but from his real life as well." Producer Ariyoshi Nobuto mentioned, "We believe we have been able to catch Miyazaki's real face and life while struggling to make this movie. Watch the vibration of Miyazaki's mind, never compromising his heart when making a film."

10th of June, NEW PONYO IMAGERY: The Ghibli pages at 7andY have just been updated with a dedicated page on Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). For the moment it only contains basic information on things like the film’s characters and voice cast (on which details were already posted at, May 28). However, what makes it worth visiting is some new imagery from the film and its characters. Ponyo ga kuru!

9th of June, THIRTY-SIXTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD, SUZUKI MEETS GEORGE LUCAS: After two weeks of somewhat "lesser" episodes, last Sunday Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM was worth a summary again. As usual, a podcast version of this week’s episode will be also available for download and can eventually be found over here.

This week’s guest was Taneda Youhei (種田陽平), live action art director on films like Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Mitani Koki’s The Magic Hour and Uchoten Hotel, Iwai Shunji’s Swallow Tail and Oshii Mamoru’s Innocence. Ghibli Museum recently started a new exhibition, called Petit Louvre, and Taneda directed it together with Miyazaki Goro. Miyazaki Hayao is always thinking about new projects for the Ghibli Museum and often worries about the lack of good ideas. When Suzuki talked with Goro, he proposed a picture-only exhibition, resulting in Petit Louvre.

The idea behind the exhibition is quite interesting. As making an animated feature film involves transforming a world contained within the work and its characters into a drawing or painting, initial inspiration is often taken from the works of past painters. It is a useful form of inspiration, as proven in some of Gedo Senki’s scenes, which were inspired by the ruin paintings of the French Rococo painter Hubert Robert (of whom two works are exhibited as well). In addition to the actual creative process, therefore, a wide knowledge of "painting" is often indispensable background knowledge for creators. Next to that, it also sharpens and enhances the sensibilities of the viewer when faced with a work of art. Unfortunately, the opportunities for seeing these kind of paintings and sculptures are fairly rare in Japan. Museums are commonly aimed at adults who take in works of art silently and reverently, and hardly a place for kids to be able to visit casually. And that is where Ghibli Museum comes in. Petit Louvre was intended to change this and let it be acceptable for kids. With this in mind, the exhibition was organized in order to provide a space where anyone can get a sense for the history of the Louvre buildings, and especially where kids can encounter "high" art in a relaxed setting. All pictures were re-sized to 40% and put all over the wall and some facilities of the Louvre like the glass pyramid and the old well have been re-sized and set as well.

Part of this week’s Asemamire discussion were also the movie sets Taneda directed. Like, for Kill Bill, the restaurant set where one of the fights took place was all built in Beijing and filmed there. No scene location was shot in Japan. Or for The Magic Hour, the town set was real, but a bit cheap like and aimed to be suitable for the nonsense comedy.

(Note: The Magic Hour has just been released, on June 7, and got a good box office result this weekend. Analysts say it can raise much more than the 6,000,000,000 yen of Uchouten Hotel. Its ending credit roll shows the entire process of building the town set. Incidentally, the town name is SUKAGO, which is of course a parody of Chicago. Anyway, with this movie Mitani became one of the most famous and popular movie directors in Japan.)

Iwai Shunji’s Swallow Tail was also discussed. At first they intended to do location shooting in a foreign town to take "Yen-Town", but afterwards decided to build the set in Tokyo. Taneda said he built it in a hurry in one month with vigor and it happened to bring them a good result. When Iwai visited China, a Chinese fan told him the guy knew the town and lived near it. Perhaps similar towns like Yen-town exist in China... Suzuki told, "When Ghibli was making Chihiro, Miyazaki and I visited Korea to outsource the douga. After finishing the business, we walked around the backstreets of Seoul and found a block that showed much resemblance with the town the Ogino family wander into. It was really a déjà vu for us and we were much surprised. Maybe many Asian cities have a kind of bawdy and nostalgic taste like that..."

Suzuki furthermore told about another Ghibli Museum project which Goro is currently addressing: a "The Sky Crawlers and Ponyo exhibition". As The Sky Crawlers handles the sky and Gake no ue no Ponyo handles the sea and Goro thought Hayao and Oshii do similar work, he though joining them would be interesting. Taneda worked with Goro and was much impressed by his human qualities. Suzuki told an episode when Goro began working on building Ghibli Museum. During the planning and building stage of the museum, Hayao and Goro often quarreled. However, Goro never accepted Hayao's orders, "Things never goes as drawing like. I'm much more familiar than you in architecture." And at last Goro sent a fax to Hayao..."I don't remember being grown up by you at all."

(Note: When Goro was small, Miyazaki Hayao was very busy and always came home very late or didn't come home and seldom saw his children awake.)

To sum things up, for those having read about Suzuki Toshio’s meeting with George Lucas and the announcement of Ponyo’s US voice cast producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, following are three pics from NTV’s Zoom in Super TV show which had footage from that meeting.

2nd of June, TOTORO CREAM PUFF SHOP: Once in a while news passes by which decides not to cover. An example of this is the mystery cream puff shop that recently opened in Tokyo. So what happens if a website like posts information about it and readers ask us to tell more about it? Then it is time to change our minds and still decide to cover it.

Last month, on May 5th, a mystery cream puff shop opened in a quiet residential neighborhood of Tokyo. The shop, named Shirohige no shou cream kobo (which means White-bearded' cream puff workshop), is the only shop officially recognized by Studio Ghibli and sells one type of product only: Totoro cream puff. It opened at 11 am and all cakes were already sold out at 11:10, showing Totoro's magical power. After that day, the shop has been crowded with so many customers every day, making it recommended to make a reservation by phone in advance.

So what is Shirohige? He is the unidentified man baking the very delicious and cute Totoro cream puff. As his hair and beard is all white, he is called Shirohige, though he is not as fat as the character of the shop’s sign board. The shop's main character buta appears to have been drawn by Miyazaki Hayao, however this is not the case. It is instead said to have been drawn by Miyazaki Hayao's nephew and all illustrations in the shop are his as well.

Because making the cream puff is difficult and very time consuming, Shirohige cannot produce high quantities of it. Only 100 Totoros are baked every single day, being sorry to be sold out soon every day. Instead of mass production Shirohige rather aims for quality, choosing to focus on using domestically-produced ingredients. For example, the wheat being used comes from Ishikawa and is organically grown, the milk comes from Kanto (a region near Tokyo), raw cream is brought in from Hokkaido and the Maron comes from Kumamoto. There are exceptions though. The chocolate, vanilla bean and liqueur are imported as they don't exist domestically-produced.

Shirohige no shou cream kobo Cake menu (2 kinds only)
- custard and raw cream: 390 yen
- maron and maron cream: 420 yen

Shirohige no shou cream kobo Company Info
- Opened on May 5th
- Address: Tokyo, Suginami, Takaido-higashi
- Capital fund: 2,000,000 yen
- Owner: Miyazaki Kyoko (it is a secret who she is)
- Number of employees: 1

More pictures of the Totoro cream puff shop at its neighbor’s website, who said to have helped Shirohige with all kinds things.

31st of May, MIYAZAKI DESIGNED INN TO OPEN IN JUNE: Back in 2005 Miyazaki Hayao stayed for two months in a town called Tomonoura, located in Fukuyama city, Hiroshima prefecture. It is a port town near the middle of Seto inland sea with a long history that goes back more than 1,200 years and Miyazaki rented an old house on a cliff there to come up with ideas for his latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea).

What is interesting is that this was however not where Miyazaki’s activities ended. In Tomonoura, a Japanese style inn called Onfunayado Iroha will open in June (note: ofunayado means sailor inn, iroha means Japanese alphabet). Since the Edo era it was originally an old private house and, left neglected, a local NPO bought it at a price of 10,000,000 yen to finally restore it into a inn.

During Miyazaki’s stay in Tomonoura he heard about the project. Gaining his interest, Miyazaki drew the basic design, came up with its name Onfunayado Iroha and gave some advice & ideas to the involved NPO, like the colorful stained glass and a large stone-built bath.

The restored house actually is not just any house. During the Bakumatsu period, the final years of the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogunate came to an end, a famous revolutionist called Sakamoto Ryoma had his private naval ship Iroha-maru sailed near there and collided with a battle ship from the Kishu-Domain. Sakamoto had a talk about recompensation at this house and the room where this talk was held has also been reconstructed.

More impressions of Onfunayado Iroha can be found in the following Japanese news clips:
- Video 1
- Video 2

28th of May, PONYO VOICE CAST OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED: Important news from Studio Ghibli, Japan. After early April’s news on Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) first voice cast member (being the influential Japanese pop and jazz musician Yano Akiko who sang on Takahata’s Houhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun and known for her voice acting on the Ghibli Museum shorts Mizugumo Monmon and Yadosagashi), today the primary voice cast was further expanded with an official announcement.

Mixed with newcomers and industry veterans, the list contains some interesting names:
Sosuke (宗介) - Doi Hiroki (土井洋輝)
Ponyo (ポニョ) - Nara Yuria (奈良柚莉愛)
Sosuke's mother Lisa (リサ) - Yamaguchi Tomoko (山口智子)
Sosuke's father Koichi (耕一) - Nagashima Kazushige (長嶋一茂)
Ponyo's mother Gran Manmare (グランマンマーレ) - Amami Yuki (天海祐希)
Ponyo's father Fujimoto (フジモト) - Tokoro Joji (所ジョージ)
Toki (トキ) - Kazuko Yoshiyuki (吉行和子)
Yoshie (ヨシエ) – Naraoka Tomoko (奈良岡朋子)

For starters, the film’s lead roles, those of Sosuke and Ponyo, will be played by 8-year-olds Doi Hiroki and Nara Yuria. Ponyo is their cinematic debut, though both of them already have several years of TV, stage and commercial experience. Furthermore, the cast contains Amami Yuki (Crying Out Love in the Center of the World) and tarento star Tokoro Joji as Ponyo’s parents and Yamaguchi Tomoko (Shunji Iwai’s Swallowtail Butterfly) and former baseball player Nagashima Kazushige as Sosuke’s parents. To finish things up, all will be backed up by Japanese cinema veterans Yoshiyuki Kazuko (Kikujiro no Natsu) and Naraoka Tomoko (Koge, Dodes'ka-den) who will play Toki and Yoshie, two elderly women at Sosuke’s mother’s workplace, the daycare center.

The cast members expressed their feelings on working on Miyazaki’s lastest film.

Doi Hiroki as Sosuke, a 5 year old boy living at a house on a cliff: "I love Sprited Away so much and watched it over and over again. That’s why I'm very happy and feel like I’m dreaming. In the past I've acted on radio dramas or narration, but never on an anime. I'll do my best!"

Nara Yuria as Ponyo, a girl fish who and happens to meet Sosuke and wants to become human: "Mom gave me the acting script and told me "Congratulations". I like Totoro so much and cried because I can play Ponyo."

Yamaguchi Tomoko as Lisa, Sosuke’s mother, staff member at the daycare center "Himawari no Ie" and a prompt woman: "I like Miyazaki's movies so much. They are of a magnificent scale and full of dreams and hope. It'll change my happiness."

Nagashima Kazushige as Koichi, Lisa's husband, Sosuke's father and captain of a domestic line ship: "I'm very much honored to join Miyazaki's film. I'm looking forward to acting in spite of feeling some tension, because I've never acted after recording."

Amami Yuki as Gran Manmare, Ponyo's mother and mother of the sea: "Every Studio Ghibli film is wrapped up with gentle love. I'm very happy to join such a film I love and watch often."

Tokoro Joji as Fujimoto, Ponyo's father who drives Ubazame-go in the sea (the submersible vessel of which a picture can be found on the cover of Yomy's June edition, Ubazame means basking shark): "Fortunately, I got the offer and instantly decided to accept it. That's all. I feel it's really a solid task in a long time. I always do things in a haphazard way and maybe it's similar to Fujimoto." (note: Tokoro Joji lives in Tokorozawa, the place of Totoro, hence his name Tokoro)

Kazuko Yoshiyuki as Toki: "I'm surprised and feel very happy because I can join Miyazaki's film. This is my first experience to read an anime script and I'm looking forward to see how it will be."

Naraoka Tomoko as Yoshie: "I've never done anime voice acting before, so I was unable to make a quick decision. Those around me though all pushed my back and I thought it might be fate and decided accept. I'm rather curious and looking forward to it."

25th of May, NEW UNSEEN PONYO ART BY MIYAZAKI HAYAO: Only less than two months of waiting are left for those interested in the works of Studio Ghibli. On July 19 master animation director Miyazaki Hayao will be back with his latest full length feature animation called Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). For all of those having a hard time coping with impatience, has a temporary fix.

Shining on the June edition of Yomy, an extra release for those subscribed to Japan’s largest newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, is a never before seen water color art piece made by Miyazaki Hayao himself. This time it is yet another Ponyo underwater scene and logically has an image of it (click to enlarge).

20th of May, THIRTY-THIRD RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Last Sunday Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM was about Studio Ghibli’s tie-up promotions. As usual, a podcast version of this week’s episode will be also available for download and can eventually be found over here.

This week’s guests were Seki Shintaro (関慎太郎) and Fujikami Naoya. Seki is marketing section chief at Asahi beverage and Studio Ghibli does a tie-up with them on advertising Ponyo. As the opening salvo of their campaign Asahi is offering 20,000 people a chance to see a special preview of Ponyo on July 5-6, 11-13 at 17 locations by lottery. Suzuki asked, "We once had a tie-up during the release of Gedo Senki. Do you think you got success in tying up with us on Gedo?" Seki answered positively, "We think so." Fujimaki added, "At that time, the agency was Dentsu, instead of Hakuhodo. Maybe that's the reason..." (laughing).

Note: Fujimaki belongs to Hakuhodo, the competitor of Dentsu.

Suzuki told, "A lot of companies offer us to tie-up with them and we always consider which company to be suited best for that. This time it is Asahi. I happen to like Mitsuya-cider (a brand of carbonated drink) since I was small and got to know it is one of a Asahi’s brands. It was one of the reasons choosing them." According to Seki, Mitsuya-cider's history goes back 125 years.

Suzuki also noted, "For a company wanting to tie-up with Studio Ghibli, we wish for them to lend their hands to make a box-office success. We don't want them to use the movie solely for their product promotions. If they do so, it might spoil the movie and in the end their own company as well. Also, movie box-office is like a gamble. It has a double sided uncertainty. One of it is the content. We aren't sure if the film is interesting, at least not until the completion of filming. The other side is box-office. It doesn't always link to its perfection level. So the tie-upping company must believe in us."

Seki, "To tell the truth, when I was shown the first picture of Ponyo’s image board, I didn't feel Ponyo was so cute and I was a little confused. However, we recently saw the trailer and learned that Ponyo certainly has its charm, so we stopped worrying. My company believes Ponyo will be a success." Suzuki, "That's the point. That not-cuteness is intended by Miyazaki. He says "Japan is overly full of cute kawaii things. So it's useless to add another cute thing to it." He does not intend it to be cute only, but to have something else as well. That's the real thing people expect. So he first drew an ugly face, as he gives affection to ugliness. I believe beverages share a common resemblance with it. Drinks that are just only palatable, aren’t good either."

Suzuki also shared Miyazaki's thoughts on "pet-bottles". Most of Asahi's beverage are being bottled in pet though… like their carbonated drinks, juices and tea. Recently, tea (straight green tea, no sugar) has been the main product for beverage sellers, even for Coca-Cola Japan. Suzuki told, "To tell the truth, Miyazaki hates pet bottles so much." Fujumaki, "Is it because he is an ecologist?" Suzuki, "No. It’s just that he doesn’t like these kind of fashions...Young people have pet-bottled tea in the hands of those wearing dirty pants and a shoulder rucksack... Tea should be served at home." Seki, "You know? Recently, some people do not even possess a tea pot anymore. They don't wet tea in their home." Suzuki," Really?!? Unbelievable. How about you??" Seki answered, "Me neither. I always keep 2 liters of pet-bottled tea in the refrigerator." Fujimaki, "So, recently, kids assume that tea is usually cold." Suzuki, "Ummm... ridiculous. What should we do about it?!? Fujimaki?" Fujimaki "…" (laughing).

Going back in time, these kind of tie-ups are not new to Studio Ghibli. During the release of Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta (天空の城ラピュタ, Laputa: Castle in the Sky) Ghibli already had a tie-up with another beverage company. A major food company called Ajinomoto made soda cans and bottles named "LAPUTA - ラピュタ", though it did not bring them a box-office success around that time. Examples of their joint advertising campaign can be found in Laputa's program booklet.

15th of May, PONYO AND THE STUDIO GHIBLI NURSERY: One of the settings in Miyazaki Hayao’s soon to be newest masterpiece Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) is Himawari nursery. Though it is known that latest film of master animation director Miyazaki will contain over 80% of sea scenes, it does not change the fact that the nursery plays an unmissable role in it. Actually, Ponyo was first to be even largely centered around it: in pre-production it was titled Iya Iya En and Gake no Shita no Iya Iya En, translating as The No No Nursery School and The No No Nursery School under the Cliff. As time went by though, that part became less important for the film, as Miyazaki decided transfer it to his real life and decided to build a real nursery himself.

Build near Miyazaki's atelier Nibariki, last month the Studio Ghibli company nursery called Sanbiki no Kuma no Ie (3匹の熊の家, The Three Bears' House) opened its doors. Its name is inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s The Three Bears on which Ghibli Museum is currently holding a dedicated exhibition and according to Miyazaki’s wife it “is Miyazaki's long- cherished dream”. In fact, for over more then 10 years he had wishes to build one.

One of the triggers of Miyazaki’s wish might possibly have been Studio Ghibli’s most skilled animator and director of Mimi wo Sumaseba (耳をすませば, Whisper of the Heart): Kondo Yoshifumi (近藤喜文), who sadly died in 1998. Kondo and his wife Yamaura Hiroko, who worked as a color checker on Lupin III: the Castle of Cagliostro, Panda Kopanda, Holmes and so on, put their kid in a nursery when it was young. They first put him at a private nursery and paid over 40,000 yen a month in spite of Yamaura’s terribly low salary of 60,000 yen per month. People working in the Japanese animation industry are generally not well-paid (once and now) and the Kondo family was no exception, so Kondo applied for public child-care at the ward office again and again. Finally, their application was accepted and the official approved them as the lowest income group. So he paid only 1,000 yen per month. Of course, this story took place before the founding of Studio Ghibli.

Late March mayor Inaba Takahiko was invited to the nursery preview before opening, as Koganei city government had some involvement in the project. Miyazaki guided him together with Iya Iya En writer Nakagawa Rieko and its illustrator Yamawaki Yuriko, and explained them about his thoughts for children and his architectural plan. In addition, Miyazaki also showed them Sanbiki no Kuma no Niwa (3匹の熊の家, The Three Bears Garden), a garden 100 meters away from the nursery.

Now that the nursery has opened, things only need to get rolling. Recently, Shincho Weekly wrote only 3 kids applied at first. Miyazaki worried why there were so few and recommended his employees to use the nursery. A successful approach, as 7 more kids joined. The low number of kids might be caused due to the fact that the nursery is not convenient for most of Ghibli employees. If they use it, they must take their kids from far away home by train. Either way, the nursery is deemed to be a success eventually, just like everything Miyazaki touches.

12th of May, HOTARU NO HAKA NEWLY REMASTERED RE-RELEASE: Studio Ghibli’s critically acclaimed Hotaru no Haka (火垂るの墓, Grave of the Fireflies) will finally be back where it belongs. In the past Takahata Isao’s highly moving Second World War drama was released by Warner Home Video, but on August 6 WDSHE Japan will reissue a new release, returning it to Studio Ghibli’s Ghibli ga Ippai Collection with "Hotaru no Haka - the complete preserved edition".

Back in 1988 Hotaru no Haka was released as a double feature with Tonari no Totoro. The setting of both films was unusual for that time: Hotaru was set in the Japan of 1945 and Totoro was set in the middle of Japan’s 1950s. Instead of most Japanese animated features from the 1980’s, which were often set in a foreign country or a fictional land. Hotaru depicted Japan directly and set the most universal part of human life as its theme. It wasn't just an antiwar film, but it also depicted the importance of human relationships. The result was a film that became a big success and even today it is considered to be a masterpiece.

The original story of Hotaru no Haka was written by Nozaka Akiyuki in 1967 and won a Naoki Award. Before Studio Ghibli’s version there were already plans to make it into a live action movie, though these had not been brought to realization because of the difficulty of reproducing Kobe city from those days and believably realizing a starving child’s face. Though there was nothing left of the old days, Takahata Isao, Kondo Yoshifumi and other staff hunted for scenery in Kobe with Nozaka and successfully reproduced the air and time, even surprising Nozaka.

"Hotaru no Haka - the complete preserved version" DVD contains some highly precious content. The movie itself has been given a new high quality digital remaster. Unfortunately, this does not mean a Blu-ray version will also be released, as it has not yet been announced.

(note: For those giving up on a Blu-ray release, there might be a sparkle of hope left. The press releases of Ghibli Museum Library’s Panda Kopanda and Snow Queen (to be released on July 2) explicitly stated that a Blu-ray version will not to be released. In the case of Grave of the Fireflies the press release does not mention anything, leaving things in the middle. On the other side, one might still want to be realistic. Instead of Grave of the Fireflies being Studio Ghibli’s first film to receive a Blu-ray treatment, one might consider titles like Tonari no Totoro or Kaze no Tani no Naushika to be more appropriate for that.)

Besides the digital remastering, the new Hotaru no Haka DVD reissue will also contain some very interesting bonus features. Find them in the DVD data below.

"Hotaru no Haka - the complete preserved edition" DVD data:
- Release date : August 6, 2008
- Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, release being part of ジブリがいっぱい Collection
- 1988 / Japan / 88 minutes
- Price : 4,935 Yen (including tax), 4,700 Yen (before tax)
- Disc specs: 2 discs / dual layer / NTSC / Region 2 + first release limited bonus recitation CD
- Video: 16:9 aspect ratio
- Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese
- Subtitles: Japanese, English
- Trailers (including 15 minutes of promotional video)
- Six interviews with director Takahata Isao, art director Yamamoto Nizo and other staff members (audio only)
- Location hunting pictures
- Concept art (art & image boards)
- Multi-angled e-konte feature (newly filmed from the original e-konte / storyboard)
- First release limited bonus: recitation CD of Hotaru no Haka performed by the famous actor Hashizume Isao

11th of May, MOTHER’S DAY AND PONYO AT THIRTYSECOND RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Last week Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM was somewhat less interesting. Suzuki was away for business and therefore featured a compilation of some moments from the past shows. However, this week Suzuki is back and needless to say brings a summary of it. As usual, a podcast version of this week’s episode will be also available for download and can eventually be found over here.

Today is Mother's day and Suzuki drove his beloved car (his Mini Cooper) and his beloved mother Chizuko to Asakusa (浅草). The program composition was made of live outdoor recordings around over there and so there was not any organized talk.

Suzuki’s mom is 85 years old and has been living with Suzuki in Tokyo since 4 years ago. She likes to visit temples or shrines and says she can't die because she made a pilgrimage to the 88 temples in Shikoku (四国八十八ヶ所), Japan’s most popular pilgrimage. Recently some people do it as a kind of a pastime, sport or form of tourism. Many of the pilgrims move by bus or cars and walkers are few. The length of the pilgrimage is about 1200 km and it takes about 10 days by bus and about 40 days by walk.

Suzuki took his mom to many of the temples near his place in Shibuya and Meguro. One of them was Asakusa, a popular sight seeing point for foreign travelers. There is a famous temple over there called Sensouji-temple that has remained the atmosphere from the old era, which they first visited and after that they walked some more around Asakusa. There many interesting shops around there and Suzuki went into a sword shop. Logically, because Suzuki likes Japanese swords and collects them. His mother Chizuko also told a related story about it. She visited young Suzuki's apartment when he was a student at Keio University and was surprised to find a sword in his room. She wondered why her calm son had such a dangerous thing...

Some interesting news on Miyazaki’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) with a minor spoiler was also brought. At the end of the show Suzuki told, "The complete checking of the pictures was already finished on May 9th and the only work that is left is to paint, film and edit. I'm planning to put the plot of Ponyo on its next chirashi (handbill). People ask me not to tell about the story, not to show any pictures or not to make any spoilers, but I'm bored to hear it any more and want to do the opposite. The Studio Ghibli staff were surprised to hear it though. The plot of Ponyo can shortly be summarized like this: a story of a mother and child told by Miyazaki without hesitation. I decided it in spite of there being some objections from our staff. It will fit well with Ponyo’s catch copy: "Umarete kite yokatta" (生まれてきてよかった, I'm lucky to be born).".

30th of April, AN INTERVIEW WITH STUDIO GHIBLI’S OGA KAZUO: When watching animation people usually pay attention to characters instead of backgrounds. However, Studio Ghibli’s Oga Kazuo is the first background artist who showed an audience can also be attracted the other way around. This was once again proven last year with his own dedicated Oga Kazuo exhibition which drew over 300,000 visitors. Recently Oga told about the start-line of his history as a background artist and his painting tools in an article from Tokuma Shoten’s Goods Press. As usual, for those not able to read Japanese, presents a summary of it (the original Japanese PDF version can be found here).

From the early times of animation industry history, animation was produced by a division of labor. Therefore characters and backgrounds had been produced separately. Usually, characters are spotlighted, but backgrounds aren't so much. However, the ones that Oga painted aren't like that.

In 1972, Oga entered Kobayashi production, a professional background company. After that he shaped his career and, thanks to a recommendation of Yamamoto Nizo (note: at that time Yamamoto directed the background art of Takahata’s Hotaru no Haka), he joined Tonari no Totoro (となりのトトロ, My Neighbor Totoro). After that, he joined various Ghibli films like Poroporo, Pompoko, Mononoke as the art director. When he worked on Whisper he quit Studio Ghibli and became a freelancer, working not only for Studio Ghibli but spending time on making background art for many other works of animation as well.

Oga's art is real, yet not inorganic and without wanting to approach super realism. It has something warm and nostalgic. It even gives us some smell or sound. The trigger that made Oga enter his field of work were just only 3 lines from a recruiting ad. "I had an interest in painting till graduating from high school, though I had never seriously painted. So I entered design school to find out what to do. After my graduation from design school, I had no regular job and screened the recruiting ads in the newspaper every morning. Then I found a 3 line ad mentioning: wanted, persons who like to paint." It was Kobayashi's ad that decided his life. He immediately visited Kobayashi production which was in a room of an apartment and found there hung many cloths to wipe paint of brushes and it wasn't very clean. It was over there where for first time Oga got in touch with the art of making background paintings.

"While I was watching them painting, they were painting scenery on the kind of B4 paper that school kids use. The pictures were light and bright and I wanted to try it."

This is the way his background artisan life started. A few months later, Oga got a real anime job. "After I finished my job, I showed them to Mr. Kobayashi. He immediately shouted to me... like, the shapes weren't good or something like that... I couldn't notice what was wrong. In those days, the co-workers left their paintings on their desks and went back home. We over timed guys used to gather at the desks and criticized those paintings disparagingly. Like, the reason that why a certain painting was bad came from the painter’s bad character. Yes, it’s true that one's character appears in his painting, so I couldn't leave the office earlier than others. It was strange, like if I had something hidden in my paintings..." Those days were Oga's precious experiences.

What he wants for tools is that they aren't expensive, but usable.

We amateurs imagine that it might surely need many professional paints or brushes to paint backgrounds. How about that? "Basically, I use poster- color. Because as we have to paint much, we can't use expensive paint. Poster colors can show brightness or depth of color and, above all, it is easy-to-use. Talking about brushes, I use only two kinds of brushes, hira-fude (flat brush) and sakuyo-fude (pointed brush). For example, a sky or feathering clouds, misty distant mountains, rocks, plants… everything rough is done only by this large hira-fude. Old TV series anime used to be done in this way only. The last finish is done by sakuyo-fude carefully. I paint leaves roughly with hira-fude and add a few detailed leaves on it. Which is enough because the backgrounds of anime are shown only 3 or 4 seconds."

He explains the process simply, though we see a high-quality finished painting in his picture. Professional works are like this. They are different from fine art - even if it costs so much, the patrons would pay for it. They must always consider about the costs and delivery deadline.

He showed us his karabake (a wide flat brush) and said, "I have used this brush for over 30 years. It was given to me as a memorial when I quit working at Kobayashi production."

But sakuyo-fude is another way. "Because of everyday use its tip has gotten too round, so I must get a new one. They’re just disposables." However, he pays attention to the manufacturers and doesn't prevail low-priced ones. He now has a cooperation with a brush manufacturer from Hiroshima called Shogetudo (松月堂). Oga got to know it when he worked on Yoshinaga Sayuri's CD The 2nd movement, The wind of Hiroshima (吉永小百合, 第2楽章 広島の風). "I brought a brush that I had used and consulted them. They saw it and said that it included nylon. I don't care if it includes nylon or not, though they never use it and insist on using native materials.

Oga is continuing his work in an “analog” way with brushes and paint. Doesn't digitalization affect him? "My way doesn't need digitalization and I'll keep it this way. If the animation industry becomes this way that it does not need hand painting, I'll quit my job. However, there is one good thing in doing things the digital way. Depicting clouds digitally is better than making them by hand painting. In the past we painted clouds on cel-book (clear cels), They couldn’t be gradated, but needed to be solid shaped. We reprocessed it in one way or another and made a gradient. Now, we paint clouds on the paper and import them with a digital process on the blue sky." Besides clouds, the digital process can make it easy to create images that we had never seen before. However, Oga's paintings have some warmth that only the “analog” way can reach. We can see it in his work for Umigame to Shonen. Seeing the picture along the shore, we can hear the sounds of grasses rubbing in the wind. "I think it is common for animation background artists, we paint the space. Especially at Studio Ghibli, we are expected to do that. I paint the backgrounds considering the scenery around it, like the sound of the waves or something like that. I can't paint what I haven’t experienced or seen. When I painted SF, I imagined as if I were there and imagined what I could see there. As art directors (background section chief) must show examples to the rest of the staffs, I paint boards with a mind as if I were at the location place itself."

Oga has a long career as a background artist and recently he worked on book illustration. His image source is close to him, surprisingly. "I like walking. When I find a good scenery, I try to see it in several ways." Oga also says that the backgrounds he handled on Ponyo have already been finished (note: in case of Studio Ghibli backgrounds, Oga says he paints 1 or 2 pictures on a single day). So logically we are curious to hear about his next work. "In my case, I paint everything I see while I walk around here and stock it. And when I get an order, I can re-paint it to fit the order. I think that is my way. Usually, I get a assignment and then begin thinking on how to paint, which is a bit passive. It is rather natural for me." People know him as an artist. However, he is aware that he is a professional painter or artisan. This modest artisan will continue to move our hearts with his brush.

28th of April, HISAISHI AT THIRTIETH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: As every week, sunday has passed and so brings a summary of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM. Needless to say, as usual a podcast version of this week’s episode will be also available for download and can eventually be found over here.

This week's guest was Hisaishi Joe. He is currently working on the musical soundtrack of Miyazaki’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea), on which more was already to be read in last week’s Yomiuri interview. He was joined by Yomiuri's writer Yoda (note: hence somewhat of an overlap with the Yomiuri interview).

Hisaishi noted, "Since the hero Sosuke and Ponyo are just only 5 years old, they behave and say everything in a very straight way. For example, they don't hesitate to say "I love you". Their minds are also very straight and so the music should be straight as well." Suzuki added, "Miyazaki's characters are usually straight. He doesn't like games or trading in love." Hisaishi, "It would be easy if they worry. Usually music is able to go along with a wavering mind more easily, so this time I'm struggling." Suzuki, "It isn't the first time. Miyazaki's way has been like this before. Maybe he thinks animated characters don't have to worry, because we already worry in our real life and that's enough."

Hisaishi told, "This time, I'm trying a new style. Normally, I like attaching long pieces of music and usually I have pieces of about 2 minutes in length. However, with Ponyo, many of them are 5 seconds or so. Very short. In my idea, it isn't clear when they begin and end but audiences feel the existence." Suzuki, "Over 90% of the picture has already been finished, which is very fast and unusual. Miyazaki says that the rest is only music." Hisaishi, "Ah, what an immense pressure to me!"

Yoda asked, "How was your first time meeting Miyazaki? Was that with Nausicaa…?" Hisaishi replied, "Yes. When I visited his office in Asagaya, he wasted no time telling me about its location or setting, like about the "Ohmu" and "Fukai" and I was a bit mixed-up. I didn't know him at all then. In fact, I thought, "Who are you?"." Suzuki added, "Actually, the man that chose Hisaishi was Takahata (Nausicaa’s producer). As Miyazaki thought he was in the dark with music, he entrusted it to Takahata. In fact, there were some other candidates we considered to compose the soundtrack of Nausicaa. Takahata chose you and said "Hisaishi's music is innocent. So it would fit well with Miyazaki, being romantic and hot-blooded." Of course none of us had met you before that. After that I listened to your music over and over again to study it." Hisaishi, " It was a happy meeting. I worked on Nausicaa and Arion (アリオン, by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, 安彦良和) both at the same time and both were Tokuma movies. So I almost gave up hope for the next movie Laputa. I didn't thought they would order me to compose for 3 movies successively. So I cried when I got order call."

Suzuki also told the story on Totoro’s bus stop scene music, as to be found in last week’s interview. Hisaishi didn’t seem to want to talk about Totoro anymore. He said his head is already fully filled with Ponyo.

The Ponyo theme song was inserted as well. Suzuki said, "To tell the truth, this song decided the last scene for the film. Miyazaki listened to the song and realized what the last scene should be like. So it was lucky that we made the theme song in time." Yoda, "A lot of pressure rides on your shoulders!" Hisaishi, "I agree. In fact, I think Miyazaki is also a great lyrics writer. To tell you the honest truth, songs are the ultimate form of music. Because when we communicate something to others, first we need words. And the melody helps it and affects it. We need both of them absolutely. So the ultimate form of music must be songs."

Hisaishi furthermore talked about his concert in August. He wants to play 40 to 50 musical pieces from 9 different Studio Ghibli movies. He worries on how to edit it into a 2 hour concert. He doesn't think usual video projectors will be enough to show the images and searched for a huge screen. He found one with a size of 20m X 9m, though he didn't mention the technique behind it.

The Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea soundtrack is scheduled for release on July 16 by Tokuma Japan and will contain 40 tracks.

26th of April (second update), NEW UNSEEN PONYO ART BY MIYAZAKI HAYAO: Shining on the May edition of Yomy, an extra release for those subscribed to Yomiuri Shimbun, is again a never before seen water color art piece made by Miyazaki Hayao for his new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). This time it’s a picture of a Ponyo underwater scene and logically has an image of it (click to enlarge). Let’s hope Studio Ghibli & Miyazaki Hayao will soon bring the world more of this lovely art!

26th of April, GHIBLI MUSEUM LIBRARY ANNOUNCES CHEBURASHKA, NOZAKA’S & OGA’S UMIGAME TO SHONEN: Today Studio Ghibli announced a new title as to be part of their foreign & classic animation label Ghibli Museum Library. On July 19, the release day of Miyazaki Hayao’s latest full length feature Gake no ue no Ponyo, the Japanese animation studio will also re-release the Russian animation Cheburashka. This Soviet classic actually consists out of four episodes, Gena the Crocodile and His Friends (1969), Cheburashka (1971), Old Lady Shapoklyak (1974) and Cheburashka Goes to School (1983), and all of these will be viewable by the Japanese audience. Additionally worth noting is that the first episode was animated by master animation director and Miyazaki’s friend & inspirator: Yuri Norstein.

Some Cheburashka footage can be found over here.

Furthermore, as reported earlier, last week’s Ghibli Asemamire mentioned Studio Ghibli published and released a picture book called Umigame to Shonen (ウミガメと少年, A Green Turtle and a Boy). The book was written by Hotaru no Haka author Nozaka Akiyuki and pictures were made by none other than Studio Ghibli’s background artisan Oga Kazuo. 7andY just launched a dedicated Umigame page with some absolutely beautiful pictures from the book. In addition, it also features an interesting article on Oga called E-shokunin no 2-hon no fude (絵職人の二本の筆, Two brushes of the artisan) focusing on the details of his paintings. More about its content in a following news post.

24th of April, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE HOSODA STYLE: Those who followed the production of Studio Ghibli’s magical love story Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (ハウルの動く城, Howl's Moving Castle) in the past, might be familiar with the fact that it was actually first to be directed by Hosoda Mamoru (細田守). Hosoda, who lastly directed the beautiful and Ghibli reminiscent Madhouse production Toki o Kakeru Shojo (時をかける少女, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), began to work on the film as director for Ghibli Studios, but abruptly departed the project. It is rumored by some that it was caused by a clash with Kondo Katsuya, though this has not been officially confirmed. Either way, later on Miyazaki stepped in and the rest is familiar history.

Old news, but what makes this news article interesting, is that one week ago Mandarake had an auction of Hauru no Ugoku Shiro ekonte, Hosoda style, sold at a price of 211,000 Yen. Earlier only three pictures were to be seen, making it not extremely noteworthy. However, the forum of Ben Ettinger’s Anipages noted more pages of the storyboard turning up online, making this worth mentioning. An interesting style difference…

22nd of April, AN INTERVIEW WITH HISAISHI JOE AND SUZUKI TOSHIO: Today Yomiuri Shimbun published an interesting interview online. On August 4th and 5th musician & composer Hisaishi Joe will have a concert at Nippon Budokan (日本武道館), a huge arena in Tokyo with a capacity of 14000 people. All of his music composed for Miyazaki's movies will be played and Yomiuri interviewed Hisaishi together with Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio about their enthusiasm towards the concert. For those who can’t read Japanese a summary follows below.

Q: We hear this is your first concert playing only music from Miyazaki's animated films.
Hisaishi: I've wanted to do that…

Q: Furthermore, for your concert you have formed an exceptionally large formation, a 200 member orchestra and a 400 member chorus.
Hisaishi: It’s my own proposition, though it will be tough…

Q: You've come along with Miyazaki for 25 years long...
Hisaishi: We first met during the production of Nausicaa (1984). To tell the truth, I didn't know Miyazaki before that. When I visited his office in Asagaya, he wasted no time telling me about the location or its setting like the "Ohmu" and "Fukai" and I was a bit mixed-up. However, I thought he was really pure and hot-blooded.

Suzuki: Actually, the man who chose Hisaishi was Takahata (the producer of Nausicaa). He said, since Hisaishi's music was innocent it would fit well with Miyazaki, being romantic and hot-blooded. As Miyazaki thought he was in the dark with music he entrusted it to Takahata.
Hisaishi: Yes. I mainly had meetings with Takahata. He surprised me a with a great knowledge of music.
Suzuki: However, Takahata's thought was that a music composer should be changed film by film. So he tried to ask for another composer during the production of Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta (天空の城ラピュタ, Castle of the Sky) and sought for one. But at last, he decided to return to Hisaishi.
Hisaishi: At that time I almost surrendered. I got very pleased when I got the call. I cried.

Suzuki: The impressive scene and music of Totoro was that Satsuki and Mei met Totoro at the bus stop. At first, Miyazaki didn't thought the scene needed music, but I thought it was better to insert music and consulted Takahata in secret. Takahata advised me some minimal music would be better, something that Hisaishi was good at. Hisaishi excellently did it and even for adults the scene was able to show the real existence of Totoro. Then Miyazaki agreed with it.
Hisaishi: Hearing you talk, I urge to play the music of that scene. We will use a huge screen with this concert, I want to play with images.

Q: How do you usually compose a soundtrack?
Hisaishi: I watch the E-conte or film like walking in a mist and search for a trigger that clicks in my mind. This is the first step. If I’m able to find it, then I begin to struggle seeking for a tone, what kind of main theme or other melody to take... or something like that... Anyway, a lots of worries. The most important point is to be conscious that I'm the first viewer.
Suzuki: Adding to that, you can't have enough time to do it. Generally, in Japan music is added after finishing pictures.
Hisaishi: Now is just that kind of situation (laughing).

Q: How is the progress of Ponyo going?
Hisaishi: Since the hero Sosuke is just 5 years old, the music should also be straight. More easily sounding music is able to enter a wavering mind and so I'm struggling how to express Sosuke. However, this time I have discussed with Miyazaki and Suzuki in making the image album and I strongly feel that we are making it together. The problem is when to let Miyazaki listen to it.
Suzuki: Yes. He tends not to forget the first impression.
Hisaishi: No matter how much I tell him it is a demo, he can't escape from his first image. In the case of Mononoke, I changed the theme song back to the original one. Strangely to say, in the end it was a successful choice. Miyazaki always says that he is unfamiliar with music, though I believe it isn't true.

Q: The poster of the concert is Miyazaki's original?
Suzuki: I thought he would just draw something simple with a felt pen, but he is struggling in painting Hisaishi fronting musical score. He says, "How is his face?" He posts many pictures of you around his desk.
Hisaishi: I can't thank him enough.

Q: What will the program look like?
Hisaishi: If I'm going to do it, I want to show all 9 movies from Nausicaa to Ponyo. I dusted off the old scores and re- watched all movies. I felt the greatness of the images and want to follow them up with my music. We'll play music that I've never played in concert before. Maybe you can enjoy the strength of originality.

21st of April, ABOUT NOZAKA IN TWENTY-NINTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Sunday has passed and so is bringing yet another summary of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM. Again, as usual a podcast version of this week’s episode will be available for download and can eventually be found over here.

This week's guest was Nozaka Youko (野坂洋子), wife of Nozaka Akiyuki (野坂昭如), the writer of the original Hotaru no Haka (火垂るの墓, Grave of the Fireflies) novel. Suzuki read it when he was 17 years old and has been a big fan of him ever since. Nozaka got a brain infarct 5 years ago and is currently undergoing rehabilitation training. They talked about Nozaka and his wife's daily life and the good old days. NTV broadcasts Hotaru no Haka every August, and Nozaka surely watches it.

Note: August 15 is the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. Nozaka wrote the story of Hotaru no Haka based on his own experiences before, during, and after the firebombing of Kobe in 1945. Furthermore, Nozaka once wrote another sad episode about it. His own sister was 1 year old when she died. As a boy Nozaka couldn't get milk or baby food for his sister. So he tried to chew rice in his mouth and feed her mouth to mouth. He tried it again and again, but couldn't, because he was too hungry to give it to his baby sister. He chewed but swallowed before feeding. In the end he swallowed all of the rice by himself and ended up crying. Terribly sadly the baby died from starvation.

On the day of recording this week’s Asemamire Studio Ghibli published a picture book called Umigame to Shonen (ウミガメと少年, A Green Turtle and a Boy). The story was written by Nozaka and pictures were made by none other than Ghibli’s Oga Kazuo. Ghibli Asemamire will give away the book to 10 of their listeners.

14th of April, MORE PONYO IN TWENTY-EIGHTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: With another Sunday having passed, is bringing yet another summary of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM. As usual a podcast version of this week’s episode will be available for download and can eventually be found over here.

This week’s show had two guests. The first was Kubo Masakazu (久保 雅一), chief of the character projecting department at one of Japan’s biggest publishers, Shogakukan (小学館). Though Shogakukan was founded primarily as an educational publishing company it grew out to something far bigger than that. One of their businesses includes being one of Japan's leading publishers of Japanese manga. They have published over 10,900 comic books such as Ranma 1/2, Master Keaton and Fushigi Yugi and manage many popular characters like Pokemon, Doraemon, Detective Konan and Tottoko Hamutaro.

The second guest was Fujimaki, of course of Fujioka Fujimaki fame and one of the singers of the Ponyo theme song.

As a guest Kubo was not unexpected. He has been the producer of Pokemon for 11 years. This summer, the 11th Pokemon movie will be released. Pokemon is always released on the beginning or summer vacation every year. It's almost a yearly event in summer vacation. Suzuki, "Why did you set the releasing day on July 19th? That's the day we release Ponyo!". Kubo, "NO! We set it long before you. Ponyo came later than Pokemon.". Suzuki, "Hey, Fujimaki. Are you backing Pokemon? You are standing behind Kubo!" Fujimaki, "Hehehe... I'm backing The Sky Crawlers (note: Oshii Mamoru’s latest work, which is also to be released this summer)."

Suzuki, "When did we get to know each other?" Kubo, "It was more than 20 years ago. I visited Miyazaki to ask him to make a sequel 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). He didn't accept it though and told me about his next movie plan eagerly. It was so interesting." Sukuki, "Yes, like that. You had hair in those days. Then, were you a Miyazaki fan in those days?" Kubo, "Yes. I liked Cagliostro so much."

Suzuki, "By the way, is Pokemon’s character design being done by Kotabe (Kotabe Yōichi, 小田部羊一)?" Kubo, "No, he is general animation supervisor. Sugimori (杉森) is designing the characters now. However, we did get a lot of influence from Kotabe." Suzuki, "Kotabe is a colleague of Takahata and Miyazaki from Toei Doga and they made Heidi or Marco together. I think Pokemon has some Ghibli flavor because of him. I guess Kotabe tells the staffs to imitate Ghibli." Kubo, "Oh! Why do you know this?" Suzuki, "Aha?!? Was that true??" (laughing) Kubo, "Of course. We must learn anything that’s good from every movie there exists." Fujimaki, "You don't need to make a counterargument. It's the same as Suzuki (laughing). By the way, I think Pokemon is such kind of movie: kids find out about it, spend some years and after that they leave. Instead of the common Ghibli pattern: people meet Ghibli and don't leave." Suzuki, "Yes. We never let them go away." Kubo, "Yes. Pokemon is quite different from Ghibli. Doraemon is as well (note: Doraemon is another Shogakukan and Toho character). Kids come and go through."

Suzuki, "Why do you make the same movie every year? We can't do that. Aren't you bored?" Kubo, "No. It is interesting. The same characters, the same director. However, if you watch all of them, you can see it like a Space Odyssey in total. We won 1 time and lost 3 times to Ghibli in box office. Yamadas smashed to Pokemon 2nd." Suzuki, "Is that so?" Fujimaki, "Was that the one that got top of US box office?" Kubo, "No, it was the 1st." Fujimaki, "Aha. Ghibli has never got the top in US box office. They did get Academy awarded though." Suzuki, "I know Pokemon got slumping with their 3th, 4th and 5th film, but came alive again in the middle. It was great that you never gave up." Kubo, "Yes. We made a full- change of it to link the version up of the Nintendo game."

Note: Pokemon raised over 40,000,000,000 yen in total as theatrical business. Kotabe now belongs to Nintendo as an adviser. Super Mario Brothers has also been designed by him.

At the end of program, the 3 of them drew some calligraphy. Suzuki wrote “Asobi wo sentoya umareken” (遊びをせむとや生まれけむ, We were born to play), Kubo wrote “Tomo” (友, friend) and Fujimaki wrote “Ichigo wa yumeyo tada kurue” (期は夢よ ただ狂え, As our life is just a dream, be mad.) Suzuki's words were taken from Ryojin-Hisho (梁塵秘抄), an old poem book made 1000 years ago. Fujimaki's words were also taken from an old book, called Kanginshu (閑吟集).

Note: Coming back to Suzuki’s comment on Kotabe, Miyazaki and Takahata working together, his comment was somewhat incomplete. Besides Heidi and Marco, Kotabe teamed up with them on countless other works (mostly with Miyazaki). Following is a list of their collaborations.

1961: Anju to Zushiōmaru (安寿と厨子王丸, The Littlest Warrior)
1962: Wanpaku Ōji no Orochi Taiji (わんぱく王子の大蛇退治, The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon)
1963: Wan Wan Chūshingura (わんわん忠臣蔵, Doggie March)
1963-65: Okami-shonen Ken (狼少年ケン, Ken, the wolf-boy)
1965: Hassuru Panti (ハッスルパンチ, Hustle Punch)
1966-68: Mahoutsukai Sally (魔法使いサリー, Sally, The Witch)
1968: Taiyō no Ōji - Horusu no Daibouken (太陽の王子 ホルスの大冒険), Hols: Prince of the Sun)
1969: Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko (長靴をはいた猫, Puss 'n Boots)
1969: Sora Tobu Yureisen (空飛ぶゆうれい船, Flying Phantom Ship)
1969-70: Himitsu no Akko-chan (ひみつのアッコちゃん, Secrets of Akkochan, Secret Little Akko)
1971: Dobutsu takarajima (どうぶつ宝島, Animal Treasure Island)
1971: Aribaba to 40-ppiki no Taizoku (アリババと40匹の盗賊, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves)
1971-72: Sarutobi Ecchan (さるとびエッちゃん, Ecchan the Ninja)
1971: Nagakutsushita no Pippi (長靴下のピッピ, Pippi Longstocking)
1972-73: Akadō Suzunosuke (赤胴鈴之助, Redbreast Suzunosuke)
1972: Panda Kopanda (パンダ・コパンダ, Panda! Go, Panda!)
1973: Panda Kopanda Amefuri-Saakasu no Maki (パンダ・コパンダ 雨降りサーカスの巻, Panda! Go, Panda! the Rainy Day Circus)
1973-74: Kouya no Shounen Isamu (荒野の少年イサム, Isamu, Boy in the wilderness)
1973-74: Samurai Jaianth (侍ジャイアンツ, Samurai Giants)
1974: Arupusu no Shōjo Haiji (アルプスの少女ハイジ, Heidi, Girl of the Alps)
1975: Furandaasu no Inu (フランダースの犬, A Dog of Flanders)
1976: Haha wo Tazunete Sanzen-ri (母をたずねて三千里, 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother)
1977: Sougen no Ko Tenguri (草原の子テングリ, Tenguri, Boy of the grassy plain)
1981: Jarinko Chie (じゃりん子チエ, Chie the Brat)
1981-83: Jarinko Chie (じゃりん子チエ, Chie the Brat)
1984: Kaze no Tani no Naushika (風の谷のナウシカ, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind)
2003: Fuyu no Hi (冬の日, Winter Days)

12th of April, MORE ON PANDA KOPANDA RE-RELEASE, MIYAZAKI’S SORA O TOBU CONTEST WON BY 10 YEAR OLD GIRL: In a follow-up to yesterday’s news, today more information on the Panda Kopanda re-release, plus details on the winner of Miyazaki’s jet airliner art contest that is part of JAL & Studio Ghibli joint project Sora o Tobu.

As mentioned, Ghibli Museum Library is re-releasing the extremely cute Takahata & Miyazaki animation classic Panda Kopanda. It’s currently screening in various Japanese cinemas and a new DVD version will be available starting July 2 (note: a Blu Ray version will not be released). However, what about its content?

Panda Kopanda DVD data:
- Release date : July 2, 2008
- Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- 1972, 1973 / Japan / 72 minutes
- Price : 4,935 Yen (including tax), 4,700 Yen (before tax)
- Disc specs: 2 discs / dual layer / NTSC / Region 2 / amaray packaging
- Video: 4:3 aspect ratio
- Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese, English
- Subtitles: Japanese, English

- Main content: Panda Kopanda (パンダ・コパンダ,), Panda Kopanda: Amefuri Saakasu no Maki (パンダ・コパンダ 雨降りサーカスの巻)
- Special features: a talk with Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Hayao (recorded in 1994), Takahata Isao interview "Mimi to Heidi, Papanda to Totoro - the starting point of Takahata and Miyazaki", 3 theatrical trailers, E-konte (recorded as multi-angle, linked to the movie), "Panda Kopanda Exhibition - Miyazaki Hayao, the power of image-boards"

Furthermore, yesterday news was also brought on the JAL & Studio Ghibli joint project Sora o Tobu. Miyazaki’s jet airliner art contest has been won by Yuuko Yamaguchi from Tokushima city, a ten year old girl who’s currently in fifth grade.

Out of 13,470 contestants from eight countries (including Japan, the United States, China and France) Yamaguchi’s drawing was picked as the best. Headed by Miyazaki himself, the jury awarded her design, a white bird-like airplane covered in a the colorful flower motif, the first prize and will be used to decorate the outside of one of JAL’s Boeing 787 jet airliners. Miyazaki told, "It looks very good against the white body. More than anything, I felt it is a peaceful and calm picture."

11th of April, PONYO RELEASE OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED: Great news from Studio Ghibli, Japan: Ponyo ga kuru! Or for those how don’t speak Japanese: Ponyo is coming! The release date of Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) was officially announced today by Suzuki Toshio, executive producer and former president of Studio Ghibli. Suzuki showed the trailer of Ponyo at a preview room in Tokyo and announced that it will be released on July 19th.

As Studio Ghibli is located near a station of JR Chuo line (a train line in central Tokyo), most of the staff were late that day due to an accident on the JR line (April 10th). Suzuki told, "Miyazaki is always excited in such a situation, and as usual researched and asked those of the staff how they reached the studio. Anyway, this has no relation with the movie though... (laughing)"

Suzuki watched the rush that was on and said, "Miyazaki is now obviously making progress. On earth, how far can he reach? It scares me." He seems to get a really solid response. "The other day, I talked with his wife and she also told me the same. Miya-san will continue producing till his death. He can't live without making anime."

In the 85 seconds trailer (which will be released on April 19 in theatres all over Japan), Ponyo is swimming freely to the theme song in the sea. In the movie, 80% of it consists out of sea scenes. "Miya-san staked his life in expressing the waves" Our expectations for the release are raising.

Suzuki seems to have a policy not to reveal too much info on this movie. The trailer will be released only in the theatres. He says, "Many fans ask me that they want to enjoy the movie without any prejudice. One of my tasks is realizing it." This way is different from other movies - they usually expose as much as they can to the media to advertise it. Maybe it will be possible that because of this many people will visit the theaters because it is Miyazaki's.

Furthermore, Studio Ghibli’s new DVD/BD summer campaign to commemorate Ponyo’s future theatrical release was also announced today. Those purchasing a Studio Ghibli DVD or BD will be rewarded with a special limited Ponyo matchbox, a follow up to last winter’s Totoro matchbox that was awarded to buyers of the Oga Kazuo Ten - Ghibli No Eshokunin DVD / BD. This was added with the announcement of a Panda Kopanda DVD re-release, a follow-up to it's current theatrical re-release, both under the Ghibli Museum Library label. It will be available starting July 2 at a price of 4,935 Yen (4,700 Yen excluding tax) and, worth noting, will also contain English subtitles.

8th of April, PONYO NEWS FROM STUDIO GHIBLI’S PRODUCTION DIARY: As many know, Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) is still in the midst of production. For those wondering how things are progressing, presents some new interesting excerpts from Studio Ghibli’s own production diary...

Though progress is certainly being made, production section is currently chasing its schedule. Final cutting is planned at the end of April and Furusawa is checking if there are any cuts that might not be finished in time. A total number of 65 cuts are in the animation process flow (douga) and some might not make it in time. All the “sakukan agari”, the cuts modified by the sakuga director (sakukan / sakuga kantoku / sakkann / 作画監督), that come up after now must be in time for cutting, and the aim is to bring as much as material to dou-satsu (douga filming) as possible.

Anyhow, as to be expected the end result is to be yet another masterpiece. On April 1 the preview of the 1st Ponyo trailer was held at IMAGICA in Gotanda. About 100 related people gathered to see Ponyo moving for the first time. Responses like "Great! Moved!" and "Never show any more!!" followed and the audience kept sitting for a while after it finished. They got a solid response to see it. And, as mentioned earlier, the trailer will be released on April 19 in theaters all over Japan.

One of the “sakukan agari” was also finished last week and the production section felt Ponyo really is a formidable film to watch. This particular scene has over 400 douga and, as some Ponyo cuts contain 1600 and 900, one might think it this is not that much. However, the content of this sakuga is pretty hard. It is the scene made by “genga-man Mr. F” and it is one of the highlights of the film. The douga of the scene has been handled by “animator Mr. S”, who made countless monster cuts on many of the Ghibli films. His speed might be able to finish it by the end of April, though they can't drop their guard because it is a really hard cut.

In terms of background art things are pleasantly progressing. Ponyo’s assistant director recently delivered some finished backgrounds and only 50 cuts are left, with a end total adding up to 1139 cuts.

Furthermore, Studio Ghibli’s new president Hoshino Koji came by to visit executive producer Suzuki Toshio. They decided that the title letters for Ponyo’s foreign version (titled Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) should be in a handwriting matching Miyazaki’s Japanese handwritten title and so a company audition was held. Hoshino joined the challenge right away, though the end result was an overwhelming victory of Suzuki. In the past Suzuki has been responsible for making many handwritten titles for Ghibli’s films.

To sum things up, time was also spent on Gake no ue no Ponyo’s final minutes: Miyazaki and Watanabe (production) discussed its ending credits. As noted before, this time the style of the ending credits will be different from the existing Studio Ghibli films. What will it bring?

7th of April, MORE PONYO IN TWENTY-SEVENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Last Sunday was the start of a second season of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. The episode is available for download over here and as usual presents a summary for the Japanese impaired.

This week’s guest was Yano Akiko (矢野顕子). Besides being an influential Japanese pop and jazz musician, those fond of Ghibli will remember her as the singer who sang on Takahata’s Houhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun (ホーホケキョ となりの山田く& #12435;, My Neighbors the Yamadas) and for her voice acting on the Ghibli Museum shorts Mizugumo Monmon (水グモもんもん, Water Spider Monmon) and Yadosagashi (やどさがし, House Hunting). Furthermore, she used to be married to Sakamoto Ryuichi, a famous Academy Award-winning, Grammy-winning and Golden Globe-winning Japanese musician, composer, producer and actor.

Tonight, Yano was on her way from recording at Studio Ghibli. The first recording of Ponyo was done today and Yano voice acted as the sister(s) of Ponyo (note: Ghibli Asemamire's narrator clearly speaks of sisters, though the Ponyo website mentions a singular form.

Yano, "I heard that my role isn't that of a human and has no dialogue. It was true. So I accepted it." Suzuki asked, "How was Ponyo?", to which Yano replied, "Wonderful! I like it much better than Howl’s! Aha... can I say that?". Suzuki, "Are you exhausted?" Yano, "Yes, a little". Suzuki, "Me too, though I was just watching the recording. I was the man who recommended you to Miyazaki to do the voice acting, so I have the responsibility for your recording.". Yano, "Is that so!? Thanks so much!". Suzuki, "Actually, I recommended you to Takahata for Yamada's music as well. When I told him about you, he replied to me like "It is surprising to hear your mouth speaking about the name of Yano Akiko." I asked him why and he replied straightly "Her music is high-grade. Why do you like it?". He was really rude to me." (laughing)

Yano, "I had a concert at Japan Society in New York. At the reception after the concert, many Americans approached me and told that they had got to know me through My Neighbors the Yamadas. I was so glad to hear that." Suzuki, "Wasn't it at MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art in New York)?" Yano, "Yes." Suzuki, "When MoMA had a project of screening all Ghibli movies, I also visited it with Miyazaki. After all movies were screened, the person in charge told me that he liked Yamada the best and asked me to add it to their permanent collection. I was glad to hear it, though I asked him never to tell it to Miyazaki." (laughing)

Suzuki, "By the way, did you read all of the e-konte (storyboard)?" Yano, "Yes, of course. It took me a very long time though. It was very interesting, just as a picture book." Suzuki, "Is that so? This time, it is colored, while usually it is all in black and white." Yano, "Sosuke saves Ponyo and brings her in a bucket to his nursery. Kumiko finds out about it and tells Sosuke to show her. Then Ponyo casts a fierce glance at her. The stage direction says she doesn't trust females. Ponyo just spits water on Kumiko and Kumiko begins to cry. That sentence instantly got me to like Ponyo." Suzuki, "Miyazaki became 67 years old and he began the generalization of his works." Yano, "I think his image of females has cohered till so far. As usual, all female characters in Ponyo are like that, they precede males." Suzuki, "I hope kids will also like this movie" Yano, "Kids will surely like it. Not only boys, but girls as well. Girls will fall in love with Sosuke. I believe it will be welcomed regardless of gender or age or culture." Suzuki, "Yes. Male- female relationships are human fundamentals."

A short recording at a ramen shop was inserted. Takahata and Suzuki were there talking about Yano's concert. They just attended Yano's concert at Sumida Hall and said that it was very nice. The two of them have attended every concert of her since 1999.

At last, Suzuki asked Yano, "Why are you living in New York?". She replied, "I have no reason to live in Japan, but I do have some reasons to live in New York. I must live in New York to create music. For me, life in Japan is too comfortable to create."

This week’s inserted music was Yano Akiko’s E wa ugoite iru (絵は動いている, Pictures are moving) which was recorded in 2005 at Ghibli Museum (note: it isn’t included in the downloadable podcast version).

2nd of April, AN EXTENSIVE REVIEW ON HISAISHI’S PONYO IMAGE ALBUM: Earlier last month music composer Hisaishi Joe released his Image Album for Miyazaki’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Though there is much to tell about Hisaishi’s latest creation, there actually is someone who is far more capable to write about something musical as this.

Marco Bellano, one of’s friends, possesses a great expertise in the combined field of film, music and Studio Ghibli. Especially for, he has written a highly interesting and extensive review on Hisaishi’s Gake no ue no Ponyo Image Album (崖の上のポニョ イメージアルバム). Continue reading it now...

1st of April, PONYO TRAILER ANNOUNCEMENT IN TWENTY-SIXTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Is this the “final” summary on Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM? (available for download over here)

Last Sunday Suzuki said "Asemamire ends tonight"… However, all isn’t sure as the narrator didn't profess it at the ending of the program and it is likely to re-start again: in Japan the new business year or new school year starts on April 1st. Many TV and radio programs end in March and start in April full of cherry blossoms.

This week’s guest was Tsukagoshi Takayuki (塚越隆行). He is a friend of Suzuki and president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Japan, one of Ghibli Asemamire’s sponsors. One of the other guests was Hattori (服部, Suzuki didn't mention his given name), producer and editor of Asemamire and always present while recording the show. Suzuki told, "Tonight is the last broadcast of this program and..." Tsukagoshi was astounded, "Huh?!? I’ve never heard of this. Strange. We are the sponsor of this program..!?" Suzuki responded, "Haven’t you? Anyway, it has been decided. However, I hear this program is well-received, and I want to make it to CD. How about it?". Logically, Tsukagoshi was positive, "That's a good idea. We'll support it." And so they began planning making the CD of Suzuki’s program. Suzuki proposed one of his ideas, like a DVD without any images or movies. It has many entrance doors to each room. He referred to Kästner 's book Nemurenu Yoru no Tameni (眠れぬ夜のために, For a Wakeful Night), and proposed quoting it as the subtitle.

Suzuki also noted that Studio Ghibli will release the first trailer of Miyazaki’s Ponyo on April 19 in theaters all over Japan. He gave much thought on producing the trailer. Usually, a trailer needs be both visually attractive, as well as having a “catch copy”. But, this time, Suzuki didn't think it needed a catch copy. So it hasn’t got one.

Another guest visited Suzuki at his Renga-ya. Most likely Tsukada took the man with him to PR Disney’s second Narnia movie which will be released in Japan this May. The third guest was the producer of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Mark Johnson. He told, "This movie has something similar to Mononoke. In it themes like the coexistence of human and nature or the forest play an important role. The film was shot on location, like in beautiful forests in New Zealand, Praha, Poland and so on. In case of animation, you can paint anything you want, but our live action movie can't do that." Suzuki replied, "Pardon me for saying so, but I can't agree with you on this point. We never paint landscapes we have never seen. Location hunting is one of the things we always do and we paint only what we saw." Johnson was surprised, "Really!!??"

29th of March, EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS OF STUDIO GHIBLI AT TAF 2008: As every year, Studio Ghibli has a booth at the Tokyo International Anime Fair. TAF 2008 is taking place right now and, with a special contribution by none other than Danny Choo for, following are some exclusive photos taken at the Studio Ghibli booth. In specific, the announcement of this summer’s exhibition: Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata/Miyazaki Animation at the MOT in Tokyo.

24th of March, KUROSAWA ON GHIBLI IN TWENTY-FIFTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: The latest summary on Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM had been some time ago, but is back with details on last Sunday’s edition. Though it isn’t up yet, it will eventually be available for download over here.

This week’s guest was movie costume director & designer Kurosawa Kazuko (黒澤和子), daughter of none other than the legendary movie director Kurosawa Akira (黒澤明). Her professional background lists costume work on films like her father’s two final cinematic pieces, together with those of Yamada Yoji (山田洋次), Koizumi Takashi (小泉 堯史) and Kitano Takeshi (北野武). The latest film she worked on is Koizumi's WWII courtroom drama Ashita e no Yuigon (明日への遺言, Best Wishes for Tomorrow), which is currently screening in theaters all over Japan.

Talking about that, Kurosawa Kazuko’s collaboration with Koizumi has quite the background. After Koizumi graduated at Waseda University, he worked as an assistant director of Kurosawa Akira for a long time and is said to be his best pupil. After Kurosawa Akira passed away, Koizumi became a director and directed Ame Agaru (雨あがる, After the Rain) which was written by Kurosawa. Though he has directed only 4 movies, every one of them got good appraisal. For his latest film, today Kazuko just happened to have received an "ooiri bukuro" (大入り袋, full bag) from the movie company, a traditional Japanese show-business custom for when a show is a success. This full-house bonus comes in the form of a specially printed envelope, usually containing a small amount of money and is given away to all related staff. The staff was glad to get the success, but not for the money, because usually the money is very little… 50 or 100 yen.

Suzuki being a big fan of Kurosawa, they logically also talked about the memories of Kurosawa and his movies. Though shares the same opinion and regards the works of Kurosawa very highly, the focus of this summary will lay on the part related to Ghibli.

In his late life Kurosawa liked Miyazaki's movies "quite a lot" (note: Kurosawa died in 1998, aged 88 years old). He first took notice on Lupin III without realizing who had directed it. After that, he watched Nausicaa and Totoro, for which he appreciated Miyazaki very much. Suzuki told, "Miyazaki once got a letter from Kurosawa after we sent our videos to him. The letter read like this: "I watched all of the videos. Of course, Totoro is wonderful, Kiki is also very nice and Nausicaa is needless to say..." These words made Miyazaki very glad. BUT the next words made him confused and disappointed. "But what impressed me the most is Hotaru no Haka (火垂るの墓, Grave of the Fireflies). It’s the greatest movie of all of them. You are really talented!!" Kurosawa mentioned about Hotaru and admired it in long text. Actually, Kurosawa thought all Ghibli films were made by Miyazaki. He didn't know about Takahata…"(laughing). Kazuko told, "Well, I know father's most favorite was Totoro. And he cried when he watched Kiki. But the next day he watched Hotaru, his eyes were terribly swollen of crying."

Suzuki also noted, "While he was alive, we projected a talk with Kurosawa and Miyazaki for a magazine. I remember Miyazaki was very nervous like a young student in front of Kurosawa. But the most surprising thing for me was that Kurosawa seemed to be a person of very fine character." Kasuko joked, "You mean his good physique?" Suzuki, "No. I had never seen such a person mannered very gentle, graceful and confident. I realized that he had made himself fine in the same way he had made his movies: with a big effort. Compared to him, Miyazaki, Takahata or me are very selfish. I always want Miyazaki to become a person with a fine character… but still has a looong way to go..."

22nd of March, A BETTER LOOK AT THE WORLD OF MIYAZAKI’S PONYO: Time to further discover the world of Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Of course, like with all of his films, director Miyazaki is sure to yet again create a magical world. But what will it look like? Those in possession the film’s first chirashi (handbill) have already been able to take a look at it… however, a lot of people have not… So what is this talk about? It’s a watercolor that Miyazaki made of his Ponyo world and for the Japanese impaired brings it in a translated version.

Click the picture below for a better look.

16th of March, MIYAZAKI’S INSPIRATION “SNOW QUEEN” TO BE RELEASED ON DVD: Studio Ghibli’s Ghibli Museum Library label is to further expand its library with the DVD release of Lev Atamanov’s Snow Queen (雪の女王, Yuki no Jouou). Earlier this year the Russian animation from 1957 already received a cinematic release and so a disc release was inevitable.

As mentioned earlier on, Snow Queen had a decisive influence on Miyazaki Hayao's career as an animator. "This movie made my destiny and because of this I love it". In 1963 Miyazaki was just a beginning animator at Toei Animation Studio and couldn't agree to the projects he was working on and the projects in plan. He was to abandon his dream to be a manga writer. Luckily, seeing Snow Queen at a screening hosted by the union made him let go of that idea. Miyazaki "decided to continue working on animation with renewed determination".

One of the things worth noting is the origin of Atamanov’s Snow Queen. Just like Ghibli Museum Library’s Ou to Tori, it is based on one of the works of Danish fairy tale novelist Hans Christian Andersen. In addition, one of Andersen’s other works, The Little Mermaid, just so happens to be one of the inspirations for Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea).

Regarding Andersen’s Snow Queen, it has been adapted numerous times. Among these adaptations is not only Lev Atamanov’s animated version, but also 2002’s live-action version starring Bridget Fonda, 2005’s anime version by NHK and TMS Entertainment, and 2006’s Korean live-action adaptation where the original was modified into a modern drama starring Hyun Bin and Sung Yu Ri.

As far as Atamanov’s version of Snow Queen is concerned, it is actually the first time for it to be released in its original form in Japan. The former Japanese version, used for TV and video, was based on the English dub by Universal Studios from 1959. Luckily, for the new release Ghibli Museum Library have used the original Russian version which was earlier limited to film festivals only. One of the results is that it brings the original soundtrack that was composed by A. Ivajan which really manages to accent the drama and brings up fresh emotions. Adding to that, Japan’s most skilled Russian interpreter Kojima Hiroko, who already worked with Studio Ghibli and Yuri Norstein in the past, especially made a new translation for the film’s subtitles.

Starting July 2 Snow Queen will be available on DVD and is up for pre-order now (note: a Blu Ray version will not be released). The official Ghibli Museum Library trailer can be found here.

Snow Queen DVD data:
- Release date: July 2, 2008
- Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- 1957 / Soviet Union (Russia) / 63 minutes
- Price: 3,990 Yen (including tax), 3,800 Yen (before tax)
- DVD specs: dual layer / NTSC / Region 2 / amaray packaging
- Video: 4:3 aspect ratio
- Audio: Russian, original 2.0 Mono
- Subtitles: Japanese

Bonus features:
- Lev Milchin's Stojkij Olovyannui Soldatik, based on The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen / 1970 / Soviet Union (Russia) / 18 minutes
- Omoi wo Tsuranuku (想いをつらぬく), an interview with Miyazaki Hayao
- Two trailers

14th of March (updated), STUDIO GHIBLI LAYOUT EXHIBITION AT TOKYO'S MOT: Last year’s enormous success of Studio Ghibli’s Ogo Kazuo background art exhibition Oga Kazuo Ten: Ghibli no Eshokunin is getting a continuation. From July 26 till September 28 the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo (MOT) will be the stage of yet another exhibition focused on conveying the charming art of Studio Ghibli.

The exhibition, called Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata/Miyazaki Animation, is a joint project between MOT and NTV. With the full cooperation of Studio Ghibli & Ghibli Museum it will have over 1000 layouts from the works of Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao up for display. Though most of these will be layouts originating from Miyazaki’s own hands for films like Nausicaa to his latest movie Ponyo, layouts from pre-Ghibli works of both Miyazaki as Takahata will be viewable as well.

So what are layouts and what is their function? When producing animation, layouts prescribe everything that is to be expressed in the various cuts. Like relative positions, motion of backgrounds and characters, with or without of camerawork and its speed, filming arrangement and so on. Everything is derived from them, like the genga and douga that makes the motion of animation and backgrounds that show the understanding of the world. In other words, they are like the blueprints of anime. Interestingly, the system they form has nowadays become general, but its history is said to go back to 1974 during the production of Takahata & Miyazaki’s Arupusu no Shojo Haiji (アルプスの少女ハイジ, Heidi, Girl of the Alps) where the layout system was first innovated.

Tickets for the exhibition need to be purchased in advance and will be available, just like at the Ghibli Museum, nationwide through Lawson’s Loppi ticket boxes. Furthermore, basic information can be found at the exhibition’s own dedicated website and more details are to be revealed at this year’s Tokyo International Anime Fair 2008 which will be held at the end of this month.

11th of March, INTERNATIONAL ENGLISH TITLE OF MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED: Currently in the midst of production is Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ). The film, destined to become a masterpiece, had not yet been given an international English title and was earlier literally translated to Ponyo on a Cliff. However, that title can now be erased from everybody's mind.

In the past Studio Ghibli releases were sometimes given quite different titles in English compared to their original Japanese counterparts. Like Takahata Isao’s Omoide Poro Poro (おもひでぽろぽろ), which translates to Memories Like Falling Rain Drops, but was released as Only Yesterday. Or Kondou Yoshifumi’s Mimi wo Sumaseba (耳をすませば), which literally means If You Listen Closely, but was named Whisper of the Heart. And Umi ga Kikoeru (海がきこえる), meaning I Can Hear the Sea, but titled Ocean Waves. However, in the case of Miyazaki’s Ponyo the differences are just slight. Studio Ghibli has officially communicated the international English title of Miyazaki’s new film to the general public, as printed on the film’s chirashi (handbill) which has just been released.

The official English title will be: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.

8th of March, MIYAZAKI AND SUZUKI TALK PONYO: The news on Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff) just keeps expanding. After last week’s interview with Suzuki Toshio, this time the source is Yomiuri’s Sports Hochi and a corresponding podcast revealing new bits and pieces on the latest film of master animation director Miyazaki. We got an illustration of the town where his film takes place and for the first time director Miyazaki gave some comments on his new movie which already attracts attention from all over the world.

"I moved the location of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid to the Japan of today and cut off the Catholic color. It will show an adventure and love of small kids." said Miyazaki. Suzuki added, "It will be a movie kind to the old as well as kids." Miyazaki also told, "This is a story about a fish kid that has a selfish wish to get along with Sousuke, a human boy, and carries out her intention. Meanwhile it is a story about the 5 year old boy Sousuke carrying out his promise."

The location is a small countryside town near the sea - Niura (or Shin-ura, 新浦, the kanji doesn't show a clear pronunciation), added with cute place names like Ponyo ga Hama (ポニョヶ浜, Ponyo beach)" and Kujira-jima (クジラ島, Whale island). In 2004, Miyazaki went to a small town in Seto-nai- kai (瀬戸内海) during their company tour. The town is famous of Sakamoto Ryouma having once stayed there (坂本竜馬, a big hero during Japan’s Bakumatsu period). Miyazaki liked the town so much that he lived there for 2 months and expanded his imagination. The boy's name Sousuke (宗介) comes from the hero's name of Natsume Souseki's novel Mon (夏目漱石, ) which Miyazaki read during his stay at the town.

Miyazaki gave some further hints, "A small town by the shore and a house on a cliff. There are not many characters. The sea is like a creature. A world where magic appears in unconcern. I animated the sea not as a background, but as a main character." Suzuki told, "Since a few years ago Miyazaki used to say "I want to draw the sea properly and would like to try it again." and he tried a new method."

There is a day-care house for the old next to the nursery where Sousuke stays and it has an important key. Miyazaki said, "A boy and a girl. Love and life. I try to depict those without any hesitation and try to counter the age of nervous disease and angst."

5th of March, GHIBLI MUSEUM REDESIGN…, PONYO IMAGE ALBUM: When wanting to experience the world of Studio Ghibli, one should of course first watch their films. In addition, there is “of course” and another obligated place to visit is the Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館, Mitaka no Mori Jiburi Bijutsukan) in Mitaka, Japan. It’s a wonderful place that reveals the works of Studio Ghibli in the best way possible and it has just been redesigned. The official Ghibli Museum website that is… For the Japanese impaired an English version has returned so there is an extra reason to pay their new website a visit.

To sum things up, a noteworthy reminder on today’s official release of the Gake no ue no Ponyo Image Album (崖の上のポニョ イメージアルバム). It contains 10 tracks of image songs/music inspired by the "images" from Ponyo's story- and imageboards. Six of these have been based on the poetry of director Miyazaki Hayao himself. Starting today the album is available at shops all over Japan and of course at

3rd of March, FOLLOW-UP ON “DETAILS OF TAKAHATA’S NEW FILM REVEALED IN TWENTY- SECOND RADIO GHIBLI”: Yesterday’s 22nd episode of Suzuki Toshio’s radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire contained some highly interesting information on the new film of Studio Ghibli director Takahata Isao. brought its details immediately, however this is not where the story ends. There was more Ghibli to be told. Today it is time for a follow up and honor one of animation’s best animators ever…

Suzuki noted "Ujiie likes and respects Takahata very much. Typically, he changes his delivery when he talks to either Takahata or Miyazaki: chatty when talking to Miyazaki, polite when talking to Takahata. Talking about Takahata, I read the original novel of Hotaru (Hotaru no Haka, 火垂るの墓, Grave of the Fireflies) when I was 18 years old and liked it. When we began Ghibli, I proposed it to Takahata. I projected a double feature of Totoro and Hotaru as Miyazaki and Takahata were both rivals as well as best colleagues and it should have been very attractive."

"In those days, Hara (原徹, Hara Toru) was the president of Studio Ghibli and he opposed me so much. He told me, "It's impossible. You know, theatrical animation needs so much budget, time and staff. In the whole history of animation there isn’t an animation studio that ever made two full length feature films both at a time. Even Toei has never done that. You plan it because you are just amateur!" I replied "Yes, I'm amateur. What's bad about that?""

"Anyway, at last we started the project. In those days, our staff wasn’t that large as it nowadays is. In a flash, Miyazaki sensibly drew most of the staff first and hence Takahata got none. However, Kondou (master animator and director of Whisper of the Heart Kondou Yoshifumi, 近藤喜文, Kon-chan for short) had yet to decide which to choose. In fact, Miyazaki wanted Kon-chan even if he would lose all of his other staff, because only Kon-chan could draw better than Miyazaki!"

"If Kon-chan had joined Totoro, we might have seen different a Totoro. Kon-chan might have been the most skilled animator in long history of Japanese anime, I guess. Miyazaki intended to only do the directing and leave up all of the pictures to Kon-chan. He wanted to try a “real type anime” instead of a “manga type” and thought it could be possible if Kon-chan would join him. However, of course Miyazaki knew Takahata needed Kon-chan as well, so he persuaded Kon-chan everyday. Adding to that, Miyazaki was writing his e-konte (storyboards) and every single day he would deliver copies of the ones he made by post from his house in Tokorozawa (所沢) to Koudou's house in Kiyose (清瀬)."

"Takahata also wanted Kon-chan, though he didn't say anything. Instead of trying to persuade him, Takahata's strategy was that he told nothing to Kondou and gave him unspoken pressure. And so the battle between Miyazaki and Takahata over Kon-chan was on. Miyazaki said to me, "Kon-chan is absolutely necessary to Totoro!", while Takahata told me, "It will be impossible to make Hotaru without Kon-chan!". Kon-chan was confused and asked me which to choose. I decided to give Kon-chan to Takahata because he said "Impossible"."

"On the night I made the decision, I visited Miyazaki's office in Asagaya (阿佐ヶ谷). He was writing the Nausicaa manga at that time. Miyazaki realized it before I told him and said, "I can imagine what you'll say. Kon-chan will join Hotaru, right? OK. I'll enter a hospital tomorrow due to inflammation of the tendon sheath. If I give up Toroto because of Kon- chan, it might be stupid. But if it’s because of my illness, the double featuring with Hotaru will be given up as well!!" The next morning Miyazaki gave me a call and told me "I'm refreshed and feel better this morning. I beat Kon-chan in my dreams. I'll do Totoro without Kon-chan.""

2nd of March, DETAILS OF TAKAHATA’S NEW FILM REVEALED IN TWENTY-SECOND RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Another Sunday has passed on which Suzuki Toshio presented his radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. This time it contained some information that made it extra interesting: Suzuki revealed details on Takahata Isao’s new film. As always it’s available for download (up tomorrow) and is providing a summary.

This week’s guests was TV caster, novel writer and essayist Agawa Sawako (阿川佐和子). Typically, she apologized to Suzuki about her nowadays being into playing golf. Suzuki asked her "Why do you apologize?", to which she replied "I know Ghibli hates golf!"... Suzuki "???". Agawa replied "Ghibli is always on the side of weak people, loves nature and is kind to the environment" (laughing).

So what about her connection to Studio Ghibli? None other than Ghibli staff member Tai Yukari (田居因) happens to be one of her friends. Tai once asked her to write an article and so she visited Studio Ghibli. She found out they were producing Pompoko at that time and, as since her childhood Agawa had a dream of being a voice actor, she asked Suzuki to join. Takahata accepted her wish and casted her as a TV caster. Agawa was a bit disappointed, because she was already a TV caster in real life and actually wanted the role of one of the female tanukis.

Agawa and Suzuki both graduated at one of Tokyo’s most famous universities, Keio University (慶応大学). Back when she was in university, the student movement was booming (most of them were left wing) and she heard a rumor that there was a very beautiful female campus activist. She happened to see the woman activist was agitating and found out she was Agawa's kindergarten classmate. And besides that, she also happened to be a daughter of Ujiie Seiichiro (氏家斎一郎), the chairman of NTV and a big supporter of Ghibli. His name can be found on the ending credits of every Ghibli film.

Suzuki told an interesting episode about Ujiie and Takahata. "Once a month I have talk with Ujiie and he often tells me he wants to see one more Takahata film before he dies (Ujiie was born 1926 and so is now at an age of 81). He told me "It is your responsibility that Takahata-san's film has not been made." and always tells me to make a plan of it (laughing). He says he can't see Takahata's movie without having a special emotion, because even till now Takahata's film have a smell of Marxism."

Note: During his university days Ujiie used to be a member of the Japan Communist Party. The president of Yomiuri, Watanabe Tsuneo, was a member as well and even now they are still colleagues. They both quit JCP before graduating Tokyo University. In addition, ten years after them Takahata was also in Tokyo University.

Agawa asked "Does it mean Takahata's films remind him of his youth?", to which Suzuki replied "Right. The other day Ujiie and Takahata hotly discussed The Brothers Karamazov. Surprisingly, he remembers so many of its content. Anyway, we are planning to base Takahata’s new film on a Japanese lullaby. Japanese lullabies are a bit different from other ones. Usually, in the west a lullaby is for cradling a baby. In contrast to this, Japanese lullabies were usually sung by babysitters to comfort themselves instead of the baby. Back in the old days, babysitters were indentured servants and they were from impoverished villages. In the cradle songs, they sang about their sad circumstances, melancholy or nostalgia for their village. When Ujiie heard this, he instantly began singing Itsuki no Komori-uta from its 1st to 5th verse, using his surprising power of memory." Afterwards Agawa began singing it and asked Suzuki "Please use me for voice acting again!!"

Note: There are 2 types of Japanese lullabies. One is sung by mothers for cradling their babies. These are called komori-uta (子守歌). The other type is sung by babysitters to comfort themselves and are called moriko-uta (守り子歌). These babysitters were almost always servants or slaves. Itsuki-no-komori-uta (五木の子守歌), which was mentioned above, is one of the famous lullabies about Itsuki-village (熊本県), a mountain village in southern Japan (Kumamoto prefecture) well-known for its beautiful nature and its clean river. In old times, when Itsuki was desperately poor, the people had to send their 7-8 year old daughters to the rich families in the city to work as a babysitter. Living far away from home, the young babysitters had to look after the babies all day long. Nowadays, Itsuki isn’t so poor anymore. Though, with the plan to build the Kawabe River Dam, the village will disappear under the flooding water and only the song will remind us to Itsuki village. Suzuki didn't tell if Takahata will really deal with Itsuki-no-komori-uta in specific, though it does give a hint. Following are some of its lyrics:

よか衆ゃよか帯 よか着物

I'll go home at Bon
If Bon comes soon, I can return soon
We are like beggars, but they are the rich
The rich have good sashes and good clothes

Note: Bon festival is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed spirits of one's ancestors that takes place in August. Usually, the slaves could have holidays only twice a year: on Bon and New Year's days.

29th of February, AN INTERVIEW WITH EXECUTIVE PRODUCER & FORMER PRESIDENT OF STUDIO GHIBLI SUZUKI TOSHIO REVEALING THE STORY BEHIND PONYO: In the March edition of the Japanese magazine Cut more details behind the story and history of Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff) have been unraveled. The international interview magazine features a highly interesting three page interview with Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio and logically presents a must-read summary.

Continue reading the interview now…

25th of February, TWENTY-FIRST RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Another Sunday has passed on which Suzuki Toshio presented his radio talk show Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. As always it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week’s guests were Nakamura and Yoda. Quite known in Japan, Nakamura Masato (中村正人) is a member of "Dreams come True" (DCT), a 2-person band that tends to use humorous and ambiguous language in their songs. He takes in the position of music writer and base guitar player. The other member, Yoshida Miwa ( 吉田美和), is responsible for writing the lyrics and sings. Anyway, DCT is very popular and during last year’s concert at Tokyo Dome they called a 60,000 person attendance and Suzuki was one of them. This week’s other guest, Yoda, is part of the Yomiuri staff and manages the Ghibli pages of Yomiuri Online: Ghibli wo ippai (ジブリをいっぱい).

During the show Nakamura typically noted the flaws of Ghibli’s music as something he envies. "To us music industry experts the way of Ghibli music is terribly messed up. We are always surprised and amazed by it. For us, we have many kinds of formats and rules on how to handle our music business. We are chained to things like record companies and music publishers. However, in your case you always act freely and are even successful with it. Perhaps it’s because no one chains you. We envy you." Suzuki replied "Well, because we are just amateurs, we don't know any formats or rules!". After listening Nozomi’s demo of the Ponyo’s theme song, Nakamura laughed. "It’s really messed up!!".

They also talked about lack and superflux: The Japanese economy is said to have been in a long depression, though everybody has enough to eat and is even wasting a lot of it. Is it really a depression? Suzuki told "Talking about that, the Japanese movie industry produced a lot of good movies during Japan’s poor period after its WW2 defeat. Good movies don't necessarily need richness and wealth. On a related note, Miyazaki is currently producing Ponyo and it has some Morse code appearing in it. Though nowadays it isn't really used anymore, it is quite useful if we don't have access to internet or other modern forms of communication. By the way, Miyazaki really doesn't like PCs, internet or other digital tools. He is always angry at me for using e-mail."

Furthermore, Nakamura told an interesting episode about the music industry and digital technology. "When I read Miyazaki’s Nausicaa manga I was impressed by a certain scene. In it they use lost high tech mining engines that they can fix and maintain, but can't produce themselves. It didn't feel real when I read it, but nowadays a similar thing is happening around me as well. These days, we often use a sampling technique to record music. We can digitally create any kind of sound, making live drums of strings performances unnecessary. The result is that many young musicians and engineers haven’t heard live drums or strings and don't possess a proper technique to record them. Recording drums sounds isn't easy, but in fact they can't read musical scores either. Miyazaki's forebode came true. Amazing. If we now record live performances, we get many complaints of piano pedal noise, guitar strings rustling or whispering musicians..."

To sum things up, Suzuki also discussed his other guest, Yoda. "Yoda made the Ghibli pages on Yomiuri Online. He didn't get any acceptance from us. Is it possible? The page is hidden at the end of the website. He knows that aged people - like me or Miyazaki - can't handle the internet (laughing). I was surprised to see it for the first time. However, I have no intent to blame him, but instead want to admire him. Newspaper writers used to be so good in the good old days."

This week’s inserted music was DCT's new song Matane! (See you again!). It’s part of the soundtrack of the new theatrical One Piece anime that is up for release this March.

21th of February, COVER ART FOR PONYO IMAGE ALBUM: A noteworthy pointer from our colleagues of the well respected Studio Ghibli’s "home composer" Hisaishi Joe has posted a lovely cover image of the Gake no ue no Ponyo Image Album (崖の上のポニョ イメージアルバム) on the official website. The cover art features one of Miyazaki Hayao’s imageboards presumably displaying Sosuke’s house on a cliff.

The Gake no ue no Ponyo Image Album contains 10 tracks of image songs/music inspired by the "images" from Ponyo's story- and imageboards. To be more specific, six of them have been based on the poetry of director Miyazaki Hayao himself as well. The album is to be released on March 5 and is up for pre-order at the Japanese division of Amazon.

20th of February, NISSHIN SEIFUN TO SPONSOR GHIBLI MUSEUM LIBRARY: Studio Ghibli is being aided in their quest to promote foreign animation among Japan. As been announced by Ghibli Museum, Nisshin Seifun and Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the core companies of the Nisshin Seifun Group is to co-sponsor Studio Ghibli’s foreign animation distribution label Ghibli Museum Library.

For a period of at least one year Nisshin Flour Milling Inc. will advertise the Ghibli Museum Library movies in newspapers and handle other public- relations operations. The collaboration will start with the sponsoring of Miyazaki & Takahata’s 1972 pre-Ghibli Panda Kopanda (パンダコパンダ, Panda! Go Panda!) which will be re-released together with a dedicated exhibit on March 15. Ghibli Museum curator Nakajima Kiyofumi noted ''Our new enterprise might face tough prospects but there are many good titles.'' and praised Nisshin for their support. Nakajima also mentioned that, when the first year of their contract with Nisshin is over, Ghibli Museum will very possibly extend the term.

19th of February, MIYAZAKI & TAKAHATA ON BLU RAY, NINETEENTH & TWENTIETH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Good news from Japan. Starting from July 25 two of Miyazaki’s & Takahata pre-Ghibli pieces will viewable in Full HD. Both Miyazaki’s Meitantei Houmuzu Gekijouban (劇場版 名探偵ホームズ, Sherlock Hound Theatrical Release) from 1984 and Takahata’s theatrical release of Jarinko Chie (じゃりン子チエ 劇場版, Chie the Brat) from 1981 have been given a new High Definition Telecine transfer and will be released on Blu Ray with a mono PCM-track, together with a 16-page full color booklet. Though subtitles have not been confirmed, presumably these will be left out like with the earlier corresponding DVD releases. Anyway, pre-orders are already up over here and here.

In addition, one might also want to order the new release of Miyazaki Hayao’s unmissable pre-Ghibli Mirai Shonen Konan (未来少年コナン, Future Boy Conan) that was released last month: Mirai Shonen Konan 30th Anniversary Memorial Box. It can be seen up close over here.

Last Sunday Suzuki Toshio presented another episode of his show Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. As always it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week’s guests was Nakazawa Shinichi (中沢新一), a famous religion scholar who in 2007 wrote a long article for the Gedo wo Yomu booklet for which he also handled the editing. Together with Suzuki he talked about various philosophic and religious subjects. One of them related to one of Nakazawa’s many relatives famous for their academic side. In this case it was about his uncle Amino Yoshihiko (網野善彦), a historian who studied the craftsmen of the Middle Ages of Japan. Nakazawa mentioned that his uncle's work greatly inspired Miyazaki's Mononoke Hime (もののけ姫, Princess Mononoke). He pointed out an interesting thing about Mononoke Hime in the way it tried to depict the opposition between the forest and development of civilization. In ancient Europe and Middle East the development of civilization was built on destroying its forest, though in Southeast Asia and with the Mayas and Aztecs, after the perishing of its ancient civilization, the forests soon recovered. As Japan is a humid place, the opposition between forests and the development of civilization wasn't so serious: the forest could easily recover and so Miyazaki's effort was confusing at this point.

Another thing Nakazawa pointed out was the difference between the West and Asia. In the West’s monotheistic religious world man was created by God, but many Asian ethnic groups claim to have animal ancestors. For example, Japan’s Imperial family's ancestor is the gator and Korean's ancestor is the bear. Suzuki was surprised to hear it, "Gator? Is that right? I didn't know that!"

Furthermore, Suzuki replied on some of Nakazawa’s questions, telling him about the number of Ghibli staff members: 170 for the Studio and 150 for the Museum. As Nakazawa was surprised of so many people working at Ghibli Museum, Suzuki explained about it, but as the show’s narrator disturbed it we can’t tell the details. What we did catch was Suzuki telling about Tokyo’s museums. "There are many public museums in Tokyo’s metro area. However, for many of them it isn't easy to manage them because of the lack of visitors. For example, there is Edo-Tokyo Tatemono-en (江戸東京たてもの園) the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum near Ghibli studio in Koganei, which inspired Spirited Away. Miyazaki and I like it very much and often visit it. The Governor of Tokyo once visited it and liked it very much, but after hearing of its management problems he began to entertain closing it. We hope it will survive."

Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff) was also discussed. - spoiler alert! - Suzuki mentioned some details on the beginning of the story which Miyazaki borrowed from the legend of Urashima Taro (浦島太郎): a fish kid called Ponyo is playing with a Aohata (アヲハタ) jam jar and puts her head in it. She can't get it out and is wriggling at the shore, but Sosuke finds the jar and saves her. Ponyo never forgets his kindness.

To end the program Suzuki asked Nakazawa to write a serial story on Studio Ghibli’s free monthly report magazine Neppu on which Nakazawa replied "sounds interesting.".

In addition, we have a summary for last weeks Ghibli Asemamire as well (download). Its guest was Ishikawa Gen, a children's psychiatrist who long ago, back in Nagoya during 4th grade of elementary school, was Suzuki's classmate. He was a guest on Suzuki’s show as a certain magazine recently featured an article about “Suzuki and an old classmate” and Suzuki asked the editor to choose Ishikawa as the classmate.

Though Suzuki remembered him very well, Ishikawa didn't remember Suzuki at all. Suzuki told that Ishikawa was the boss of the kids and Suzuki was his following and together teased other kids. Ishikawa laughed and replied "If it had been true, I should have seen a psychiatrist. I might have been a damned kid, but I don't remember it at all."

Anyway, Ishikawa is an authority in the field of the autism spectrum disorder called Asperger syndrome. Before he met Suzuki again during the magazine project he had never watched a Studio Ghibli movie, but then he finally watched one movie. It was Totoro and Ishikawa had a related story about one of his kid patients. It was about a 2 year old boy fond of cars and motorbikes for whom his mother had bought a Totoro DVD. The boy liked it and everyday he watched it again and again, to a total of 4 times in a day! Ishikawa asked Suzuki "Do you know Yoko-chan in Totoro?", to which Suzuki replied "No, never heard about her." Ishikawa continued "One day the boy said to her mother "Yoko-chan in Totoro...". As his mom sometimes watched Totoro with the boy she was quite familiar with the details of Totoro. She said to her son "Yoko-chan? You know, there appear 3 girls: Satsuki, Mei and Satsuki's friend Michan... but Yoko-chan doesn't exist!" A few months later, the family was talking about Totoro. The boy had become 3 years old and suddenly said "When Mei got lost, Satsuki was looking for her and met a young man riding a motorbike. Satsuki asked him if he had seen Mei. The young man looked back at his girlfriend on the side-car and asked "Yoko-chan, did you see a little girl?" That was Yoko-chan".

His mom checked the DVD and found out it was true. She realized her little boy was different from normal kids and came to me to consult." Suzuki said "I remember that young girl, but didn't know her name was Yoko-chan…" Ishikawa replied "In a drame normal people never care about these slight matters, but Asperger syndrome patients can't see the whole. They only see the segments." Like in the old Japanese saying: seeing only a tree, but never the forest (木を見て森を見ず). The boy didn't really watch the drama, but only watched the cars, buses and motorbikes. Ishikawa said "Asperger syndrome patients can't read the atmosphere and often get into trouble with people around them. They never cure. They have to realize it and have to go along with it through their entire lives. If the parents try to cure it, it just gets worse." Suzuki and Ishikawa talked some more about psychiatric diseases and psychology, but it was a bit abstract and less connected to Ghibli.

13th of February, PRODUCTION OF MIYAZAKI’S PONYO KEEPS PROGRESSING: From Studio Ghibli comes an update on Miyazaki Hayao’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff).

Last week an outsourced Genga-artist, who earlier worked on Gedo Senki (ゲド戦記, Tales from Earthsea) and who’s name includes the kanji 田 ("ta"), visited Studio Ghibli. Though checking Gedo Senki's credits list will not solve the mystery on who he is (as there are many options), there is one thing we can say: he is much demanded on many theatrical anime productions. This was once again proven by the fact that Studio Ghibli offered him to join Ponyo and ever since its production started have negotiated with him. Today Studio Ghibli finally had an arrangement with him. The people at Studio Ghibli look forward to seeing his genga and are eager to see how he will work with Miyazaki. Which isn’t strange. Even though he worked on Ghibli films like Gedo Senki and some shorts in the past, it’s his first time working under Miyazaki. On the moment only 20 cuts for saku-uchi are left and they plan to finish all of it in the week after next. UP is coming soon.

In terms of backgrounds things are pleasently progressing as well. Recently, background art master Oga Kazuo brought the background pictures he painted for Ponyo to Studio Ghibli. It were all of those that were charged on him. This time he painted about 100 cuts centering natural surroundings like the sea, mountains, forests, flowers and clouds. All of them are beautiful and soft and while Yoshida was checking them every time he admired them and went "Wonderful!!". Oga encouraged the main staff and said "I'm really looking forward to seeing the 1st preview!". He left the studio and went away in the snow. His back clearly showed the people at Ghibli that he is really an artisan.

6th of February, ENGLISH INTERVIEW WITH PONYO THEME SONG SINGERS FUJIOKA FUJIMAKI: When giving our readers the latest Studio Ghibli news, doesn’t often rely on English written media… Luckily, Midnight Eye contributor Don Brown (Ryuganji) informs us about an interesting interview on the English version of Yomiuri Shimbun: an interview with Gake no ue no Ponyo theme song singers Fujioka Fujimaki. Read the interview now…

4th of February, NEW UNSEEN PONYO ART BY MIYAZAKI HAYAO: Shining on this month’s edition of Yomy, an extra release for those subscribed to Yomiuri Shimbun, is a never before seen water color & pastel art piece made by Miyazaki Hayao for his new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). It’s a picture showing Ponyo at night standing on a boat and logically has an image of it (click to enlarge). Let’s hope Studio Ghibli & Miyazaki Hayao will soon bring the world more of this lovely art!

3rd of February, MORE NEWS ON SUZUKI TOSHIO’S STEPPING DOWN AS STUDIO GHIBLI PRESIDENT, EIGHTEENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Last week Suzuki Toshio announced he will be further focusing his work as a producer and stepped down as Studio Ghibli president. Japan’s NTV2 uploaded a 28 minute video of the complete press conference and for the Japanese-impaired brings a summary of what had not yet been mentioned in other Japanese media.

Set at Studio Ghibli Suzuki opened the conference mentioning he would like to tell three things. One of them was about the hardships. "To tell the truth, when we parted from Tokuma and became an independent company, I searched and recruited anyone who could accede the function of Studio Ghibli president. I knew “managing business” would be hard for me, but as I found none to accept I had to become president myself. That’s why this replacement isn't unexpected or strange news. I now realize why all those whom I had asked earlier declined the offer. Maybe they thought it would be hard to go along together with Miyazaki, Takahata and me: 3 selfish bosses."

Suzuki added "Born in 1948, I got old enough, so I therefore once thought of retirement. However, Miyazaki got angry and told me "I'm older than you, you mustn't retire before me." So I'll continue working on making films and made a new post: 取締役プロデューサー (Executive Producer). Now usually presidents want to become a chairman or CEO after they quit as president, but that is something I will never do. I want to make films and to be on site." (Note: Suzuki’s comment shows some sarcasm as the top of NTV is called chairman instead of president.)

Thirdly, Suzuki also explained about why he has chosen Hoshino. "We've known each other since 1991. Back then Disney asked us to let them handle the distribution of Ghibli videos, but our answer was NO. Some years later, we began to get a business relation. I believe that Disney helped us to make Studio Ghibli into a worldwide known film studio. Hoshino was the central figure."

Of course Hoshino himself brought in his side of the story as well. "When I once consulted a person about changing jobs, he advised me three things. First of all: "NO foreign capital" (in the past Hoshino worked on 3 US companies of which one of them was Disney). Second of all: "Work on something related to kids and dreams, just like your job at Disney." Third of all: "You’ve got the age to show your gratitude towards society."."

"I worked at Disney in my 30s and 40s. I'll work at Ghibli in my 50s. The most important difference between these 2 is the following. Walt Disney died long ago and afterwards the company grew big as a global company. However, at Studio Ghibli the founders, Miyazaki and Takahata and Suzuki, are still alive and creating. And now I’ll be able to work with these living legends. It's really great and my most decisive point of joining Studio Ghibli. I think my job is to support creators like Miyazaki and Takahata and Goro. Suzuki has built up a good environment for creating. I must keep it. And I must keep a good a relation with musicians like Hisaishi Joe and promotion companies that always help Ghibli."

With Hoshino obviously motivated, it is interesting to find out what he will bring Studio Ghibli. Despite the huge success of Studio Ghibli’s films, his task might still be hard. Suzuki noted "Honestly speaking, the business management of Studio Ghibli isn't so easy. Business environments are changing along time. For example, video has been replaced by DVD. To tell the truth, I've never made any management programs. For example, we got so much unexpected revenue on 2001 due to the success of Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (千と千尋の神隠し, Spirited Away), but the next year it was almost ZERO. It's impossible to make a single year budget. Usually we make films in a 3 or 4 years cycle. So we have to plan our management program in 3 or 4 years cycle well. However, these are just a simple wild ass guess... Talking about future plans, both Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Goro have plans for new movies…" NTV2 news says these will be released after Ponyo.

To change matters, but remain on the same subject: this week’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) also handled Suzuki Toshio’s stepping down as president of Studio Ghibli. As always it will be available for download and is providing a summary.

Logically, new Studio Ghibli president Hoshino Kouji was this week’s guest with whom Suzuki discussed some background stories…

Some time ago the Disney head office in the US had the plan of replacing Disney Japan's president from Japanese to American. Last May this resulted in Hoshino changing jobs from president to chairman. Of course Suzuki got word of it and decided to recruit Hoshino as president of Ghibli. This wasn’t handled quickly though. After receiving the offer Hoshino didn’t get in touch with Suzuki for 3 months. Hoshino was worrying and thought he wasn't suitable for Studio Ghibli. In the meanwhile during that period, an American friend of Suzuki told Suzuki "Hoshino will never come to Studio Ghibli. The salary of a Disney president is so immensely high, you will never be able to pay as much as them. He'll search for other offers at companies that pay more." And yes, the common sense of Suzuki’s American friend was somewhat right: Hoshino had indeed received some other good job offers. However, Suzuki believed that people sometimes don’t base their decision on money and thought that Hoshino would change his mind. Suzuki patiently left things as they were for 3 months. After that, Hoshino gave Suzuki a phone call and visited him at his Renga-ya. Suzuki just asked him in short "Decided?", to which Hoshino replied "YES!".

The new and former Studio Ghibli president also went twenty years back in time. A moment in Suzuki's life in which he stayed and worked at Studio Ghibli during the days and at Tokuma during the evenings. While working hard at both of them, Suzuki thought he had to decide on where to further dedicate himself. It just so happened that around that time Tokuma was planning to start a new magazine for adults and had Suzuki in mind as its chief editor. It was a very attractive offer for him, but basically he would be just a magazine editor and, as he had some ambition, he worried. To make a solid desicion he thought of with whom he could work as a magazine editor. Of course, If he’d choose Ghibli, he could work with Miyazaki. And Miyazaki needed him so much. Hence, Suzuki chose Ghibli and afterwards realized it was indeed the best choice for him.

2nd of February, NEW TAKAHATA ISAO & MIYAZAKI GORO FILMS ANNOUNCED, SUZUKI STEPS DOWN AS STUDIO GHIBLI PRESIDENT: Highly interesting news from Japan. As of February 1 former Walt Disney Japan president Hoshino Kouji (51) has taken over the position of Suzuki Toshio (59) as president of Studio Ghibli. Suzuki, who has been responsible for many hits and has been working on many of Miyazaki’s films since Nausicaa, said "The origin of Ghibli is making theatrical animation. As I’ve been willing to dedicate myself on on-site producing again, I’ve been searching for someone who could undertake the position of president in place of me." Therefore Suzuki will start fully devoting his time as a producer again. He also disclosed that after Miyazaki Hayao’s Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff) the next film is planned to be directed by Takahata Isao and Goro Miyazaki. (Note: As this sentence doesn't show any plural or singular form, it isn’t clear if it means if ONE film or TWO films are to be directed by Takahata and Goro. However, it is assumable both will make a separate film.)

In the past Mr. Hoshino worked at Walt Disney Japan, where he had a relation with Ghibli since 1994. There he handled the video distribution and theatrical releasing of Mononoke Hime all across America. Suzuki chose Hoshino as he wanted a person that was well familiar with Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki welcomes him and said "If he does the job I can do anything I want like always."

In addition, Hoshino told about his intentions "I worked at Disney to give children dreams, so I think it is highly attractive to work with Miyazaki and Takahata. Perhaps the management or business aspect will change, but as a creating group Studio Ghibli will never change. I will keep the environment that Mr. Suzuki has built." Suzuki added "I'm a man who wants to adhere to actual production field. When we got independent from Tokuma back in 2005, I spent so much energy that I couldn't handle even one movie. I realized the limitations of working on both management and production." Besides producing Suzuki will continue his job as board director.

24th of January, MIYAZAKI'S PONYO PROGRESSING AND SIXTEENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Miyazaki Hayao’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff) is further progressing. Since two weeks SAKUGA meetings (key animation meetings) have been held on an everyday basis. After every meeting director Miyazaki mumbles "The rest cuts of meeting are xxxxx...." They can see something in his face... One relief is that he can take a view at completion now and that the loneliness of production is nearing its end. Talking about the end, Ponyo production staff had a meeting about the movie’s ending credits. Because of Miyazaki’s wishes, this time it will be a little different from what is usually done. They don’t want it spoil the image of Ponyo and are planning to make it warm and fun. It’s a kind of trial and error, but the aim is to give the audience a fun and good afterglow.

Last Sunday Studio Ghibi president and producer Suzuki Toshio presented another episode of his show Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. As always it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week’s guests were NTV’s Okuda Seiji and Okada Junichi (岡田准一). Of course Okuda was already a guest in previous shows and this time he brought Okada with him. Besides being a member of the popular boy band V6 which belongs to Johnny & Associates (ジャニーズ事務所), he is also an actor, appearing in films like Koreeda Hirokazu’s Hana Yori mo Naho. Those being fond of the works of Studio Ghibli will also know him for his voice acting part from 2006, when he was responsible for Arren's voice in Miyazaki Goro’s Gedo Senki. This time, he acted one of the lead parts in the movie Kage-hinata ni Saku (陰日向に咲く) which is to be released at the end of this week. Okuda is one of its producers.

Recently in Japan, a Japanese kind of stand up comedy called Owarai has been booming a lot. Already starting in the morning till midnight large numbers of Owarai performers occupy the Japanese TV screens. Gekidan-Hitori is one of them and wrote the original best selling novel on which Kage-hinata ni Saku (陰日向に咲く, Blossom in the Shade and Sun) was based (Gekidan-Hitori means "one man theater troupe").

Usually Suzuki is the one asking the questions and spends most of time with a somewhat one-sided talking. However, tonight Okada demanded a turn a of roles. Firstly, Okuda asked Suzuki "Why don't you try producing live-action films? The huge DVD collection on your shelves almost entirely consists out of live-action films." Suzuki "I like them very much and actually prefer them to anime. But it’s only for watching, not making them. Basically, at first I didn't like anime so much, so I could make it for business only." Okuda "So at first you didn't have any vision or spirit for making films? I heard of a legend of your first time meeting Miyazaki. You hung on him for 3 days long. Is it true?" Suzuki "Talking about that story, I was a magazine writer and visited Miyazaki for an interview. At that time he was making Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro) and unfortunately didn't agree to be interviewed at all. I asked him why, on which he replied "I would be tarnished if my interview would appear in such a cheap magazine!" and he didn’t say anything to me after that. So I set a chair beside him and kept sitting. I declared him I would stay there till he would be willing to talk with me. Three days after he finally started talking to me." Okada "Oh! You are like Toyotomi Hideyoshi!! You must have had some something special with anime, didn't you?" Suzuki "No. It was just my job. And me being frustrated by his words made me behave like that. Anyway, for several months after I stayed beside him day in day out until they finished the movie. He opened up and began talking to me. In those days, Miyazaki was young and every day he began working at 9 am and stopped at 3 am of the next day, so I couldn't do any of my own job." Okada "And what did you think of Cagliostro then? I think it is a masterpiece and it’s one of my big favorites." Suzuki "It was very good, of course. Then, I began to want to work with him. It was not because it was movie industry, but because I felt comfortable around him. After he did Cagliostro he lost his place to make movies and I thought that I should be his producer." Okada "What is your dream for the movies you make?" Suzuki "Now, I only wish we can make movies that I really want to watch." Okada "How about Ponyo?" Suzuki " We watch the rush-films that are brought in every week. Today I also watched one. I have been often excited to see some excellent scenes." Okuda "To tell the truth, I've wanted to do producing of movie some day. So I want to ask you this question. What do you think about that… for you, is a movie producer a creator or a businessman?" Suzuki "Uhmmm…". He couldn't answer.

This weeks’ inserted music was Toki no Uta (時の歌) by Teshima Aoi, a song from Gedo Senki Kashuu, and one of the songs of the Kage-hinata ni Saku soundtrack: Deai no Kakera (出会いのかけら) by Ketsumeishi (ケツメイシ).

18th of January, OGA KAZUO TEN DVD & BLU RAY DISC TWIN PACK REVIEW: Quietly. For a long time that was the way art director and background artist Oga Kazuo worked behind the scenes at Studio Ghibli. Justified, his inconspicuous position changed in the course of time and Oga has become an indispensable part of Studio Ghibli. During the last couple of years he deservingly received “foreground attention” for the moving background art he made. Back in 1996 and 2005 he already released two books: Oga Kazuo Art Collection and Oga Kazuo Art Collection II. In 2006 Oga followed with his directing debut called Taneyamagahara no Yoru (種山ヶ原の夜, The Night of Taneyamagahara) and in the summer of 2007 his work finally received the full attention it had already earned: an exhibition of his work took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

Though most animation background art is discarded every day and by many thought to have little value in itself, the art of Studio Ghibli’s image artisan Oga Kazuo has managed to capture the hearts of audiences. Photographs can leave a highly detailed record, but there is much they cannot capture. Like the smell of a breeze and the nostalgia that is “memory”. In that way Oga’s works are different. They have the power to awaken those memories within us. Works that were originally backgrounds and art boards used for scenes in animated films were framed for exhibition which was extremely well visited. So well visited, that there wasn’t enough time and room. Each day the exhibition was thronged with visitors. Over 200,000 people came to see Oga’s “empty” backgrounds at his exhibit that ran for 66 days. So what does one do for the visitors that want to relive it? What does one do for those who weren’t fortunate to visit it?

The answer is simple: release a DVD (, and DVD & Blu Ray Disc Twin Pack (,

It all starts with a wonderful documentary Oga Kazuo Ten: Ghibli no Eshokunin - The One Who Painted Totoro's Forest which runs for about 72 minutes. While taking its viewers through the exhibition, people like Studio Ghibli president Suzuki Toshio, director Takahata Isao, art directors Takeshige Yoji and Tanaka Naoya, Oga’s mentor Kobayashi Shichiro and of course the background art master Oga himself, enlighten us with their “background stories”. From when Oga was 20 years old and started at Kobayashi Production with almost no training in 1972, till now, when Oga has claimed a important role at Studio Ghibli. In the course of time Oga worked with many directors on a diverse range of background art styles, but of course a very important step was when he decided to join Studio Ghibli...

Like the documentary tells its viewers, Oga began working at Studio Ghibli purely by accident. His first production for Studio Ghibli was Miyazaki Hayao’s My Neighbor Totoro which takes place in the countryside outside Tokyo in the late 50’s. Ghibli was producing Totoro and Hotaru no Haka simultaneously and an art director for Totoro was urgently needed. One day Oga received a call from director Miyazaki Hayao. Studio Ghibli producer and president Suzuki Toshio tells “Miyazaki had a close relationship with an art director named Yamamoto Nizo from whom he’d heard about Oga. Miyazaki assumed Oga would be suitable. Miyazaki has this interesting trait that if he trusts you he assumes he can trust your friend as well.”

Once again proven, the documentary shows Oga did a great job on Totoro. The way he managed to change nature’s face with each change in the light. Depending on the weather and time of day the same place can take on a completely different appearance and Oga brilliantly depicted these changes in mood. Of course the most notable Totoro backgrounds depict nature’s transformation as night falls. As Studio Ghibli president & producer Suzuki Toshio mentions “The aspect of Totoro that impressed me most is the sequence where Satsuki goes looking for Mei. The background convey the passage of time. Without Oga, I doubt that sequence would have worked.”

Ghibli art director Tanaka Naoya puts it extremely well “It’s as if Oga has a kind of special filter that he uses to depict the quality of light. It’s not a naturalistic effect. He extracts the essence of important elements of the scene. Then he augments them to enrich the image. What this does is change the landscape from something familiar to something that feels more like déjà vu. The audience shares the experience with the character.”

Logically, director Takahata Isao was extremely impressed by Oga’s backgrounds for Totoro. He began preparing for Only Yesterday and wanted Oga as his art director. Protagonist Taeko, born and raised in Tokyo, feels drawn to rural Japan and in the present day scenes of the film she goes to visit relatives in Yamagata Prefecture. As Oga is actually a native from Akita, Takahata wanted to use Akita as the setting. But to drive the story, they needed to find a special local product. Something distinctive that would work for animation. After a lot of research and they discovered something that Akita didn’t have anything to rival with: Yamagata’s safflowers. The result ended up in a superb film with stunning backgrounds.

Numerous kinds of other stories, added with the visuals of Oga’s lovely backgrounds that show his keen powers of observation, make Oga Kazuo Ten: Ghibli no Eshokunin - The One Who Painted Totoro's Forest not something to cheer your kids up with, but into a perfectly interesting documentary for those having a higher interest in the films of Studio Ghibli or animation in general.

Other content includes The reason why people are attracted with Kazuo Oga and background paintings of animation, a 40 minutes collection of interviews with director Takahata Isao, art scholar Tsuji Nobuo, Studio Ghibli art department head Tanaka Naoya and animation art director Kobayashi Shichiro. While showing some minor overlap with the Oga Kazuo Ten: Ghibli no Eshokunin - The One Who Painted Totoro's Forest documentary, it offers a more in-depth analysis of Oga Kazuo’s work. Think of director Takahata Isao explaining on the core ideas behind the backgrounds that Oga made for his movies. “We wanted to depict reality, just as it is. To convey the appeal of a real in environment we had to give it a sense of immediacy.” Or art director Tanaka Naoya telling about impressive examples of Oga’s style. “There’s little detail, yet everything feels so real, so pristine.” All in all, an interesting feature telling us from four different perspectives why Oga’s work gives us that desire to keep looking.

In addition, a slideshow “Displaying all 600 works of Kazuo Oga’s exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo” offers us a better look at Oga’s work. This is where Blu-ray customers are being rewarded for taking the next step. Besides the immensely better picture quality that Oga’s work deserves, the slides of the Blu-ray version are presented in full screen size. This instead of the DVD version, where backgrounds are presented in a large black window box. Needless to say, this slideshow is a great feature, though honestly I still prefer taking a look in the book that was for sale at the exhibition.

As with every Studio Ghibli release, viewers are also blessed with a collection of trailers, which this time are the following: Snow Queen trailer, Azur et Asmar trailer, Ghibli Museum Library trailer, Iblard Jikan trailer and Taneyamagahara no Yoru trailer.

That isn’t all, but this is where things get different. DVD customers will have to do with the making of the cover painting of Oga Kazuo Art Collection II (about 20 min). However, those in possession of the Blu-ray disc are again rewarded for taking the next step:
- Kirisame: Kazuo Oga paints a picture is a 24 minutes long feature showing the making of the cover painting for the Blu Ray Disc captured in HD.
- An extended 35 minutes version of the making of the cover painting for Oga Kazuo Art Collection II.

In terms of audio and picture quality there is nothing to complain. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track isn’t stellar, but perfectly sufficient for the documentaries. In addition, it’s backed up with English subtitles for the Japanese impaired. As far as picture quality is concerned, the DVD will do more then fine. However, if in the possession of a Blu-ray player, then it is highly advised to buy the BD version. As stated earlier, it will not only give a far better picture quality, in terms of content it greatly excels as well (more, better and longer content). And a note for those not living in Japan, US or do not have an imported player: the Blu-ray Disc is region free.

To round up, Oga Kazuo Ten is highly recommended! It does not beat watching an actual Studio Ghibli film, nor is it for everyone, but those wanting to know more about the world of animation, Studio Ghibli and/or Oga Kazuo in specific will not be disappointed.

17th of January, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO UPDATE: Miyazaki Hayao has finally finished the e-conte (storyboard) for his latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). Studio Ghibli has stated the total added up to 1,138 cuts (his last two films, Hauru no Ugoku Shiro and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, summed up to 1,384 and 1,415 cuts). One week ago Miyazaki pulled back the e-conte, that he once handed out to the staff, in order to make some changes. He completed it and the Ponyo e-conte was finally really finished. The correction wasn't that much so Ghibli production staff got "easy".

Now that Miyazaki has finished his e-conte, he can focus himself on checking and he will able to stay at his desk longer. Therefore not only main staff, but also the SAKUGA staff will be nervous. At the moment SAKUGA and SAKUKAN members even work on national holidays. Starting from the end of January even in-house DOUGA staff must give up national holidays. After checking the schedule, it seems that they will be late reaching the planned target date to finish production, so they acknowledged that must increase the DOUGA pace. "I'm glad that we have an excellent DOUGA staff, they all accepted giving up national holidays."

Yesterday Yomiuri Shimbun posted an interview with the singers of Ponyo’s theme song: Fujioka-Fujimaki and Ohashi Nozomi. Though it did not contain many new details, some small excerpts are all always worth sharing.

Q: What was the trigger to sing the theme song?
Fujimaki “Basically it was planned that only Nozomi would have sung and so the demo was made in that way. However, Miyazaki listened to it and got the idea that a father and his daughter should sing it together. As we’re familiar with that and have a business relation with Studio Ghibli they asked us to try singing it tentative. It was just tentative, so we tried it at ease. Then Miyazki and Suzuki began to say "That singing is all right".”

Q: Were you surprised?
Fujimaki “We said "You should think more serious!!" They said "Your bad singing is rather good".”

Q: And did you accept the situation?
Fujioka “We thought it was a surprising and interesting idea to have it sung by amateurs, even if it wasn't ourselves. Even now we wonder if this is OK.”

Q: What was the way you started Fujioka-Fujimaki?
“When we were students we formed a band called the "Mari-chans". After graduation, we got jobs. One at a record company, the other at an advertising agency, so we hadn't played at all for a long time. A live house owner once asked us to play at his place because he remembered the "Mari-chans". So we played and had a lot of fun and we began making music again. We have no big aim. We don't want to be professionals. It is just our hobby.”

Q: Nozomi-san, what do you think of these two men?
Nozomi “I think they are very kind. I got glad when I heard someone would join me in singing, since I had felt lonely when it was only just me. I like this song very much. It's so cute. My father is also pleased.”

Q: Nozomi-san, do you have any request for the two men?
Nozomi “They often mess up. I hope they make no mistakes in singing.” Fujimaki “OK. We'll try to do so.” Fujioka “I would like this song to be sung by parents and children together. It's wonderful that there is a song which fathers can sing with their daughters. When my daughter was small I used to sing songs like "Tondetta-Banana" with her.”

14th of January, FIFTEENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Episode number fifteen has been reached. Like every Sunday, yesterday it was time for a new episode of Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. Of course it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week’s guests are part of the advertising staffs of JAL (Japan Air Lines): chief Itaya Shin-ichi, Shishikura Yukio and Furukawa Noriko (Furukawa used to be an employee at NTV and later on worked with Studio Ghibli). They brought some sets of "de sky" air food, like UDON de sky, Soba de sky and Curry de sky. It's a kind of pun, as UDON de sky (うどんですかい) sounds like the Japanese phrase for "Would you like udon?". They are provided as air meal on JAL's flights and are sold on internet by JAL as well. Some time ago Suzuki stocked a large amount of "UDON de sky", but Okuda ate all of them during new years days.

As mentioned earlier on, JAL is currently having their Sora wo Tobu (Flying sky project) campaign for its new Boeing 787 airplanes and choose Ghibli as a partner because it has a suitable image for it. One of its exclusives is that they are screening Miyazaki's short film Kuso no Sora Tobu Kikai-tachi on some of JAL’s flights. In addition, they are also asking children to submit their painting ideas for the new 787.

As they want children to have dreams, the involved JAL staff asked Suzuki on any ideas or thoughts for this campaign. They brought Suzuki their plans and ideas on which he coldly replied "You'll surely fail if your thoughts are so shallow. Don't have any delusions for kids. Not many kids have much dreams these days. Basically, you don't know much about kids." Furukawa added that "After a 2 hour talk, we got rejection and walked to Koganei Station from Ghibli Studio feeling miserable on a cold twilight time." Suzuki "Ah? Did I say such a rude thing to our important sponsor? Hahaha… Actually, this is the second time having a partnership with JAL. The 1st time was for Kurenai no Buta (紅の豚, Porco Rosso). At that time, we were asked to make a short film that was to be screened on JAL planes. Miyazaki instantly made an e-conte that ended at the moment where Porco saves the kids, but to tell the truth, it wasn't interesting for me. I asked him "Is this all? Why a pig? No explanation?" So he added some more story and expanded it to 40 minutes. It made me realize that it would take too much time and budget for JAL only and that it should be made into a theatrical future."

Kuso no Sora Tobu Kikai-tachi

"I asked him to expand it to 70 minutes at least. Later on we had dinner and a meeting with JAL's executives at our studio. Just before making a toast, Miyazaki stood up and told them "I must dare to say one thing to you." The attendants got nervous and listened to Miyazaki telling them "Before engagement you should consider well that in this film the airplanes MUST fall in the sea. Is it OK?" We couldn't have a toast."

That wasn’t all. The title also confused them. "Why does our first movie feature a swine?" was their question. In those days, JAL was considered to be one of the smartest companies in Japan (note: though nowadays, honestly speaking, it has some business difficulties). The staff that was in charge those days brought back the title and researched the reaction of their female staff. They got good impressions like "This Kurenai no Uta is nice. It's romantic (Uta means song)." Of course they misheard that it was actually Kurenai no Buta (Buta means pig).

"So I tried to remove the swine from the movie poster and used the picture that was pinned on the wall of Gina's room: 5 young guys in front of a plane with Marco's face vanished. However, Miyazaki got angry and told me "The hero must be the PIG. He painted another picture which clearly showed Porco's face (note: probably the second Porco Rosso movie poster that features Porco with a hat together with Gina). The staff brought it back to JAL and the women over there were shocked "Oh, no. It's really a pig!!" After completing Porco, we had a preview with JAL executives. JAL President Toshimitsu watched it and was very much pleased."

Itaya mentioned "We are showing the replica of the Alcione at the reception of our head office building. It is popular with our visitors." Suzuki "Miyazaki is pleased to hear JAL is displaying it for a year long and that people can enjoy seeing it. It was originally made for Ghibli Museum and exhibited for a year. We worried where to store such a large thing after the exhibition." Itaya "Our young mechanic staffs saw it and got interested in old planes. They say they will try to build the Wright brothers' airplane." Suzuki "I hope it will fly!"

This week’s inserted music was Kato Tokiko's "Toki niha Mukashi no Hanashi wo" (Once in a While, Talk of the Old Days) - Porco Rosso’s lovely ending song.

10th of January, NEW MIYAZAKI INTERVIEW ON PONYO: Tuesday Yomiuri Shimbun released an interview with Miyazaki in which he told about Ponyo, today we bring a translation for the Japanese impaired…

Four years after Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (ハウルの動く城, Howl’s Moving Castle) Miyazaki Hayao tackled the production of Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). Directing to release it this summer, Miyazaki Hayao is being absorbed by his work. We asked him about his thoughts and message to the children.

"We will make its screen simple. But though we will try to make it simple, it will take thousands of man-hours." - declared Miyazaki at the start of production

Up till now Miyazaki and the Studio Ghibli staff pursued elaborateness. This time they threw that style away. "The number of SAKUGA will be unprecedented!" said Miyazaki, daring to try and use hand drawings in an age in which CG can draw so much in a short amount of time. "I always tell my staff that if they don't like to draw by hand deliberately, then they should give up animation. It's easy to distinguish if pictures are drawn by machines or human hands. If we give up the tough way, we will lose the richness in our art."

The only content that was disclosed to us: At a seaside town, Ponyo, who wishes to become a human, and a 5 years old boy make a story.

"It a story like Tsuru no Ongaeshi (鶴の恩返し, The Crane’s Repayment) or like one of those stories in which a mountain lord snake comes back as a handsome man. It's a kind of IRUI-KON-IN-TAN (marriage of human and animal)" He might have thought of Hakuja-den (白蛇伝, The Tale of the White Serpent) which gave him a trigger to decide to join the anime industry back in his youth.

This is an attempt to recover the true richness of anime by drawing a simple story with simple lines. "We have pulled on the oars of the sailboat till so far, so we will continue to do that. It's not bad if there exists a ship like that in the world."

Everyday he starts his work at 10:30 am and leaves for home at 10 pm with a net work time of 7 hours at his desk. He feels his enduring strength and concentration power is half of what it was in his 30s or 40s. "Rather than losing sight, I have stiff shoulders and losing concentration power of my optic nerves. When it’s just one day maybe I can force myself till night, but the next day I won’t be able to work suffering from fatigue. That’s why I never continue working after having turned the off switch of my body." "Even if someone offers me to have a rest under the sail mast, I usually tell him to give the oars to me. If one takes the steer, he might want to continue keeping it. It might be an earthly desire rather than creative eagerness." "The world is thrown into confusion more and more. I don't think that animation can keep cheering up those who live in such a world. But I hope I can a little. Maybe it is just one of my selfish desires."

The trigger for Miyazaki setting Ponyo at a seaside town was when he happened to stay at a town near the fronts of Setonaikai-sea (瀬戸内海, Seto Inland Sea) for 2 months. "I saw many tiled roofs. I had seen many kinds of roofing till so far, but they were different from the ones from the Kanto area where I grew up and lived. Only just seeing them was already very interesting. I thought that the OLD means such. The sea was also different from the Pacific Ocean, where waves roll on one after another. Here it was calm. It was interesting. I hadn't thought so, but finally decided to set the location there."

As like in Miyazaki’s former films, the protagonist of the film is a kid. His thoughts for children go deep. "Telling them "GANBARE" (Hold on, Hang on, Stick it out) is not good and smells rat. It doesn't have any persuasive power. I rather wish I can give them a rich day that they’ll remember through their entire lifes. I often think their one day is superior to our one year. An impressive scene like the shadows of a wood brightened by a west sun can represent a scene of one's childhood to remain in his mind – for example. I hope our movie can remain that, even if it's just a little thing."

The lyrics of the theme song’s lyrics have been written by Kondou Katsuya, animation director and father of his 3 year old child. Miyazaki asked him to the lyrics because he is struggling in both caring for small kid and producing the movie which links to this story. The singers are FUJIOKA-FUJIMAKI, representatives of middle aged men, and 8 years old girl Ohashi Nozomi.

7th of January, FOURTEENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Due to holidays last weeks episode summary was missed, but like every Sunday, yesterday it was time for another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. Of course it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

During this week’s Ghibli Asemamire Suzuki Toshio’s Renga-ya was visited by many guests for New Year's Greetings. NTV director Okuda, Fujioka Fujimaki, movie director Yukisada, Ohta Mistuyo (Ohta Hikaru's wife), actor Yoshioka Hidetaka and Chunichi Dragons coach Ochiai Hiromitsu visited and gathered around a nabe (鍋, a typical Japanese winter party one pot dish).

This year Suzuki is reaching a special Japanese birthday variant called "Kanreki"(還暦). It’s one’s sixtieth birthday when five cycles of the Chinese zodiac have completed and family and relatives celebrate him or her wearing a red vest and red cap. Logically, they talked a bit about it.

In addition, Suzuki told of the old referring to Kurosawa Akira’s movies, mentioning Kurosawa’s portmanteau film based on his actual dreams: Yume (, Dream). Suzuki is in particular fond of the dream with the old man at the watermill, Village of the Watermills which featured the famous Ryu Chishu (笠智衆) (and also director Martin Scorsese as Vincent van Gogh). Suzuki told “Ryu Chishu had acted quite some different types of old man, from the ones in Ozu’s (小津安二郎) to Yamada's (山田 洋次) movies. In these movies, the old acted by Ryu are always balanced, calm or lonely, but in Yume he is faithful to his desire. I think it’s a kind of realism. I’d like to be such an old man." Ohta "I like the episode of the fox marriage." Suzuki "Actually, Kurosawa wanted to make each episode into a future length movie. However, as he was getting old and thought he hadn't much time left, he just simply presented those episodes in one movie. His Madadayo is also a story of a bold old man. To tell the truth, I was asked to make a TV commercial at the release of that movie. I inserted a credit "Is this your last film, Mr. Kurosawa?" in it. Of course the expected answer was "Madadayo (Not yet)!". However, people involved with the movie all complained because they thought it was rude to Kurosawa and so the CM wasn't aired. I'm sure Kurosawa didn't see the CM film as I met him just before he died. Kurosawa was a really cool man. The characters appearing in his films are often very serious or strict. I thought he charged himself with things like that." Yukisada "Suzuki really likes old Japanese movies. The great quantity of DVDs on these shelves shows it. I think you know more about old movies than movie critics."

They also talked about "life and death". Fujioka mentioned "In Totoro, the girls haven’t got a shadow in latter half..." Suzuki "Hahaha, like that. Check it again with your video." It is an urban legend that Satsuki and Mei lose their shadow in latter half of My Neighbor Totoro because they are becoming ghosts... Suzuki "Our next movie Ponyo will show another obvious "life and death" theme. It shows the other side world. Someone goes to visit it and meets his deceased mother…”

Ochiai (落合満広) talked his thoughts on managing his baseball team. He is famous for his unique character and management. Ochiai told he has a responsibility to 550,000 fans who share the Dragons' victory. Suzuki agreed and told of his responsibility to many people. During the production of a Studio Ghibli film, 500 people are directly producing, 500 are doing advertising and 500 are working on distribution: a total of 1500 people are being involved!

This week’s inserted music was the ending theme of Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (千と千尋の神隠し, Spirited Away): Itsumo Nando Demo by Kimura Yumi (木村弓).

5th of January, HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S BIRTHDAY, GHIBLI STOPWATCH: Today it’s the 67th birthday of the man who brought us numerous animation masterpieces: Hayao Miyazaki. Being in the midst of making Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff), chances are he won’t take the time to celebrate it properly.

Talking about time, take a look at the stopwatch below… Noticed something special about it? Even though it doesn’t feature a Totoro on its dial plate, it’s a stopwatch said to be especially custom made for Studio Ghibli. The special thing about it, is that one circumgyration of the long hand shows 6 seconds. As for why it doesn’t just display 60 seconds: movies have 24 frames per second. The use of these analog stopwatches is to make it easier to visualise a 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4 (12, 8, 6 frames) of a second. So is Miyazaki producing Ponyo with it? No, the “God of Animation” must be able to adjust time without such a watch! ^_^

31st of December - 1st of January (updated), HAPPY NEW YEAR!: Over here it’s still December 31, but in Japan it’s already January 1 2008. Reason enough for to already wish everybody a happy new year! Let’s hope it’ll be a good one. Coming summer we have of course Miyazaki’s latest, Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff), so 2008 will definitely at least be unforgettable in terms of Ghibli. To finish up, below a scan of this year's new year card as been sent by Studio Ghibli and Ghibli Museum (by Miyazaki Goro) to its relations. In the style of 2008: the year of the rat.

24th of December, TWELFTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD, GOODIES TO GET UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE: Like every Sunday, yesterday it was time for another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. Of course it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week's guests were Kawahito Kenichi, Harada Yasuhisa and Yoshiike Chie of Yomiuri Shimbun’s advertising staff. For those who don’t know, Yomiuri - with a total of about 10,000,000 copies - has the largest newspaper circulation in Japan and, not only being one of the Ghibli Asemamire sponsors, it also has numerous other links with Studio Ghibli. From their weekly Ghibli news reports, to it’s connection to NTV (of which Studio Ghibli is a related company) and of course Ghibli’s lovely Yomiuri Shimbun commercials: Kawaraban-hen (瓦版編) and Dore Dore Hikkoushi-hen (どれどれ引越し編), which headed by Tanabe Osamu (田辺修) was also made into a highly interesting music video for Haigo Meiko’s Dore Dore no Uta (どれどれの唄) (all three can be found on the Ghibli ga Ippai Short Short DVD). Anyway, as you might know Yomiuri Shimbun also has a baseball team (the Yomiuri Giants). As Suzuki is a big fan of Chunichi Dragons and none can keep his mouth shut, today they came to his Renga-ya to try and put a big adhesive bandage over his mouth, but of course couldn't.

This week’s guests brought a list with Yomiuri´s 10 biggest Japanese news items of 2007 and so they talked about those topics. Here’s the top three:
1st: The resignation of prime minister Abe
2nd: The camouflage of food
3rd: The pension problem...

The camouflage of food was exposed in many areas. Like Akafuku, a famous cake maker from Mie prefecture, which falsified its expiry dates for over 30 years. Earlier this month Ghibli diary made a mention of it on December 10: Ghibli staff ate it and told it was very delicious. Yoshiike told “I've been a big fan of Akafuku for 34 years and I can't count how many Akafuku I've eaten. So I was shocked.” Suzuki told “For me it’s been 59 years!! But I'm wondering if it's such a big problem. I asked an American friend about this. He told there are no use-by dates in the USA, only manufacturing dates. None got stomachache by Akafuku or Fujiya (不二家, a big candy and cake maker, famous of its mascot character Peko-chan). Maybe they just thought it was "mottai-nai" (もったいない, mottai-nai is a unique Japanese way of thinking roughly translated as "it is so wasteful that things are not made full use of their value”). When I dropped down food when I was small, my parents told me to eat it because of mottai-nai.” Yoshiike agreed "I also eat it if it's within 5 minutes. It's a 5 minutes rule. Japanese are becoming sticklers for cleanliness too much these days."

Suzuki said "I’d like to say something about smoking as well. Look at the warning on this cigarette package!!" Everyone "Wow. Such a big description!! It's a bit strange that the manufacturer itself makes such a big warning that it might kill the purchaser (laughing)." Suzuki “Japanese have become too strict about smoking recently. We can't even smoke in public streets nowadays. It's too extreme. I read an interesting talk about smoking by Yoro Takeshi and Yamazaki Masakazu. Do you know who’s the first ruler that ordered no-smoking? Surprisingly, it was Hitler and the second was Mussolini. They both didn't like tobacco. So prohibition of tobacco might invite Facism, so I'm smoking to fight for freedom. Ghibli has 3 heavy smokers. Takahata, Miyazaki and me. The power of tobacco has made many Ghibli movies."

This week's music was a song that’s related to the sea just like Ponyo is. It was Umi e Kinasai (海へ来なさい, Come to the Sea) sung by the famous singer writer Inoue Yosui (井上陽水).

Talking about music, with Christmas around it might be possible that some of your loved ones bought you a Christmas present... Perhaps you’ll find the Ponyo Theme Song CD under the Christmas tree. If not, well we can at least make you happy with some pictures of the Ponyo theme song Christmas performance which was held two days ago at Ikspiari, Tokyo Disney Resort.

If you’re lucky this year, you might even get an Oga Kazuo Ten DVD + Blu Ray, which was released last Thursday. We at are and have always been amazed by Oga’s stunning work and highly recommend you to get it (please be patient, a review will follow soon!). It might be worth noting for those who can’t speak Japanese: it comes with English subtitles. Forgot what’s it about? You can refresh your mind with its TRAILER which is available in 3 different tastes: 56K, 500K and 1M connection. While placing your order (DVD version, Blu Ray + DVD Twin Pack), you might as well want to pre-order yourself the new release of Miyazaki Hayao’s unmissable pre-Ghibli Mirai Shonen Konan (未来少年コナン, Future Boy Conan): Mirai Shonen Konan 30th Anniversary Memorial Box which will be released on January 25, 2008. It doesn’t come with subtitles though…

To end this pre-Christmas post, last week we spoke about one of the songs of Ghibli Museum Library’s latest feature: Lev Atamanov’s Snow Queen. Music & Gedo Senki voice cast star Teshima Aoi singing Kishi wo Hanareru hi (岸をはなれる日, the Day of Leaving the Shore), a song that was made from the impressions of Snow Queen and can be found on her album Haru no Kashu (春の歌集, Songs of Spring). The song was originally sung by Taniyama Hiroko (谷山浩子) who also wrote the songs of Gedo Senki Kashu (ゲド戦記歌集). This week we bring you its lovely original lyrics, which tell about Gerda's trip to Kai, together with a literal translation.

Kishi wo Hanareru hi - Japanese Lyrics
あなたにただあなたに会いたく{ 90;

Kishi wo Hanareru hi – English Lyrics (literal translation)
On that day the river was flowing
As always it was
I left home without realizing any reasons
I started walking alone
Wearing red shoes
Shoes that I wore for the first time
The red sun that was born from the dream
Hurried me to walk forward
Where would the road of daybreak take me?
At dawn I was standing at the riverbank
Like a clear flame
My heart was burning towards you
Blindly towards you
I put off my shoes without thinking
I was absent-minded at the moment I threw them away
I only wanted to meet you
Wanted to reach you
The boat that I got on left the bank
And began sailing carrying only me
I didn't realize the lonely trip that began since then
I even didn't know it was the loneliness
Where would the river of destiny take me?
My body was melting in the sky and held it
The wind caused by the sailing boat
Disheveled my hair
My heart was burning towards you
Blindly towards you

17th of December, ELEVENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Like every Sunday, yesterday it was time for another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. After last week's visit at Miyazaki's Butaya, this week we’re back at Suzuki’s Renga-ya with Abo Yukiko (movie critic and writer) and Ota Mitsuyo (wife of Ota Hikaru, a very famous and popular comedian) as special guests. Of course a podcast version (music excluded) is available for download in Japanese and is providing an English summary.

During already the eleventh Ghibli Asemamire in a row Suzuki wanted to talk about Ghibli Museum Library’s latest feature: Lev Atamanov’s Snow Queen, though they ended up talking little about it. Unfortunately, both of the guests didn’t bring highly interesting information and the things they did say were rather abstract (adding to that, it was hard to distinguish which one was talking as their voices were similar). Abo did tell she watched Snow Queen on video once long ago, but it wasn’t much more than that. Probably both guests haven’t got much interest in Japanese animation.

One might say that Suzuki kind of miss chose his guests this time. He didn't talk much or gave us any particular info, making it unfortunately hard to make a proper summary this time. Still, there were some minor things worth mentioning. Like music & Gedo Senki voice cast star Teshima Aoi singing Kishi wo Hanareru hi (岸をはなれる日, the Day of Leaving the Shore), a song that was made from the impressions of Snow Queen and can be found on her album Haru no Kashu (春の歌集, Songs of Spring). As always, her singing was touching. Also, Suzuki told that “Snow Queen has started screening at Cinema Angelica in Shibuya. When Miyazaki was a student, the characters and story of the manga he used to draw in those days were rather dark. One day he watched Snow Queen and was beaten by Gerda - the girl protagonist. Since then - for over 40 years - , Miyazaki recalls her when making female characters like Chihiro, (Mirai Shonen Konan’s) Lana and Ponyo.”

15th of December, PONYO STORY NEWS, FIRST RELEASE OF OTSUKA’S & MIYAZAKI’S PRE-GHIBLI “TENGURI, THE BOY OF THE PLAINS”: Yesterday night's NTV’s News Zero brought news on Miyazaki’s latest, Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). In it Studio Ghibli president and producer Suzuki Toshio shortly told about Ponyo’s storyline, which he said is to be a simple story just like Ghibli Museum Library’s latest feature: Lev Atamanov’s Snow Queen (to be released today). Interestingly, Suzuki also referred that Ponyo has been influenced by Urashima Taro (浦島太郎), a Japanese legend about a fisherman who rescues a turtle and for this is rewarded with a visit to the Palace of the Dragon. Suzuki said Ponyo is to have a similar story to that of Urashima Taro. In addition NTV’s News Zero showed some more video material of the Ponyo press conference of December 3 like a dancing Nozomi Ohashi. As a Studio Ghibli news resource we would like to note that this isn’t Studio Ghibli’s first time to use Urashima Taro: in Takahata Isao’s Pom Poko (平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ) the tanuki character Bunta identifies himself with Urashima Taro when he comes back to his forest outside of Tokyo and finds it ruined by humans.

To conclude has some other noteworthy (pre-)Ghibli news… On December 21 is to be released for the very first time ever the pre-Ghibli Sougen no Ko Tenguri (草原の子テングリ, Tenguri, the Boy of the Plains), an animation based on a story by Tezuka Osamu that was made in 1977 as the first film of Shinei Animation as an independent company from Tokyo Movie Company.

Chances are very, very likely that you have not seen it before as it’s considered a phantom anime. Tenguri is a 22 minute short animation that served as a theatrical promotion film for Snow Brand Dairy Products Inc. (雪印, Yukijirusi). It hasn’t seen the outside of the company for long time as only those who visited their factory tours or asked Yukijirusi’s advertising section to borrow it have seen it. Responsible for directing it was the one and only Otsuka Yasuo, good friend and mentor of Miyazaki Hayao. Added to its staff list are Miyazaki Hayao (layout) himself as well, Ghibli’s sadly passed away master animator Kondo Yoshifumi (original pictures) and other classic animation staff like Kabashima Yoshio and Otabe Youichi (Alibaba to Yonjubiki no Tozuku, Alps no Shoujo Heidi, Anju To Zushio Maru, Marco: Haha wo Tazunete Sanzen-ri, Jarinko Chie, Taiyou no Ouji: Horusu no Daibouken, Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä, Panda Kopanda!). Added to that, it’s worth noting that its music was composed by Mamiya Yoshio who also composed the music for Taiyou no Ouji: Horusu no Daibouken (太陽の王子 ホルスの大冒険, Horus: Prince of the Sun) and Hotaru no Haka (火垂るの墓, Grave of the Fireflies).

Sougen no Ko Tenguri takes place in similar surroundings of that of Miyazaki's manga Sabaku no Tami (砂漠の民) and Shuna no Tabi (シュナの旅). The story features a friendship between the cheerful boy Tenguri and his calf in the vast plain of Mongolia. In the village where Tenguri lives, it is a custom to kill cows for food during winter when food becomes scarce. Now it is time for Tenguri's beloved calf to be killed. "My friend will be killed!" Tenguri cries, and lets the calf escape. As time passes by Tenguri matures to become one of the main cow hunters in his village. This winter again, Tenguri goes to hunt cows with his fellow men to save the village people from the cold winter. There he meets the full-grown cow that had once been his calf. The cow asks Tenguri why humans kill cows. When Tenguri answers, "To survive the cold winter. We have no choice," the cow teaches him how to make "preserved food to survive the cold winter." This is cheese. So Tenguri teaches the people of his village people how to make the preserved food called cheese. However, people still try to kill cows, so Tenguri fights them to stop the killing. He then leaves the village and goes on a journey with a herd of cows beyond the vast plains in search of nature's great wisdom, unknown to humans...

Though Tenguri is just a promotion film for a dairy company, it turned out to be a fine piece of work made by the major creators of modern Japanese animation. In addition it has been selected by the Ministry of Education for its recommendation film and was recommended by the Central Children's Welfare Council and the Distinguished Cinema World's Introduction. Starting December 21 Sougen no Ko Tenguri (草原の子テングリ, Tenguri, the Boy of the Plains) will be available on deluxe DVD at shops like ( 22 minutes / 35 minutes of bonus material / 3990 yen). A low quality video clip can be seen over here.

14th of December, AN AMAZING GHIBLI MUSEUM XMAS + PICTURE GALLERY: Those visiting Japan this December have an extra reason to stop by and visit Studio Ghibli’s own GhibliWorld. As every year, this month Ghibli Museum adds a beautiful Xmas flavor to their museum. This years edition is inspired by Ghibli Museum Library’s latest feature: Lev Atamanov’s Snow Queen, the Russian animation classic from 1957 which greatly inspired Miyazaki Hayao and will receive a Japanese cinema release tomorrow. Last Wednesday Asahi Shimbun brought its readers an article and gallery dedicated to this years Xmas at Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. Be sure to check it out to find out what they made of it. The Ghibli Museum can be visited in Xmas flavor till December 26.

10th of December (updated!), NEW PONYO DETAILS AT TENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: There was some extra good “sweating on Ghibli” yesterday. Like every Sunday it was time for another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM. This week's Ghibli Asemamire didn’t take place at Suzuki’s Renga-ya, but at Miyazaki’s office Butaya. It brought us the Ponyo press conference of Monday December 3. Suzuki hid an IC recorder in his pocket, recorded it and added comments in a whispering off-stage voice. Of course a podcast version (music excluded) is available for download in Japanese and is providing an English summary.

Lets flashback to Studio Ghibli's original way of transferring us to their Ponyo press conference...

We hear the sound of the train running… The narrator announces that the train will take us to the interview stage… While almost arriving at our end station, we hear the conductor over the speakers "Thank you for riding this train, you'll arrive at Studio Ghibli soon! If you transfer to Neko-bus (My Neighbor Totoro's Catbus), please change here. Exit doors will be at the right side." The doors open and we hear the ocean waves and seagulls crying...

With a large amount of TV cameras present, Miyazaki Hayao appeared wearing his regular apron which showed that he escaped during the middle of his job. He was joined by composer Hisaishi Joe, Fujioka Fujimaki and Nozomi Ohashi who sat in centre. At first, the host asked Miyazaki to make a statement. Suzuki whispers "It’s different from the plan that was arranged earlier. Miya-san is angry..."

Miyazaki “I'm glad to get such a good song. I would like to reach a good happy ending to go with it, but I haven't completed the storyboard, so I think I'll have to hurry.” Hisaishi “Fortunately, when I was showed the A-part and B-part of the e-conte (storyboard), I immediately got the theme melody: “Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo...”. It was so simple that I wondered to be laughed at and left it like that for 2 or 3 months. Afterwards I still liked the melody and played it to Miyazaki and Suzuki. They both liked it and said its simplicity is needed for the movie.” Fujimaki “Sorry... this is my first time being interviewed like this... so I'm very nervous...(he was too nervous to answer). Fujioka “Maybe all of you are wondering why 2 of these unknown middle aged men are here. The two of us have formed a band for 2 years now, just in order to prepare to enjoy our post-retirement years. So we are also amazed at this situation…” Nozomi mentioned "I sang as well as I could!" and was followed by a big applause. Suzuki whispered "I'm jealous! Small kid's statements are always welcomed as they’re so simple!

The host asked Miyazaki "What did you ask Hisaishi for composing the song?". Miyazaki told him "I handed him a memo paper, but I can’t remember what I asked him. Please ask Hisaishi. Maybe he remembers." Hisaishi "I got a long note like a love letter. Of course its love isn't for me, but love for the movie. It was over 10 pages long. I guess in the beginning creators haven’t got a complete image of what they want and just have some core images. I felt images like Ponyo coming or the mother of the sea...” Suzuki whispers "Miya-san always makes memos when he “asks” for music. It’s something Takahata once advised him and Miyazaki he has done it like this for over 20 years."

A Q&A; session started. Pia "Can you tell me about the story, if you can?". Miyazaki replied "Later, the producer will tell something except the story. Anyway, till so far we have used computers to make our movies, but I came to think that having paddles and raising the sails is better. So this time we decided to throw off any 3D CG and must make it with pencils only. As it needs so many hand drawn pictures, I can't guess how much pictures we must draw… maybe it will be unprecedented. I think hand drawing on paper is the fundamental of animation." Suzuki whispered "Miya- san is cool-headed today. He fended the question well. He didn’t say anything about the contents of the movie."

A question followed if the theme song is meant to be used for the opening or ending of the film. Miyazaki replied "If it's played at the opening, many of the audiences might go out for picnic. So it would be better to be set it at the end. Then I must fit the ending to this song without any gap. A good ending suitable for this song will carry out my responsibility to Hisaishi and Nozomi.

Tokyo FM also asked a question "We heard the storyboard is delayed. Can you make it in time?" to which Miyazaki answered "I don't think it’s so much delayed... Anyway, we must draw so many by hand... so we are struggling now..." Daily Sport was present as well "I think the song has a father’s theme. This is your first film after your son Goro directed Gedo Senki last year. Are you conscious of it?" Miyazaki "We can't make a movie if we have such evil in mind." (applause)

A live performance of the Ponyo theme song followed.

"Why did you decide to use Nozomi?". Miyazaki noted that "While the lyrics and music was left unclear, we asked her to sing a demo. When we listened to it we were stunned by its innocence. We ojisans (aged men) were beaten. That's all. I hope Fuji-Fuji not to spoil Nozomi's innocence." "Nozomi, what did Miyazaki say to you?" Nozomi "He told me... good job..." (laughing)

This week's Ghibli Asemamire ended with Fuji-Fuji's "Fujimoto's theme" as ending music. Its lyrics were written by Fujioka and the music was done by Hisaishi Joe. In case of the Ponyo theme song, its lyrics were written by animation director Kondo Katsuya and corrected by Miyazaki Hayao (the complete(!) lyrics can be found in yesterdays post), its music and arrangement were made by Hisaishi Joe.

9th of December, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO THEME SONG UPDATE WITH COMPLETE LYRICS: Those having access to the live broadcasts of Tokyo FM were already able to hear the theme song of Miyazaki’s latest, Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff), during the second episode of Toshio Suzuki’s Ghibli Asemamire on October 14. Together with a summary, presented a part of its lyrics and a literal translation. As since last wednesday the Gake no ue no Ponyo theme song CD is available all around Japan and at online shops like, and cdJapan, we now present the complete(!) lyrics together with a literal translation.

Gake no ue no Ponyo Theme Song - Hiragana Lyrics
ポーニョ、ポーニョ、ポニョ、{ 73;かなのこ
あおい うみから やってきた
ポーニョ、ポーニョ、ポニョ、| 05;くらんだ
まんまる おなかの おんなの{ 71;

あしって いいな かけちゃお
おてては いいな、つないじゃ{ 62;

あのこと はねると こころもz 88;おどるよ
ぱーくぱく、ちゅぎゅ、ぱーく| 01;く、ちゅぎゅ、
あのこが だいすき  まっか{ 87;かの

ポーニョ、ポーニョ、ポニョ、{ 73;かなのこ
あおい うみから やってきた
ポーニョ、ポーニョ、ポニョ、| 05;くらんだ
まんまる おなかの おんなの{ 71;

ぶーくぶく いいにおい
おなかがすいた たべちゃお
よーくよく みてみよう
あのこも きっと みている

いっしょに わらうと ほっぺ{ 64; あついよ
わーくわくちゅぎゅ わーくわ{ 67;ちゅぎゅ
あのこが だいすき  まっか{ 87;かの

ポーニョ、ポーニョ、ポニョ、{ 73;かなのこ
がけのうえに やってきた
ポーニョ、ポーニョ、ポニョ、{ 62;んなのこ
まんまる おなかの げんきな{ 71;

(note: The lyrics on the CD cover of the Ponyo theme song include some kanji. As the lyrics contain children’s talk we replaced these with hiragana as we thought it to be more natural.)

Gake no ue no Ponyo Theme Song – Romaji Lyrics
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo sakana no ko
Aoi umi kara yatte kita
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo fukurannda
Manmaru onaka no onna no ko
Peta-peta pyon-pyon
Asitte iina kakechao
Otetewa iina tunaijao

Anoko to haneru to kokoro mo odoruyo
Paku-paku chu-gyu, paku-paku chu-gyu
Anoko ga daisuki makkakka no

Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo sakana no ko
Aoi umi kara yatte kita
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo fukurannda
Manmaru onaka no onna no ko

Buku-buku ii nioi
Onakaga suita tabechao
Yoku-yoku mite miyou
Anokomo kitto miteiru

Isshoni warauto hoppega atsuiyo
Waku-waku chugyu waku-waku chugyu
Anoko ga daisuki makkakka no

Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo sakana no ko
Gakeno ueni yatte kita
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo onna no ko
Manmaru onaka no genkina ko

Gake no ue no Ponyo Theme Song – English Lyrics (literal translation)
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo, it's a fish kid
It came from the blue ocean
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo,
She is a round bellied girl
Peta-peta pyon-pyon
How nice to have feet! I'll try to run!
How nice to have hands! I'll try to hold hands with!

When I jump with her, my heart dances along
Paku-paku chu-gyu, paku-paku chu-gyu
I love her so much!

Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo, it's a fish kid in red
It came from blue ocean
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo,
She is a round bellied girl

Buku-buku smells good
I'm so hungry, I'll eat it
I'll look carefully
Think she's also looking

When I laugh with her, I feel my cheeks getting hot
Waku-waku chugyu waku-waku chugyu
I love her so much!

Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo, it's a fish kid in red
She's come to on the cliff
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo,
She is a round bellied girl

Onomatopoeia Info
Peta-peta: walking barefoot
Pyon-pyon: jumping
Nigi-nigi: gripping
Bun-bun: ?
Paku-paku: a breathing gold fish with open mouth
Chu-gyu----chu: kissing (chu), hugging (gyu)
Buku-buku: foaming
Waku-waku: being excited

4th of December, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO WEBSITE, PRESS CONFERENCE PICTURES: After yesterday’s Ponyo press conference, many Japanese newspapers have spend an article today on the Ponyo theme song which will be released tomorrow. Though none of them brought new information on Miyazaki’s latest film that was not yet posted on, it is worth mentioning that today Studio Ghibli especially launched a dedicated Gake no ue no Ponyo website (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). In addition, please find below two pictures from the press conference.

3rd of December, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO NEWS, NINTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Today Studio Ghibli finally updated us again with news on Miyazaki Hayao’s latest animated feature Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff).

Some time ago Studio Ghibli president and producer Suzuki Toshio mentioned on their own Ghibli Channel (Japanese only) that they were not going to publish as much Ponyo material anymore. They had received complaints of viewers of having showed too much, too soon in a dedicated NHK Professional show which featured a making of. As an alternative Suzuki came up with an advertising plan using sound only: they’re releasing Ponyo’s theme song earlier than planned. The song is to be released this Wednesday (December 5) and, like Studio Ghibli informed us last week us, they are backing its release up with an abundance of media appearances.

Today a special press conference with Miyazaki, Hisaishi, Fujioka Fujimaki and Ohashi Nozomi was held. This was added with an appearance and live performance of Fujioka Fujimaki and Ohashi Nozomi on NTV’s オジサンズ11 (Ojisan’s Eleven) which was also held today (on both the press conference and オジサンズ11 info will be posted at later moment on In addition appearances on 6 different Japanese radio shows are planned for the month December and finally regular print will be used as well, with interviews and articles in 10 different magazines like アニメージュ (Animage Magazine) and Invitation.

Of course we keep “Sweating on Ghibli” (in Japanese: Ghibli asemamire) as yesterday it was time for another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s radio show Ghibli Asemamire at Tokyo FM. Not that strangely, this week's Ghibli Asemamire guests were Fujioka Fujimaki (藤岡藤巻), Sata Miho (YAMAHA music director) and Komatsu Toshihiro (Hakuhodo designer, note: Hakuhodo is Japan’s second largest advertising agency and works for Studio Ghibli). Together they produced the theme song CD of Ponyo which like we mentioned is to be released this Wednesday. Of course the show is available for download and is providing a summary.

During this week’s show much of the talking was done by Suzuki. “This spring we had a talk about management. We’ve been producing Ponyo and it costs so much. I told the attendants that Ponyo should pay or we must recover our investment at least. Then Miyazaki told his opinion and with a fierce look reacted "NO!! Mr. Suzuki, Ponyo shouldn't aim to make a profit. I don't even want to recover this time." I told him "You also are the executive board member of this company. We must consider about management and stockholder income as well." Miyazaki replied "No! This time, I'll never make an effort to get a hit. Basically, the movies that became a big hit are all second-rate ones. I've regretted that I've lent a hand to make a hit." The guests laughed "It means he has made so many second-rate anime?!?"

Logically, Ponyo’s soundtrack was also discussed. At this moment Hisaishi Joe has already composed 6 songs for it. Suzuki mentioned that “Initially, we planned the CD to be released in March 2008. Then a producer of TOHO (distributor) came to our office and I played him the demo. He liked it and wanted me to get him a copy, but I told him "NO. You might upload it on internet." He said "Well, I would like to give it to my children as a Christmas present.", which gave me the idea to release it before Christmas. We tried to make it easily understandable for both kids and adults, in music and design.” The designer Komatsu said “So it is very simple in design. I didn’t aim to go maniac.”

In addition Suzuki told “We'll have a press conference about the CD tomorrow (Monday > today). I wonder if Miyazaki will talk about the details of Ponyo. If he does, I can't stop it and must leave things to chance. In fact, one of the reasons I asked him to be on the interview is that he might recognize the fact that he should finish the storyboard soon. We need it before the year ends. Our progress of work is now delaying a lot.”

Meanwhile Ohashi Nozomi (大橋のぞみ) sings a solo version of the Ponyo theme song…

Suzuki mentioned “I asked Nozomi "What do you feel while listening to your singing?". She replied "I hate it. So bad!" She covered her ears with hands when the song played. I also asked Fujimaki the same question and he replied with the same answer as Nozomi!! An 8 year old girl and 55 years old man have the same way of thinking... When the song came up, we wanted someone to try singing the demo. Nozomi sang it by chance. Miyazaki listened to it and liked her singing very much. He got an idea of adding the father's voice and finally Fujimaki sang it together with Nozomi. But Miyazaki adhered Nozomi's first singing demo and asked me to add it in the CD.

Starting December 5 the Gake no ue no Ponyo theme song CD will be available all around Japan and at online shops like and

27th of November, STUDIO GHIBLI AND DENNŌ COIL: Over 20 years ago Studio Ghibli was founded with the intention to make full length feature films only. Miyazaki and Takahata wanted to make real and high quality animation. Animation that probed into the depth of the human mind, and that illustrated the joys and sorrows of life as they really are. Dedicating full energy into each piece of work with sufficient budget and time, never compromising on the quality or content. “Miya-san” and “Paku-san” claimed it was impossible to achieve these goals if they would make TV series: budget was tight and time very limited. Studio Ghibli has never made TV series, but what if…

In that case Dennō Coil (電脳コイル, Coil — A Circle of Children) would quite possibly be one of the series that could have been made by Studio Ghibli. Currently being aired in Japan on NHK Educational and scheduled to run between May 12, 2007 and December 1, 2007 containing twenty-six episodes, Dennō Coil is able to reach those goals that Miyazaki and Takahata claim only to be possible while making full length feature films. It’s a pseudo sci-fi / slice-of-life series which reminds you of Studio Ghibli in many ways, though it’s actually a Madhouse production. So why mention it if it’s not a work by Studio Ghibli? This is, isn’t it?

Dennō Coil is unlike many anime tv series. Though very accessible, it actually has a sense of originality. The basic idea is quite unusual, because it deals with the merge between two worlds: the real world and a virtual-reality like world. It takes place in 2026. Eleven years after the introduction of internet-connected augmented reality eyeglasses and visors, Yūko Okonogi moves with her family to the city of Daikoku, the technological center of the emerging half-virtual world. Yūko joins her grandmother's "detective agency" comprised of children equipped with virtual tools and powerful “metatags”. She quickly crosses paths with Yūko Amasawa, an expert hacker of the virtual environment, as Amasawa relentlessly seeks to gain the powers of a mysterious cyber-entity known as Michiko. The protagonists are driven to unravel the mysteries of the virtual world in the shadow of a powerful hacker that came before them.

While remaining completely original, Dennō Coil really gives its viewers that Ghibli feeling. Starting with the handling of the little girl Kyoko (reminding you of Tonari no Totoro’s Mei) and the children in general, the posing and inventive animation of the characters, the layout, everything made in a nuanced and subtle way, though always full of surprises making every moment interesting. All being very Miyazaki like, while exploring richer drama and the more subtle and complex emotions of life like Takahata Isao.

One of Dennō Coil’s interesting themes is the distance between the characters, such as Yūko's inability to feel the fur of her own virtual pet, in addition to all the relational tensions and divides of understanding between the characters in the series. Like series director Iso Mitsuo (磯光雄) mentioned in Animage "There will always be a distance between people, and even between things that seem within ones' reach. And that one must walk down a long, thin and winding road before they reach one's heart. There's tons of obstacles. It's in fact like the roads in old towns.”

To successfully execute this idea, the makers of Dennō Coil took all the time to do what they needed to do, reaching that quality Miyazaki and Takahata thought weren’t able to get while making TV series. The series has been in development for over a decade and that same patience also transferred to Dennō Coil’s gentle pacing. Heading the high quality and major names staff list, Iso was able to create a world that is genuinely interesting and gently stimulates you to find out about all the little bits and pieces and make you wonder about the things to come. Setting up an ordinary situation in the real world and adding to this reality a thin layer of virtual fantasy. While clearly fantasy, it's all just plausible enough to be believable and, like any of Miyazaki’s or Takahata’s films, the great thing about Dennō Coil is that it can be watched over and over again without getting old and boring.

Of course Dennō Coil’s connection wouldn’t end with its similarities to justify a mention on Involved with its production is Studio Ghibli’s former parent company Tokuma Shoten. Also, Dennō Coil’s staff doesn’t only contain numerous major names in the Japanese animation industry, they have “quite” the Studio Ghibli resume as well (note: see list below). This December Dennō Coil’s last episodes will be aired on NHK Educational. Though it hasn’t yet been licensed abroad, Japanese R2 DVDs are currently being released (no subtitles). Dennō Coil is highly recommended. Be sure to check out this Dennō Coil video.

Dennō Coil Staff with Studio Ghibli involvement:
Iso Mitsuo (磯光雄) - creator, series director, screenplay:
- Porco Rosso (key animation)
- Ocean Waves (key animation)
- Only Yesterday (key animation)

Kondō Katsuya (近藤勝也):
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky (key animation)
- My Neighbor Totoro (key animation, original design)
- Kiki's Delivery Service (animation director, character design)
- Only Yesterday (animation director)
- Porco Rosso (key animation)
- Ocean Waves (animation director, character design)
- Pom Poko (key animation)
- Princess Mononoke (key animation)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (key animation)
- Howl's Moving Castle (animation supervisor, key animation)
- Ponyo on a Cliff (key animation)

Morita Hiroyuki (森田宏幸):
- Kiki's Delivery Service (in-between animation)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (key animation)
- The Cat Returns (director, storyboard)

Sasaki Shinsaku (笹木信作):
- Porco Rosso (in-between animation)
- Pom Poko (in-between animation)
- On Your Mark (key animation)
- Whisper of the Heart (key animation)
- Princess Mononoke (key animation)

Yoshida Kenichi (吉田健一):
- Only Yesterday (key animation)
- Porco Rosso (key animation)
- Ocean Waves (key animation)
- Pom Poko (key animation)
- On Your Mark (key animation)
- Whisper of the Heart (key animation)
- Princess Mononoke (key animation)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (key animation)

Hiramatsu Tadashi (平松禎史):
- The Cat Returns (key animation)

Kuwana Ikuo (桑名郁郎):
- On Your Mark (in-between animation)
- Pom Poko (in-between animation)
- Whisper of the Heart (in-between animation)
- Princess Mononoke (key animation)

Gouroku Hiroshi (合六弘-):
- The Cat Returns (background art)

Hata Ayako (秦綾子):
- The Cat Returns (key animation)

Inoue Ei (井上鋭):
- The Cat Returns (animation supervisor)

Inoue Toshiyuki (井上俊之):
- Kiki's Delivery Service (key animation)

26th of November, EIGHTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: The sweating on Ghibli just doesn’t stop: yesterday it was time for another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM and of course it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week's Ghibli Asemamire guest is Teshima Aoi (手嶌葵) joined by her manager Tanaka. Of course we know her from Miyazaki Goro’s Gedo Senki (ゲド戦記, Tales from Earthsea) in which she debuted last year as singer of the song Therru no Uta (テルーの唄, Therru's Song), which sold over 220,000 copies, and as a seiyuu (voice actress) in the lead role of Therru.

Suzuki “I watched you on TV the other day. Don't you like being interviewed?” Aoi “I don't like interviews. In fact, I was in a bad mood that day.” Suzuki “Like that… By the way, how old are you now?” Aoi “I became 20 this year.” Suzuki “So do you feel you became an adult?” Aoi “No, not yet.” Suzuki “What is the happiest thing since you debuted?” Aoi “When I got to sing Gedo of course.”

Suzuki told he first heard Aoi sing when he listened to her demo tape 3 years ago on which she sang ROSE. Suzuki heard it in his car at midnight while riding in the darkness. The ROSE was quite suitable in that situation and he was so moved.

Suzuki “When did you realize your voice is so nice?” Aoi “No, not even now have I realized it.” Suzuki “When was the first time you heard your own voice?” Aoi “When I was 17 years old. It was when I recorded that demo tape.” Suzuki “Really? Why did you choose ROSE? Aoi “Well, Mom is a big fan of Bette Midler. I watched her movie when I was small with Mom, heard ROSE and liked it a lot.” Suzuki told he’s a big fan of Bette Midler as well. In Japan, the movie ROSE didn't became a hit at all and neither did the song. As Suzuki really liked ROSE he felt some fate when he heard Teshima singing it while listening to her demo tape at that time. Note: the song was also used in Takahata’s Omohide Poroporo (おもひでぽろぽろ, Only Yesterday) sung by famous Japanese Enka singer Miyako Harumi and for which Takahata wrote the Japanese lyrics.

Suzuki “Did you want to be a singer when you were kid?” Aoi “No.” Suzuki “What was your dream when you were small?” Aoi “I wanted to be an athlete. I was good at sport like track and field, especially short-distance sprint.” Suzuki “Oh, in fact, when I was a student I ran 100 meters in 12.8 seconds. What was your best time?” Aoi “Sorry, I don't remember. But was really fast. During I was mid school, I belonged volleyball team and played very well because I was tall. However, I had some trouble with team mates and quit it. After that I got interest in music.” Suzuki “I hope you will not give up singing forever, if you get old.”

As usual, Suzuki also told a nice story from when he was young. When he was a kid he used to be a big fan of Hayley Mills. It all started after seeing the Disney motion picture The Parent Trap (1961, Japanese title Wana ni Kaktta Papa to Mama). He became a fan and sent her a fan letter in English. Of course he got no reply from her, but 40 years later Studio Ghibli got connected with Disney and Suzuki was invited to visit them in the US. At the Disney party, he held a speech and told that since saw The Parent Trap he had been a big Disney fan. However, he only knew the Japanese title of the movie and had no idea of the original title. So he sang the theme song of the movie. Then all attendants began to sing the song along with him. All of them knew the song. To help him out Disney contacted Hayley Mills and told about Suzuki. After he returned to Japan, he finally got a reply from her after 40 years having passed. Suzuki was so moved.

Suzuki “Though you’re so young, you know the old stars very well. I guess you’ve been influenced by your parents. Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers... My mom likes them so much. She watched their movies more than half a century ago. She’s now 84 and you are 20. 64 years difference. It's amazing. And you also like Louis Armstrong. What songs do you like?” Aoi “What a Wonderful World, Moon River...” Suzuki “Oh, sing it please.” – Aoi singing Moon River - Aoi “I'll sing these songs in my concert. I want to let young people know these good old songs.” Suzuki “Young people??? You also are just 20 years old!!”

Aoi will have a solo concert in December, which will be her first one with an actual audience entrance fee.

19th of November, SEVENTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: We might be getting a bit predictable: yesterday it was time for another episode of Suzuki Toshio’s Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) at Tokyo FM and of course it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week's Ghibli Asemamire guest was Ishii Tomohiko (石井朋彦), producer of Oshii Mamoru’s latest film The Sky Crawlers (スカイ・クロラ). Some might know him for more then that, as before he started on Oshii’s latest project Ishii used to work at Studio Ghibli. When he was about 20 years old he originally started working at Ghibli’s production section, but he was insolent and hated in that section, so Suzuki picked up him as his subordinate. After that, Ishii worked as Assistant Producer on Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, The Cat Returns and Gedo Senki (for which he also wrote parts of the online production diary).

They started the talk with Oshii's new film Shin Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden (ケツネコロッケのお銀 ~パレスチナ死闘篇~) in which Suzuki appeared and also did its narration. It was the 3rd Oshii film for Suzuki to appear in. The first one was Killers (キラーズ). The 2nd was Suzuki’s role as Hiyashi Tanuki no Masa in Tachiguishi-Retsuden (立喰師列伝), a revolutionary animation film based on "superlivemation": real people and locations were first photographed, and then digitally processed and animated with a paper puppet theater-style (cardboard cutout designs on sticks). Oshii himself described this method as either "a live-action movie with extremely limited information" or "a simple animation with extremely intense information." And now Suzuki adds number 3 to his list with the Tachigui’s spin-off episodeShin Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden. Suzuki had asked Oshii on why he decided to use Suzuki, with Oshii replying that it was just because of the small budget. Oshii wanted to see an “young days Suzuki”, so this time he was asked to shave and dye his hair completely black. Suzuki was even to put off his underpants, something he agreed on, as his film character was to be killed and the dead body to be checked by a doctor. However, in the end his underpants weren’t put off at the scene. It’s fortunate for everyone…

Suzuki and Oshii have had a long friendship that goes back to when Oshii was making Urusei Yatsura. After Oshii quit making TV series, Suzuki visited Oshii's house in Iogi every night after leaving Ghibli around 10 pm. They talked till late at night or even early morning. To add some extra info, Suzuki later did some work as a producer on Oshii’s Angel's Egg (天使のたまご), released in 1985. Following Oshii, Miyazaki and Takahata started on the never realized Ghibli project Anchor, for which Miyazaki and Takahata were both to be producers and Oshii to be the director. The three got together and made a plot, but one night they had a big fight and disagreement and Oshii quit. Despite their differences, Suzuki and Studio Ghibli would later help Oshii with his production of Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2 (イノセンス, Inosensu). To this day, Oshii and Miyazaki maintain skeptical, but respectful, views of each other's films. Oshii criticizes Miyazaki as being too idealistic, unrealistic, and ruthless with his workers. Miyazaki criticizes Oshii as being too much of a philosopher and not enough of an entertainer in his work.

Suzuki told that “When Goro was a high school student, he liked Oshii's Beautiful Dreamer better than his father’s Nausicaa. Miyazaki found out about it and got angry. Oshii was the first one that admired Goro's Gedo and said that Goro would get much criticism. But Goro did enough for his first direction.”

Ishii interestingly mentioned that "Oshii warned me that you (Suzuki) shouldn't do radio work. You originally were a magazine editor and after that you got into movie and publishing business - like Neppu -, and adding your radio program might bring media fascism.” on which Suzuki replied “That's strange. When Oshii graduated university he joined a radio company where he had a program on which he used to talk all night. He did more than me.” Ishii "Well, he says your talk material is all from information around you. His is all from books and his study.” Suzuki “We had a talk for a magazine the other day and I pointed him that he is unsuitable for a movie director and would fit better as a producer. He agreed, but pointed me out that I’m unsuitable for a producer either. He said he’s in the far left of directors and I'm in the far right of producers. So we stand nearby.

Next time Suzuki Toshio’s Renga-ya will be visited by Gedo Senki’s Teshima Aoi.

17th of November, UPDATE ON MIYAZAKI BRINGING THE THREE BEARS TO MITAKA: Last May Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata brought Leo Tolstoy’s The Three Bears to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. It was actually meant to be made into an animation film, but almost two years ago Miyazaki worried “It's impossible to film this story. If it is filmed, it might take in the filmmaker's point of view and spoil the beauty of the original book which lets kids imagine.” Miyazaki gave up making it into a film and decided to reconstruct the world of the book as three-dimensional and touchable and chose Tolstoy's book published in 1935 as the main motif.

The exhibition has been open for several months now and 7andY recently added two dedicated pages to their website (page 1, page 2), containing several pictures and info on Mitaka based children’s book writer Kanzawa Toshiko who held a related talk at the Ghibli Museum.

Kanzawa was born and grew up in Karafuto (Sakhalin, which was Japanese territory till before the war) in 1924. She wrote the famous picture book Kuma no ko Uoof (クマの子ウーフ, Uoof the bear kid), a long hit that sold over 3,500,000 books and has been translated into many languages all over the world. “When I shut my eyes and mumble "KUMA" (bear), then that deep forest of Sakhalin always appears in my head. Like those short summers of the northern land with ripe strawberries and tons of other kind of berries in the forest. Berries that were the bears’ favorite food, but also important snacks for us kids. It wasn't strange if you happened to meet a bear in the forest, just like that girl in "3 Biki no Kuma" (3 Bears) or "Sari no Kokemomo Tsumi" (Sally Picking Bilberry). In fact, there were some village people who happened to have met bears and got their nose picked, so my mom always told me to be careful when I went into the forest. I had never met bears though… I often showed Mom my catch while saying "Look!! I got so much!! There were no bears.". However, actually I didn't realize the truth that the bears - lords of the forest - found out that kids came to the forest and hid themselves in order not to meet them. With open hands the bears passed the berries on to the kids. While maybe we didn't realize how much bounty they gave us, we grew up in their view."

"Though I didn't run into any bears in the forest, I still got to meet one… As there was a beautiful golden bear fur sleeping in a backroom with its legs and arms stretched out. When I was small, I often talked with this “brown eyes bear” or sitting and knitting on it. After I grew up, in the war, we traded it for food and that small girl got old and became a small old woman, but bears still make me feel nostalgic and warm, so they often appear in my books.”

13th of November, A BOOK DEDICATED TO ISAO TAKAHATA’S ANIMATED FILMS: Though quit some books have been written about Hayao Miyazaki and his work, not much literary work has been dedicated to Studio Ghibli’s other co-founder: Isao Takahata. With the recent release of “The Art of Emotion – Il cinema d’animazione di Isao Takahata” (The Art of Emotion – Isao Takahata’s Animated Films) this is no longer the case in Italy. Written and published in Italy by film critic and writer Mario A. Rumor, it’s a 400 pages essay exploring the artistic life and career of Takahata. From TV classics like Alps no shojo Heidi (1974), Marco (1976) and Akage no An (1979), to full length features like Hols no Daiboken (1968), Goshu the Cellist (1982) and Chie the Brat (1982). Of course his works at Ghibli like Grave of Fireflies (1988), the poetic Omohide Poroporo (1991), the funny Pom Poko (1994) and Tonari no Yamada-kun are included as well.

“The Art of Emotion” is a book that was written in 9 years; a critical essay in which we don’t miss the pleasure to read information and curiosity about the creation of such animation films like Hols and Goshu the Cellist. Says writer Mario A. Rumor: “Isao Takahata wrote his personal book Eiga wo Tsukurinagara (Tokuma Shoten, 1991) in which he explained his way on making animation. No matter what other people could think about it, it was something like “the End” stuff, even for the most resourceful film critic. So, why write a book about an artist who doesn’t need official presentation? I can’t give you a perfect answer to this question. I guess this book is just more welcomed here, in Italy, where the name of Takahata was always postponed and confused with the name of his Toei Doga alumnus Miyazaki. Maybe, the truth is that Isao Takahata for all people of my generation is quite a father-figure, while Miya-san is a volcanic uncle. And you often start with family ties, don’t you?”

The preface of Rumor’s book is written by none other than French animation director Michel Ocelot (Azur et Asmar), friend of Isao Takahata, in which he mentions:
I’m happy to hear that there exists a book dedicated to Isao Takahata and that it’s just been published in Europe. Some years ago I was invited in Japan at an animation event. I was asked to choose an anime director with which I’d love to stay on public. I chose Isao Takahata, whom I had yet never met before. Of all great Japanese creators of animation, he was the one most interesting to me. I was filled because his films were a world apart, in a manner and in the other, and they renewed themselves every time. I found him an intimate Japanese director, but at the same time he wasn’t.

The writer mentions to have been in love with Takahata’s works since his childhood. “It’s amazing being here to talk about a book written following that passion. I know that some Japanese anime artists don’t understand our “mood of love” for Japanimation and even a book like that would probably screw up many of them. But it’s in our DNA: we have to understand and investigate everything so far from our culture. Do you know how many critical books about Japanimation have been written in Europe since Miyazaki’s Academy Award in 2003? I tell you: almost 10 and the interest is increasing.”

““The Art of Emotion” is my effort to focus and to give a central role in Takahata’s cinema in order to distinguish his works by those of his friend Miya-san. All of us know that Takahata loves to blend reality and daily life into animation, while Miyazaki’s look is often fantasy-devoted. That’s makes the difference between the teacher (Takahata) and his talented ex alumnus since Ghibli foundation. But many people do not only tend to confuse their names, but confuse an entire aesthetic. I’m pretty much sure that Takahata-san and all Ghibli staff will be not so happy about this book because they have that centric-role on all their business, but – as I said – for me as viewer and fan it’s almost a pledge of love given back to a father-figure like director Takahata. Without having seen his works at the age of 10, my childhood would probably have been a little emptier. He gave to me the wish to read books, to amuse with the world; while Miyazaki’s works gave to me the pleasure to confront myself with the imagination. What a unbelievable gift from people that you never met before!”

Though books are all about reading them, an important thing about Takahata’s films is about the way Takahata manages to express a story into visuals. Therefore text is added with various stills, mostly press-kit images provided by European distributors, plus in Chapter 1 a series of terrific black and white photos of director Takahata taken during the 1995 interview at the Italian Cartoombria Festival which is also included in the book.

None at have yet read Rumor’s book on Takahata, though it definitely seems worth checking out (if you know Italian of course)!

12th of November, SIXTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD, UPDATE KAZUO OGA EXHIBITION DVD + BLU RAY WITH TRAILER: The good stuff just doesn’t end, as yesterday listeners of Tokyo FM were treated yet again to another episode of Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli). With this the episode counter comes to a number of six and as usual it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week's Ghibli Asemamire guest was an “old” visitor of the show: NTV producer Okuda Seiji. Okuda already was the special guest of Ghibli Asemamire episode 4 in which he told about his latest production Always Zoku Sanchōme no Yūhi (Always 続・三丁目の夕日, Always - Sunset on Third Street 2). This episode Okuda is back and brought Yoshioka Hidetaka with him, who plays Chagawa, one of the main characters in Always Zoku Sanchōme no Yūhi, and he just so happens to be a big fan of Studio Ghibli as well.

Though Yoshioka was born in 1970, his resume goes quit a time back. He belongs to a short list of child actors that also grew up to be a successful adult actor. Started acting at the age of 5, he became a popular face since he was 7 as the child role in a popular TV drama Kita no Kunikara (北の国から, From the North Country) and Yoji Yamada's long-seller Tora-san (寅さん) series as Tora-san's little nephew (which he played for 14 years and 24 films!). In both these series he really grew along with the characters and as he played them so long Japanese often call him Mituso or Jun, after the characters he played. Later on Yoshioka appeared in several Akira Kurosawa films like Rhapsody in August and Madadayo and in recent years appeared in films like Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade. Besides that he did one of the voices in Shinkai Makoto’s anime Kumo no Muko, Yakusoku no Basho (雲のむこう、約束の場所, The Place Promised in Our Early Days) and had his film break-through in 2005 in Always - Sunset on the Third Street, with which he won a Japan Academy Best Actor award.

For more details check:
- Always II trailer at the TIFF Official Website
- Mark Schilling’s review @ Japan Times

Suzuki "I love Tora-san and Kita no Kunikara very much and have all DVDs here. Look at the shelf. There's also 40 years of Kinema-Junpo (キネマ旬報), so you have been so familiar to me for long time. In fact, I love Yamada (note: famous Japanese director Yoji Yamada) and watched all of his films since he debuted as a director. Of course I also love Baisho Chieko." Something that isn’t strange as Baisho Chieko is very famous for her role as Sakura in Yamada’s Otoko wa Tsurai yo and acted in most of Yamada’s directed films since the 1960s. Of course those who are into Studio Ghibli know her for her role of Sophie in Miyazaki’s Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (ハウルの動く城, Howl's Moving Castle) for which she also sang the ending theme. But that isn’t her only connection to Studio Ghibli. Her 1965 hit Sayonara ha Dance no Ato ni, a cha-cha style song was later covered by Mariko Takahashi, and part of this cover was played in Takahata’s Omohide Poro Poro (おもひでぽろぽろ, Only Yesterday).

Suzuki mentions he "once had a talk with Yamada at the Ghibli office. He had a studio tour and told me “The atmosphere over here is like those good old movie studios used to have.”… What do you think of Yamada?" Yoshioka "I'm afraid of him." Suzuki "How about Baisho?" Yoshioka "Well, I’m the one who introduced her to Ghibli films!! When I was a high-school student and we were filming Tora-san, she asked me if I knew a good film. I recommended her to watch Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro) and since then she became a big fan of Miyazaki."

Yosioka "I really love Ghibli. I always take all Ghibli DVDs with me in case we’re filming on location and have long days. Like during Koto (TV series ドクター コトー, Dr. Koto), when we were shooting I watched Porco again and again." Okuda "I watched it on a JAL plane the other day. It was more interesting than when I watched it 15 years ago. Maybe because I got old and my point of view has changed." Suzuki "I agree. What do you think of Lupin or Porco's age? Don't you think that whenever you watch them that they are older than you?" Yoshioka "Yes, I feel Lupin is always older than me. I have watched it many times since I was very young." Suzuki "I think it's one of Miyazaki’s specialties."

Yoshioka "I'm often helped by Ghibli films. When I worry about acting, I go and watch Ghibli. For example, “Nausicaa acts very well as Nausicaa”! Her acting is very natural, which of course is no wonder, but that is the way I want to act as well. To mention another example, when Baisho played Sakura she did it very naturally, though she really is quite different from Sakura's character." Suzuki "I agree! When we were making Howl’s I met and talked with her and was surprised that her real character was to be so far apart from Sakura’s. I had believed Baisho really had a Sakura like character, but I was wrong. It's an evidence of her talent."

Suzuki also told about the reason why Miyazaki's characters are so vivid. "When Miyazaki makes his storyboard, he hates relying on logic or theory. He sometimes regrets using logic in his story making and tries to do it all over again. He doesn't see the character from a distance, but always stands nearby the characters and sees everything from same point of view and even behaves and thinks with them." Yoshioka "The characters usually don't explain themselves by their dialogue or acting." Suzuki "Yes, for example (in Porco Rosso) no one explains why Marco looks like a pig. Everyone in that movie accepts it without question. And at the opening of Mononoke, the village people shout "That's Tatarigami!!", but the movie gives no explanation about it."

Some more short conversations followed… Suzuki "The other day I was a bit tired. Miyazaki saw me and said “Hey Suzuki-san, your face excretes something black like powder.” I was surprised and asked someone nearby about it. That person told me he saw nothing like that on my face in which Miyazaki responded to him “Where on earth are your eyes?"

Yoshioka "Ghibli never betrays me. I really look forward to Ponyo. I can't wait!! Can't you let me know about Ponyo?" Suzuki "I really want to talk about it....but...."

Suzuki "Always is very interesting. Why don't you make more sequels?" Yoshioka "Thanks. But basically I didn't have much interest in making sequels." Suzuki "Look at Tora-san! It has 48 sequels. Once a Tora-san sequel was made 3 times a year. I think it's possible making 3-chome sequels yearly, Okuda-san?”

Last summer background art master Kazuo Oga had a lovely exhibition at the MOT in Tokyo. As we mentioned earlier, those who were unlucky and unable to visit it will get a good alternative starting from December 19. Starting from that day Kazuo Oga Exhibition DVD + Blu Ray will be available for sale (DVD 3,990 Yen, Blu Ray 6,090 Yen). Today a special dedicated Oga Kazuo Ten DVD website was launched. Besides having all kinds of info on which we will post about later, it also has a TRAILER which is available in 3 different tastes: 56K, 500K and 1M connection.

More details on disc contents can be found in our earlier post of September 16. Pre-orders are available over here:
- DVD version at and
- Blu Ray + DVD pack at and

8th of November, PONYO THEME SONG, MIYAZAKI’S CHUNICHI DORAGONZU GABURI: As Studio Ghibli news resource we always try to bring you the latest Studio Ghibli news. However, once in a while it’s nice to do the opposite: bring you “old news”.

For example remind you about the theme song of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). It was first to be heard at the second Ghibli Asemamire, but was left out the downloadable podcast version and due to copyrights we decided not make it available for download either. Those who haven’t been able to listen to Joe Hisaishi’s latest piece sung by Fujioka Fujimaki and Nozomi Ohashi, it’s available starting from December 5 and up for pre-order at Yesasia and

Another example of “old news” is an addition to the summary of last week’s Ghibli Asemamire in which Toshio Suzuki’s love for baseball and baseball team the Chunichi Dragons was discussed. Suzuki is a die hard fan of the team which has its base in Nagoya, the city where Suzuki was born and lived till he wad 18 years old and left for Tokyo. What many won’t know is that in 2006 none other than Hayao Miyazaki himself made the mascot of the Chunichi Dragons named GABURI (ガブリ).

Well, let’s keep it at “new news” in the future…

5th of November, FIFTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: As usual, yesterday the listeners of Tokyo FM were treated yet again to another episode of Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli). Of course to help out our Nihongo challenged readers is providing a summary, the original Japanese version is also available for download.

This week's Ghibli Asemamire was less related to Studio Ghibli as it’s guest was Sport Hochi’s Takayanagi Yoshihito. However, sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that Sport Hochi doesn’t only report sport related news, but once in a while offers Studio Ghibli related news as well. And that’s not where the relation ends: once part of Tokuma Shoten, nowadays Studio Ghibli is a related company of NTV (Nihon Televison), on their turn NTV is related to Yomiuri Shimbun of which Sports Hochi (スポーツ報知, Supōtsu Hōchi) is an affiliate sports newspaper.

The main subject of already the fifth show of Toshio Suzuki’s Ghibli Asemamire: Japan’s most popular sport, baseball. Like New York has it’s New York Yankees, Tokyo has it’s Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. The Giants have been Japan’s most popular baseball team for over 70 years and like the name says it’s owned by Yomiuri Shimbun. With the team being somewhat related to Studio Ghibli you might expect Toshio Suzuki to be a fan, but that’s not the case. Toshio Suzuki has his love for another baseball team almost imprinted in his DNA. Suzuki, born and raised in Nagoya, Japan’s fourth largest city, is a rather diehard fan of it’s home team: the Chunichi Dragons. Since he was little he used to go the Dragons' home stadium, Nagoya Dome (名古屋ドーム), to watch baseball games with his father. When Suzuki was 18 he left Nagoya and has been living in Tokyo for over 40 years. He has lost and forgot everything about Nagoya, except for the Chunichi Dragons. Each time that the Dragons win, Suzuki stays up till 3:AM to go to the newspaper shop in front of his house to get a sport paper. He goes to bed after reading it.

Actually, the day that this week’s Ghibli Asemamire was recorded, the Dragons won the 5th game of the Japan Series and got the championship for the first time in 53 years. Suzuki was only 6 years old when they last won the championship and was very much moved and so they talked in detail about today's game, some players and the manager Ochiai (落合博満). One of his notes was that "Exactly one year ago the Dragons lost that year's championship at the Japan Series and had a “shame party” that evening in Nagoya. I went to Nagoya to watch the game, was fortunately able to attend it and sat in front of Ochiai. I was so glad. I really respect and like him and would like to learn everything from him as a manager as I'm also a manager as president of Studio Ghibli. He is very good in obtaining human resources and cultivating young players." Takayanagi asked him “What do you think of cultivating young talents at Ghibli?" Suzuki "Umm.... At Ghibli it isn't my job, but the director's. It's a bit different from baseball managers. I guess you could compare my job to that of a team president. Instead I scout talented human powers. I ask young staff if they know any talented people and try to get in touch with them." Takayanagi "So do you hammer them then?" Suzuki "Of course. A lot of our staff was and has been scouted by me." Takayanagi "Oh, so the fact that Ghibli has such a skilled staff and is a excellent studio, we owe all to you." Suzuki "Thanks." Takayanagi also asked Suzuki "So are there any Dragons fans in Ghibli besides you?" Suzuki "No. Basically, young people haven’t had much interest in baseball recently. That's unfortunate, but I'll never quit being a hardcore Dragons fan!!"

29th of October, FOURTH RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD, ISAO TAKAHATA’S 72ND BIRTHDAY: Yesterday the listeners of Tokyo FM were treated yet again to another episode of Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli). It was already the fourth broadcast and as usual it’s available for download and is providing a summary.

This week's Ghibli Asemamire guest was NTV producer Okuda Seiji. Okuda recently produced Always Zoku Sanchōme no Yūhi (Always 続・三丁目の夕日, Always - Sunset on Third Street 2) which will be released on November 3 and is a sequel to Always Sanchōme no Yūhi. The first part was a big hit and won twelve out of thirteen awards offered in Japan’s version of the Oscars. Those who aren’t familiar with it, check out the review at the always excellent Twitch. Always is based on Saigan Ryohei’s famous manga Sanchōme no Yūhi (西岸良平) and is set in a nostalgic re-creation of 1958 Tokyo and follows the lives of people living in a small street. The film shows the memories and hopes of the local residents during the construction of Tokyo Tower as the economy recovers from the war and families acquire modern electric goods for the first time.

As far as Ghibli Asemamire is concerned, Suzuki took Okuda to his Renga-ya ("renga" means baked mud / brick) by taxi. The taxi driver was Hamano Shigeru of which Suzuki is an old customer. All of the 3 talked in the taxi on the way to Renga-ya. Suzuki asked “Do you like “3-chome” (Always), Hamano? Did you watch it?” Hamano “Yes, without exaggerating, I really like it. I liked those old cars like Mijet.” Suzuki “How is the sequel? Can you tell me about the story.” Okuda “It’s very interesting. Four months later of the family. You'll get it when you watch it.”

Suzuki introduced Okuda to Hamano and told an interesting Ghibli story. Ogino, the family name of Spirited Away’s protagonist Chihiro, actually came from Okuda. Okuda has 3 daughters and the oldest is Chiaki. One summer, Miyazaki invited the Okudas to his mountain villa in Nagano. During their visit Miyazaki really liked the 10 year old Chiaki nad thought "Chiaki is a very good kid. She shouldn't be raised up by such dull parents. I'll make a movie with a girl heroin and give Chiaki a message about the way of life." And so he began making Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (千と千尋の神隠し, Spirited Away). At the beginning of production, the title of the film was actually Sen to Chiaki. However, Miyazaki thought that when Okuda Chiaki would watch the movie she would be confused. So he changed to the name into Chihiro.

Also, during the end credits of Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi the viewer is shown a picture of a shoe in a river (note: see right picture above). This is something which actually happened in real life to Chiaki as well. One day in that summer, they went playing at a river and Chiaki her shoe flew into the river. Several years passed and when the movie completed, Mrs. Okuda watched the trailer in a theater and was so surprised so that the Ogina family was so similar to the Okudas and that Chiaki was there. Miyazaki invited the Okudas to the preview and was very nervous as he wanted to hear Chiaki's impression. Chiaki smiled and said "Very good!". Miyazaki was relieved and very pleased.

(Side note: Lev Atamanov’s Snow Queen, a Russian 1958 animation classic which is to be released on December 15 by Ghibli Museum Library, also has a scene where the protagonist Gerda loses her shoes to the river. Snow Queen is a film that had a decisive influence on the animation career of Hayao Miyazaki)

During the Ghibli Asemamire cab drive Suzuki and Okuda also passed a place where Miyazaki grew up and Suzuki asked Hamano the driver to stop at a ramen-shop. However, this wasn’t any kind of ramen-shop, but one that Miyazaki loved when he was a kid. Suzuki got takeout ramen for them to eat at Renga-ya which sounded delicious. They chatted about many more small topics and listeners could hear a song sung by Minami Haruo (三波春男). The title is Aka-tombo a.k.a. Red Dragonfly (tombo is a feature of autumn in Japan). The song is part of the album Nihon no Uta (Songs of Japan) for which Suzuki wrote its comments.

To close today's post, would like to note that Isao Takahata is having his 72nd birthday today. It has been a long time since master animation director Takahata released his last film Hōhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun (ホーホケキョとなりの山田くん, My Neighbors the Yamadas). After its release in 1999, Paku-san (Takahata) has been focusing on other projects. There’s the short he made in 2003 for the animators collaboration called Fuyu no Hi (冬の日, Winter Days), the Japanese release of foreign animation films like Paul Grimault’s Ou to Tori (王と鳥, Le Roi et l'Oiseau), giving lectures on the history of Japanese animation and quite some other projects. Of course many are waiting for Takahata to finally direct a new film. This is something Takahata already spoke of in the past, but an official announcement besides a small comment by Toshio Suzuki from last June has not yet been the case. Be sure to read the exclusive Isao Takahata interview which had for over 1.5 years ago if you don’t know what we’re talking about. Anyway, Isao Takahata, happy birthday!

24th of October, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO’S PRODUCTION PROGRESSING: Studio Ghibli has released new production numbers on Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). Reason enough for to reproduce it together with the earlier production info into a nice graph. The intervals between the various dates aren’t the same everywhere, so the graph statistically isn’t fully correct. However, it still gives a decent image on how the production of Miya-san’s new film is progressing.

Currently 449 cuts have been fully completed. There’s still quite a bit to do as Miyazaki is currently working on part D of the ekonte / storyboard and already made over 946 cuts. Japanese often say 起承転結 (ki, sho, ten, ketsu), meaning that a story must have these 4 parts, so presumably Miyazaki is working on the last part of the storyboard.

Not long ago there was a meeting with Miyazaki and each production section where he talked about his perspective on his storyboard. He looked very glad and the staff listened raptly to it, making them even forget about reality. It might mean he found a good "landing point". Miyazaki usually takes off without having a clear landing point. When he starts working on his ekonte all other staff go with him not knowing where they will go. Even Miyazaki himself doesn’t know the final destination of the story. When all goes well, it results in a masterpiece. Perfect examples of this are My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso. However, one can’t always succeed 100% perfectly. It is said Miyazaki couldn't find a good “airport” when he made Howl’s Moving Castle and Mononoke Hime. Lets wait and see what Gake no ue no Ponyo will bring us. One thing you can be sure off: it will surely be a great film and we’ll keep you updated on all its news.

21st of October, THIRD RADIO GHIBLI / GHIBLI ASEMAMIRE BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD: Ghibli Asemamire (Radio Ghibli) had its third broadcast today. As usual it’s available for download and we’re providing a summary.

This week’s show was about Japanese movies and as every week show host and Studio Ghibli president Toshio Suzuki received a special guest: this time it was film director Yukisada Isao. Yukisada is known for his movies like Sekai no Chuushin de Ai o Sakebu (Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World, 世界の中心で、愛をさけぶ) and used to be the assistant of Shunji Iwai. One of the things they talked about was Yukisada’s new movie Closed Note.

Yukisada “I like this place, there are so many Japanese movie DVD’s.” Suzuki “Why don't you have some udon noodles?” Suzuki “How about the Erika (Erika Sawajiri) problem? It's become a big topic.” (Note: At the first release day of Closed Note, the movie staff and actors had a greeting and interview at a theater stage in Tokyo where Erika answered very rudely. A lot of media complained about it.) Yukisada “It's not such a big problem. It was that time only.” Suzuki “Does it attract a large audience?” Yukisada “It’s not doing bad.” Suzuki “I watched it twice. The first time I watched it from Erika Sawajiri’s point of view, the second time from Yuko Takeuchi’s which I felt made it more interesting. I think it's more Takeuchi's movie instead of Sawajiri's, but everyone only tends to have interest in Sawajiri.”

Of course they also talked about Studio Ghibli, like a story that Suzuki told about Hayao Miyazaki. Once Miyazaki went out to watch a movie. He went out about noon and came back at 7 or 8 pm. Suzuki asked him "What did you watch?", Miyazaki "5 movies", Suzuki "!!?". When Miyazaki wants to watch a movie he goes to the theater without any plans. There he checks simply the movie posters and enters the theater. If a movie isn't interesting he soon quits, even if it's just 5 minutes. Suzuki “Was there anything interesting?", Miyazaki "I was impressed by Chingisu-han (Genghis Khan)", Suzuki "Ah? Everyone says it's dull", Miyazaki "The armors were interesting. I've been curious about Mongolian armor for a long time. The questions I had for over the years were solved today." However, he watched it for 30 minutes only. Miyazaki often watches movies for a short time. Perhaps he thinks it's enough to know if a movie is good or not.

But there was more to tell about Miyazaki’s interesting way to watch movies. Miyazaki’s TV at his home is very old and only has a 14 inch screen. It is half broken and the color is terrible. One day Miyazaki came to Suzuki and said "I watched a movie on TV. Andrei Tarkovsky is great. As my TV can't show enough image, I fill up the gaps with my imagination. So I can imagine his movie is really great."

In addition, Suzuki notes that “When we judge a movie, we don't always need to watch whole of it. If only some fragments are good, then it can still be a good movie. I felt the same when watching Closed Note, its cinematography is very good. Yukisada “Yes, even a still picture can impress us. When I was in high school I had a movie magazine in which I read an interview on Fellini's La Dolce Vita. It had some movie stills which filled my imagination so much I eagerly wanted to watch it. I saved up all my pocket money to go to Tokyo by sleeper train and watch it, but when I arrived in Tokyo the screening period of La Dolce Vita was over (note: Yukisada lived in Kumamoto prefecture, about 1,500 km away from Tokyo).”

They also talked about old Japanese movies made by classic directors like Kawashima Yuzo and Naruse Mikio. Logically, this ended in a conversation about which classic movies they like and examples like Yoto Monogatari: Hana no Yoshiwara hyaku-nin giri (Killing 100 persons in Yoshiwara, Yoshiwara was famous red light district during the Edo era) and Naruse’s "Ukigumo" followed. Yukisada told “Naruse often had a technique to abbreviate the scenario or dialogues. While he was directing the movie, he finally told he didn't need the scene of Yaku-island. Scenario writer Mizuki Yoko responded to Naruse that if there wasn't a Yaku-island scene, it would be quite a different movie compared to the original (Ukigumo is a love story based on the original novel by Hayasi Fumiko). Naruse accepted this advise though he didn't go to Yaku-island for location shooting.” Suzuki added that “I often go overseas and have chances to talk with people in the film industry. In France, they often tell me that they like Ukigumo the best and believe it's the best love movie in the world. A theater in France screened it everyday for 20 years long.”

More stories, mostly focused on Japanese movies, followed… (Suzuki told about Daibosatsu touge, which he likes it so much he’d like it if Yukisada would make a remake. He also told a story from his childhood. He used to drive a car when he was 10 years old, something that wasn't so strange in those days. Yukisada was so surprised and laughed.) Be sure to check out what next week’s Ghibli Asemamire will bring us!

20th of October, SORA WO TOBU UPDATE + GAKE NO UE NO PONYO THEME SONG: A couple of months ago JAL and Studio Ghibli announced Sora wo Tobu, a joint project in which they reintroduce Porco Rosso for screening on international JAL flights, re-release Miyazaki's 1994 all-color manga Kuuchuu de Oshokuji and exclusively release the Ghibli Museum short Kuso no Sora Tobu Kikai-tachi for screening during some of JAL’s flights. Because of this project one of the new metros of the JR central line has recently been updated with a LCD screen showing a Sora wo Tobu compilation video commercial (see picture). As many of our readers probably won’t see it, provides you with a sample page of Kuuchuu de Oshokuji instead.

Last week, during the second episode of Ghibli Asemamire (Toshio Suzuki’s radio show on Tokyo FM), the theme song of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff) was to be heard for the first time. The song won’t be released before December 5, but the CD single is already up for pre-order at

14th of October (2nd update), SECOND RADIO GHIBLI BROADCAST + DOWNLOAD, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO THEME SONG + LYRICS: Today the second broadcast of Radio Ghibli was aired. For those who understand Japanese, it is available for download now! For those who can’t, we’re providing a summary. Be sure to read it all as there’s a lot of interesting info on Gake no ue no Ponyo!

During this week’s episode show host and Studio Ghibli president Toshio Suzuki finally shows his paperboard. Ghibli Asemamire is written on it, a word Suzuki says he likes a lot and the name to replace the temporary title Radio Ghibli. It means Sweating on Ghibli and refers to hard working and the book "Sakuga Asemamire" about Miyazaki’s old mentor and colleague, the great animator Yasuo Ōtsuka.

Today's Radio Ghibli guest is Fujimaki Fujioka. A logical decision, as last week the theme song of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff) was announced and it will be sung by this duo, together with the 8 year old Nozomi Ohashi. For those who haven’t heard of Fujioka Fujimaki, they are a music duo that first started making music in 2005. It’s actually somewhat of a side project, as Takaaki Fujiaoka is a music director at SONY music entertainment and Naoya Fujimaki works at the well known advertising agency Hakuhodo, where he takes charge of everything concerning Studio Ghibli. Though they already released 2 albums, they don't want to be professional singers. However, these things might change, as they will be singing Ponyo’s theme song together with the 8 year old Nozomi Ohashi and Ghibli theme songs are often hits… As far as Ohasi is concerned, this is her debut as a singer, but she does have experience in acting. She’s part of a children's theatrical group and has already been featured in some TV dramas.

Fujimaki "Wow, I like this place! This is just like a hideout for adult men. I've longed for a hideout like this since I was small." Suzuki "That’s what I intended it to be. To make such atmosphere, I decided all walls to be made of brick. We often have meetings at the meeting room in the office, but can't come up with any good ideas. Perhaps we can get them over here, don't you think so?"

As Fujimaki is said to be a dull guy, Suzuki explains his long relationship with him. Suzuki "How is it possible for you to keep your position in such a big company like Hakuhodo for such a long time despite of your dullness?" Fujimaki "I don't know. I've worked for 30 years long!!"

In addition Suzuki tells some stories about Fujimaki. One of them was when Fujimaki got bald around his head top. He got a hair growing agent from the USA and cared it everyday. Soon new hair began growing and he got glad. But 10 days after it all dropped out and he was disappointed. Sadly, none of his company mates pointed it out to him. Luckily, when Fujimaki visited Studio Ghibli Suzuki told him about it as soon as he saw it. As Suzuki was the only person that told the truth honestly, Fujimaki was so moved and thanked Suzuki with tears.

As a highlight of this week’s Radio Ghibli listeners were given a preview of the theme song of Hayao Miyazaki’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff). Of course due to copyrights it was left out of the downloadable podcast version of this week’s episode, but it was aired during the broadcast at Tokyo FM so those who tuned it got to enjoy it (note: due to copyrights we will not make it available for download). It was a very uplifting song, best to be compared with the theme song of Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro). Miyazaki imagined that father and daughter are singing it together in bath. A little girl who can't speak fluently yet is singing a song and beside her, her father sings along.

The trigger of Fujimaki being recruited as one of the singers of the Ponyo theme song was Miyazaki's inspiration. Last year, Fujimaki's daughter, who is in 2nd grade of high school, had some summer vacation homework. As an assignment she had to research what she would like to become or had interest in. To help her out Fujimaki asked Miyazaki to talk with his daughter. Miyazaki promised him to give her 30 minutes, but he eagerly spoke to the girl for 2 hours. When Fujimaki and his daughter left Miyazaki's room Fujumaki stood up straight and told his daughter "One's efforts surely bear fruit". As those were most unsuitable words for him Suzuki and Miyazaki were both very surprised by Fujimaki’s reaction, but it gave Miyazaki a good impression of Fujimaki being a good father. That brought Miyazaki back at Fujimaki when they were making the demo of the Ponyo theme song. In order to make the demo, they asked Ohasi to sing. In an instant Miyazaki and Hisaishi liked it. Miyazaki enlarged his image and proposed an idea "I want a father's voice singing along with --- for example. How about Fujimaki?" And that’s where it started…

Gake no ue no Ponyo Theme Song - Hiragana Lyrics
あおい うみから やってきた
まんまる おなかの おんなのこ

あしって いいな かけちゃお
おてては いいな、つないじゃお

あのこと はねると こころも おどるよ
あのこが だいすき

まっかっかの ポニョ、ポニョ、ポニョ、さかなのこ
あおい うみから やってきた
まんまる おなかの おんなのこ

Gake no ue no Ponyo Theme Song – Romaji Lyrics
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo sakana no ko
Aoi umi kara yatte kita
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo fukurannda
Manmaru onaka no onna no ko
Peta-peta pyon-pyon
Asitte iina kakechao
Otetewa iina tunaijao

Anoko to haneru to kokoro mo odoruyo
Paku-paku chu-gyu, paku-paku chu-gyu
Anoko ga daisuki

Makkakka no Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo sakana no ko
Aoi umi kara yatte kita
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo fukurannda
Manmaru onaka no onna no ko

Gake no ue no Ponyo Theme Song – English Lyrics (first draft)
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo, it's a fish kid
It came from the blue ocean
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo,
She is a round bellied girl
Peta-peta pyon-pyon
How nice to have feet! I'll try to run!
How nice to have hands! I'll try to hold hands with!

When I jump with her, my heart dances along
Paku-paku chu-gyu, paku-paku chu-gyu
I love her so much!

Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo, it's a fish kid in red
It came from the blue ocean
Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo,
She is a round bellied girl

Onomatopoeia Info
Peta-peta: moving bare feet
Pyon-pyon: jumping
Migi-migi: right-right (maybe right hand).
Bun-bun: ?
Paku-paku: a breathing gold fish with open mouth
Chu-gyu----chu: kissing
Gyu: hugging

14th of October, MORE NEWS ON MIYAZAKI’S INSPIRATION “SNOW QUEEN” WITH TRAILER & INTERVIEW: Several weeks ago brought news about Ghibli Museum Library announcing the release of one of their new titles: Lev Atamanov’s Snow Queen (Yuki no Jouou in Japanese). Yesterday the Snow Queen website launched, presenting us items like a must-see trailer. In addition, as this 1957 Russian animation classic had a decisive influence on the animation career of Hayao Miyazaki, there is also an interview with Miyazaki discussing Snow Queen. Of course, for the Nihongo-challenged, presents a translation:

Q: You like Gerda quite a lot, don't you?
Miyazaki: She keeps her strong love for Kai all trough the entire movie like Kiyohime from Anchin to Kiyohime (in this story Kiyohime chases her lover Anchin and even transforms herself into a giant serpent). She goes out into the wilderness to help and bring back frozen Kai, barefoot and without thinking about all things surrounding her. Everyone of the women she encounters helps her as they are so moved by her pure mind. It touched my heart.

Q: In the first half of the story, Gerda offers her shoes to the river. Even though she has to start a long walk.
Miyazaki: It has no logic, don’t you think so? Why does she throw away her shoes and tries to go on bare feet all that way? But it was necessary. Heroes or heroines should not be protected with tools or gears. Even if it’s useless for them to be barefoot. If they lose and lose everything, they can finally reach something or somewhere.

Q: Come to think of it, half way during the story Gerda is presented shoes, but in the end she becomes bare feet again.
Miyazaki: Those who produced the movie understood very well. I like such bold arrangements. During production they arranged the mythical part and the story into the movie. Something welled up in their mind and fortunately it just fitted.

Q: What do you mean by “mythical part”?
Miyazaki: After Gerda threw away her shoes into the river, the rope of the boat untied and the boat started drifting, showing us an animistic mythical idea. Perhaps the origins of animation lay in animism. The river swallowed the shoes, but instead the river carried the girl. They took that mythical way of story telling into Anderson's story. I think it's great.

Q: What do you think of the bandit’s daughter?
Miyazaki: She’s a violent girl who hunts animals like reindeers, rabbits and foxes and makes them into her subordinates. When she meets Gerda, she hears her story and finds out that she has none to love. She realises that deep in her heart she wants someone to love, instead the only thing she could do to show her love was to tie or cage them, because that’s the only way she knew. But in the end she comes to the conclusion that it was the wrong way. Still, Gerda didn’t tell anything. We can get a metaphor from the bandit’s daughter.

Q: Gerda disabused the bandit daughter's mind?
Miyazaki: Even a frozen heart can be melt. The one who had the power is Gerda. Why? The movie never pursues the reason. Everyone surely has it somewhere in one's mind. Is it in my mind or someone else’s mind? Or is it in there, but it just can't find its exit?

Q: As for the place where you watched the movie?
Miyazaki: I watched it at a community hall in Nerima at the time when I joined Toei Doga. I guess some labour union played it. It was a dubbed version, but later on Toei Doga released the original version and someone recorded the original Russian dub with big a tape-recorder. During my period at Toei I borrowed it and always listened to it while working. Though I listened to it many, many times, I only watched it once. I was always remembering the movie while listening to recorded dub and thought Russian (language) was really wonderful.

Q: Some say Gerda is selfish. What do you think?
Miyazaki: Paku (Isao Takahata) was surprised to hear such responses, but I was never surprised about that. I believe it tells that the reviewer or the audience is just dull. I'm currently making the same kind of protagonist - Ponyo - she makes everyone's life a misery in order to complete her love. Though that person never intends to hurt anyone. That's the way we often do. It’s something which is unavoidable in life.

8th of October, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO THEME SONG: Today the theme song of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Gake no ue no Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Ponyo on a Cliff), which is to be released in summer 2008, has been announced for sale on December 5th. The song will be performed by Takaaki Fujiaoka (55) and Naoya Fujimaki (55), who form the duo Fujioka Fujimaki, together with Nozomi Ohashi (8) who belongs to a children's theatrical company. This trio was actually meant to be a temporary one for the demo tape, but the result ended up being so good that a "Cinderella unit" was born.

Hayao Miyazaki requested composer Joe Hisaishi (56) to "please make a happy-go-lucky song" for which animation director Katsuya Kondō was in charge of writing the lyrics. Those were completed by Kondō last July. It is quite an exceptional case that a title song is to be sold a half year in front of the theatrical release, but luckily staff of distributor Toho requested Toshio Suzuki an early release "As we would like children to hear this song, please release it early to be in time as a Christmas present."

A preview of the theme song Gake no ue no Ponyo will be played on the October 14 episode of Radio Ghibli, the "release" of the trailer is planned for next year’s Golden Week.

7th of October, 1ST BROADCAST RADIO GHIBLI + DOWNLOAD: A couple of weeks ago Tokyo FM informed us in their press release that starting from October 7 “Radio Ghibli”, presented by Toshio Suzuki, will broadcast every Sunday at 11:00 PM nationwide on all 38 stations of the Japan FM Network. That means that today was the first show, so reason enough for to bring all the details. Those who understand Japanese, download the first broadcast of Radio Ghibli now! As not everybody speaks Japanese here’s a small summary…

In today’s show Suzuki, Nagami (Disney) and Takakusaki (Dentsu) gathered at Renga-ya (renga means baked mud / brick) and talked. As Radio Ghibli is not the official title of the show, they talked about what its name should be. Each of them, except Suzuki, proposed some titles, though eventually they didn't decide. At last Suzuki proposed his idea, but it wasn't told. He will tell more about it next time and the title will be decided then.

During the show Suzuki also told some stories about Ghibli’s name and some of their movies. For example when Studio Ghibli was established, they talked about the naming. As the studio was based in Kichijoji (Musashino city, generally a western suburb of Tokyo is called Musashino) and Miyazaki and Takahata like Japanese names, they proposed names like "Musashino-Kobo" or "Musashino-ya". One day Miyazaki suddenly proposed Ghibli and everyone asked him what it meant. Miyazaki explained about the Italian fighter plane and hot Sahara wind (= Ghibli). Tahakata wondered that it should be pronounced not "jibuli" but "giburi" then. But Miyazaki asserted it. Later on Miyazaki's mistake was revealed.

Later on (3 or 4 years ago) Miyazaki spoke to us:
Miya--- "How about changing the studio name?"
Su----- "Why?"
Miya--- "Well, I'm bored of Ghibli. Aren't you?"
Su------ "Hmm... not bad. I'm also bored. Do you have any idea?"
Miya---- "I prefer Sirocco"
Everyone----- "What does it mean?"
Miya---- "It's also a name of wind. Isn't it cool?"
Everyone---- "Sounds cool!"
Then one girl said "I disgree. My job is answering telephone calls and I don't want to say “Hello, this is Sirocco speaking”. Sirocco sounds weak, Ghibli sounds strong." Everyone agreed to that opinion, so they left the studio's name the way it was. (Note: In Japanese "shiro" means white and "ko" is often put at the end of a name > often a female name. People who aren’t familiar with the European wind “Sirocco” might think “Shiroko” > a name of a girl who is pale).

Suzuki also told a story about Mononoke Hime. When it was in mid-stream of making the storyboard, Miyazaki proposed to change the title from Mononoke Hime to Ashitaka Sekki. His reason was that the story changed from the original story of Mononoke Hime to Ashitaka's adventure story (“Sekki” means legend, though it is a tough word and seldom heard). Suzuki believed that Mononoke was much better and gave an ambiguous nod to Miyazaki. Shortly after that Suzuki made a trailer titled Mononoke and released it on TV. Miyazaki was surprised and rushed to Suzuki. But Miyazaki unceremoniously accepted it because the name Mononoke had already been announced all over Japan.

Though it was announced in the press release, in the first show Toshio Suzuki didn’t talk about Hayao Miyazaki’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo yet. More info about it will be announced soon.

21st of September, GHIBLI RELEASING MIYAZAKI’S INSPIRATION “SNOW QUEEN”: Studio Ghibli’s newly founded label Ghibli Museum Library is further continuing its job in distributing and releasing foreign animation films. Just recently they released Michel Ocelot’s Azur et Asmar and earlier this year they were responsible for the Japanese cinema release of Aleksandr Petrov’s stunning Haru no Mezame (My Love) and the DVD release of Paul Grimault’s animation classic Ou to Tori (le Roi et l’Oiseau). Today a new title has been announced to be added to their library: Lev Atamanov’s 1957 Russian Snow Queen.

Like the poster quotes "This movie made my destiny and because of this I love it", Snow Queen had a decisive influence on Hayao Miyazaki's career as an animator. In 1963 Miyazaki was just a beginning animator at Toei Animation Studio. However, Miyazaki couldn't agree to the projects he was working on, or the projects in plan and was yet to abandon his dream to be a manga writer. Luckily, he let go of that idea after seeing Snow Queen at a screening hosted by the union. Miyazaki "decided to continue working on animation with renewed determination" as he says that he learned that characters in animation can act if they are animated well enough, and animation can move people as other media can do. Later on we can see Snow Queen’s influence in the design of Hols: Prince of the Sun’s Grunwald (see comparison below) and Hilda.

Due to its 50th anniversary Snow Queen (65 minutes, based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen) will be released on December 15 as a double feature with Lev Milchin's Stojkij Olovyannui Soldatik (20 minutes, based on The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen) in Japanese cinemas like Cinema ANGELICA. Both films will be screened with its original Russian audio track and Japanese subtitles for which Kojima Hiroko, who already worked with Studio Ghibli and Yuri Norstein in the past, especially made a new translation.

18th of September, COVER ART KAZUO OGA EXHIBITION DVD + BLU RAY: A small update in addition to our news post of two days ago as the cover art of the DVD and Blu Ray release, which will accompany the current Kazuo Oga exhibition at the MOT in Tokyo, has now also been released (see comparison below).

16th of September, KAZUO OGA EXHIBITION DVD + BLU RAY + PREMIUM ANNOUNCED: For those who don’t know, background art master Kazuo Oga is having a lovely dedicated exhibition on his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo which is being held from July 21 till September 10. Now you might be unlucky and unable to visit it, but there will be a good alternative.

Starting from December 19 a Kazuo Oga Exhibition DVD + Blu Ray will be available for sale (DVD 3,990 Yen, Blu Ray 6,090 Yen). Of both releases (with DD 2.0 audio and Japanese and English subtitles!) the following features will be the same:
- "Ghibli's workman Kazuo Oga who painted Totoro's woods" (about 72 min)
- "The reason why people are attracted with Kazuo Oga and background paintings of animation" (about 40 min, interview with Isao Takahata, art scholar Nobuo Tsuji, Studio Ghibli art department head Naoya Tanaka, animation art director Shichiro Kobayashi)
- Slideshow “Displaying all 600 works of Kazuo Oga’s exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo”.

But that’s not all… This however is where things get different. The rest of the DVD features:
- Bonus feature: Making of the cover painting for the "Kazuo Oga's Painting Collection II" (about 20 min)

The rest of the Blu Ray features:
- "Kirisame: Kazuo Oga paints a picture", making of the cover painting for the BD DVD (captured in HD).
- Extended Bonus feature: Making of the cover painting for the "Kazuo Oga's Painting Collection II" (an extended version of 35 min)

In addition of the Studio Ghibli Winter Campaign a special limited premium will be released as well: a Studio Ghibli matchbox with inside a three/dimensional figure of Oga’s painting displaying Totoro sleeping (see picture below).

15th of September, RADIO GHIBLI TO BE LAUNCHED IN OCTOBER: Producer and president of Studio Ghibli Toshio Suzuki (59) will start his radio career as it was announced at TOKYO FM. Starting from October 7th “Radio Ghibli” will start its broadcast every Sunday at 11:00 PM nationwide on all 38 stations of the Japan FM Network. Toshio Suzuki will host the show and talk about things like Hayao Miyazaki’s new film Gake no ue no Ponyo.

19th of August, TRAILER UNSEEN GHIBLI SHORT: In 2002 the Ghibli Museum released a short called Kuso no Sora Tobu Kikai-tachi also known as Imaginary Flying Machines. In 5 minutes and 59 seconds the narrator “Pig” (performed by Hayao Miyazaki) introduces the viewer various zany flying machines. As with all Ghibli Museum shorts, it is only to be seen at Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, Japan. However, not anymore! Last month JAL and Studio Ghibli announced Sora wo Tobu, a joint project in which they reintroduce Porco Rosso for screening on international JAL flights, re-release Miyazaki's 1994 all-color manga Kuuchuu de Oshokuji, and, best of all, the Ghibli Museum short Kuso no Sora Tobu Kikai-tachi will be screened during some of JAL’s flights. This will be the first time for a Ghibli Museum short to be screened outside Ghibli Museum.

Watch the TRAILER now!

“It was man’s dream since the ancient past to fly the great skies freely as a bird. People imagined various ways of flying, and thought up flying vehicles that moved by manpower or by powers of science. All of the manpowered planes, air balloons, and ornithopters are creating a huge traffic jam in the skies! Even with the advanced aviation technology today, the desire to fly the great skies have not ceased.”

Narration: Hayao Miyazaki
Original story, screenplay and direction: Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Supervising Animator: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Art Director: Mitsunori Kataama
Digital Animation Director: Mitsunori Kataama
Digital Imaging Director: Atsushi Okui
A Studio Ghibli Production produced in cooperation with Mamma Aiuto Co., Ltd. © 2002 Nibariki, MG

13th of August, EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FOREIGN STUDIO GHIBLI DUB DIRECTOR GUALTIERO CANNARSI: Recently had the chance to sit down with foreign Studio Ghibli dub director Gualtiero Cannarsi to have an extensive personal interview. And when we say extensive, we mean extensive. It’s a must-read for anyone who is into Studio Ghibli, so be sure to check it out! Continue reading it now...

9th of August, KAZUO OGA INTERVIEW & EXHIBIT REVIEW: An encounter with Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro, 1988) changed the course of Kazuo Oga's whole career. So says Oga, who has painted many background pictures for animated films produced by Studio Ghibli, in a recent interview. "As background pictures are made with the collaboration of many art staffers, I have long thought that they were not suitable for exhibition or publication," said Oga, 55, whose background pictures are being exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo until Sept. 30. "Those pictures were originally painted to be shown on the screen for only a few seconds," he said. "You will find some crude parts in them if you take a good look at them. It's embarrassing for me. Nonetheless, I'm really glad to be given a rare opportunity to show background pictures [to fans]."

Be sure to read on about Kazuo Oga’s exhibit at Yomiuri Online: interview, exhibit review! Thanks to Colin Ptak for the news.

8th of July, IBLARD JIKAN SPECIAL WITH DVD REVIEW & INOUE INTERVIEW: Last Wednesday “Iblard Jikan”, the joint project between Studio Ghibli and Inoue Naohisa, was released on DVD + CD and Blu Ray + CD. Reason enough for an Iblard Jikan special with DVD review and an interview with Inoue Naohisa.

As it’s not the first time for Studio Ghibli to team up with Inoue, you will probably be familiar with his work. His art has already been used for the fantasy scenes of Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart and the 2005 animated Ghibli Museum short “Hoshi wo Katta Hi” is also based his story and art. As far as Iblard Jikan is concerned, it isn’t your regular Studio Ghibli feature so you might be getting something different than what you’re expecting. Iblard Jikan can be described as a 30-minute animated slideshow of art made by Inoue Naohisa combined with Studio Ghibli animation. It doesn’t contain an obvious story and there isn’t any dialog. Therefore it isn’t for everyone, but those who appreciate Inoue’s art and/or love the Inoue scenes in Whisper will most probably love Iblard Jikan as well.

For me personally, I really enjoyed Iblard Jikan and will definitely watch it again. The art is simply amazing and the animation combined with music, made by befriended music composers Matsuo Kiyoshi and Komuro Kazuyoshi, add a real good touch to it. There is one minor thing though. There are also some parts with CG added to it and these could have gotten a bit more attention as they sometimes lacked in detail compared to Inoue’s paintings. Still, the main point of focus is of course Inoue’s art.

Concerning the technical details of the two Iblard Jikan releases… The picture quality of the DVD is ok. Nice vivid colors, no noticeable artifacts and detail is fine as well. But there’s also a Blu Ray edition. Studio Ghibli’s first Blu Ray edition! (I probably won’t be the only one who was hoping for Gedo Senki to receive a Blu Ray release as well, but I guess we need to wait a bit longer before Ghibli is going to release their full length feature films in HD). Now for those owning a Blu Ray player and wondering if the price difference is worth it (as Iblard Jikan only has a length of 30 minutes), this question can be simply answered with “YES!”. The Blu Ray edition adds an incredible amount of extra detail. Watching it on my Full HD 40” inch Sony LCD screen is like having one of those priceless Inoue paintings on your own wall.

How about the audio quality? The DVD release comes with a Dolby Digital stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the Blu Ray version comes with a Dolby Digital stereo and a linear PCM 5.1 track. All tracks sound quite good with a nice amount of detail. However, Iblard Jikan doesn’t have any dialogs. There only is the lovely peaceful music by Matsuo Kiyoshi and Komuro Kazuyoshi added with some minor sound effects, so don’t expect a surround sound masterpiece.

Besides the main feature, both Iblard Jikan releases also contain some special features (which do not come with English subs). During 2 audio commentaries with Inoue Naohisa, Matsuo Kiyoshi and Komuro Kazuyoshi more interesting stuff is told about Iblard. In addition there also is a nice 17 minutes long video diary at Ghibli, some info sheets about Inoue Naohisa, Matsuo Kiyoshi and Komuro Kazuyosh and a 9 minutes long trailer feature with trailers from the new Ghibli Museum Library (Haru no Mezame, Kirikou et la Sorcière, Princes et Princesses, Les Triplettes de Bellevilles) and the Gedo Senki DVD release trailer. Finally, there also is the separate soundtrack CD which comes with 8 different tracks.

For those who are still wondering if they should buy Iblard Jikan, I’d definitely recommend it, though remember you won’t be getting an animation film. Why shouldn’t you be an “Iblarder”? Miyazaki Hayao is an “Iblarder” as well and owns quite some original Inoue paintings. He often speaks of a new way of observing our own world, a way in which we "look through Iblard eyes". He discovered that there was a so-called "Iblard way" of looking and perceiving things. When looking at things through the eye of an Iblarder, even the huge sky scrapers and millions of train lines in Japan become a beautiful scene from Iblard. More info about Iblard can be found at Inoue Naohisa’s website.

Before heading over there, following is a translation of the Yomiuri Shimbun interview with Inoue from last Tuesday.

Q: What kind of world is Iblard?
A: You don't remember any manholes were on the road when you dreamt last night, do you? I think the real world is like that as well, we only remember what we have interest in. Iblard is such a world that is consisted out of things that I have interest in and I am comforted with. So there are no trash bins in this world. Maybe some system makes garbage all go away somewhere. It's very convenient, isn't it? At first glance you might think it is too convenient, but it is the same as the scenery in the city you usually see unconsciously. In a manner of speaking, viewing Iblard is like viewing a scenery from the heart.

Q: But for many of us, usual scenery is dull…
A: Well, that is the result of an "energy saving" thing that we humans have. Why do small kids get tired in a short time and soon fall asleep? Because their usual life is full of new discovery. We live in the same place, the same pattern and then our eyes get bored with them. It's no wonder. Actually, we are under the illusion that we get bored because we live here. The scenery we always see is fantastic if we have another point of view. I want to paint such scenery.

Q: It relates to Miyazawa Kenji's "Ihatovo", don’t you think so?
A: I personally call him Dr. Miyazawa. I haven't been taught from him directly though, I learned much from his books. In that point of view, I have many important teachers like Dr. Cezanne or Dr. Sesshu...

Q: Why did you want to move your 2-D paintings?
A: At first some CG producing company proposed me to make it into a film. I thought it is interesting, but the CG designer of that company had gone to Europe and the plan ended. Then I happened to meet Suzuki and told him about that plan. He said "We will make it". He immediately invited Video-maker staff and said to him, "You have wanted to make a DVD of Inoue's paintings, right?" The man replied "Yes!!" and it was decided. Suzuki is good at connecting demander and supplier.

Q: And your idea got expanded?
A: Mr. Konishi, an animator that I worked with on "Whisper", gave me a big help. Till then, I had the idea that only water surface or grass would be moved. I wanted a door to open and a person to come through it. So I tried to make story-board at the first time. I got to notice the really great work that Miyazaki does. Maybe he always watches how persons behave in their facial expression or gesture.

Q: Why did you divide it into 8 parts?
A: I wanted it to harmonize with the music that was composed by Matsuo Kiyonori and Komuro Kazuyuki. Music brings a stream of time into the picture. As my pictures originally have some sort of story, I could easily get an image in the cases where a character already exists in the picture. I thought hard about the pictures that are just scenery and don’t have any characters in it. I hope you imagine some sort of story in it. If I set a clear story in it, then I wondered viewers might not want to watch it again and again. I dared not to set one point of view, but intended that viewers can watch it multiple times.

Q: Like we see it from out of a window?
A: Yes. It's a window from which we can take a look at Iblard. I hope you can imagine the world you now live in is also large. I began painting because I wanted to paint small things and large things simultaneously. Our world is interesting because it is spread from the cells in your finger tip to the immense outer space.... So your room is connected to "Iblard".

4th of July, GEDO SENKI DVD NEWS: If you read yesterday’s news, then you know that today Gedo Senki has received its Japanese DVD release! There are two (subbed) editions available: a 4-disc version and a 2-disc version. Below the first real pictures of the Japanese releases, more pictures and an extensive DVD review will follow soon.

Now, if the Japanese editions are too expensive, there’s an alternative: the Hong Kong edition. On July 20 it will be released and it will contain the film itself with two audio tracks (Japanese DD 6.1 EX , Cantonese DD 5.1), subs in Chinese (Traditional), English, and Japanese and extras will be a storyboards feature, trailers, and a behind the microphone feature.

3rd of July, GEDO SENKI DVD AND TOTORO LIMITED EDITION DVD BOX: It’s time for some Studio Ghibli DVD news as tomorrow Gedo Senki a.k.a. Tales from Earthsea will receive its Japanese DVD release! And it also has subs! If you hadn’t ordered it yet, you can either buy the 4-disc version or the 2-disc version. While you’re at you might also want to buy Studio Ghibli’s other new release Iblard Jikan.

Also, Tobias Metz, one of our German contacts, informed us that Studio Ghibli and ufaAnime are glad to inform you that on the 17th September 2007 a German Limited Edition DVD Box of "My Neighbor Totoro" will be released. This collector's box (sized 19,5cm X 15cm X 4,1cm) will be limited to a release of 10,000 pieces, but please take notice that it won't have English subs. It will contain:
- Doppel-Deluxe DVD with two discs (Disc 1:feature film, Disc 2: bonus disc with 5 collector maps, unpublished making-of, original Japanese TV advertisements, original Japanese trailers, storyboard feature and a text less opening and ending)
- Totoro calendar with 24 pictures (13 cm x 19 cm)
- Double sided poster (57 cm x 65 cm)
- Post-its with 96 sheets

20th of June, IBLARD JIKAN TRAILER RELEASED AND WEBSITE LAUNCHED: Time for some news on one of Ghibli’s latest: Iblard Jikan. This joint project between Studio Ghibli and Ioue Naohisa (the artist who made the art for the fantasy scenes in Whisper of the Heart), has just received its own website. Go and check it out right now as it also features its trailer which hadn’t been released yet! The website is all in Japanese, so to avoid you from having trouble finding the trailer here are two direct links: medium, large.

If you’re curious on how the rest will look like, Iblard Jikan will be released straight to DVD and Blu Ray on the 4th of July as part of Studio Ghibli’s “"Ghibli ga Ippai Collection" (and of course don’t forget that on that same day Gedo Senki will be released on DVD as well). For those who don’t know, “Iblard Jikan” is a project about Inoue’s imaginary world Iblard. Fragments of forgotten memories... Nostalgic days that are sure to come again... Iblard is made of such elements. It’s a world which can be found in all his paintings and in this case Inoue himself selected the scenery of 63 places concretely. His pictures have been converted into digital data added with extra CG. In addition, the staff of Studio Ghibli also added 2D animated characters, resulting in the best travel possible through the world of Iblard.

4th of June, GHIBLI SECRETS BY SUZUKI AT GETSUYORU: Today NTV aired a special of their TV show Getsuyoru! (a.k.a. Monday Night). They brought lots of Ghibli news so therefore it’s time for a short summary… We saw the truth of Ghibli! They invited Studio Ghibli president & producer Toshio Suzuki and asked about secret Ghibli topics. Suzuki confessed that Miyazaki and Takahata both have "super selfish minds" and that he’s like a wild animal trainer. Saying that Ghibli truly started when the three met is not an overstatement.

Also, Suzuki mentioned that when a film becomes black he informs Takahata and Miyazaki. However, recently Miyazaki suddenly said "Suzuki-san, I will not let you collect Ponyo’s production costs. A film that collects its production costs is second-class. My previous films are included in this category, so I won’t let this film get into the black." Suzuki was angry and told Miyazaki "I will surely collect it!" (laughing).

More great news was announced when Suzuki talked about the fact that he is working on a new Isao Takahata film. Takahata has not made a film for a long time, because there are not many animators who can realize his ideas, but Suzuki says he intends to try it. It was the first time Suzuki mentioned this great news.

Funny stories were also told. For example about the time when Miyazaki and Takahata were making Totoro and Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies). Miyazaki wanted Whisper of the Heart director Yoshifumi Kondou to help him, but Kondou decided to help Takahata instead. Miyazaki complained so much about it and nearly gave up making Totoro. He phoned Suzuki and told him "I hit Kondou in my dreams and it felt good". Miyazaki resolved and in the end Totoro and Hotaru were double featured. The expectations weren’t high as one story was about a ghost and the other was about a grave... Luckily, it became a huge success and Suzuki became big as well. Itoi Shigesato (the copy writer of these movies) also got attention because of his good copy - "The lost property has just been delivered to you" - this was used for both films.

Another thing that Suzuki told about is the fact that Miyazaki complained a lot to Suzuki when Suzuki made the trailer for "Porco Rosso". It showed many dog-fight scenes in it and it was far from Miyazaki's intention, but later on Suzuki apologized much to Miyazaki. Other featured subjects were Kazuo Oga and his new exhibition, Gedo Senki’ DVD release news and Ghibli Museum’s new “Three Bears” exhibition.

3rd of June, MIYAZAKI’S PONYO WITH NEW PICTURE AND LOTS OF MORE GHIBLI NEWS: It’s time for an update with lots of Ghibli news. First of all you might want to set your recording devices for those who can view Japanese television. Tomorrow (June 4, 10 PM) producer Toshio Suzuki will be present in NTV’s “Getsuyoru!” in which various things about Studio Ghibli are to be reported.

Also, this Wednesday a free paperback called Gedo o Yomu will be released. With a release of 1,100,000 copies this special paperback is to be released by Iwanami Shoten due to the Gedo Senki DVD release (which is going to be released on July 4) and will be available all over Japan. Contents will include a talk with Goro Miyazaki and an article by Hayao Miyazaki called "My favorite fantasy novels".

Of course, like usual it’s also time for a Ghibli diary update. This time for the month May... 1st of May, a typical post in the Ghibli diary. The Studio is receiving many phone calls with people asking weird questions like "Is Totoro a Death God?" or "Mei has already been dead because she has no shadow at the end of the movie....". They seem to be part of the recent "urban legend" fashions. I guess someone was having fun and spread the rumor on the internet. The reason that Mei and Satsuki have no shadow at the end of the movie is just because Miyazaki left it out as he thought it wasn't necessarily needed at those scenes.

May 3rd, 4th & 5th. It's Golden Week in Japan so most Ghiblies are enjoying their holiday. However, some aren’t… of course they are the main staff that are working on Miyazaki’s new film “Gake Ue No Ponyo” (Photo: left > Chief Animation Check Tateno, middle > Sakuga Director Kondou, right > Art Director Yoshida). Still, on May 8th there were no cuts are left in the Sakuga Director's shelf. These days as soon as new cuts are put there, they are passed directly to the douga section. It's going too well. We are wondering the douga section might have nothing to do for a long time.

May 9. Today Gedo Senki’s main musician Carlos Nunez held his concert "Carlos plays Gedo Senki". He was really cool and the concert ended with Carlos raising Suzuki, Goro and other staff on stage and the whole NHK hall giving a standing ovation. Be sure to check out the following great video of Carlos Nunez playing music for Gedo Senki!

May 10th. Today is Takeda's birthday (Chief Foreign Business Section) and they celebrated with a cake at his section. Some people of Aardman Studio that came to see the studio also joined the party.

May 11th. Some Ghiblies visited the fine arts section late at night and found young Sato there still working. They made him their teacher and got a short lecture in painting backgrounds. The result was poor, but they had a great time and valuable experience.

May 15. Tejima finished a cut that has 633 drawings. Usually, huge cuts that contain over 500 drawings aren’t done alone, but are shared with fellow staff members as they take to much time to do all by yourself. However, as for Tejima, she finished 600 douga for a very difficult part in 3 months all by herself. Her fellow team members respect and appreciate her a lot. After all this work she won’t be taking time off yet, she’ll soon get her next job from Hitomi Tateno. Photo below: Hayao Miyazaki and staff are checking douga captured in QAR. (Note: Tejima drew 633 by herself which is a great achievement. Adding to that, Toki finished 2500 douga for Ghibli Museum’s "Film Guruguru" in 4 months. Ghibli surely has an excellent staff).

May 16. The first trailer of Michel Ocelot "Azur et Asmar" was previewed at IMAGICA (note: check out the official Japanese website which launched a couple of days ago). Also, the preparation of the new "Three Bears" exhibition at the Ghibli Museum is almost completed. The members of the public information section went there to see and take photos for the press release. Hayao Miyazaki also came and altogether they enjoyed and checked the exhibition. To achieve a dark mysterious atmosphere Miyazaki ordered to turn down the lights and the first exhibition room turned into something like a bar. Photo 1: Everyone drunk? Or tired… Photo 2: Miyazaki is surprised to see a woman (Tamura) on the table and looks around.

May 19. For the first time this month Studio Ghibli outsourced douga of “Gake No Ue No Ponyo” to 3 outworkers who have helped Ghibli for long time and have excellent skills. Tateno trusts them much, but they haven't had any job recently as there were no cuts to outsource. After Golden Week Ghibli added strong saver Kousaka to the staff. Only 2 weeks passed since he joined Ghibli as "Sakukan" (Sakuga Director) and he has steadily done his job and been much helpful.

May 22. Director Michel Ocelot has come to Japan to promote his movie "Azur et Asmar" which is being released by Ghibli Museum Library. Today, he visited Studio Ghibli to view the Japanese dub and talked with Takahata and Suzuki. Tsukue from Public Information Section heard Oslo's word "Exxon!!" after he watched the preview (note from Ghibli: maybe it must be "texeron" for English word "excellent"). Ochee from Foreign Business Section was accompanying Ocelot as a translator. Ocelot admired his French as Ochee seems to be very fluent and his pronunciation to be very good.

May 23. Last week and this week they had saku-uchi. As the genga staffs in the office that finished their cuts and outsourcing staffs gathered, ekonte that has come out has already finished its saku-uchi. Miyazaki got annoyed of staffs having nothing to do because of lack of his ekonte (storyboard).

May 25. Producing Ponyo has come to the middle of its term. Some powerful freelance animators joined Ghibli and the sakuga room is getting crowded with their desks. Producing circumstance is becoming full-fledged.

To finish this post we've got a new picture with some lovely water color art by Hayao Miyazaki for his new film “Gake No Ue No Ponyo”…

22th of May, MIYAZAKI BRINGS THE THREE BEARS TO MITAKA: It doesn’t take much effort to see that Studio Ghibli does more than making great animation films. For quite a long time has the studio been involved in projects bringing more than just entertainment. A recent example is their new label Ghibli Museum Library bringing foreign animation pieces to the Japanese audience and starting last Saturday Studio Ghibli added another new project. A new exhibition dedicated to the story of “The Three Bears” was opened on May 19th at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan and none other than Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata themselves were personally involved in the project. Based on Leo Tolstoy’s picture book, the folktale which has been loved by children from all over the world has been reconstructed at the Ghibli Museum. Master of the museum, Miyazaki himself, aimed to “make a huge, scary and exciting bear!” which has successfully been realised.

A year and half ago Miyazaki worried “It's impossible to film this story” when he was trying to make the story into a short animation film. If it is filmed, it might take in the filmmaker's point of view and spoil the beauty of the original book which lets kids imagine. Miyazaki gave up making it into a film and decided to reconstruct the world of the book as three-dimensional and touchable and chose Tolstoy's book published in 1935 as the main motif. The exhibition, which will be held till May 2008, is spread over 2 exhibition rooms: the 1st room has the bear's house with a huge table, chairs, plates and spoons. The 2nd room displays a huge stuffed version of father bear (being almost three meters tall) together with his children bears and aggressively seems to shout "Who are you?". In addition 5 sorts of Russian dished have been temporarily added to the Museum restaurant’s menu as well.

Besides the exhibition of “The Three Bears” another exhibition was also opened last Saturday: a special exhibition dedicated to Michel Ocelot’s “Azur et Asmar” which on July 21st will open as the Ghibli Museum Library’s second cinema release. The original French trailer can be found here.

9th of May, GHIBLI MUSEUM LIBRARY NEWS: Great news concerning Studio Ghibli´s newly founded label called Ghibli Museum Library!

For those who hadn´t heard of Ghibli Museum Library, it’s a label bringing foreign animation pieces to Japan. The first release of their new label, Aleksandr Petrov´s "My Love" which had its cinema release as "Haru no Mezame" on April 13th, has been announced to be released on DVD on July 18th at a price of 3,990 Yen. The film will be put on DVD in 1: 1.85 with 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks and Japanese subtitles. Extras will be a Portrait of Aleksandr Petrov, Trailer and TV commercial. In addition, for a limited time a premium Ghibli Museum Library DVD will be added as well.

But that’s not all. Only three days after on July 21st Ghibli Museum Library will release their second one for Japanese cinema: Michel Ocelot’s “Azur et Asmar”. Ocelot is the French director who made films like Kirikou et la Sorcière and Princes et Princesses which were already released in Japan by Studio Ghibli in the past and talking about the last two, these and Sylvain Chomet's great Les Triplettes de Belleville will be re-released as part of the Ghibli Museum Library on July 18th as well. Of course on the 4th of July Gedo Senki and Iblard Time will also be released on DVD, so with all these releases July will be a great month for people who are into Ghibli.

8th of May, GHIBLI CHANNEL: It’s been a while since our latest update. Not because there wasn’t any interesting Studio Ghibli news, but because I was finishing my new house (sorry for not being able to reply everyone, I’ll try to get back to you a.s.a.p.) Anyway, luckily we’re back and with something good. NTV has released their second Ghibli Channel. For those who weren’t yet aware of it, you don’t need to run over there to check it out. At least, if you’re not from Japan, because unfortunately the website isn’t open to visitors from outside Japan (due to IP blocking).

Of course wouldn’t be if we wouldn’t have access to these videos anyway. The new Ghibli Channel currently features four videos: an interview with Ghibli Museum director Nakajima Kiyofumi, a report about Studio Ghibli at the Tokyo Anime Fair 2007, Ou to Tori trailer and Haru no Mezame trailer. To let non-Japanese Ghibli fans enjoy these as well we decided to make one of these videos, the video of Studio Ghibli at TAF 2007, available for download (please check the note below!). It shows some nice footage of Studio Ghibli´s own stand at the fair with Haru no Mezame stuff and unseen footage of Studio Ghibli´s latest: the joint project between Studio Ghibli and Ioue Naohisa (the artist who made the art for the fantasy scenes in Whisper of the Heart) called “Iblard Time”. This project will be released straight to DVD and Blu Ray on the 4th of July as part of Studio Ghibli’s "Ghibli ga Ippai Collection".

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please mind that this material is copyrighted by NHK and that it is only posted here to promote interest in and discussion about Studio Ghibli!!! Therefore we insist to please not post the file on Youtube or any other website! Thank you for your understanding.

16th of April, UPDATE FROM THE GHIBLIWORLD.COM FRONT: Time for a small update from the front. I got the key to my new house so unfortunately I didn't have time to post any news the last couple of weeks. I'm finishing the inside of my new place this week, but I hope to post new news soon. Anyway, it'll be good, got some interesting stuff ahead! For those who delurked, thanks for all your e-mails. It was nice to read your opinions! Hope to come back at them as soon as I can!

2nd of April, NEW GAKE NO UE NO PONYO PICTURES, DELURKING TIME: Today it’s time for two things… First of all we’d like to cheer you up with some new pictures of Hayao Miyazaki’s new film “Gake no ue no Ponyo”! These shots were seen in last week’s NHK Professional episode with Hayao Miyazaki. Now it's likely that you don't have access to Japanese television and missed this mighty interesting episode. As a solution we could have posted the entire show in Full HD, but in respect to the copyright holders we don't. A small compilation clip might follow later, but on the moment you’ll have to do with some very nice and interesting pictures.

Second of all it’s de-lurking time. Yes, de-lurking time. This term is normally used for people that read blogs or join newsgroups and don't participate in commenting. Readers that just look around because they don't have anything to add to the discussion or because it's already been said. Therefore de-lurking isn’t really a word to be used at as it’s not possible to reply on our posts, but that doesn't matter. What counts is that we’d like to hear from you!

And we know you’re there so don’t try to deny it. We’ve seen you hiding like a Totoro all this time, but no more. Time to leave your big camphor tree and come say hi to all of us. Drop us a note and let us know who you are, where you’re from. Tell us what you like about, what you don’t like and what you’d like to see. You can do it: be like Totoro and leave your big camphor tree!

27th of March, NHK PROFESSIONAL WITH MIYAZAKI AND “GAKE NO UE NO PONYO” (TRAILER INCLUDED): Do you ever watch NHK’s プロフェッショナル 仕事の流儀 (NHK Professional)? It’s one of the better programs on Japanese television which is presented by Kenichiro Mogi and Miki Sumiyoshi. For those who haven’t heard of it, Ken Mogi, who is a brain scientist that performs research in Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Tokyo and teaches at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, describes their program in the following way:

“Here's what happens basically in the shootings which usually takes place in the studio 102 of NHK broadcast center. I and my co-presenter Ms Miki Sumiyoshi chat with the guests for about three to four hours, during which there are moments when we feel we are just that close to the core of the soul of each other. This long conversation is then edited into a condensed footage of about 15 minutes in the actual broadcasts.”

You might wonder what this has to do with Studio Ghibli, but last year, on the 6th of April 2006 to be exact, NHK Professional dedicated an episode on following Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki. It was a great episode with footage of the Studio Ghibli staff working on “Gedo Senki” with on that moment never before seen new footage together with Ekonte storyboard footage. Besides that it featured Hayao Miyazaki talking about his next film, seeing him work on a globe for the Ghibli Museum and Suzuki & Miyazaki thinking about the design of the new Studio Ghibli office (which is being designed by Miyazaki himself). Now for those who missed this episode, it’s available on DVD at (without subs though). However, as you can see by the pictures below that episode isn’t the reason of today’s post…

Today fans of Miyazaki in Japan were be able to watch a rare documentary on his creative process on another new episode of NHK's "Professional". The show documented the first several months of the development of his latest project “Gake no ue no Ponyo”. A young director was allowed to follow Miyazaki from last April to July and carried out coverage, with the condition that only a director follows and filming him with a small camera. For those who weren’t able to watch it, you have missed something really good. However, we specially made the 2nd trailer of this NHK Professional episode available for download! It’ll show you things like Hayao Miyazaki working on his new film “Gake no ue no Ponyo”. If your Japanese isn’t any good, has a description on what the trailer is about.

NOTE: Please mind that this material is copyrighted by NHK and that it is only posted here to promote interest in and discussion about Studio Ghibli! Therefore we insist to please not post the file on Youtube or any other website! Thank you for your understanding.

24th of March, GAKE NO UE NO PONYO PLAGIARISM GOSSIP: Normally, we bring you the latest Studio Ghibli news straight from Japan. In some rare cases we include the latest Japanese Ghibli gossip as well. This is one of those cases. There’s only one problem with gossip… It consists of casual or idle talk, sometimes slanderous and devoted to discussing others and has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information thus transmitted. Therefore the following is very highly doubted to be true and needs to be taken with a large grain of NaCl, but the discussion about it is interesting anyway.

If you’re only just the least bit into Studio Ghibli films then we don’t need to tell you about this week’s announcement of Hayao Miyazaki’s new film "Gake no ue no Ponyo". This time Miyazaki will tell a story drawn freely in watercolors and pastels about a 5 year old boy Sosuke and the princess goldfish Ponyo who wants to become human which of course will promise much good! An extra interesting thing is that the Goro Miyazaki (Hayao's son) of when he was 5 years old has been chosen as the model for the main character Sosuke, which is interesting because in the summer of 2007 Goro Miyazaki made his director’s debut with Studio Ghibli’s “Gedo Senki” and Miyazaki senior was fiercely against it.

Like mentioned this week: "According to Toshio Suzuki, Hayao Miyazaki reflected seriously about his relationship with his son Goro. The elder Miyazaki thinks Goro's debut as a director is a "resistance" to him and was caused because he was busy and did not care about Goro when he was a child. So, the 5 year old Goro became the model for Sosuke. A sense of closeness between a parent and child is also a theme for the film. Needless to say, with all these things to talk about it’s not that strange that the news about Miyazaki’s new film is already widely spread over the internet."

With there being a lot to talk about the master animation director’s new project, it’s unavoidable of people talking negatively as well. In this case the “latest gossip from Japan” is Miyazaki being accused of plagiarizing works of Yasuhiro Nakura. Nakura is an animation artist who worked on various projects, like Laputa: Castle in the Sky (key animator), Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (key animator), Metropolis (character design, chief animation director and key animation) and Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (associate animation director). He also wrote a book called "The world of Nakura Yasuhiro" and this is what the rumor’s about. On 2 Channel, one of the largest message boards in the world and the most popular website in Japan, posters are talking about this nowhere confirmed gossip from various points of view. One of those views is people claiming Miyazaki is plagiarizing, others say that there exists evidence that Studio Ghibli bought Nakura's book "The world of Nakura Yasuhiro" and that they might have referred to it. Miyazaki supposedly “got too old”. Others say it’s just coincidence and that the idea of gold-fish-princess is common. Even the original poster himself thought of this. In addition it is said Nakura himself plagiarized his idea from Ogiiwa Mutsumi's manga "The gold-fish-princess in wonder land" and "Merumo in pointed hat" from Ogiiwa's "Fairy tale of Ginyoubi".

In that case "Finding Nemo" and "Seaman" (a virtual pet video game for the Sega Dreamcast) would be similar to Nakura's idea or Ponyo as well... Disney's "Lion King" is also very similar to Tezuka's "Jungle Emperor Leo" in its concept and story. When "Lion King" was released many Japanese felt the story was stolen from Tezuka, but afterwards everybody knew they’re different. If on the moment “Ponyo” had to be compared, then the “closest” it would probably come to would be Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.

Anyway, Miyazaki’s "Gake no ue no Ponyo" is still far from being released, so it’s too simpleminded to accuse Miyazaki of plagiarism. It spreads misinformation and purportedly true information circulates without substantiating evidence. Studio Ghibli usually makes it clear that their film is based on an original story if it exists. They have enough money to pay for it and wouldn’t have to take a risk. We’ll have to wait till the summer of 2008 arrives and “Ponyo” will be released. Only then can be judged who was right or wrong. Though this gossip was nowhere confirmed, I thought it was interesting enough to share. One thing people can be sure of: "Gake no ue no Ponyo" will be a great hit!

(2nd update!) 19th of March, FIRST PICTURE OF MIYAZAKI'S NEW FILM: In addition to the great news of today, the announcement of Hayao Miyazaki's new film "Gake no ue no Ponyo", we wanted to add a little more. In this case it's a screenshot from “NNN Newsリアルタイム”, the program in which today Miyazaki's film was officially announced. It shows Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki and a picture from "Gake no ue no Ponyo". Though it's a picture showing only Sosuke's hand holding a bucket with goldfish princess Ponyo inside it, it's still the first picture... (close up).

Also, Studio Ghibli now also posted the announcement of Miyazaki’s new film on their own website. As to be expected it confirms the soundtrack will be made by Joe Hisaishi.

19th of March, HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM FINALLY ANNOUCED: Great news straight from Japan! During today’s episode of “NNN Newsリアルタイム” Japanese film distributor Toho officially announced the new film of world renown master animation director Hayao Miyazaki. The film, which is titled 崖の上のポニョ or "Gake no ue no Ponyo" (Ponyo On A Cliff), is to be released in the summer of 2008. What’s interesting is that Hayao Miyazaki has written a story which revolves around a 5 year old boy Sosuke and the Princess goldfish Ponyo who wants to become human. Goro Miyazaki (Hayao's son) of when he was 5 years old has been chosen as the model for the main character Sosuke and important subjects of Miyazaki’s new film are things like "father", "mother" and "cliff". In addition Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki mentioned "Almost 70 to 80% of the film takes stage on sea. It will be a director’s challenge on how they will express the sea and its waves with freehand drawing."

In the past Miyazaki tried to retire, but it has seemed unbearable for him. Like Studio Ghibli President & Producer Toshio Suzuki once insisted in 2005 "He's good for another ten years at least and has no plans to retire." After his last film “Howl’s Moving Castle” from 2004, it was a mystery what the genius would do next for a long time, but it was clear to all that he wouldn’t sit still. Like the six legged spider spirit Kamaji from his Academy Award Winner “Spirited Away”, the notorious perfectionist and workaholic Miyazaki worked on various projects. Besides making three new animation shorts, which are limited only for screening at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, he made a 23 pages full color manga for the Japanese translation of Robert Westall’s "Blackham's Wimpey". Miyazaki even got involved in designing an enormous copper clock of 10 meters high and 18 meters wide for the NTV tower at Shiodome, Tokyo. His reason for making this Howl’s Moving Castle type of clock: "As time passes, the characters of the animation will be forgotten. Therefore I want to make something that will be loved by future generations as well." Of course, all of these projects resulted in great pieces of art, but everybody was curious about a new full length feature. Would Miyazaki direct another one?

In April 2005 rumors from Chinese media began to appear online that Miyazaki’s next big project “would” be based on a Chinese book called "Wo Diushile Wode Xiaonanhai" (I Lost My Little Boy). It was never officially confirmed… In the mean time, in the summer of 2007 his son Goro Miyazaki completely unexpectedly made his director’s debut with Studio Ghibli’s “Gedo Senki”, based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels. Miyazaki senior was fiercely against his son directing and though the film was also criticized, it ended up being quite a success. “Gedo Senki” wrote the 2006 box office record for Japanese film, got the 3rd in Japan’s overall box office and Studio Ghibli's President Toshio Suzuki assured Goro Miyazaki will direct another film in the future. With this bit of rivalry Hayao Miyazaki must surely be even more eager to produce another great animation film!

This eagerness has already showed in a couple of things. In an interview from last year, Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki mentioned “Walt Disney wanted to make a character exceeding Mickey Mouse, but was unable in creating it. Miyazaki can't make a character that exceeds Totoro as well, but when I told him this he became angry and said: I’ll do it!”.” All of this became a bit more concrete in the spring of 2006. For the very first time Miyazaki told a bit about "Gake no ue no Ponyo" during the NEWS23 program of May 5th. He talked about his mental attitude for making it, which was all very abstract, but it was typical that all of this was done on May 5th. In Japan May 5th is known as the holiday “Children’s Day” and Miyazaki’s "Gake no ue no Ponyo" just happens to be a “Kodomo Mono”, which is Japanese for “children's story”.

Location hunting for "Gake no ue no Ponyo" already started in July 2006 when members of the Ghibli staff went location hunting near Kobe, and joined Miyazaki-san who came earlier. The storyboard of his new film is painted in watercolor, which is quite a rarity in the animation scene, "Even the Studio Ghibli staff have not seen a colored storyboard very often.” Besides, Miyazaki draws the storyboard all by himself while making the film, which is a big difference compared to western animation films. As usual, his Ekonte (storyboard) will form the base of the production which began early October 2006. If the film will be released in summer 2008, the production term will be about 20 months, which is significantly longer than Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Miyazaki’s ambitions for "Gake no ue no Ponyo" seem to be very promising and there will be many who can’t wait to see it on the big screen. Gambare, Miyazaki-san!

15th of March, KITARO KOSAKA’S NASU 2 WITH TRAILER: As this week informed with the news about Studio Ghibli’s “Iblard Time”, they on their turn informed us with other Studio Ghibli related news.

Kitaro Kosaka’s director debut from 2003 “ Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu” (or Nasu: Summer in Andalusia as it's called in English) will receive a sequel this year called Nasu 2. For those haven’t heard of Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu, it was the first Japanese animation film ever to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival. All though it's a Madhouse anime, it's still sort of a Studio Ghibli film as director Kitaro Kosaka is one of the main animators of Studio Ghibli. He worked on Studio Ghibli films like Howl's Moving Castle (animation director), Mononoke Hime (animation supervisor), Spirited Away (animator supervisor), Laputa: Castle in the Sky (key animator), Grave of the Fireflies (key animator) and many more.

Continuing its story in Japan, this year its sequal Nasu 2 will be released. Kitaro Kosaka will team up again with Madhouse. More importantly Yoshida Kenichi joined the team as animation director, who is a famous Studio Ghibli artist as well. In the past he worked as key animator on Ghibli films like Princess Mononoke, Whisper of the Heart, Porco Rosso, Only Yesterday and many more. Anyway, there now is a trailer of Nasu 2 available, so check it out!

13th of March, GHIBLI’S LATEST PROJECT “IBLARD TIME” OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY: Time for some rather interesting news on the joint project between Studio Ghibli and Ioue Naohisa (the artist who made the art for the fantasy scenes in Whisper of the Heart). Studio Ghibli and Inoue already mentioned the project in the past, however today things really became specific as its release date and title have finally been announced! The project will be released straight to DVD and Blu Ray on the 4th of July as part of Studio Ghibli’s “"Ghibli ga Ippai Collection". For those who don’t know, “Iblard Time” is a project about Inoue’s imaginary world Iblard. Fragments of forgotten memories... Nostalgic days that are sure to come again... Iblard is made of such elements. It’s a world which can be found in all his paintings and in this case Inoue himself selected the scenery of 63 places concretely. His pictures have been converted into digital data added with extra CG. In addition, the staff of Studio Ghibli also added 2D animated characters, resulting in the best travel possible through the world of Iblard.

Besides all, befriended music composers Matsuo Kiyoshi and Komuro Kazuyoshi took charge of the music. Both the DVD and BD video will be bundled together with a soundtrack CD which comes with 8 different tracks added with a special video diary. A single sided dual layer DVD will be available at price of 3,990 Yen (Dolby Digital stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1) and a single sided single layer Blu Ray Disc will be available at a price of 4,935 Yen (Dolby Digital stereo, linear PCM 5.1).

In addition, also brings a large update of the Studio Ghibli Diary. Following is a recap with al lot of interesting things from their entries of February 23 – March 9.

February 23, an awarding ceremony was held at the “Agency for Cultural Affairs Media Art Festival". It was attended by Tamura (advertising department) and some of the Ghibli Museum staff as they were the ones who provided "Haru no Mezame" which was awarded best film in the category “Animation”. The festival was attended by many creators and famous people and the party was much warmed up. However, Tamura said that the biggest point of this day was they saw president Abe. At least, concerning Studio Ghibli, as they can seldom see the president. They only remember that president Obuchi attended the production announcement party of Isao Takahata’s "Neighbor Yamada" (which took place more than 10 years ago).

February 24, actress Asano Atsuko and Yoshiyuki Momose (director of Ghiblies Episode 2 and staff on many other Ghibli films) had a talk show at Junk-do (a book store in Ikebukuro). It celebrated the publishing of "Kaze no Yakata no Monogatari" (A Story of the House of Wind) which is now monthly on "Shonen Sirius". Asano, who is the author, and Momose, who draws the illustrations, have known each other for 3 years, but it was the first time they had such an event (note: this project is related to Studio Kajino, a subsidiary of Studio Ghibli whose name is inspired by Studio Ghibli's postal address).

February 25, audio commentary was recorded by Inoue and Matsuo and Komuro (both music composers) at Studio Ghibli. It will be added as a bonus for the DVD of "Iblard xxx" (note: on the moment this diary was written the title of this project still had to be announced). After it was done, a simple party was held at the bar of Studio Ghibli to celebrate the DVD completion. The members of Media Light (CG) and Studio Ghibli staff joined it. Inoue requested them to play music and Matsuo & Komuro's Iblard Traveling Band had a mini live concert. Inoue and Motobu (Media Light) and Watanabe (Studio Ghibli) joined it and played the music of Iblard which was also added with some Beatles' numbers. Komuro's daughter made cake and brought it and as you can see in the pictures below they all had a great time.

February 26, Ito and Nishioka from the advertising section visited Koganei 3rd elementary school. They were asked to talk about Studio Ghibli as a kind of lesson. On a blackboard Ito explained the kids about making animation. Besides, a preview of "Ashita no Watashi no Tsukurikata" ( How to make myself of tomorrow) was held at Studio Ghibli. It is produced by Fujimaki (Hakuhodo DYMP). Shortly speaking, it’s not a big drama or action type of thing, but it shows the mind of a girl during puberty in real and vivid way. Even adults can empathize with it. Toshio Suzuki also says "it might be the best film directed by Ichikawa Jun". He also gave advice on the catchwords which will be used on the chirashi (handbill). It will be released in May. Go see it!!

February 27, Mr. Hamaxxx came to visit Studio Ghibli to talk about SAKUGA for Hayao Miyazaki’s next film. He had been helping Momose to make a promotion video till the other day. They asked him to join making GENGA of Miyazaki’s next film. He said that it seems a lot of hard to do this work before leaving office, but they are expecting his work to be excellent as usual. Besides that, a commercial video to promote the DVD of "Ou to Tori" was shot at the Ghibli Museum. Oizumi appeared in it.

March 1, NTV (Nihon Television) crew including Tamura (2nd NTV) came to visit Studio Ghibli. They will upgrade the "Ghibli Shop" on NTV, integrate it into Ghibli Channel and will support Studio Ghibli more comprehensively. The people at Studio Ghibli were very glad with NTV’s proposal as they'll have many projects this summer.

March 2, Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki received a Watanabe Award, an award named after Watanabe Shin who was the president of Watanabe Production. In addition, Teshima Aoi came and sang "Teru no Uta" (note: Gedo Senki theme song) a cappella to celebrate. The celebration was also attended by some famous old singers who shined in 1960s. Of course Toshio Suzuki also held a thank you speech in which he thanked Hayao Miyazaki and Tokuma.

March 9, Akihiko Yamashita, who has taken charge of the field picture of Hayao Miyazaki’s next film 000, finished his first SAKUUCHI GENGA and will begin second SAKUUCHI. He made it a lot faster than they had expected as it was a difficult part. The part he'll draw next is also very difficult, but Hayao Miyazaki told Yamashita that "you can make it like Lupin", which filled Yamashita with spirit.

In the evening they held a preview of "Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi" ("Summer days with Coo") at Studio Ghibli. It’s being directed by Crayon Shin-chan director Hara Keiichi and hasn’t been completed yet (without end-roll and theme-music and even the length isn't decided yet). However, after the screening many of the audience wept. It was much emotional. Master animation director Isao Takahata mentioned "It is very good and I hope it’ll be a huge hit!".

To add more info about "Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi, it’s about Koichi Uehara, a fourth grade student living in the suburb of Tokyo. One day, he picks up a large stone which turns out to be a fossil of a baby "Kappa" (=a Japanese mythical water creature) sleeping underground for the past 300 years, and names it "Coo". Koichi and Coo become good friends and starts living with his family. However, Coo could not adjust to the life style in Tokyo and starts to miss his family. On a hot summer day, Koichi and Coo decide to go on an adventurous road trip to find his peers. Directed by one of the top animators of the generation, Keiichi Hara, who had created numbers of box office hit feature films in Japan. The official trailer can be found over here.

10th of March, INTERVIEW WITH GHIBLI MUSEUM‘S NAKAJIMA KIYOFUMI: This week Yomiuri Online posted an interview online with Nakajima Kiyofumi, who is the current director of the Ghibli Museum that replaced Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki. Following is a translation of this interview…

The Ghibli Museum has started distributing and releasing foreign animation films with their newly founded label “Ghibli Museum Library”. Seventeen days away from the release date of Aleksandr Petrov’s “Haru no Mezame” and Ghibli’s official start in the “library business” we spoke with Nakajima Kiyofumi, who used to be a bank clerk at a big bank before he became director of the Ghibli Museum.

Q: Why did you assume the post of Ghibli Museum director?
A: After graduating at Nakajima University, I started to work as a bank clerk at Sumitomo Bank where I became in charge of the account of Tokuma Shoten Publishing (parent company of Studio Ghibli). Tokuma Shoten had borrowed a great deal of money from us and my role was to watch over Studio Ghibli to produce a big hit so that they could all pay it back. However, in those days Studio Ghibli was in the midst of making "Princess Mononoke" (1997), a film with an exceptional budget and I was afraid the film would perhaps not be able to return its debt. I confronted producer Toshio Suzuki about it every day and we got to know each other. Sometime after I quit working at the bank and found another job we didn’t have contact anymore. However, in spring of 2004 Toshio Suzuki called up me to have lunch. He asked me to be Managing Executive of the Tokuma Memorial Animation Cultural Foundation which manages the Ghibli Museum.

Q: Was it suddenly?
A: Yes. He seemed to be in a hurry, but I answered him "I'll talk about it with my wife”. She said I should try it and I took the job. One year after Toshio Suzuki told me that Goro Miyazaki, who at that time was director of the Ghibli Museum, would move over to Studio Ghibli’s animation section to make a Gedo Senki and that his chair would be empty. I was much confused because I had no experience about museums or anime, but eventually I decided to take on the job.

Q: Had you ever seen anime before?
A: I almost hadn’t seen any animation, except for those made by Studio Ghibli as back when I was a bank clerk it was my job to check if they would be able to return their debt. I attended the preview of “Princess Mononoke” and gave up of its success because it was so difficult and complex. But I was much surprised it was a huge hit.

Q: How would you describe the everyday life of a museum director?
A: The only job I do everyday is to ring the bell at opening in the mornings and closing in the evenings. Besides that, my job is to talk with people from inside and outside the company. It's an unexpected simple job! (laughing)

Q: Why did you decide to start a “library business”?
A: When I started working at the Ghibli Museum I was in particularly involved with the exhibition about Yuri Norstein. I was much moved by it. After that we had many other exhibitions and found out that we should inform our job to people who aren’t familiar yet with the attraction of animation. On the other hand, every time I talked to Takayuki Tsukagoshi (head of Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan) or to Hatanaka (head of Cinema Angelica), we agreed about introducing high quality foreign films to Japan. In that process, Aleksandr Petrov, who is a pupil of Yuri Norstein, asked us to help him with the promotion of "Haru no Mezame". We considered various options, such as only cooperating in terms of an exhibition or helping to promote the film, but because last year’s release of "Ou to Tori" was such a big success at Cinema Angelica we decided to handle the full Japanese release of "Haru no Mezame".

Q: When continuing, does it also bring a certain risk in business?
A: Toshio Suzuki (Studio Ghibli President and Producer) suggested that we should release films during the longer holiday periods in summer and winter and spring. But I don't think so. We must distribute regularly for transmission of information. Our stance is a little different from a movie company, the mission of the Ghibli Museum is to actively spread animation instead of making profit.

Q: What is the charm of "Haru no Mezame"?
A: First of all, the picture is very beautiful. And the idea of moving oil paintings is awesome. Director Isao Takahata said that this is the first animation film to directly express the conflicts of a boy's puberty. This "direct" is a very important and genuine thing which is rarely seen in animation. It shows the experiences which every male has in his youth. I’d want every man or woman who is in puberty right now (or was) to see it.

Q: What is the film standard for the future after "Haru no Mezame"?
A: There are many ideas about good films, but concerning our standard, if Takahata and Miyazaki and Suzuki are interested in certain films, then those films are good. That's all. In this year’s summer vacation we will release "Kirikou et la Sorcière" (from 1998) and “Azur et Asmar” in summer vacation.

27th of February, MORE GEDO SENKI IN TAIWAN AND PARIS: This week Goro Miyazaki will be in Paris for the French premiere of Gedo Senki, or should I say Les Contes de Terremer. Next to Goro, the French animation director Michel Ocelot will be present as a special guest of honor. For those who don’t know Ocelot, he is the French director who made films like Kirikou et la Sorcière and Princes et Princesses which were released in Japan by Studio Ghibli. Also, his latest film called Azur et Asmar will be released later this year by Ghibli’s newly founded label “Ghibli Museum Library”. Now this is nice news, but that doesn’t stop to give a second update on older news from earlier this month. Early February director Goro Miyazaki visited Taiwan because of the Taiwanese premiere of Gedo Senki and one of our Taiwanese contacts provided us with more details on how its premiere was experienced in Taiwan.

With a pretty big amount of Taiwanese Studio Ghibli fans, it isn’t strange that Gedo Senki received quite some promotion over there. Besides a dedicated Taiwanese Gedo Senki website other promotional efforts were taken, like huge bill boards, busses in Gedo Senki style, a Gedo Senki coloring competition and a nice sum of Gedo Senki news articles. Talking about the last, following is a treat of two translated Gedo Senki / Goro Miyazaki related articles from Taiwan. Although some contained older news, interesting tidbits were also written. Like Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki assuring Goro Miyazaki will direct a second film in the future. It was mentioned before, but it is always nice to see it confirmed again on a website like the Buena Vista Taiwan website. Other interesting things include Goro Miyazaki doing up inspiration for following works when seeing Japanese old style houses in the streets of Taiwan. Check out the translated Taiwanese Gedo Senki news articles.

21th of February, KAZAO OGA’S NEW PROJECT, INOUE’S IBLARD DVD AND NEW GHIBLI MUSEUM ANIMATION: Time a for nice bit of interesting Ghibli news with an update from Studio Ghibli’s own diary which was updated yesterday.

February 10, Kazuo Oga came to office to have a meeting concerning the background art of Hayao Miyazaki’s next film xxx. As everyone knows, he is essential art staff when making a Studio Ghibli film. Even for Gedo Senki, Studio Ghibli’s latest by Goro Miyazaki, he drew many wonderful background cuts and they are much looking forward to his background pictures for the next film. They will truly be a pleasure to look at. By the way, you might know that last year he released his first own film"Taneyamagahara no Yoru" straight tp DVD. In a regular film we can't distinguish which cuts he drew, but in this film all were drawn by him and you can enjoy his artistic world in the best way possible. If you haven't seen it yet, please try and check it out by all means. More importantly, the diary mentions there will be big news about Kazuo Oga this summer! Please wait for the announcement ( note: Chances are that Oga will be directing a second film).

Remember Studio Ghibli is involved in the production of a special Iblard DVD with Ioue Naohisa (the artist who made the art for the fantasy scenes in Whisper of the Heart)? On February 14 they went to check out the sound effects with Inoue Naohisa at Kôji Kasamatsu’s studio Digital Circus, which has taken charge of all the audio of "Iblard xxx". In the studio, which is near the Ohi race track and was converted from a warehouse, they recorded the character's voice which Inoue has been worrying about. Tsuji and Nishihara joined together and Inoue spoke the script in Iblard language at random. The result was a strange conversation.

February 15, a new animation similar to the “Films go Round”-exhibition of the Ghibli Museum has been finished. This animation, being 1 cut only, has a duration of 82 seconds and consists out of 2,466 drawings. In charge of the animation douga was Toki who, since last October, worked for approximately 4 months on this project. He must be tired. Samkichi and Shintaro worked to take it into quick checker and it took whole day long. But it has so many drawings that the quick checker didn't work well. Nevertheless it must have much value to be seen if all goes well. It'll take a little more time to finish but by all means go and check it out later at the Ghibli Museum.

Photo below taken at Studio Ghibli - Can you tell how many true cats there are in this picture?

20th of February, ANNOUNCING WINNERS OF GHIBLIWORLD.COM FREE GIVEAWAY CONTEST: It’s finally time to announce the winners of the Free Giveaway Contest! As written earlier, the winners were to be announced on January 31, but almost 1000 people entered the competition, so it took a lot of reading to decide the winners. Still, even though it took a hell of a time reading all the entries, would like to thank everybody for their efforts! It was great receiving all your Ghibli Top 3’s, not only reading why and how much people are fond of Studio Ghibli films, but also reading interesting new views I hadn’t seen before. Some people also combined their Top 3 with moving personal stories or weren’t only creative in terms of writing, but used their artistic qualities as well. Either way, it confirmed yet again that there are lot of people loving Studio Ghibli films.

Unfortunately, there can be only three to win and the winners of the Free Giveaway Contest are:
1 - Taras Tkachenko, Russia > read contest entry
2 - Ingrid Yu, Canada > read contest entry
3 - Marco Bellano, Italy > read contest entry

Congratulations if you’re one of the three persons mentioned above! I am sure you’ll love the prizes you’ve won. You’ll be contacted by e-mail to determine which Studio Ghibli DVD you’d like to have, which will be send together with the other great Ghibli items from the corresponding prize package.

Also, there still is some good news for those who didn’t win. Even though the amount of people who entered the competition is only a small fraction of the total amount of visitors, the competition was a great enough success to have more competitions like this in the future. So who knows… you might be the winner of one of the future competitions! In addition, more info about how we got to pick the winners will be posted later.

Finally, I hope you understand if I haven’t answered your e-mail / contest entry, there were a lot of entries so it would take an enormous amount of time to answer everybody. And again… thanks for all your great entries!

19th of February, ANIMA 2007: Remember last year had a personal interview with master animation director Isao Takahata? That interview was held at the international animation festival Anima in Brussels, Belgium and as usual they’re back with a brand new edition featuring new films and of course their Palmares International Competition. This year’s Anima Festival will be held from 16 to 25th February in the Flagey Centre in Brussels and if you happen live in Belgium or somewhere close you might definitely want to check it out: there’s nothing better than watching animation on the big screen. Their programme doesn’t only feature new animation pieces like Satoshi Kon’s Paprika and Michel Ocelot's latest film "Azur et Asmar", it also screens animation classics like Hayao Miyazaki’s “Laputa: Castle in the Sky” and Mamoru Shinzaki’s “Barefoot Gen” (Art Direction by Studio Ghibli’s Kazuo Oga). In addition the festival also features interesting things like a conference by Aardman animator Dug Calder about the making of Flushed Away, panel conversations and an exhibition dedicated to the universe of Michel Ocelot's “Azur en Asmar”.

12th of February, GORO MIYAZAKI & GEDO SENKI IN TAIWAN: Studio Ghibli posted a small update in their diary. February 3, Goro Miyazaki went to Taiwan to do a campaign for Gedo Senki. Today was the first day and they attended the Taiwan book fair which was visited last year by 110,000 people. The main event of today was Goro's talk show and autograph-signing session. A lot of people gathered and listened intensely to Goro's talking. The autograph-signing session was limited only to 150 people who bought the Gedo Senki film comic books, but as you can see in the photos many people lined up so it was very crowded. Goro was a bit nervous as it was the first time for him to experience an autograph-signing session, but he gradually shook down and in Japanese he told quite a bit about his thoughts about the movie. As you can see below Goro also signed his autograph on one of the posters at their booth.

5th of February, MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM, ATSUSHU OKUI, GIVAWAY CONTEST AND MORE: As usual Studio Ghibli updated their diary on their Japanese website and it has some interesting info, the post of January 30 has info on the voice casting of Hayao Miyazaki’s new film…

A voice cast audition for Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie was held today. This time it was for child parts only. All entrants were children and with a total number 160 participating it brought all kinds of children. I hear it wasn't easy to run the audition smoothly. When facing towards the microphone some didn’t talk easily and some only did a impersonation as his/herself. Adding to that, they must choose brilliant jewels in these kids as the kids actors are very important for Ghibli’s next movie and they'll have to worry about it for a while.

Besides that they checked the exhibitions for the next Ghibli Museum project at Miyazaki's atelier. Miyazaki had the idea, but Takahata attended as well because he is much involved with this exhibition. They have had a long-term relationship for 40 years long, but these days they rarely work together and only see each other when attending the executive board of the Ghibli Museum or during a company trip. We hardly can see both of them together so it was enough reason to post a photo of this in the Ghibli diary. As you can see above it shows Miyazaki and Takahata preparing for the exhibition which will open in May.

The diary post of February 1 mentions some of the staff of the photographing and CG section went on a company tour to IMAGICA. IMAGICA is one of the largest motion picture film laboratories in Japan which also has one of the largest high-end video post-production facilities in Japan and produces digital and optical visual effects for feature films, TV commercials and TV programs. Director of Imaging Okui Atsushi frequently goes and visit them, but for others it was their first time to visit it, though they only saw the preview room. Ghibli has been involved with IMAGICA for a long time, they have done the image development for many Studio Ghibli films. Of course they have developed many films for other film companies as well and you surely have seen films developed by IMAGICA. Okui commented on a question on what kind of company IMAGICA is. He only said "the company cafeteria is wonderful, I wish Ghibli had one like that." To give you some extra reference info, IMAGICA used to have an interview with Okui Atsushi from 2001 on their website. It is no longer available, but a copy can be found over here.

Also a preview of the French 3DCG film "Renaissance" was held at the preview room of Studio Ghibli. It was arranged by Kanai, a Studio Ghibli contact from foreign distributor Tornado Film, and for those unfamiliar with this film, it’s a hardboiled animation film located in Paris somewhere in the future which will be released in Japan this summer. Some people from Ghibli asked "Why Renaissance?" and the person from the distributing agency answered "Maybe because its pronunciation sounds like Innocence?". Perhaps the director is a fan of Mamoru Oshii (note: Innocence was produced by Toshio Suzuki and a Co-Production of Studio Ghibli). Anyway, as Renaissance was previewed at the Ghibli preview room, I am curious to see if Studio Ghibli has any role concerning its Japanese release. Perhaps the film will be connected to “Ghibli Museum Library”, Ghibli’s recently launched label to release Western animation pieces in Japanese cinemas and on DVD. This has not been confirmed though. For those who are interested check out the trailer, read the review of our friends at Twitch and if you’re into it, you can already purchase the UK DVD or the French “Coffret Ultimate” which comes with the DVD CE, a book, soundtrack, 10 postcards and movie poster of Renaissance.

To finish today’s post there's info on the Free Giveaway contest which was a great success. A huge amount of people entered the contest, which is a good thing but it makes picking the winners quite hard. Therefore unfortunately the winners of the contest aren't determined yet, though of course they are to be announced as soon as possible so please be a little bit more patient. It was a great success so expect more contests in the future!

29th of January, PASSING AWAY OF ANIMAGE FOUNDER HIDEO OGATA: The last days I’ve been busy watching loads of great movies at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. This is also the reason for today’s news being about something which unfortunately happened on Thursday January 25. Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, informed us that Hideo Ogata, the founder of Japan's first animation magazine "Animage," has died of stomach cancer. He was 73. Ogata joined the Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. in 1961. In the wake of the popularity of animated movie "Uchu Senkan Yamato" (Space Battleship Yamato) released in the late 1970, he became the founding managing editor of Japan's first animation magazine, Animage, published by his company. Among his achievements, Ogata helped launch the comic version of Hayao Miyazaki's "Kaze no Tani no Nausica" (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind), and was involved with the hit movie of the same title. As a producer and planner, Ogata was involved in other Studio Ghibli works including "My Neighbour Totoro" and "Kiki's Delivery Service".

In addition Studio Ghibli also paid respect to Hideo Ogata in their latest diary entry. It mentions his passing away on the morning of January 25 with Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki immediately having contacted the bereaved family and funeral authorized personnel. Also, the post of the 28th informs us about Hideo Ogata’s funeral service which was visited by Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, who also spoke during the funeral service. May he rest in peace.

21th of January, GEDO SENKI "WINNER" BUNSHUN RASPBERRY AWARD "WORST FILM 2006": Of course with all the great movies made by Studio Ghibli we’re often blessed with good Ghibli news. However, this time it’s not the case. Logboy, from the excellent film website Twitch, pointed me to a news item on Hoga Central about Japan's annual Bunshun Raspberry Awards. For those not familiar with these awards, they are given to the worst movies in the year selected by 32 movie critics in Japan. Unfortunately, Gedo Senki "won" the award for worst movie, as well as Goro Miyazaki "winning" the award for worst director.

I guess it’s a matter of taste… Though I agree that the movie has it bad points, it also has its good points. Of course people had high expectations as it's a Studio Ghibli film, but I guess they had to rate it as a film on its own. It’s quite impossible for somebody with no experience to make a movie of the same quality like those made by master animation directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki. For those interested (if you hadn’t checked it out already), my review on Gedo Senki together with my interview with director Goro Miyazaki can be found over here.

18th of January, MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM TO BE ANNOUNCED, MORE GHIBLI MUSEUM LIBRARY: This week Studio Ghibli officially announced that it launched a new label called the “Ghibli Museum Library” which is to release Western animation pieces in Japanese cinemas and on DVD. Between the corresponding articles on this news, a really interesting news piece was posted yesterday by the Japanese sports website Sponichi Annex which didn't only mention Ghibli's Japanese release of Aleksandr Petrov's "Haru no Mezame" on March 13. It also mentioned that during the press conference at Cinema ANGELICA producer and president of Studio Ghibli Toshio Suzuki stated Miyazaki’s new film will be officially announced in March. So unfortunately no further details yet, but at least we know when these are coming.

16th of January, FOLLOW-UP ON FUTURE GHIBLI PLANS & OU TO TORI DVD ANNOUNCED: Time to follow-up last week’s news about Studio Ghibli’s future plans, because today Ghibli became more specific about these plans with a post they made over here.

Today Studio Ghibli officially announced that it’s starting a new part of business called the “Ghibli Museum Library” which is to release Western animation pieces in Japanese cinemas and on DVD. Like mentioned last week, in the past Studio Ghibli already released several other western animation pieces to Japan, for example Michel Ocelot’s Kirikou and Sylvain Chomet’s Triplettes de Belleville, but with this new line they will put extra focus on these kind of activities. Official mascot of the Ghibli Museum Library official will be Ghibli Museum character Museo Mushi, a character that will appear in a Ghibli Museum film and DVD. In addition to all of this, a special dedicated Ghibli Museum Library website was launched today as well, with the first post being one in the blog written by Kiyofumi Nakajima, the current Ghibli Museum director who followed up Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki.

Talking about Goro Miyazaki, last week’s Sports Hochi article mentioned Goro is currently making a selection of pictures as project manager of the "Haru no Mezame" exhibition, an exhibition about Aleksandr Petrov’s latest film “My Love”. This film will be released in Japan on March 17 by Studio Ghibli as the first release from their new “Ghibli Museum Library”. Managing its corresponding exhibition is Goro Miyazaki’s first job after having directed Gedo Senki and today Aleksandr Petrov & the Ghibli Museum held a press conference to officially announce this new Ghibli Museum exhibition. A specially dedicated "Haru no Mezame" website was launched as well, which offers quite some info (in Japanese) and pictures of the film together with a embedded Flash trailer. By all means go and check it out and if you have the opportunity to see the film itself, please do! Though there isn’t a lot of resemblance with Studio Ghibli’s works, it shares the same passion, creativity and vision with which is was made. For more info about “Haru no Mezame” check out last week’s news post if you hadn’t read it.

Besides the news above, there’s more about the new “Ghibli Museum Library” as today the Japanese DVD release of "Ou To Tori" (the Japanese edition of Paul Grimault’s classic “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”) was announced to be the first Ghibli Museum Library DVD and a special DVD trailer was released as well. There will be two editions which will both be released April 4. The standard 2-disc edition will be available at 4,935 Yen, with disc one containing the film itself and a 15 minutes discussion between Ghibi director Isao Takahata and comedian Hikari Ōta (currently one of the most recognized faces on prime-time Japanese television), and disc 2 containing a 77 minutes short animation compilation. There will also be a limited 3-disc edition available at 6,825 Yen, with disc one and two being the same as the standard edition and disc three including various featurettes like "Paul Grimault Exhibition and Isao Takahata in France" (20 min) and "Isao Takahata and Paul Grimault Exhibition in Tokyo" (20 min). Unfortunately, it seems neither of the two DVD releases will contain English subtitles.

9th of January, REMARKABLE FUTURE GHIBLI PLANS + GEDO SENKI HONG KONG DVD RUMORED TO BE RELEASED THIS FEBRUARY: Today there’s some interesting Studio Ghibli news with details about various future plans of Studio Ghibli. One of them is a possible collaboration with a foreign director…

Before getting you all up to date with Studio Ghibli’s future plans, I’d like to start with something that might be a rumor. Yesasia have stated over here that the Hong Kong DVD of Studio Ghibli’s latest film “Gedo Senki” is expected to be released on February 5, 2007. I’m thinking this probably is an error, as the Japanese edition is still to be officially announced and chances are probably zero that the Hong Kong version would be available before the Japanese version is released, but it’s still a good thing that it’s coming. For your information have already listed DVD details about the Japanese Gedo Senki DVD over here, without a release date though!

To head on to the really interesting news, today Sports Hochi, an affiliate newspaper of Yomiuri Shimbun, posted an article about various future Studio Ghibli plans online. One of them is that Studio Ghibli is to continue distributing western animated films.

Last summer Studio Ghibli already had a great success with the Japanese re-release of "Ou To Tori" (the Japanese edition of Paul Grimault’s “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”). Though this animation classic had already been released on DVD before, Studio Ghibli brought it to the Japanese cinemas this year. Starting at one cinema it became a hit and spread out through whole Japan eventually reaching 20,000 people which is actually quite a lot for a film like this. Some of you might know that in the past Studio Ghibli already released several other western animation pieces to Japan, for example Michel Ocelot’s Kirikou and Sylvain Chomet’s Triplettes de Belleville, but as 58 year old Studio Ghibli President & Producer Toshio Suzuki mentioned in the Sports Hochi article, it would be a waste to stop after the success of "Ou To Tori", they might as well continue while everything is “warm”.

For starters, on March 17 Studio Ghibli will release Aleksandr Petrov's latest animation piece from 2006 called "My Love". Many people probably haven’t heard of Petrov as his work isn’t really for the general public, but I am not at all surprised by Ghibli’s choice. First of all Petrov’s animation pieces are superb. “My Love” was one of the winners at the 2006 Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan and it is one of the most beautiful, stunning things I've ever seen. It's expressionism at its finest truly and I love the way he manipulates everything to get across what the characters are feeling or thinking.

Besides that, Petrov was a disciple of Russian animator Yuri Norstein at the Advanced School for screenwriters and directors in Moscow. Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata have been friends of Norstein for some time now and both of them have been great admirers of Norstein’s work. In late 2003 until early 2004, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka Japan even hosted an exhibition of Norstein’s work and several of his short films were shown at the Saturn Theatre inside the museum. It is said that Kihachiro Kawamoto, a pioneer in the neglected field of stop motion puppet animation, stated that Norstein is being funded by Toshio Suzuki until the end of 2007. Furthermore, Petrov was one of the animators that worked on Fuyu no hi, a.k.a. Winter Days, which is momentarily the latest work director Isao Takahata worked on.

Now, there are lots of more connections and reasons to mention why Ghibli’s choice for Petrov’s “My Love” is logical, but it’s better to just watch some short clips of Petrov’s work. Montreal based production studio Pascal Blais has a clip with sections from "My Love" and clip with a scene from Petrov’s Oscar-winning "The Old Man and the Sea". Technically impressive, his films are made entirely in pastel oil paintings on glass. By using his fingertips instead of a paintbrush on different glass sheets positioned on multiple levels, each covered with slow-drying oil paints, he is able to add depth to his paintings. His films can be characterized as a type of Romantic realism. People, animals and landscapes are painted and animated in a very realistic fashion. However, there are many sections in his films where Petrov attempts to visually show a character's inner thoughts and dreams.

Anyway, this isn’t all of Ghibli’s future plans… They also plan to handle the Japanese release for another film: Michel Ocelot's latest film "Azur et Asmar" (release date still to be announced). Both of the films will be shown at Tokyo Shibuya ‘s Cinema ANGELICA which has been designated as a "Studio Ghibli specialized theater". Last, but certainly not least Suzuki mentioned that Studio Ghibli has plans for a foreign animation director to create a film with Ghibli in the future! Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is in the midst of production, but Suzuki said “the magnificent dream” of letting a Ghibli film being directed by someone from a foreign country does not run out.

6th of January, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES COLLECTION: The plan was to update the “My Collection”-part of all in one time, but I guess that fell through as it’s just to much to do all in one time. In the meantime I’m slowly updating it and today that means you get to check out the Grave of the Fireflies Collection. It’s one of the smaller parts, but contains some rather interesting items so go and check it out now and enjoy.

5th of January, HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S BIRTHDAY : Today’s post doesn't contain really big news, but has something which is still worth mentioning. Today is the 66th birthday of the man who brought us numerous animation masterpieces: Hayao Miyazaki. May he have a great day!

1st of January, NEW YEAR GREEETING FROM STUDIO GHIBLI AND BEST WISHES FROM GHIBLIWORLD.COM: First of all let us wish all of you a brilliant 2007 bringing you some - possibly all - things you're longing to. Second of all Studio Ghibli have sent their new year greeting card for 2007. Following is a translation and of course a picture of their new year greeting card illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki himself…

Happy New Year! According to the oriental zodiac system this year is the year of the boar. It is said the year of boar is supposed to be rough and often comes with abnormal weather and accidents. That might be the case, this winter is extremely mild with less snow than usual and there may be dark clouds in the political situation.

Studio Ghibli is working on its next movie now. What kind of film should we make in such age? We and Miyazaki are always considering about these kind of things. We can't reveal anymore details on our new film yet, but you can expect something from Studio Ghibli which will make you glad.

Also in this year we look forward to your continued love for Studio Ghibli!

29th of December, MORE ON MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM IN STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY & GIVEAWAY CONTEST REMINDER: With Christmas behind us and new year’s eve straight ahead of us, it’s time for a nice big summary of the Studio Ghibli diary with new info on how Miyazaki’s next film is developing and more giving you insight into what kept the guys at Studio Ghibli busy this month. But before you’re reading any further, check out our great giveaway contest if you haven’t seen it yet!

December 5th, some unused cels where moved from the OO-depot nearby our studio to the XX-depot where the temperature is kept optimum. The OO-depot only has a roof and walls, so in summer it’s hot and in winter it’s intensly cold over there. A part of the cels were moved here when Mononoke Hime was finished and might be impossible to be used, but as there is no factory anymore producing these kind of cels they are very precious. Of course nowadays Studio Ghibli rarely uses cels because digital finish has become the standard, but they sometimes use them when making "kumisen". Also, when "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Imaginary Flying Machines" were made, they used them for a technique called "cel-harmony". There might be a possibility for Studio Ghibli to use the cels somewhere in the future.

December 6th, this morning the "Anime Fair Meeting" with Production IG and Movic was attended, but Nihon-TV was absent today. This meeting is always a "curry meeting" so they all ordered curry at the cafe where the meeting was held. Makes you think of Ghiblies Episode 2…

December 7th, there was a business meeting with the car dealer about Studio Ghibli’s new company car. The writer of the diary was much surprised that all of the cars have so many different model numbers. It has 2 types of wheel drive, 3 types of engine, 9 grades and finally 83 types of functions. It wasn’t easy to decide which car to choose.

Later on that day some Ghiblies including Toshio Suzuki were invited to a “forget-year-party” at a high class Sukiyaki-restaurant in Akasaka. The restaurant displayed a lot of art made by famous artists like Munakata Shiko. Steve Alpert, head officer in charge of the international strategy of Studio Ghibli, was so pleased and nearly touched the dish made by Hamada Shoji, but a shop clerk was surprised and stopped him in stern.

December 8th, today it’s “bonus day” all over Japan so also Ghibli. The diary mentions they only get a payment slip, but they are very glad from bottom of their hearts. (Note: In Japan bonuses are generally paid twice a year: June and December. Research shows an average of 860,000 yen is paid this December in Japan, but I suppose they got more than that at Ghibli)

Also, production chief Shinsuke Nonaka held a “forget-year-party” at his house for his own section (3rd studio 2nd floor). The main event of this day was a “competition” between Nagami and Itou (both are from the advertising department) in making gyouza. The participants told Itou's shrimp gyouza was just a little bit more superior over Nagami's garlic gyouza.

December 9th, it was cold and rainy today. The diary writer caught Miyazaki when he came back from manipulative treatment and had a talk about the current status of making his next film. Of course Miyazaki recognizes the hardship the staff has and they share the way to breakthrough it. This is something which doesn’t seem easy to do, but if they don't they won’t be able to go ahead anymore. The people of the production section are the ones who must manage it now.

December 11th, as the return of layout (modoshi) for Miyazaki’s new film is getting later than planned, there was a meeting with sakuga director xxtou. He understands the delay, but there’s a schedule after all, so it should be followed. It won’t be good if the quality of the layouts becomes very good, if the movie isn’t finished in time. It’s a tough thing to balance between quality and schedule.

December 13th, the company members that were involved in this year’s Japanese re-release of "Ou To Tori" (the japanese dub of Paul Grimault’s “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”) had a "job-well-done-party” at Ebisu. When leaving Ebisu station there was a unusual feeling of strangeness... Yes, there were no Christmas lights around there. Why was it so quiet there?

December 16th, as usually done at the end a of the year, a company bargain sale was organized by the merchandise section. A lot of Studio Ghibli goods were sold at super-discount. The displaying of the goods was prepared yesterday, but almost all of them were sold out as soon as the sale started. As you can see in the pictures below the Studio Ghibli staff tends to buy goods as fast a they can... Photo I: 5 minutes after the sale started. Photo II: 15 minutes after the sale started > sold out completely!

The uniforms of the Studio Ghibli baseball team "the Kajino Big Mouths" arrived. They were much excited to get them and will play a game against the team of the major agency Hakuhodo. They’re supposed to be hard to beat so the Studio Ghibli baseball team mates seemed to be nervous.

That night, a mechanical actuation test of the Miyazaki Clock set at NTV in Shiodome was done. Shinsuke Nonaka and Junichi Nishioka witnessed the test which was done in secret while all passersby were gone. The execution was much more than expected, no doubt it should be very popular when it’s open to the public.

December 18th, the people at Ghibli’s production section got happy as some “genga”-cuts for Miyazaki’s new film got finished. One of the cuts was a huge monster cut including 50 layers and more than 1500 drawings. However, a moment later after seeing it, gladness went away and anxiety took over, thinking about all the difficulties when making douga and so on. Of course this cut is special and others will not be so big. The style of Ghibli’s next movie is to move pictures by genga, so it will need more drawings than usual. We can't imagine how many drawings will need to be done.

Yesterday was Nonoka’s 4xth birthday, so the 3rd studio had a celebration with a birthday cake. Despite the fact that usually he’s rather strict, he was a bit embarrassed as his age almost needs 5 candles but they subtracted one for service.

December 19th, mr. Oxx, who once worked at Studio Ghibli and now works at Gynax, came by to visit the studio with his cinematography crew. Their photography team was just recently formed and the chief of Studio Ghibli’s photography section lectured them about Ghibli’s system. I doubt it could help them because the system of Ghibli is out of the pattern. For example, Ghibli’s animation software differs from that of other studios. During the conversation with the visitors, the guys at Ghibli recognized that they are fortunate as their studio has various sections and equipment and in addition also has excellent human resources.

December 20th, after a long interval, many genga were finished. The cuts that Yamaxxx stocked were released all at one time, they felt they got an early Christmas present. There are still some days before it’s Christmas and they expect more presents will come out.

The unveiling ceremony of the Miyazaki clock at NTV Shiodome was held today. From Suzuki down some guys of Studio Ghibli attended it. Seen from up close it's awfully impressive and exciting, a true must-see. Makes you wonder why the clockwork mechanism only moves a few times a day. Perhaps they considered the neighborhood noise. Of course Miyazaki also has a special interest for the clock and they say he will come to see it some day.

Above a picture of Suzuki and Ujiie (president of NTV) pushing down the lever and a picture of Shachimaru Kunio in whom Miyazaki puts a strong faith (Shachimaru Kunio also to made the giant Laputa robot on the rooftop of the Ghibli Museum, but also the tortoiseshell-shaped bathtub, the Robot Soldier for the “Rising Sea Stream” exhibition and the cover for the patio drain are Ghibli Museum items made by his hand).

19th of December, MEMORIES FROM GEDO SENKI WITH CARLOS NUNEZ: Yomiuri Online and Studio Ghibli inform us that Spanish bagpipe and flute player Carlos Nunez, one of musicians for the sound track of Gedo Senki, will release a new album in Japan as a tribute to Gedo Senki. The album will be titled "Melodies from Gedo Senki" and will include new unreleased Gedo Senki OST tracks added with new tunes by Carlos himself. The album, which will be released for sale on January 17, 2007 at a price of 2,310 Yen (for example at, will contain the following tracks:

1 - Song of Therru (Instrumental) (H. Taniyama)
2 - Beyond the Darkness - Anthem from Earthsea (T. Terashima)
3 - The Misty Land (T. Terashima)
4 - Spanish Dragon (T. Terashima)
5 - The Bounty of the Land (T. Terashima)
6 - Town Jig (T. Terashima)
7 - Arren' s Way - Gedo Senki Overture (T. Terashima)
8 - The End of the Land (T. Terashima)
9 - Song of Time (Instrumental) (A. Arai / H. Hogari)
10 - Over Nine Waves (C. Nunez)

Last summer Studio Ghibli released their new film "Gedo Senki". Carlos Nunez was one of the musicians of it’s soundtrack and his bagpipe highlighted the movie with its beautiful sound. With "Melodies from Gedo Senki" Gedo Senki’s soundrack composer Terajima Tamiya and Carlos Nunez continue their cooperation. Terajima got inspiration from the world of Gedo Senki and with this new album we will be able to relive the scenes where Nunez played his bagpipe, with a sound that smells like the wind from Earthsea.

Of course the trigger for this project was the recording of soundtrack of Gedo Senki. The entire staff, Toshio Suzuki and Goro Miyazaki included, were much impressed with the beautiful sound of his ocarina, whistle and bagpipe. As the music in Gedo Senki was not to appeal too much (as not to disturb the screen image), they wanted to listen to Nunez' sound more in another place. This simple wish realized the starting of this new project: "Melodies from Gedo Senki".

The moment Carlos heard the musical score, he was much excited and offered to attend in this new project. The sound of Eartsea that Terajima wrote is filled with continental sense of nostalgia and strook the right cord of Carlos. While exhanging opinions Carlos and Terajima boldly re-interpretated the music. A new world of Gedo Senki was completed by combining different kinds of music. With Celtic arrangements those beautiful melodies familiar from the movie were born again, more vivid and delicate and amazing us with imagination.

The recording work was mainly done in Galicia in Spain where Carlos has his studio. Terajima went there to witness Carlos creating a unique sound by combining flamenco guitar, flutes, bagpipe and Irish-harp, taking the blood from Gedo Senki, but opening the door to a new horizon. He has been felt a spiritual relation between Japan - the country of sunrise - and Galicia - the land of sunset -. Through Gedo Senki the spiritual characteristics of this album will be a cultural bridge between Japan and Celtic.

18th of December, TIME TO GIVE AWAY SOME GREAT GHIBLI STUFF! The people who have been visiting for a longer time perhaps remember I held a free give away contest in June 2005. As this is quite some time ago, it's time for a new give away contest. Only this time with bigger and more exclusive prizes and the best of all: it's free, just like last time! You can check out all the details over here...

8th of December, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY, CAPSULE & STUDIO KAJINO AND AOI THESIMA IN CONCERT: As always Studio Ghibli updated their diary this week. They seem to be looking forward to their yearly forget-year-party. Every company in Japan has such a party and they usually have a banquet, attractions, a bingo game and karaoke. How will Studio Ghibli’s party be? Time for a short summary for the posts of November 27th till December 2nd followed with more Studio Ghibli related news…

November 27th, the staff and xxxxxda, who is the art director for Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie, had a meeting concerning starting the work of the art department. They confirmed the allocation of the scenes to each background artist and layout process. The backgrounds and finished cuts must always come out together in Production, because following works like color specification need both of them. If it doesn't work well, they'll waste much time. The production department must make a prediction for each process every time. Note: the art director might be Noboru Yoshida (just a guess).

Furthermore the post of the 27th mentions the pork buns (butaman) which they ordered in Kobe arrived. The entire refrigerator is filled with sooo many butaman. Also, Toshio Suzuki's car was recalled to his car dealer and they brought him a loaner car: a Suzuki Swift. Does Suzuki ride a Suzuki???

November 29th, Studio Ghibli is going to replace one of their company cars. The dealer brought so many catalogs, they can't decide which car to buy.

December 1st, the first meeting for preparing the company year-end party was held. This year they'll follow last year's pattern, but must consider about banquet or attraction or games. The car dealer also came by with a test drive car which was a bit too big to ride to the Ghibli Museum, it can take 7 passengers. Studio Ghibli will show the car on their website when it is decided which car they’ll buy.

December 2nd, a baseball game will be held between the team of Studio Ghibli and the team of a certain major ad agency company. They ordered new uniforms, made a cute emblem character & logo and also came up with a name for the team which is called "Kajino Big Mouths". A suitable name for the Studio Ghibli baseball team, because it is supposed to be very weak but has big a mouth. ^_^

Of course Kajino refers to the address of Studio Ghibli which is 1-4-25 Kajino-cho. Talking about Kajino… Studio Kajino… According to Yomiuri Online "Capsule" will release a new analogue recorded CD single on December 13. They will also release a new album next January. Capsule is a duo, Yasutaka Nakata (sound and art Direction) and Toshiko Koshijima (vocals), which attracts attention by taking part in various categories of music. Their former album "Soratobu-toshikeikaku" (Flying City Plan) is famous because Yoshiyuki Momose directed its promotional videos. Unfortunately, this new CD hasn’t got any relation with Studio Ghibli.

Now for those wondering what the above info has to do with Studio Kajino or perhaps haven’t heard of Studio Kajino… Studio Kajino is a subsidiary of Studio Ghibli whose name appears to be based on or inspired by Studio Ghibli's postal address (1-4-25, Kajino-cho). It’s a small structure created mainly to develop projects related to Hideaki Anno. In 2000 they released Hideaki Anno’s live-action film "Shiki-jitsu" and in 2004/2005 Studio Kajino released "Portable Airport" to accompany Hideaki Anno’s live-action version of “Cutie Honey” and also released "Soratobu-toshikeikaku" and “Space Station No.9”.

All three of these short videos (available on the Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short DVD) had music by Capsule and were directed by Yoshiyuki Momose who is famous for directing the great Ghiblies Episode 2. Of course Momose did more great things like the layout for Grave of the Fireflies, key animation for Porco Rosso and Spirited Away, storyboard and visual design for Only Yesterday and Pom Poko and much more…

To finish today’s post: Yomiuri Online informs us Aoi Teshima held her first live concert at the Ghibli Museum on December the 5th for which 240 citizens from Mitaka were invited. She sang 11 songs from her "Gedo Senki album" and the single "Tsurezure-youbi" (idol day of the week) which is included on her next album that will be released next February.

The concert was held at the lobby of the Ghibli Museum, the place where she recorded "Kazoeuta" from her "Gedo Senki Album". Teshima commented to be "Very happy as this place is of my memories". Of course Teshima also sang Gedo Senki’s beautiful theme song "Teru-no-uta" accompanied on piano by its composer Hiroko Taniyama. Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki also appeared as a guest talker and looked back at his first impression of Aoi Teshima. "When I first met her, she was so quiet that Suzuki only talked and talked!"

28th of November, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY, PASSING OF HAITANI KENJIRO: Yesterday Studio Ghibli updated their diary, this time with some posts for the 18th till the 24th of November. Time for a short summary followed with some other news…

The post of November 20 mentions a meeting concerning next year’s Studio Ghibli DVD release was held at the office of Buena Vista Home Entertainment which was attended by Toshio Suzuki and Itoi Shigesato. For those haven’t heard of Itoi, he is a famous copywriter who also did the voice of Mei and Satsuki’s father, Tatsuo Kusakabe, for Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro”. Most people know him for his excellent catch-copies and his involvement in the advertising of numerous Studio Ghibli movies, but in fact Itoi is a multi-creator who is involved with the production of videogames and vegetables, and also runs an international T-shirt project. More info on his website ("1101" is "1-10-1", which is pronounced as "i-toe-i" and stands for his family name of Itoi).

Anyway, the Studio Ghibli diary mentioned both Itoi and Suzuki were “showing off” their latest gadgets. Itoi brought his high-end model digital Ricoh camera and Suzuki had his newest cell-phone, a SoftBank X01HT which runs on Windows. The Studio Ghibli diary reads “With the financial power of middle to elderly-aged men the Japanese domestic consumption continues to be supported.” ^_^

November 22nd, a meeting was held concerning Ghibli-related business. It usually takes more than 2 hours, because Suzuki smakes reports or long informal chat. However, today it only took 1 hour as Suzuki had a cold.

November 24th, a production schedule meeting for Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie was held, attended by Miyazaki and the main staff. As the Ekonte (storyboard) hasn't been completely finished yet, the schedule is only an expectation. Both parts A and B have already started making “genga”, so they made a confirmation of the times each department starts working. They must keep in touch with each other so to not go out of order.

For those unfamiliar with "genga", it’s Japanese for “original image”. Some say “genga” is everything that comes before hand, others say it‘s only the final finished drawing that the key animator makes for the key frame in the cut. Anyway, it’s a term for the refined key frame images that the key animators draw to show important parts in the motion of a sequence. Most of the times a genga drawing is used for an average of every 3-5 cels (not that these longer excist), though this quantity depends on the budget of the film and the type of shot it is being drawn for.

Something sad which was not mentioned in the diary of November 24th, but which might be related to Studio Ghibli is the passing away of Haitani Kenjiro. Haitani Kenjiro was a famous Japanese writer of popular children's books who passed away on the 24th due to esophageal cancer. He was 72 and most known for "Usagi no Me", his novel from 1974 which revolves around the exchanges between a young teacher and children who do not give up hope amid harsh conditions. Although it was aimed at children, the novel went on to sell more than 1 million copies, was widely read by adults and was hailed by the Hans Christian Andersen Award as an excellent example of children's literature.

The possible relation between Haitani Kenjiro and Studio Ghibli is that some Japanese fans have been speculating Miyazaki's film is based on one of Haitani’s books (though nothing has been confirmed, the story and title of Miyazaki’s new film are still a secret). Miyazaki’s new film seems to be set in or around Kobe, Japan. Haitani lived in Kobe and the places in his novels are often located in and around Kobe. The speculated book is called "Umi-Monogatari" which is set in a port town in the vicinity of Kobe. The story is about a boy called Kenta, who hopes to become a skilled fisherman just like his father, and hopes to make us think about environmental problems.

Anyway, as long as the title and story of Hayao Miyazaki’s new film haven’t been announced, people can keep on going guessing. Nothing has been confirmed. However, some things are sure: Haitani Kenjiro was a gifted writer who’s work deserves to be read and, like Toshio Suzuki mentioned in July at the TBS program R30, the title Miyazaki’s new film will contain the word “no” twice.

24th of November, VARIOUS GHIBLI NEWS: This week has been kind of quiet in terms of Ghibli news. There were some things though. As usual Studio Ghibli updated their diary, this time with some posts for the 13th till the 18th of November. It’s nice to read what keeps the people at Studio Ghibli busy in their daily life, but unfortunately there wasn’t any news about Hayao Miyazaki’s new film. Still, here’s a short summary…

The post of November 13 mentions Okui returned from his overseas trip for lecture and Ito’s wife gave birth to a little baby. The last babies being born at Studio Ghibli were mostly girls, but this time it’s a boy!

The post of November 14 mentions Studio Ghibli started their company. All went to Tokyo station in the morning to make a trip of three days and two nights. A total of 230 company members, including the staff of the Ghibli Museum, traveled by Shinkansen train to visit Kobe city. This year they seemed to be more quiet in the train: many of them caught a cold or were caught up in playing a Nintendo game. After arriving in Kobe they were allowed to do what ever they’d like, but for dinner everybody gathered at a Chinese restaurant. They were served so many dishes, they all gave up eating.

November 15. Basically the company trip of Studio Ghibli allowed them to do free action. They made many groups and left. Some went into the city, some to Himeji, Akashi, USJ, Kyoto, Awaji-shima, Tokushima. At night there was some entertainment. Mr. Fijimaki (who belongs to Hakuhodo Incorporated - advertising agency – and is in charge of Studio Ghibli) sang, just like every year. They also played a game of Daruma-otoshi, which you can see Goro Miyazaki doing in one of the photos. After that, some went to Mt. Rokko to see night scenery of Kobe city. Note: Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie is said to be located in Kobe. The main animation staff already came to visit Mt. Rokko to hunt scenery in July.

November 17. The company trip ended and all of the Ghibli employees started working today. Ito (from the advertising department) celebrated the birth of his new baby (one of the pictures shows him holding a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau). The diary ends with the post of November 18. It mentions Studio Ghibli having a marathon club and that some will attend a race which will be held at Toda city tomorrow.

On the 29th of November a Gedo Senki Piano Album will be released which will be available at a price of 2300 Yen. Pre-orders are up at CD Japan and and in addition to its release the Tokuma Studio Ghibli Soundtrack Website launched a special page dedicated to the album. It’s not that big, but it mentions the album’s track list (11 tracks) together with comments on the production by composer Tamiya Terashima, who also made the Gedo Senki OST, and some of the musicians.

Time for something completely random. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Japanese tableware maker Noritake. Well, even though it’s nothing new, I just wanted to post a picture of their beautiful Totoro Collection. Just in case you’ve never seen it… Anyway, it’s not really something you’d buy instantly, but the art on these plates is just so lovely that even a bad dish will taste reasonable.

To finish, our friends at Twitch reminded me that the 2nd trailer of Makoto Shinkai’s upcoming new feature film “Byousoku 5 Centimeter” has been released (the 1st can be found here). Of course Makoto Shinkai is nowhere related to Studio Ghibli, but he’s sometimes referred to as “the new Miyazaki” for his dynamic and innovative animation style. Which is also the reason I’m posting this news… Anyway, I can see some resemblance, but Makoto Shinkai’s work still differs a lot from Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces.

Makoto’s new film will consist out of 3 short stories that take place in Japan from the 1990s till today. Dividing the film in this way should allow him to play to his strength in creating short stories, while also allowing him to create a rich, deep work. He's also decided to eschew the science-fiction trappings of his previous works, instead focusing on making the story and setting as realistic as possible. However the story turns out, one thing's for sure: the visuals will be stunning. “Byousoku 5 Centimeter” is to be released Spring 2007.

14th of November, MURATA KOICHI PASSES AWAY, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY UPDATE: Sad news… Exactly one week ago, on 7th of November in a hospital in Mitaka, leading illustrator Murata Koichi suddenly passed away at the age of 67. Murata was the president of animation company Oh Production and is known for his work on various anime classics. For example his work as a key animator on Hayao Miyazaki’s Panda Kopanda, animator on Isao Takahata’s Anne of Green Gables and working as executive producer for Isao Takahata’s Serohiki no Goshu. In addition, the Studio Ghibli Diary of the 11th of November mentions Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki and Michiyo Yasuda Yasuda attended Murata’s funeral which was held on that same day. Many animators gathered there and all regretted his death. Murata Koichi, may you rest in peace.

Luckily the circle of life also has it’s positive sides: the Studio Ghibli diary (updated yesterday with posts for the 6th - 11th of November) mentions that Ohashi, who works at the Sakuga (drawing) department, gave birth to a little baby girl. Congratulations! It’s already the second birth at Studio Ghibli in a short amount of time and Studio Ghibli has the custom of blessing the birth of a new baby by decorating his/her desk. Today's news mentioned that the birth ratio of male babies is decreasing, especially in the capital area and even more at Studio Ghibli!! They say electromagnetic rays might be the cause of this, but of course it maybe just a rumor. Anyway, there is a high voltage power line close to the studio…

The diary also mentions that twelve high school students came to interview Goro Miyazaki. The girls were very active, but the boys were not. Goro thought “Boys these days…” (see picture).

The diary of the 8th of November mentions there will be a company trip soon. Furthermore it says it was windy since yesterday and the air has been very clear. From the building roof of the studios you could see a beautiful sunset and today Miyazaki also came and see it. He said "Contrary to my expectation, we can see many mountains from here in Tokyo." The top of Mt. Fuji was seen far away today.

The post of the 9th of November mentions all of the job interviews for the production process department were finished. Many, many people applied, which Studio Ghibli appreciated very much, but it made the selection really hard because there was only one job opening. The diary ends with the posts of the 10th of November mentioning influenza is becoming epidemic around Studio Ghibli and the post of the 11th of November mentioning the sad news about Murata Koichi’s passing away.

7th of November, BLACKHAM’S WIMPEY, GEDO SENKI PIANO ALBUM AND MAX & CO: Yesterday I already told you about the Japanese version of Robert Westall’s "Blackham's Wimpey", the book for which Hayao Miyazaki made the front cover and a 23 pages full color manga.

What I didn’t tell you is that recently 7andY uploaded a special Blackham’s Wimpey page with some info on Robert Westall and various pictures of Miyazaki’s manga. You might also want to check out the Japanese Robert Westall Box Set that was released earlier this year. The set contains 8 books, which are also sold at the Ghibli Museum Book Shop, plus a special message written by Hayao Miyazaki attached to the box (see picture below).

Also, two weeks ago I already posted some information about a new Gedo Senki CD that will be released on the 29th of November: the Gedo Senki Piano Album. Today Yomiuri Online gives us an update with some on info about the CD together with its CD cover. At a price of 2300 Yen pre-orders are up at CD Japan and Yomiuri also remembers us about the new album of Youmi Kimura. Youmi became famous in 2001 for her song “Itsumo Nando Demo”, a.k.a. "Always With Me", which served as the closing theme of Spirited Away.

Ever heard of the French sales & production company Wild Bunch? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer to that question is “Yes, I have!”, as they’re responsible for the international distribution of Studio Ghibli. Wild Bunch has handled Spirited Way, Howl’s Moving Castle, and at Venice this year, Goro Miyazaki’s Gedo Senki. Their association with Studio Ghibli has brought them a spectacular success.

Also, a further move saw the company at Cannes representing French animator Michel Ocelot’s latest feature, Azur & Asmar, shown in Director’s Fortnight and singled out by many critics as one of this year’s festival highlights. Ocelot also directed films like Kirikou et la Sorcière and Princes et Princesses and it’s interesting to know that the Japanese releases of these two splendid animation pieces were handled by Studio Ghibli.

Anyway, Wild Bunch has boarded a major new animation feature called Max & Co, which is presently being shot in Switzerland and carries a budget of 18.5 M Euros. Being one of the biggest animation features of recent years, the film involves a pan-European crew of over 150, including 27 top animators. The feature that is being made by Sam & Fred Guillaume who teamed up with people like Chief Animator Guionne Leroy, who boasts previous credits like Toy Story 1, James & The Giant Peach and Chicken Run. Also, character credits are assigned to special effects company Mackinnon & Saunders and model-rigger Andy Gent, who have previously collaborated on Chicken Run, Corpse Bride and Mars Attacks. The film’s chief painter Kathy Clark similarly holds a Corpse Bride credit.

Presently mid-way through a 38 week shoot being carried out in a gigantic Swiss warehouse, filming of Max & Co makes use of radical and unique stop animation techniques. Impressive statistics set the scale of the production: 27 sets functioning in parallel, largest of which is the size of a football field in relation to puppet size; a puppet stock of over 70 characters with over 15 puppets per character, plus specially developed computer technology and CGI software. Lengthy post-production will see the film ready for delivery mid-late 2007. Max & Co isn’t Studio Ghibli, but as a film lover I’m curious to see the end result!

6th of November, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY UPDATE: Studio Ghibli has updated their diary with some more posts. The October diary has been updated with two more posts, one for October the 30th and one for the 31st, and the November diary opened with some posts for the 1st, 2nd and 4th of November.

To give you a short summary, I can tell you it seems that Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is being made smoothly. Every Tuesday a production meeting is held so that each part of the production staff can do their report and share their information. Though everything seems to go smoothly, the person writing the diary also mentions it’s not easy to draw “genga”. It’s a troublesome task and Miyazaki requires sophisticated work. The diary post of the 1st of November tells us Mr. Ohxxxx was the first to finish drawing “genga”. It's very skillful and amusing and all of the staff were much excited, including Miyazaki. I am not sure who Mr. Ohxxxx is though. Perhaps it’s Otsuka (very wishful thinking ^_^)?

The diary post of November 4 mentions that the Japanese version of Robert Westall’s "Blackham's Wimpey", the book for which Hayao Miyazaki made the front cover and a 23 pages full color manga, seems to be selling really well. "Brunch" announced the book sale rankings and Blackham even took a 3rd place today. Studio Ghibli has been a stranger to selling best seller books for years (apart from movies), so I'm glad the book is being sold well. What was funny to see, is that with a sarcastic tone the Studio Ghibli diary also mentioned it would be helpful for the company if Suzuki's only book "Eiga Douraku", would also sell a little bit more and posted a link to it. Suzuki’s book “Eiga Douraku” was released April 2005 and if you can read Japanese you might want to get it, it has some really funny and sharp analyses.

Concerning “Brunch”, I have no idea what it is (maybe it’s a TV program), so I checked the sales ranks at Yahoo Books to see if I could find it there. Unfortunately I couldn’t find it, but I guess it’ll show up soon. Either way, if you love Miyazaki’s work you really need buy "Blackham's Wimpey, even if you can’t read Japanese. The manga he made for the book is really terrific and I guess a fan translation will show up eventually which you can keep next to the book. Either way, buy the book. It’s great!

4th of November, SOMETHING TYPICAL: Earlier this week Toshio Suzuki posted an apology on the Japanese Studio Ghibli website concerning a certain declared “problem”. Though not many non-Japanese will have heard about it, I still would like you to know about the story just so that everybody gets the facts straight...

You will probably know that the lyrics of Gedo Senki's beautiful theme song "Teru no Uta" were written by director Goro Miyazaki (if don't know which song I mean, it’s song that is used in the trailer as well). In this month’s edition of the Japanese magazine "Shokun" a critic called Arakawa somewhat complained about the fact that it is nowhere mentioned that the lyrics were influenced by Hagiwara Sakutaro’s poem "Kokoro". For example, if you take a look at the CD cover "Teru no Uta", you will notice that it has a very simple design: no picture, no explanation.

For those who don't know, Hagiwara Sakutaro (November 1, 1886 - May 11, 1942) is acclaimed as the “father of modern Japanese poetry” and liberated free verse from the grip of traditional rules. His unique style quite fits the theme and corresponding subjects of Gedo Senki as he expressed himself through dark images, symbols, and expressions that revealed his innermost self, his doubts about existence, and his fears, ennui, and anger.

So what is the deal behind this story? Well, first of all I think we must appreciate that even Studio Ghibli, a company producing such masterpieces, can make a minor mistake. There is no doubt that on a superficial level Arakawa's assignment is correct (note that Studio Ghibli did mention the lyrics were inspired by Hagiwara's Kokoro on the Gedo Senki website). Therefore Suzuki apologized, mentioning that "Studio Ghibli must add a note everywhere the lyrics are showed, mentioning that Goro's lyrics were inspired by Hagiwara's Kokoro." He also says that Goro Miyazaki is nowhere to blame for this “problem” and thanks Arakawa and Shokun for this assignment at the end of text.

What Suzuki also mentions, is that he has been a great admirer of Hagiwara’s work since he was very young. Somewhat earlier in the production stage of Gedo Senki YAMAHA (the music company, not the motorbike maker) offered Suzuki to listen to a demo of a singer singing "The Rose", of course she's Teshima Aoi. Suzuki and Goro instantly liked her and Suzuki told Goro to make a poem for a song of Gedo Senki for which they would use. Goro was much confused. Then Suzuki recited "Kokoro" in front of Goro and, quite extraordinary, Goro made a poem the very next day getting imagination by Hagiwara's poem. Ten days after, the song was completed with the music by Taniyama Hiroko.

To conclude, Hagiwara's "Kokoro", which by the way means "Heart", was written in old literary language. For "Teru no Uta" Goro made it into a modern language version so that it would be suitable for the movie. Many people might not even see the resemblance and I can say the poem Goro wrote is extremely well written and almost all of it is original by Goro. Also, in my opinion Suzuki’s apology and appreciation for Arakawa should be taken with some subtle irony. If Hagiwara would know about the "problem" in heaven, he should cheer for Goro and admire him. He was a great romantic and had the delicacy like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. By the way, also note that all of Hagiwara’s copyright has already expired long ago, so there is no legal problem about not referring his poem. ^_^

26th of October, KAZUO OGA, COMINICA, GEDO SENKI PIANO ALBUM: Various things today… Earlier this week Yomiuri Online posted news about an exposition in Japan of some artwork made in 2003 by Kazuo Oga. Anyway, that news post wanted me to let you to know about these art pieces as they’re not that well known. So what about it? Well, not much… just that it’s beautiful and that I wanted to point those who are unfamiliar with it out to it’s official website and it’s gallery with some gorgeous Kazuo Oga art. Be sure to check it out!

Talking about Kazuo Oga, there is another thing I’d like to remind you about. Of course Oga is known for his beautiful background art for the Studio Ghibli films he worked on, but some of is his less known work is the work he did as an Art Director on an NHK animation piece known as “Girls in Summer Clothes”. Made in 1988, it’s a drama piece around the Hiroshima bombing. You might want to buy the DVD and check it out.

Also, for the Ghibli fans who are into merchandise, some final reminders. Studio Ghibli figures producer Cominica has released some new items. They are part of the Cominica Mini Select Series which currently consists out of six "My Neighbor Totoro" statues. Though the figures are only approximately 2.5" high or long, Cominca has put quite some attention to detail and fine paintwork. They also come with a screw and chain if you want to create a keychain out of it. And finally, Manu Robles (known for his Spanish Ghibli Blog) informed me that the 29th of November a new Gedo Senki CD will be released. This time it’s the Gedo Senki Piano Album which will be available for a price of 2300 Yen. Pre-orders are up at CD Japan and

18th of October, CHECKING OUT MIYAZAKI’S CLOCK PROJECT, GERMAN MONONOKE HIME LIMITED EDITION: If you read last week’s news posts, you’ll know it’s time for an update on one of Hayao Miyazaki’s current projects: designing an enormous mechanism clock for the NTV tower at Shiodome, Tokyo. The project was already announced last March, but after that it was kind of quiet. Luckily, last Friday NTV’s show "zoom in SUPER" provided a live update on Miyazaki’s clock, which happens to remind us of his film Howl’s Moving Castle.

When you look at the screenshots I made of some of the show’s footage provided by my Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro, you can see Miyazaki, sculptor Shachimaru Kunio and the rest of the production staff are doing a great job. Earlier this year Hayao Miyazaki already explained that "As time passes, the characters of the animation will be forgotten. Therefore I want to make something that will be loved by future generations as well." Producer Toshio Suzuki also gave some feedback on the clock project "The design was made to be look funny, but without forgetting the functional aspect of the clock and have the customers at NTV tower rejoice. Making a movie follows the same concept!".

Anyway, to give you a better look at the clock you can check out the compilation video I made. The clock will be 10 meters high and 18 meters wide and is planned to be revealed on December 20. Production is done by sculptor Shachimaru Kunio who also to made the giant Laputa robot on the rooftop of the Ghibli Museum, but also the tortoiseshell-shaped bathtub, the Robot Soldier for the “Rising Sea Stream” exhibition and the cover for the patio drain are Ghibli Museum items made by his hand.

To finish, one of our German readers reminded me that November 13 Hayao Miyazaki’s Mononoke Hime will get a new DVD release in Germany. It will be released as a special Collector's Edition with a limited releases of 3,000 and will come in a black varnished Japanese wooden box containing a 2-disc Digipack of the film, a poster and 10 laminated postcards. For those interested, you can purchase it at for a price of EUR 32,99.

11th of October, UPDATE ON MIYAZAKI’S CLOCK PROJECT: Time for an information update about the enormous copper mechanism clock designed by Hayao Miyazaki. Since being announced last March, we had to wait quite some time for another update on the project. However, not for long anymore, this Friday morning the Japanese television show "zoom in SUPER" is going to provide us more info on Miyazaki’s clock project. Studio Ghibli lets us know to please watch the show if you have the possibility to do so (and have access to Japanese television). The show will be broadcasted live.

For those who don’t know about the project, in a period over four years Miyazaki-san designed an enormous copper clock which will be made for the NTV tower at Shiodome, Tokyo. The clock will be 10 meters high and 18 meters, production will be done by sculptor Shachimaru Kunio who also made some nice items for the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan.

10th of October, MIYAZAKI & WESTALL, THE NAUSICAA COLLECTION AND NEW GHIBLI MUSEUM GUIDE BOOK 2006: My Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro informed me that Studio Ghibli posted a news item on their website about the fact that Iwanami Shoten has published Robert Westall’s book "Blackham's Wimpey". The interesting thing is that it was edited by Hayao Miyazaki who happens to be a great admirer of Westall. The book contains Robert Westall's novel "Blackham's Wimpey", "The Haunting of Chas Macgill", "The Making of Me" and Hayao Miyazaki's all color illustration essay "Westall's Fantasy - Trip to Tynemouth" which Miyazaki wrote newly when he visited Westall's birth. Besides that Miyazaki also made the front cover illustration for the book titled “Tynemouth. The book can be purchased for example at (224 pages, A5 size, 1680 Yen, ISBN: 4-00-024632-1).

For those who don’t know Robert Westall (October 7 1929 – April 15 1993) is the author of many books, mostly fiction for children, though also for adults, and non-fiction. Westall's work can be roughly divided between the World War II tale, "school stories" and tales of the supernatural. Indeed, many think that his ghost stories are the finest since M.R. James, but Westall was especially adept at combining genres and merged all three themes effortlessly. His characters of any age are often blessed with strength of will and purpose that is the ultimate hallmark of his stories.

Besides that, today I uploaded a new version of the Nausicaa Collection, a special page on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind with not only information on the movie and manga, but also on some of the nicest items of Nausicaa merchandise with newly shot pictures. It’s far from all, but you got to start somewhere. Anyway, it’s worth checking out: the Nausicaa Collection.

Also, for those who haven’t been to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka Japan or for those just being a fan, I just wanted to remind you that this summer a new Ghibli Museum Guide Book has been released. The guide has been given a big make over: from the photographs and page dividing to the quality of paper on which it is printed. The Ghibli Museum Guide Book 2006 can be purchased for example at for a mere 980 Yen. Below some pictures…

9th of October, INOUE DVD, HISAISHI AND MORE DETAILS ON HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S NEXT FILM: I was on vacation the last two weeks, so here’s a recap of the news I received from my Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro during that period...

First of all, Naohisa Inoue's website announced that the special Iblard DVD, which is produced with Studio Ghibli, is scheduled to be released simultaneously with the DVD release of Gedo Senki next summer. The Iblard DVD will contain about 80 works. Also the clouds, water and light in the pictures will be animated by Studio Ghibli and new composed music will be added.

Talking about music, master composer Joe Hisaishi has renewed his website. For the few who don’t know, Joe Hisaishi is known for the beautiful soundtracks he made for all the Hayao Miyazaki films, but also for several Takeshi Kitano films and many more. Check out!

Also, more information on Studio Ghibli’s new film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. According to the production diary of October 2, animation production of the new film has begun. Hayao Miyazaki explained the film’s content and production policy to the staff while showing a test cut of next film in the morning in the underground preview room of the second studio.

Besides that, the production diary entry of October 3 mentions that saku-uchi (*1) of part A (*2) of the new film was almost finished, part B of the storyboard is not yet completed. In addition, the entry of October 4 announced that, next to Hayao Miyazaki’s new project, Studio Ghibli is working on another film as well. It’s a new animation part of the Ghibli Museum film "Film Guruguru" (*3). A number of 2,500 animation cells are used for 1 cut of the new animation part.

*1: The word "saku-uchi", a.k.a. "sakuga uchiawase", means "animation meeting". Hayao Miyazaki and the key animators had a meeting on how they will draw the different cuts based on the storyboard.

*2: The Ekonte / storyboard of a Hayao Miyazaki film usually consists of parts A through E. He draws the storyboard while making a film, which is a big difference compaired to western animation films. The production diary entry of September 5 mentioned that part A part of the new film consists out of 282 cuts and has a lenght of about 20 minutes.

*3:"Film Guruguru" is a film with a length of about 5 minutes and which was made for a classic film projector displayed at a gallery in the Ghibli Musuem. The film consists out of 6 parts and it is screened endless:
1. Kareinaru Butoukai (Splendid Dance)
2. Ranputan no Bouken (Adventure of Ranputan)
3. Sakana no Sakana (Fish of Fish)
4. Takolator
5. Piyo Piyo Baba
6. Boubou-kun

Parts 4, 5 and 6 were added in November, 2002. Though this was a silent film at first, sound was added in March, 2003. The character of Piyo Piyo Baba is Spirited Away’s Yubaba and the character Boubou-kun was used as Calcifer in Howl's Moving Castle. The film’s staff consists out of Hayao Miyazaki (director and storyboard), Atsuko Tanaka (key animation) and Mito of Clammbon (sound producer).

30th of September, NEW DETAILS ON HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S NEXT FILM: My Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro has just provided me with some great detailed news about Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie. According to the production diary of September 26, the storyboard of Hayao Miyazaki's new film is painted in watercolor. Because of this it is printed with a color copier, and distributed to the main staff as a special edition instead of a regular black-and-white Ekonte. Studio Ghibli’s production diary mentions "Even we have not seen a colored storyboard very often. Of course it is the first time for a Studio Ghibli film".

According to the production diary of September 27, the expression method of Studio Ghibli’s next film is really ambitious. Since the staff have to confirm the processing method of every cut, production becomes very hard. Therefore, it is very difficult to manage the production period.

Anyway, yesterday (production diary of September 29) it was announced that animation production will begin next week. If this film will be released in summer 2008, the production term will be about 20 months, which is longer than Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. In a recent interview Producer Toshio Suzuki mentioned "There won’t be a change in the fact of us releasing a film every 2 years". Spirited Away took 16 months and 26 days to produce (2/1/2000 - 6/27/2001), Howl's Moving Castle took 17 months and 6 days (2/1/2003 - 7/7/2004).

To give some extra information, the movie titles of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle were announced before the animation production started. However, the movie title of Hayao Miyazaki’s next film probably won’t be announced until December.

- Spirited Away was announced on December 13, 1999
- Japanese cinema release: July 20, 2001
- DVD release: July 19, 2002

- The Cat Returns was announced on December 13, 2001
- Japanese cinema release: July 20, 2002
- DVD release: July 4, 2003

- Howl's Moving Castle was announced on December 13, 2002.
- Japanese cinema release: November 21, 2004 (postponed from July)
- DVD release: October 1, 2005

- Gedo Senki was announced on December 13, 2005
- Japanese cinema release: July 29, 2006
- DVD release: July, 2007 (?)

26th of September, THE RETURN OF THE NEKOBUS: Today Yomiuri Online informs us about the return of the Ghibli Museum Short called “Mei to Konekobus” a.k.a. “Mei and the Baby Catbus”. This film is a mini-sequel to “My Neighbor Totoro” showing that there are many mysterious creatures in the world where Totoro and the Cat Bus live. Two new pieces of music were composed for this film. Besides that, Hayao Miyazaki also did one of the voices (guess who? > see the third picture below). Starting from October 2nd “Mei and the Baby Catbus” will be screened again exclusively at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. It will replace the screenings of the three newer Ghibli Museum Shorts: the superb “Hoshi wo Katta Hi”, the lovely “Mizugumo Monmon” and the witty “Yadosagashi”.

15th of September, GEDO SENKI AT VIFF2006 VIDEO: Today Studio Ghibli informs us that the Nippon News Network has made a special dedicated Gedo Senki at VIFF2006 video website. The website has a 14 minute video with footage of before, during and after the screening of Gedo Senki at the Venice International Film Festival. So for those who weren’t fortunate to be there: it’s worth checking out! And if you did happen to be there, it's worth checking out for you as well.

14th of September, HAYAO MIYAZAKI IS ONE OF THE “MEN OF THE WEEK”, STUDIO GHIBLI GETTING PAPERCRAFTED: Men’s portal has chosen Hayao Miyazaki to be one of the “men of the week” in their celebrity profile. Besides basic information on Miyazaki, like a small biography, it’s interesting to see the article also rates him in terms of “personality & talent”, “woman magnetism”, “accomplishments & fame”, “coolness factor” and “personal style”.

Something completely different, but also interesting is the combination of Studio Ghibli and a typical Japanese thing: paper craft, crafting three-dimensional objects out of paper (a bit similar to origami). During the release of Howl’s Moving Castle the Japanese part of printer manufacturer Epson already came with a free papercraft model of Howl’s Moving Castle. In addition, an extremely precise and difficult papercraft model in the form of a book was sold as well. It looks quite nice, but building the model takes a lot of time and patience! For those having both there’s good news, the Howl’s Moving Castle Papercraft book is getting a follow-up: Gedo Senki Papercraft.

12th of September, FULL REPORT ON GEDO SENKI AT VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2006: Today, one week after having returned from the Venice International Film Festival 2006, I bring you my report on Gedo Senki’s screening at the festival. It contains info and pictures of the screening, my review about the film and the interview I had with director Goro Miyazaki. You can read it here!

11th of September, STUDIO GHIBLI TO CHANGE IT’S NAME? ANOTHER NEW GHIBLI MOVIE TO FOLLOW UP GEDO SENKI ALREADY COMING: According to an interview with Toshio Suzuki their next film will be “Kodomo Mono”. “Kodomo Mono” is not the title, but means “a film for children” or “children's story”. The production diary of the 5th of September reported that one part of the storyboard (about 21 minutes > 282 cuts) has already been completed. Also, according to the production diary of September 6, the post production team of “another project” (?) visited Spain for recording.

Buena Vista Japan announced that their "Winter Campaign 2006" will start November 22. The Studio Ghibli logos will be attached to the DVD's related to Studio Ghibli and a Kaonashi Totoro clock designed by Toshio Suzuki is gifted to 2,000 people by lot.

An interview with Toshio Suzuki on NB online mentions that, when Studio Ghibli became independent from Tokuma Shoten, Miyazaki and Suzuki were going to change the name of Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki suggested "Studio Scirocco". Scirocco is the Italian name for a strong southerly to southeasterly wind that carries hot, dry and dusty air from North Africa towards the Adriatic Sea and southern Europe, which makes it pretty similar to the meaning of Ghibli. Anyway, the new name was objected by the staff because they didn’t want to say “This is Studio Scirocco” on the phone “It sounds weak”. Suzuki also says that “Walt Disney wanted to make a character exceeding Mickey Mouse, but he was not able to it. Miyazaki can't make a character that exceeds Totoro as well, but when I told this to Miyazaki he became angry and told me “I’ll do it!”.”

Finally, Naohisa Inoue's diary of the 8th of September mentions that the manga “Iblard story” (5,000 pieces) will be released in France. Thanks to my Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro for the news!

7th of September, GEDO SENKI AT VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, YOSHIHARU SATO & MILK AND GHIBLI CALENDARS: My last post has already been two weeks ago, which actually had one reason: I was busy preparing my trip over to the Venice International Film Festival. Gedo Senki was screened over there and I had the chance to meet director Goro Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki. I also had an interview with Goro Miyazaki himself which will be posted soon together with a review, but in the mean time you might want to visit the special TV website of the festival made by RAI SAT which can be found over here. You can find three special clips in “Photocall”, “TVcall” and “Clip conferenze”, choose “3 settembre” and look for Gedo Senki. Enjoy!

Also, for 2007 Studio Ghibli will come with a Studio Ghibli calendar and a special dedicated Gedo Senki calendar. If you’re interested the Studio Ghibli calendars are already up for pre-sale at several shops, for example over here and here.

Finally, Yomiuri Online informs us that Yoshiharu Sato, known for having worked on several Studio Ghibli films (for example the production design of My Neighbor Totoro and the key animation of Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso), has been involved in the design of a milk campaign of the cooperative association of Kyushu milk sale (Fukuoka city) to stimulate milk consumption (which suffers because of the enlarged sale of bottled tea and bean milk). As for the character design done by Yoshiharu Sato, a girl helping with the calves on the family ranch was designed as the centre character of the story, also trying to emphasize on the positive effects of drinking milk and using it for cooking. Below is a picture of the various milk packs and two pictures of Yoshiharu Sato.

18th of August, GEDO SENKI AT VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The Venice International Film Festival a.k.a. la Mostra have updated their website with the exact screening date of Studio Ghibli’s Gedo Senki: it will be shown on the 3rd of September at 16:45 in the Sala Grande (and will contain English subtitles as well). But that’s far from all, with films like Satoshi Kon’s Paprika (3rd of September, 13:15, Palabiennale), Yeyan a.k.a. the Banquet (3rd of September, 21:45, Sala Grande) and many other great films, the VIFF has a great festival line-up.

16th of August, GREAT ACHIEVEMENT FOR LAPUTA: CASTLE IN THE SKY & GHIBLI RULES JAPANESE DVD MARKET: Although Ghibli’s newest film Gedo Senki is a quite a hit in Japan, it’s nothing compared to what their other films have done. All have them have been a box office success and this week another great achievement for Studio Ghibli is added. In this case for Hayao Miyazaki’s “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”. reports that the Laputa DVD is the second ever to have ranked in Japan’s DVD Top 300 for a period of 200 weeks and longer! The other DVD to have achieved this is also a Ghibli DVD, namely the DVD of Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbour Totoro” with a total of 242 weeks. Actually, you might say that Studio Ghibli somewhat owns the Japanese DVD market, because the top 5 of longest noted DVD’s in the Japan DVD Top 300 are all Studio Ghibli films! The first non-Ghibli film to be positioned in this ranking is The Matrix Special Edition DVD with a 6th place and 129 weeks.

1 My Neighbour Totoro, 242 weeks, 09-28-2001
2 Laputa: Castle in the Sky, 200 weeks, 10-04-2002
3 Kiki’s Delivery Service, 190 weeks, 06-08-2001
4 Spirited Away, 184 weeks, 19-07-2002
5 Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, 136 weeks, 19-11-2003
6 The Matrix Special Edition, 129 weeks, 17-03-2000

14th of August, LE GUIN’S TRUE OPINION ON GEDO SENKI: News scooooop!!! Last week Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki uploaded a post in his diary about Le Guin’s comments on Gedo Senki. Well, since yesterday Le Guin’s fuller report of her first response to Ghibli’s newest film has been uploaded on the Official Ursula K. Le Guin Website (thanks to Kimberley Lim for the news).

Reading her response shows that she’s a bit disappointed with the result, though less disappointed with this than with the Sci-Fi miniseries. Here’s a small excerpt of Le Guin’s response (please read the full response over here!):

“Mr Goro Miyazaki asked me just as I was leaving, "Did you like the movie?" It was not an easy question to answer, under the circumstances. I said: "Yes. It is not my book. It is your movie. It is a good movie." I did not realise that I was speaking to anyone but him and the few people around us. I would have preferred that a private reply to a private question not be made public. I mention it here only because Mr Goro has mentioned it in his blog.

So, in the spirit of everything being public all the time for fifteen minutes, I will give a fuller report of my first response to the film: Much of it was beautiful. Many corners were cut, however, in the animation of this quickly made film. It does not have the delicate accuracy of "Totoro" or the powerful and splendid richness of detail of "Spirited Away." The imagery is effective but often conventional. Much of it was exciting. The excitement was maintained by violence, to a degree that I find deeply untrue to the spirit of the books. Much of it was, I thought, incoherent. This may be because I kept trying to find and follow the story of my books while watching an entirely different story, confusingly enacted by people with the same names as in my story, but with entirely different temperaments, histories, and destinies.

Of course a movie shouldn't try to follow a novel exactly — they're different arts, very different forms of narrative. There may have to be massive changes. But it is reasonable to expect some fidelity to the characters and general story in a film named for and said to be based on books that have been in print for 40 years.”

Again, for a full understanding of Le Guin’s comments, please read her full response over here! P.S: Although a great writer like Le Guin is disappointed with the result, it does not automatically mean Gedo Senki is a bad movie (though I haven’t seen it yet). Remember that the author of the story on which Hayao Miyazaki’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is based ("Majo no Takkyuubin" by Kadono Eiko) wasn’t happy with the result as well. And if I remember correctly “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a superb animation masterpiece! ^_^

12th of August, IN DEPTH VIEW ON THE ART OF GEDO SENKI AND MORE NEWS: I’m slowly updating my huge Ghibli Collection starting with a new page: a dedicated Gedo Senki Collection page. I added info about The Art of Gedo Senki with a nice set of pictures. You’ll see it’s a defenite “must buy” for every Ghibli fan (also try Yesasia)!

Also, for those who don’t know, Tokuma Records has a special page dedicated to the soundtrack of Gedo Senki. It has a message of director Goro Miyazaki talking about the soundtrack of Gedo Senki together with some background info on music composer Tamiya Terashima and Spanish bagpipe player Carlos Nunez who perfomed some of the music.

Finally, thanks to Marty for pointing me to an article about Gedo Senki which you might like to see. It’s a article by Oricon with a survey about Gedo Senki showing what the polled people for the survey thought about the newest Ghibli film. Also, as reported earlier Therru no Uta's sales are at approximately 141,000. To check out more info about the sales, Marty has been compiling them for a few weeks (both that of the Kashuu and the single) over here. If you look at the single/album's page every Wednesday it should have been updated with the total and weekly sales. If the Kashuu wasn't in the top 30 then it'll take a few more days for me to get the info, but I doubt that it wouldn't be. If there's a dash on the top 20 daily rankings, it means that it was below the top 20 charts on that day. By the way, currently Therru no Uta is the #49 single of the year. I'm not sure where it'll end up though.

8th of August (updated!), LE GUIN’S THOUGHTS ABOUT GEDO SENKI, GEDO SENKI STILL #1 IN JAPANESE BOX OFFICE: Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki has updated his diary today with a post on Suzuki and him visiting Earthsea author Ursula K. Le Guin. It has some very interesting information. Of which the most important thing were Le Guin’s comments on Gedo Senki. With a warm smiling face she answered shortly "It is not my book. It is your film. It is a good film." Goro mentions that with these words he can now return happily and at ease to Japan.

Also, my Japanese friend Nanashi informs us that Gedo Senki’s theme song, "Song of Therru" sung by Aoi Teshima, sold 141,000. More importantly, in it’s 2nd weekend Gedo-Senki still ranks no.1 in the Japanese box office:

This week / Last week / Title

2006.08.5 - 2006.08.06
1 1 Gedo Senki (2 weeks)
2 2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (3 weeks)
3 3 Sinking of Japan (日本沈没/Nihon Chinbotsu) (4 weeks)

2006.07.29 - 2006.07.30
1 – Gedo Senki (new)
2 1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2 weeks)
3 2 Sinking of Japan (日本沈没/Nihon Chinbotsu) (3 weeks)

UPDATE: My Japanese friend Takahiro informed me that the normal production diaries for the months June, July and a bit of August were uploaded today. According to this diary, Miyazaki's next film seems to be set in around Kobe city, Japan. The production diary of July mentions the following interesting things about it.

July 6: The main staff, Kondo-san, Yoshida-san, art staff and Inamura-san went to XXX (somewhere) as location hunting of the next film, and joined Miyazaki-san who came earlier. They go and visit the places where Miyazaki-san recommends. According to them, the small doubtful coffee shop on a mountain was good.

July 18: The preparation room (for the next film) that had been set up on the second floor of Nibariki moved to the second floor of the first studio of Ghibli. Though the beginning of animation production is a little more ahead, the image boards put around main staff' desk make us feel that we gradually rushing into the production of next film.

July 21: After checked DLP at Kobe, after having taken the catnap at a hotel, we went to XXX for location hunting. We joined Takeshige at the XXX station and went to the mountain where XXX is able to be commanded. Though we went to the place where Miyazaki-san recommended, we were not able to see the panorama of XXX by misting. We also stopped in a mysterious cafe on the mountain where the staff who had gone to location hunting in the beginning of this month were mentioning. This cafe seems to be managing by the elderly couple, and looks old. It was a very openhearted place where a homeless dog and cat freely went in and out in the shop. After we had a dinner at a hotel, we strolled in the town of XXX at night.

July 22: Today, we got up at five o'clock to the location hunting of the daybreak of XXX. Scenery of the sea changed little by little at the sunrise was so beautiful.

7th of August, GORO & SUZUKI MEET LE GUIN, IBLARD DVD: A small update today thanks to my Japanese friend Takahiro. According to Goro's diary of August 6, Goro and Suzuki arrived at Portland Airport at 8:30 am on the 5th of August. He mentioned they will show Gedo Senki to Le Guin in the afternoon of the 6th and will also dine together. Goro mentioned "It is terrible that tomorrow comes". On the 29th Goro mentioned "this is the last diary", but Suzuki told him "You have a duty report about Le Guin to the readers". Now let’s wait and see what Goro will mention in his diary…

According to Naoshisa Inoue's diary of July 15 and August 5, Inoue, Studio Ghibli and another CG production studio are making an IBLARD DVD together. Since the production of the DVD had stagnated last year, it has been decided that Ghibli will participate in this project. For those who don’t know, Inoue is the artist who painted the backgrounds in the fantasy scenes of "Mimi wo Sumaseba" (Whisper of the Heart).

6th of August, MORE GEDO SENKI GOODIES COMING, BUT WHERE IS COMINICA?: Besides all the books and CD’s, there hadn’t been any Gedo Senki statues released yet, but that’s all going to change (hopefully). Japan-only shops and already have some stuff up, like a statue of the dragon from Gedo Senki (the one in the middle in the picture below). It’s pretty large (width 140× height 258× depth 175mm), made of polyester resin & acrylic paint and only costs 9,975 Yen, but I haven’t seen it up yet at a shop which sells/ships internationally. For those really desperate, it’s up at Ebay for a mere $199! However, I’d be patient and wait a bit longer, because I’m pretty sure Cominica will come with something really beautiful. Come on Cominica, what’s keeping you up? Give us the goodies!

5th of August, ANOTHER LOAD OF GEDO SENKI NEWS: You might wonder how there’s still anything to tell about this film as so much has already been told. Well, that might be a possibility, but I’ve got a nice bunch of news again including some reviews.

First of all I’d like to remember you that there’s a lot of nice Gedo Senki stuff for sale at the moment. Really nice things for all the Ghibli fans out there. To give you some help, here are some links to
- Gedo Senki, this is animation
- Gedo Senki Poem Book
- Gedo Senki Ekonte
- Gedo Senki Theme Song Single by Aoi Teshima
- Gedo Senki Card Collection
- Gedo Senki Aoi Teshima Album
- CUT August Edition
- Gedo Senki OST
- Gedo Senki Roman Album

Second of all I’ve got 3 Gedo Senki reviews I promised you earlier this week. To start, here’s one I received from Meimi, one of GhibliWorld’s readers:

I got back from Gedo Senki tonight, and was doing a quick search, hoping to find some other reviews to see what others thought about it. I saw your site was asking for reviews from people who'd seen it, so I thought I'd offer my two cents, especially when I saw that the movie was getting a bad reputation just off the Yahoo! user rating.

All I can say is, I absolutely loved it. I can definitely say I liked it more than "Howl's Moving Castle" for sure, maybe even more than other Ghibli films I've seen in the past.

Personally, I was kind of sad having all the press for the movie drumming up talk about the behind-the-scenes drama between Miyazaki and his son. Because when I saw the movie tonight, if I had only known the single detail that this was simply a movie directed by Goro, I surely would have thought that this was a tribute from son to father in form of a movie.

To me, I rather prefer the older animation style of Ghibli films. I wasn't a big fan of the style in "Sen to Chihiro" since the backgrounds looked rather static, and I found the CG look of the castle in "Howl" stilted. I had my doubts about this one since I thought the designs looked less detailed than usual. However, "Gedo Senki" really hearkens back to the older Ghibli animation style, at least as I remember it in "Totoro" or "Kiki." Everything in this movie looks lovingly done by hand – the backgrounds are gorgeous watercolors, every blade of grass seems to move in the wind. The same quirks of Ghibli's eye for animation style remain - when the characters walk through the city, the rest of the people in the marketplace are actually jostling them, seeming every bit as real as the main characters themselves. The early scenes set in the castle have the characters walking on a mirrored floor, which looks absolutely lovely and fluid.

The main difference in Goro's style in comparison with other Ghibli films, as I saw it, was a lack of the "quirkiness" typical in Ghibli, or cute mascot characters. The mood is pretty serious (but not as heavy as "Mononoke-hime" on the whole) people may object to that, I suppose? That may be the source of the negative opinions, but I thought it worked for the story at hand perfectly.

Also, while I feel it's more typical for other Ghibli movies I've seen to have the settings rather exist in the moment with the characters, in this movie you get a tremendous sense of scope. As the characters are on their journey, you see huge shots of the landscape stretching ahead of them, giving a really strong sense of the places they're in, and how much farther they need to go.

I haven't read the Earthsea books, so I can't say anything for whether the source material is properly respected or not. What I can say is that the overreaching theme of the movie is beautiful and so elegantly executed: the lesson that one should treasure life as a gift, knowing that one day it will end, and trying to make the choice to make the most of the time you have. Some characters are trying to escape from the pain of living, some are trying to cheat death and live forever, but it all comes back to the theme of how you have to make the choice to live your life as best as you can.

I enjoyed it immensely, anyway. It absolutely "felt" like a Ghibli movie, and everything in the execution worked for me: animation, music, was all there, and it all worked beautifully.

Before heading over to the second review, I’ve got something special. Something I received from my Japanese friend Takahiro: it’s a video of Aoi Teshima at Music Station singing the theme song of Gedo Senki. Please do not copy it to YouTube or any other website!!! Anyway, the second review… It’s a translation of the Cinema Scramble review. The translation was done by Japanese friend Nanashi added with some tweaks by me. The translation isn’t completely perfect, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it (minor spoiler warning!):

The latest work of Studio Ghibli directed by Miyazaki!

The balance of the world begins to collapse...
People’s minds become strange...

It’s the director’s debut of Goro Miyazaki, son of Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki. A fantasy story for which Okada Junichi took charge of the voice of the hero Arren, who keeps starring in one work after another after the much talked about "Hana Yorimo Nawo".

Earthsea, a world of islands and sea. One day, a dragon that lives in the outskirts of the west appears in the sea of the east where humans live. At the same time, various unusual things come to happen simultaneously all over the world. Archmage Ged, who went on a journey, searches for the origin of the disaster and meets prince Arren who threw away the country.

This is a work in which the director has put all his young passion and resolution. The original, written by Ursula K. Le Guin, lines up with other world famous fantasy novel series such as "Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Narnia". Now Studio Ghibli has made it into an animation, which is the director’s debut of Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki. The story is staged in "Earthsea", a world consisting of islands encircled by sea. Hero Arren was a prince of Enlad who, after stabbing his father the king to death, has left his country. As he was chased into the shadow of mystery, he is constantly insecure and frightened. Eventually, Arren meets Archmage Haitaka (Sparrow Hawk, Ged) a wise man who realized the balance of the world is collapsing and on a journey to search the reason of this disaster. The two become travel companions on a journey to find out that all disasters are due to the Great Wizard Cob, a wizard who once defeated Haitaka (Sparrow Hawk) before.

The movie’s story is mainly made from Vol.3 "The Farthest Shore" of the original Earthsea novels, a series that consists out of 6 volumes, added with elements of Vol.1 and Vol.4. Relating to the production of the film, director Goro Miyazaki made his debut producing a simple and steady world with an original expression. The background pictures are drawn simple and raw. The person bares feelings by the change of the expression that applies the distortion to the face. Rather than using new techniques, we feel he intended to make a simple, but strong and powerful picture.

Hero Arren will fall in mistake. And, he is an immature boy who seems to have the leniently consideration. Archmage Ged is not a super hero, but somebody with a down to earth character. During the entire story we feel the seriousness of director Miyazaki Goro with his wish of expressing the whole story. On the other hand, the battle in the castle of Cob in the last part of the film reminds us of his father Hayao Miyazaki’s works "Puss ‘n Boots" and "Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro". Also, the relationship between Arren and heroine Therru reminds us of Pazu and Sheeta from "Laputa: Castle in the Sky". Though he makes an original approach, there also is a homage to the works of Hayao Miyazaki. We seem that the director's stance, who confronted his father's movies without running away, will overlap with Arren who stabbed his father and goes out to journey at the beginning of the film.

Unfortunately, as there’s an unsatisfying development to explain certain things, there are parts which are difficult to understand for those who haven’t read the original novels. However, leaving such things, I am glad that the director directly connected his feelings to the impression of the movie. Miyazaki Goro is 39 years old, his father Miyazaki Hayao directed his first movie "Cagliostro" when he was 38 years old. Perhaps his debut will become the beginning of a new age.

And the third review is a translation of the review. The translation was done by Japanese friend Nanashi added with some tweaks by me. Again, the translation isn’t completely perfect, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it:

It premieres with a vigorous attitude of creation, but without really shining.

"The balance of the world begins to collapse..." This work presents us the theme that was recollected modern state of affairs. The words in which this film talks to us are certainly persuasive. But, they are only keywords for understanding the true intention of the story. "your own shadow" made visible like Doppelganger, and, the last scene that visualized dynamically the concept of "True name". It looks like "Spirited Away". We are made to think of deep relations between Ghibli works and "Gedo Senki" all the more. To arrange the grand scale original, it is a slight foul technique that he invokes the frame work of his father Miyazaki Hayao's picture story "Shuna no Tabi" (laughing). He is setting Arren the hero as a prince of "Parricidal". Goro (son of Hayao) shown us his vigorously attitude of creation without embarrassment, though he has been warping, it is desirability.

The art of this movie uses not only a person's movement but also the Brueghel style touch of the brush and many symbolical expressions of Eastern Europe and Asia are clearly and accurately, though it is simple. The "pictures" that the director must have had on his mind must have been of basic animation. It is an antithesis to the trend of animation to copy reality with the gaining power of CG. Especially the middle of the story when Arren and Therru become to understand each other, similar to a movie of Terrence Malick who has always been drawn to "the balance and collapse of the world", is very beautiful.

31st of July, PRODUCTION NEW HAYAO MIYAZAKI FILM HAS STARTED: Just a short news post today, but still something interesting which I got from my Japanese friend Takahiro. According to Goro's blog of the 29th, he'll visit the US to meet Ursula K. Le Guin, author of the Earthsea novels. Goro mentioned this was his last entry of his online Gedo Senki diary. He also mentioned something else... something very good: Hayao Miyazaki's next production has begun at the 2nd floor of the 1st studio of Studio Ghibli!!! A corresponding diary will start this August. I can’t wait for this to be released! And by the way, I've got some nice Gedo Senki reviews ahead. Please be patient, I'll post them online later this week!

30th of July, LOADS OF GEDO SENKI NEWS AND MORE ON MIYAZAKI’S AMPAS MEMBERSHIP REFUSAL: My Japanese friend Takahiro informed me with loads of detailed Ghibli news and it’s good!!!

First of all, Sanspo lets us know that Toshio Suzuki held a press conference yesterday in which he told about Hayao Miyazaki’s AMPAS membership refusal. He mentions that "He was actually requested three times. He does not seem to be glad with it, because (he thinks) it seems to mean his retirement is near. Miyazaki’s thought "I want to be as active as possible", seems to be strong."

Also, Sports Hochi had some nice details on Gedo Senki’s participation at the Venice Film Festival. According to Toshio Suzuki, Gedo Senki was first requested to be part of the festival as a competition film. However, as it will be released in Korea on August 10, there was a breach of rules, so participation in the competition was abandoned. Luckily however, Marco Mueller said "Please make Goro's debut at Venice."

Sports Hochi also mentions Goro’s funny comments about the Venice Film Festival, "The members of Venice might have mistaken Goro for Hayao. I might be said "Who are you???"." Sports Hochi also mentioned that distributor Toho announced the box office of the first day of Gedo Senki. According to Toho, it’s beyond Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and forecasts it’s final box office will surely exceed 10 billion yen. The box office of The Cat Returns and Howl’s Moving Castle were 6 billion and 19 billion yen.

To head over to some other news (thanks to Colin Ptak), I’ve got two very nice English pieces from Japan which are part of the English edition of The Daily Yomiuri. One of them is an interesting English interview with Goro Miyazaki, which mentions: “Goro Miyazaki has some good reasons to feel under pressure. He's director of Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea), the latest feature from Studio Ghibli, one of the world's most important animation studios, despite being a complete novice: The movie, based on a best-selling book by Ursula K. Le Guin, marks his film production and directorial debuts. If that isn't pressure enough, he also has the towering reputation of his father and Ghibli head, Hayao Miyazaki, hanging over him.”

The other one is an English generally positive Gedo Senki review which talks about “an outstanding debut, and a rousing animation romp in its own right. Gedo Senki augurs well in terms of setting sail toward Goro's very own signature style, Miyazaki moniker or not.”

Talking about reviews, my Japanese friend Takahiro pointed me to another faithful Gedo Senki review. It’s in Japanese though, but luckily Takahiro also saw Gedo Senki and has let me know some of his interesting impressions:

“I saw Gedo Senki today. My first impression is "Did somebody without animation experience make this film?". I was very impressed by the "pain" it expresses. For example when Arren uses a sword, we can feel the pain connected to that. This is something we can hardly feel with other current Japanese anime, but Goro manages to express it onto the screen.

As far as the story’s concerned, Arren seems to be a mirror of us Japanese. I don't know how much this is the case outside Japan, but we Japanese have serious problems just like Arren. Kids who kill their parents, the increase of people committing suicide, et cetera. Therefore Gedo's words to Arren really “pierce into our hearts”. If somebody from Japan doesn’t understand what this film wants to say, then his head is surely to be rotten just like the “body copy” of Gedo Senki. However, it may be difficult for non-Japanese to feel the words of Gedo simply by reading the subtitles.

Of course, this film is not of the same level as Hayao Miyazaki's films. However, I can feel that the staff made this film with a sincere heart. Surely, people compare Goro with Hayao. And surely, because he is the son of Hayao Miyazaki, people expect Goro to make a film of the same level as his father does. However, I think people have to understand that Hayao Miyazaki made his debut (Lupin III: the Castle of Cagliostro) with long experience in animation when he was 38 years old. Goro made this film without any experience in animation. And he made this film in a shorter period than his fathers films.”

29th of July (updated!), GEDO SENKI PREMIERES, HAYAO MIYAZAKI DECLINES MEMBERSHIP OF THE AMPAS AND MORE ON GEDO SENKI AT VENICE FILM FESTIVAL: Today Gedo Senki has officially been released nationwide in cinemas across Japan. Expectations are high, but will it live up to them? Let’s wait and see. Anyway, at least one of the forum members of Online Ghibli by the name of dballred gave his quick impressions which were a lot more positive than the reviews from Yahoo Movies Japan:
- Great film!
- Therru is easily the best character in the story. I think I'm in love
- Not too impressed with the background art. It seemed splotchy and water-colory. The foreground art was fine, though.
- Ged doesn't do much, but everyone else does. He seems to be holding everyone together.
- The theater was only about one-third full. Not a good sign for a Ghibli opening day. Overhearing comments as people left, I'd say they enjoyed it.

Also, my Japanese friend Takahiro has let me know that, according to Sports Hochi, Hayao Miyazaki has declined to being a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because he devotes himself to creating and producing films (instead of selecting Oscar winners).

UPDATE: Two days ago I already posted some good news about Gedo Senki being screened as special invitation work at the 63rd Venice Film Festival. Studio Ghibli has now also placed an official post about this at their website. The Venice Film Festival belongs, along with Cannes and Berlin, to the "three largest international film festivals of the world" and has a proud and old history.

As Gedo Senki is the directors debut of Hayao Miyazaki eldest son Goro Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli expects the film to attract a lot of attention. Besides that, what I was already hoping for, is now also confirmed by Studio Ghibli: at the 63rd Venice Film Festival the Gedo Senki staff will be represented by director Goro Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki. Now there’s even more reason to be there! Goro Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki have both commented to be very glad and honored with Gedo Senki being screened at the festival in Venice. Unfortunately, the exact screening day is still undecided, but I’ll keep you updated when that info is available.

27th of July (updated!), CHECK OUT GEDO SENKI YOURSELF AT THE 63RD VENICE FILM FESTIVAL: There’s great new for those who won’t be able to see Studio Ghibli’s new film Gedo Senki when it premieres this Saturday in Japan. As the film hasn’t been received that well yet on for example Yahoo Movies Japan, there’s been major discussions about it on for example the forum pages of and the Online Ghibli Forum. How good will it actually be?

Well, thanks to Stefania (moderator of the Italian Forum) it’s time to find out what’s true and check it out yourself. She just informed me that Gedo Senki will be part of the 63rd Venice Film Festival (out of competition) from August 30 - September 9 2006. For the exact date and schedule we still need to wait for the complete official program, which will be released somewhere around half August. To give some extra info for those who don’t know, the Venice Film Festival is the place to be for Ghibli fans. It already awarded Howl’s Moving Castle with the Osella Award for Technical Achievement on the 61st Venice Film Festival and presented Hayao Miyazaki a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 62nd Venice Film Festival. As master animation director Hayao Miyazaki himself already visited the festival before, lets hope Goro Miyazaki will pay a visit to the festival as well.

Anyway, with or without him, I’ll most probably be taking a flight over to Italy to check Gedo Senki out myself and see how good it is. And for those who are afraid or convinced Gedo Senki will be bad, check this post at ANN, before you rate it without having actually seen it. Oh, and if read this and happen to have already seen Gedo Senki: I'd gladly receive your opinion / review about it... without spoilers of course! ^_^

UPDATE: My Japanese friend Takahiro informed me about two (more realistic) Japanese reviews of Gedo Senki which can be found over here and here (I'll try to put up summaries later). He also informed that Sports Hochi also posted news about Gedo Senki's screening at the 63rd Venice Film Festival and added that Katsuhiro Otomo's live action film "Mushishi" and Kon Satoshi's "Paprika" will be part of competition section of the festival as well. More info about the Venice Film Festival can be found at Twitch.

25th of July (updated!), NHK PROFESSIONAL TOSHIO SUZUKI DVD, GEDO SENKI, AOI TESHIMA: Today Studio Ghibli informs us over here that the Toshio Suzuki episode of NHK’s show called “Professional” (aired the 4th of April of this year) will be released on DVD the 22nd of September. It will be for sale for 3,675 yen and a complete 10 DVD box of the entire Professional season will be for sale for 36,750 yen. There’s one big question though! Will it have English subs? Unfortunately, I haven't got any info about that yet, but I guess there’s not much chance of that happening. Lets just wait and see, who knows…

For those not familiar with the Toshio Suzuki episode of NHK’s Professional, it was about Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki and his professional life at Studio Ghibli. A three man NHK interview crew came by at Studio Ghibli nearly every day, which resulted in enough footage for a very interesting show! There’s footage of the Studio Ghibli staff working on their new feature “Gedo Senki” directed by Goro Miyazaki. Together with footage of “Gedo Senki” and it’s Ekonte storyboard. Then there’s Hayao Miyazaki talking about the next film and you get to see him working on a globe for the Ghibli Museum. And there’s also footage of Suzuki & Miyazaki thinking about the design of the new Studio Ghibli office that is being designed by Miyazaki as well. Thanks to my Japanese friend Takahiro already posted a nine minute compilation video some months ago. For those who missed it > click!

Also, Yomiuri has some nice Gedo Senki articles up. Over here they remind us about the Gedo Senki exposition I talked about last week. Also, they have an interesting article about Studio Ghibli’s challenge of making Gedo Senki consist out of simple, but powerful pictures and mentioning the influence of Isao Takahata’s “Taiyou no Ouji: Horusu no Daibouken”, a.k.a. “The Adventures of Hols, Prince of the Sun”. And last but not least, they have an article up over here which talks about the press conference Goro Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki held in Nagoya city mentioning it’s original and honest expression.

Finally, some info on Aoi Teshima. Her debut single, the theme song of Gedo Senki called "Therru's song", is a big hit. It’s at the top of the charts of Japanese online music store for example. Aoi Teshima’s debut album has also been released and for those who haven’t bought it yet, you can listen to 45 seconds of each track over here (click the purple links). And by the way, Yamaha Channel has posted an interview with Aoi Teshima with her giving answers to 16 questions. It mentions things like which country she’d like to visit (England, France), which song she likes to listen to before sleeping (Bette Midler’s The Rose), where she’d like to work after her music career (bookstore) and more answers to questions like that.

22nd of July, BS NIPPON GHIBLI SPECIAL, GHIBLI CHANNEL, GORO MIYAZAKI INTERVIEW: Just some various things today… On the 28th of July BS Nippon will air a special 2 hour show about the places which were used as inspiration for several Ghibli films, like for example Stockholm and the Swedish island of Gotland were used for Kiki’s Delivery Service and the Alsace region for Howl’s Moving Castle. Also, last post I posted some info about a special Gedo Senki exhibition. My Japanese friend Nanashi has reminded me that Ghibli Channel posted some videos about it. You should check the second and fourth video link placed left below of Channel 1 (login help). Finally, Nanashi also made a translation of the second part of the interview with Goro Miyazaki which 7andY uploaded recently over here.

20th of July, GEDO SENKI EXPOSITION: In the midst of waiting for next week’s release of Gedo Senki, Studio Ghibi’s new full length feature film, Studio Ghibli lets us know for over here about a special Gedo Senki exposition with for example three-dimensional models like a 25 meters long model of the Gedo Senki dragon and valuable early production sketches. The exposition is sponsored by Yomiuri Shimbun and below some pictures of it.

17th of July, GEDO SENKI IS COMING TO YOU: It’s only two weeks of waiting before Gedo Senki is to be released in Japan and there’s a lot of promotion. Japanese magazines are posting articles and interviews, Japanese television is airing specials and commercials (like this one my Japanese friend Nanashi posted), merchandise is to be released, it’s all coming!!! Posters, art books, puzzles, watches, statues, soundtracks, poem books, music books, etc. There’s certainly a lot of good stuff to be released. I haven’t got links for you yet, but Japan only websites like and are already ready for pre-orders. I’ll be sure to post a list with links of all the good stuff which is going to be for sale at It’s going to be a good Ghibli time! ^_^

15th of July, HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM, TANEYAMAGAHARA NO YORU & SEROHIKI NO GOSHU RELEASE SPECIAL: Today some news on Hayao Miyazaki’s next film (at the end of this post), an interview with Kazuo Oga on “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” (perhaps a translation will follow) and third of all a special...

Last week the director's debut of background art master Kazuo Oga called “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” has been released directly on DVD together with a new re-release of Takahata’s “Gauche the Cellist”. Besides that a hardcover full color “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” picture book was released earlier this month. Being a Ghibli addict it’s not that strange I already have all this stuff since the day it was released and today I’ve got a dedicated release special with pictures (click to enlarge) and more background info which you might even call somewhat of a small review. Hope it’ll encourage you to buy it as well! ^_^

First of all lets start with the best, a new Ghibli film! Like mentioned before “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” is the director's debut of background art master Kazuo Oga which unfortunately has been released directly on DVD. On the other hand, because of it’s style and length (only 27 minutes) it’s not really suited to be released in cinemas (check the trailer at the official website, click the link in the lower left corner). Anyway, the DVD… Disc 1 contains the film "Taneyamagahara no Yoru" itself which is based on the play with the same name by Kenji Miyazawa. Miyazawa wrote this play in 1924 for his students when he was a 28 year old teacher. The film has been built up with a technique which could be described as a "picture story show style" and is spoken in a Japanese regional dialect (Dolby Digital 2.0). Unfortunately it only has Japanese subs, but if you’re a true fan I guess that won’t prevent you from watching it.

"Taneyamagahara no Yoru" has a typical Japanese pace: slowly and quietly the story is told, in this case by Ghibli ga Ippai narrator Hatsuo Yamaya. It shows you the frequent and sudden climatic changes that occur on Taneyamagahara mountain. As the mountain was a place where the winds and moisture that came from the sea to the east and from the west always ran into each other, clouds, rain, lightening, or mist were always just about to happen. Kenji Miyazawa was very sensitive to changes in the clouds, light, and the wind, so Taneyamagahara was an important place for him and therefore wrote a play about it.

As you can expect the images in the film made by of background art master Kazuo Oga are simply beautiful. These are backed up by a peaceful soundtrack performed by Ensemble Planeta. So, is it any good? Well, for those less familiar with all the Ghibli films, don’t expect a Miyazaki type of magical film with that typical Hisaishi soundtrack. If you haven’t seen much Ghibli films I would recommend you other Ghibli films first. None the less it’s a real nice little story which depicts Miyazawa’s story really well and if you’re a fan you should simply watch it!!!

To answer the question of all those Ghibli fans who love to watch Japanese special features without subs: “Are there any nice extras?” The first disc only contains a trailer for “Gauche the Cellist” and the second disc is a CD with the soundtrack on it > two tracks performed by Ensemble Planeta. It’s a bit of a disappointment, as I was hoping for more inside info on the film and something of a interview with director Kazuo Oga. However, luckily I also bought the A4 sized hardcover full color “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” picture book and with 72 pages it’s an nice addition. To complete my view on the “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” DVD, here are the points I'd give it:
Movie > 7.5, Video > 9.0, Audio > 7.5, Extras > 5.0

What about the new “Gauche the Cellist” DVD? If you’ve already seen it, I don’t need to tell you how good of a movie it is. For those who haven’t seen the film yet, you need to see it. Even though it doesn’t reach the Ghibli level, it’s a very nice old school Takahata masterpiece anyway! The film was released two years before the release of Nausicaa, the 23rd of January 1982 to be exact. It’s about a cellist, Gauche, who’s a target of the reprimands of its orchestra leader. Wanting to correct his defects to become a better musician for his next great concert, every night Gauche practices with eagerness, but without real result. Fortunately, a group of small animals made up of a cat, a cuckoo, a badger and a mouse of the fields discreetly will teach to him the virtues such as patience, the rigour and the taste of the communication.

The original story was also written by Kenji Miyazawa, so it isn’t strange that this re-release is released together with “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” (in honor of the 110th anniversary of Kenji Miyazawa). As the former DVD, that was released by Geneon, is out of print know, the new edition is a welcome release if you haven’t got the DVD yet. The film is presented in with a Dolby Digital track which unfortunately is no 5.1 track, but that’s to be expected for an old anime like this. Luckily, unlike the “Taneyamagahara no Yoru” DVD, this DVD does come with English subs for the film.

So are there any nice features to be found on this DVD, or are they missing on this DVD as well? No worries! The special features are almost the same as the former Geneon DVD, which were pretty nice already. The new DVD has a storyboard feature, "Kenji and Music and Iihatobu - The sixth symphony Kenji listened -", the official trailer, staff interviews (80 min) with Isao Takahata, Koichi Murata, Shunji Saida, Tadao Kubota and some nice character, image and art boards. There’s one nice diference though: the second disc comes with three nice additional trailers. The first is the trailer for “Taneyamagahara no Yoru”. The second is the trailer for Paul Grimault’s "Ou To Tori" a.k.a. “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”, an important source of inspiration to Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and this summer getting a special release in Japanese cinemas, made possible by Studio Ghibli (it is to be released in Japanese cinemas on the same day as Ghibli’s new feature “Gedo Senki” > the 29th of July). Anyway, now for the third trailer, this one’s a welcome surprise: it’s the second official trailer for Gedo Senki!!! Glad to finally have this trailer on DVD, so you needn’t watch it on your PC again.

Finally, there’s another extra. Both of the DVD’s come with a special “Gedo Senki” collectors item: a special Arren or Theru stamp. Unfortunately, I got two the same (the Arren version), but it’s a nice extra. Click here for a picture with the Theru stamp as well. Again, to give you a final idea of my opinions on the new “Gauche the Cellist” DVD, here's my "verdict":
Movie > 7.5, Video > 7.5, Audio > 7.0, Extras > 7.75

To finish for today some news on Hayao Miyazaki’s new project. My Japanese friend Takahiro has let me know that the TBS program R30 featured Toshio Suzuki on yesterday’s broadcast. At the end of the show, after the discussion on Gedo Senki, the interviewer asked some questions about Hayao Miyazaki’s next film.

Q: Is Hayao-san thinking about his next film?
Suzuki: He is full of fight (about Goro). He believes that he cannot be defeated by his son. We have already begun preparations for the film, we started a bit earlier than usual. I cannot say anything about it yet, it's a secret.
Q: Is "no" (の) part of the title?
Suzuki: Yes.
Q: ......... "no” ........?
Suzuki: The title contains two "no".
Q: Wow, it will surely be a big hit.

In Japan, Miyazaki's films are known for containing a "no" in its title and being a big hit. For those less familiar with the Japanese titles:
- “Rupan Sansei: Terebi to Kariosutorono Shiro“ a.k.a. “Castle of Cagliostro“
- “Kaze no Tani no Naushika“ a.k.a. “Nausicaa“
- “Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta“ a.k.a. “Laputa: Castle in the Sky“
- “Majo no Takkyuubin“ a.k.a. “Kiki's Delivery Service“
- “Kurenai no Buta“ a.k.a. “Porco Rosso“
- “Tonari no Totoro“ a.k.a. “My Neighbor Totoro“
- “Mononoke Hime“ a.k.a. “Princess Mononoke“
- “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi“ a.k.a. “Spirited Away”
- ”Hauru no Ugoku Shiro” a.k.a. “Howl's Moving Castle”

11th of July, GEDO SENKI BOOKS TO BE RELEASED SOON: Just something small today. Perhaps you’re just like me and waiting impatiently for the release of Gedo Senki. As it won’t be out here in the west soon, I’ll be spending all my money on all the posters, CD’s, books and other merchandise as a temporary fix. The release of several Gedo Senki books was already up on 7andY, but without the covers. Luckily for those interested, I just happen to have found the covers for “The Art of Tales from Earthsea” (ISBN 4-19-810011-X) and its storyboards > the Gedo Senki Ekonte (ISBN 4-19-862190-X). hasn’t got the Gedo Senki art books up for pre-order yet, but they will be released the 3rd of August and I’ll be sure to post the links when they’re up for pre-order.

8th of July, EXCLUSIVE GEDO SENKI VIDEOS FROM JAPAN: I’ve got some good news today! Thanks to my Japanese friend Takahiro I’ve got 4 great Gedo Senki videos with new unseen footage and more nice stuff:
- Gedo Senki: Press Conference 1
- Gedo Senki: Press Conference 2
- Gedo Senki: Junichi Okada Interview
- Gedo Senki: Aoi Teshima Interview

So what about those videos? Well, as you might know, a Gedo Senki press conference was held two days ago. After that, a preview of Gedo Senki was held at Roppongi Hills, Tokyo (Note: CH1 of Ghibli Channel uploaded a movie clip of this preview. Again, for login help check

Anyway, Aoi Teshima sang "Therru's song" in this preview which was actually the first time for her to sing it live in front of an audience. In the “Gedo Senki Aoi Teshima Interview” movie clip you can listen to it, as well as her singing Bette Midler's "Rose" from her demonstration CD. Bette Midler? Yes that’s right, when Toshio Suzuki and Goro Miyazaki heard the track with Teshima singing "Rose", they were very happily surprised and decided to use her for the theme song of “Gedo Senki”. Besides that, Bette Midler's "Rose" was used for Takahata's “Omoide Poro Poro” a.k.a. “Only Yesterday”, you know… that splendid movie which is stupidly being ignored by Disney for a R1 DVD release. Not that it’s a huge problem to me personally (I only dig original R2 Japan Ghibli DVD’s), but it just deserves to be released on R1 DVD as well. Spread the word: Takahata-san rules!!! Only Yesterday rules!!!

To finish for today I’d like to remind you about two things. First of all my Japanese friend Nanashi made a nice translation of a pretty funny interview with Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki. And second of all a final reminder: yesterday the director's debut of background art master Kazuo Oga called Taneyamagahara no Yoru has been released directly on DVD. Now don’t be stupid, just buy it!

6th of July, RELEASE OF GHIBLI ‘S NEW FEATURE > KAZUO OGA’S TANEYAMAGAHARA NO YORU, ALSO TAKAHATA ISAO: Just a short but important reminder for you today! Tomorrow the director's debut of background art master Kazuo Oga called Taneyamagahara no Yoru will be released directly on DVD. If you’re a true fan you‘ve already pre-ordered it ages ago. Forgot about that? Buy it over here and also buy yourself the A4 sized hardcover full color book of 72 pages (click) and the new rerelease of Takahata’s Gauche the Cellist while you’re at it (click).

By the way, Yomiuri Online happens to have a new Japanese article about Taneyamagahara no Yoru over here. They also have a new interview and article with Isao Takahata about the release of "Ou To Tori" a.k.a. “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”, which is to be released in Japanese cinemas on the same day as Ghibli’s new feature “Gedo Senki” > the 29th of July. All three of them are nice articles, but unfortunately I don’t have time to do a decent translation on the moment. If your Japanese is bad > Babelfish is your friend to give you a basic idea of the content.

5th of July, POSSIBLE THIRD GEDO SENKI POSTER, NAOYUKI INOUE LIKES GEDO SENKI AND MORE: Some nice things today. First of all, my Japanese friend Nanashi has posted a picture online of a Gedo Senki advertisement which was inserted in a Japanese magazine. It might be the third Gedo Senki poster, although this hasn’t been officially confirmed. Anyway, it still looks very nice, doesn’t it? A bigger version can be found over here.

Also, my Japanese friend Takahiro reminded me that Naoyuki Inoue, the artist who painted the backgrounds for the fantasy scenes of "Mimi wo Sumaseba" (Whisper of the Heart), mentioned his impressions about Gedo Senki in his diary of the 4th of July. He says "Density of finish in the first half and the latter half. Relation between the color of the background paintings and the modern paintings. The breathtaking scenes. The moving scenes. I think my heart was filled only with these. However, the extreme in this film is the philosophy of life and the world view. I don't say any more."

Besides that Asahi soft drinks released their second Gedo Senki TV spot: the "Voice recording" edition. However, Studio Ghibli announced that it doesn’t feature a true voice recording at Ghibli, but that it was just a staged scene for the TV spot.

Finally for today, the official website of Rio Yamase, player and composer of the soundtrack of Ghibli Museum Short “Water spider Monmon”, announced that she is featured on the Gedo Senki soundtrack as well.

3rd of July, DOES HAYAO MIYAZAKI LIKE GEDO SENKI? Well, does he? Perhaps, perhaps not… My Japanese friend Takahiro has send me some nice news which might give you the answer to that question! Shinichi Takahashi of Rapha, operator and a designer of the Studio Ghibli website, reported on the first preview and his very good impression about Gedo Senki. He talks about his impressions on an internet radio station for about an hour. You can listen to it over here.

Anyway, according to Takahashi, on the day of the first preview (28th of June) Hayao Miyazaki suddenly appeared and went into the preview room together with the camera crews. It had been reported that he wouldn’t attend the preview. The preview was divided into three groups and Takahashi was waiting with the second group in the lobby. Miyazaki came out of preview early and smoked alone in the lobby. He smoked in silence while staring straight ahead. Then the staff who were waiting for the second preview gathered around him and he began chatting and laughing. Takahashi's impression was that Miyazaki seems to have accepted Goro. According to Takahashi, the camera crews recorded this scene from far away.

On his blog Toshio Suzuki reports the party celebrating completion of Gedo Senki with 300 staff members which took place in a hotel on the 1st of July. Suzuki will keep writing the diary until the end of July. He says the party was very moving. According to him, Michiyo Yasuda, chief color designer at Ghibli (Miyazaki calls her a "war buddy"), was late and came to the party with a message from Hayao Miyazaki to Goro. Since Miyazaki left in the middle of the preview, the staff had fallen into a state of uneasiness. It was very short message, "It was an honest way of making, and good." When it was read out by Yasuda the hall quieted down for an instant. Then, one of the staff applauded. It became big applause and spread through the hall. Goro says, "I was glad for father's words and near tears" in today's diary.

1st of July, VIDEO OF GEDO SENKI + JOHN LASSETER MEETING HAYAO MIYAZAKI AND TALKING ABOUT PIXAR’S CARS: I’ve got a very special video for you (thanks to my friend Takahiro). It’s a video taken from Japanese television which first shows some new unseen footage of Ghibli’s new film Gedo Senki. Gedo Senki is to be released in Japan on the 29th of July.

The video also shows Pixar director John Lasseter visiting Hayao Miyazaki, who have been friends for several years now. Lasseter mentions that everytime he watches Miyazaki’s films there’s something about it that’s so special and that they really inspired him for Cars. You’ll also see Miyazaki mentioning that “I have seen Cars. Everything reminded me of John and I just couldn’t stop crying. It was a very, very honest film. It was very good. It’s the feeling that only directors understand.” You can watch the three and a half minute long video over here. Enjoy!!!

28th of June, ANOTHER UPDATE... ON GHIBLI AND HP, GEDO SENKI AND PIXAR’S CARS: In addition to the info I posted earlier today (about Ghibli and HP), both Logboy from Twitch and my Japanese friend Takahiro e-mailed me another link with more info and pictures. This article is actually about Noriyuki Kitagawa of Ghibli’s system management section who held a special lecture explaining the full digital production environment system of Gedo Senki. Please check the link for more details. If I have the time I’ll post more info, but unfortunately I’m all by myself so it’s a lot of work.

My friend Takahiro also sent me more interesting stuff. The title of today's production diary is "The final production diary of Gedo Senki". The Japanese text on the picture says "Gedo Senki complete!" and also shows Hayao Miyazaki sitting down with chief color designer Michiyo Yasuda (third row, in the middle). A special Gedo Senki preview for Ghibli’s production staff was held today.

Also, the title of yesterdays director's diary was "To reporters". In this entry, Goro mentioned that he is tired of all the reporters repeatedly asking questions about the father/son problem between Hayao Miyazaki and himself. As he has now mentioned this on his blog, he hopes reporters will read this and will change their questions (> stop asking about the father/son problem). Goro and producer Toshio Suzuki have just started traveling around Japan promoting Gedo Senki .

To finish for today, Studio Ghibli also announced that NTV's special program of PIXAR's latest film CARS will be aired on July 1. According to Ghibli, John Lasseter and another Pixar staff member visited Tokyo for its campaign and spent spare time at Ghibli. Studio Ghibli also mentioned that Hayao Miyazaki saw CARS, and said "Good job. I got tears!". According to Ghibli, the visiting of Lasseter-san to Ghibli may be aired on a special program. John Lasseter already visited Tokyo before for the campaign of Finding Nemo, visited Ghibli and saw Howl's Moving Castle under production.

28th of June, GEDO SENKI, STUDIO GHIBLI AND ITS HP DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE, GEDO SENKI WALLPAPERS: Some nice news, my Japanese friend Nanashi has put a bunch of scans of the Japanese Gedo Senki press kit online containing all the basic information on the film. For those who can’t read Japanese, don’t worry… you can always watch the lovely pictures instead (it has some very nice new pictures!). Definitely check it out over here!

But wait, there’s more… somewhat typical, but interesting news. As most of you know, almost no Japanese animation studio is making their films by using old school cell animation anymore. Unfortunately, neither does Studio Ghibli, as with the help of “a bunch of computers” they’ve also updated their production method. My Japanese friend Makoto has sent me an article which was actually about HP’s new range of workstations, but it had some nice details about Studio Ghibli and its HP digital infrastructure. How is this interesting to you??? I don’t know… Perhaps you’re just like me and happen to work at a ICT company which happens to be a HP Preferred Partner… You’re not? Well, then maybe it’s interesting anyway > if you’d like to know what kind of systems Studio Ghibli uses to produce their current animation master pieces.

Since August 2003 Studio Ghibli has been working with a special system from HP. It has already been used for “Howl’s Moving Castle” and also for their newest film “Gedo Senki”. For storing all those complicated animation sequences, their digital infrastructure first of all consists of out three enterprise HP 5470 Alpha HP-UX servers. With the help of Samba, 11 TB of storage capacity is shared on a XP128 disk array and a VA7410 virtual disk array. Of course Ghibli doesn't want to lose all that mind dazzling animation, so for safety these systems are backed up with two HP StorageWorks MSL5060 Tape Libraries providing a high performance mission critical automated mid-range tape backup. And of course you’ve also got to transfer some data, so two HP FC16b fibre channel switches are being used as well. Besides that, Studio Ghibli also uses 4 HP DL360 servers with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol > an Internet protocol that email and other programs use to look up information from a server) and DFS (allowing administrators to group shared folders located on different servers by transparently connecting them to one or more DFS namespaces > a DFS namespace is a virtual view of shared folders in an organization). Next to that there are also two HP 9308 and two 9304 ProCurve switches.

So what are the animators working on??? Well, therefore Studio Ghibli has 55 HP XW 8000 workstations with Windows XP that all have access to the several servers. Each of the workstations have 2 Intel Xeon 2.8 GHz processors, 4 GB memory, a nVidia Quadro4 900 XGL (AGP) graphics card, two 72 GB hard disk drives and gigabit Ethernet. These types of workstations are specially made by HP for Digital Content Creation, working closely with all the key DCC software and hardware companies to insuring perfectly compatibility with the tools needed by Studio Ghibli. Finally, like in the final photograph, Ghibli has also stored several HP XW8000 workstations together in one rack for rendering and processing of CG animation.

So that’s the equipment Studio Ghibli uses for making their movies! Sounded boring and nerdy to you? Well, lets hope I’ll have some better news next time! In the mean time you might have missed the Gedo Senki wallpapers that Asahi Soft Drinks has been releasing the last four weeks on their special Asahi Gedo Senki website> click! ^_^

25th of June, THIRD GEDO SENKI TRAILER AND NTV ADVERTISEMENT PROGRAM: My Japanese friend Takahiro has let me know that last Friday CH1 of Ghibli Channel uploaded a movie clip showing the previewing of the 3rd and final trailer of Gedo Senki. In this clip, Kishimoto says the trailer has a lenght of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Unfortunately, the clip also mentions that the 3rd trailer will be released only in Japanese cinemas. For login help check

But even though it looks like the third trailer won’t be aired on TV, there might be good news. Luckilly, NTV has started a special advertisement program related to the release of Gedo Senki including the latest information on Gedo Senki and maybe some its video material will be available later on:
- July 15th : "6 days to Howl's Moving Castle" (24:50 - 25:05)
- July 17th : "4 days to Howl's Moving Castle"
- July 18th : "3 days to Howl's Moving Castle"
- July 19th : "2 days to Howl's Moving Castle"
- July 20th : "1 day to Howl's Moving Castle"
- July 21th : Friday special roadshow, "Howl's Moving Castle" (21:00 - 23:34)
- July 24th: "5 days to Gedo Senki" (23:55 - 24:04)
- July 25th: "4 days to Gedo Senki"
- July 26th: "3 days to Gedo Senki"
- July 27th: "2 days to Gedo Senki"
- July 28th: "1 day to Gedo Senki", Friday roadshow "My Neighbor Totoro" (21:00 - 22:54)
- July 29th: Gedo Senki special program 10:30 - 11:25

It’s going to be the first time that HMC will be aired on TV. As lately classic Miyazaki's film were a bit less recognized by Japanese, NTV aired many of the Studio Ghibli films in their program "Friday Roadshow" and therefore gained back their popularity in Japan.

24th of June, THIRD GEDO SENKI TRAILER, GHIBLI & NHK’S WEEKEND JAPANOLOGY VIDEO : I’ve been really busy lately, so I didn’t have any time to post any news, but I hope in one week that’ll all be over. Anyway, my Japanese friend Takahiro has let me know that according to an interview with Keiichi Itagaki, an Studio Ghibli trailer editor (for example Film Preview Production for Howl's, Spirited and Mononoke Hime), the 3rd trailer of Gedo Senki will be released on July 8 in Japanese cinemas. He mentioned that "It may be shocking". Also, according to Goro's blog of 21th, all production of Gedo Senki has been finished. A preview for its production staff will be held next week.

To finish I’ve got a nice compilation video. My Japanese friend Makoto has send me an episode of NHK’s “Weekend Japanology”, a bilingual program for worldwide broadcast. The program covers a wide range of topics including traditional culture, seasonal foods and customs, everyday life, latest fads and fashion trends. Internationally active guests are invited to the studio to share their own Japanese experiences and speak on Japan as they see it.

Of course they also cover topics like anime and therefore I made a small compilation video of the Ghibli footage that was part of the episode that was sent to me by my Japanese friend Makato. It’ll start with a short intro so you can see what kind of topics this episode was actually about, following with a short piece of footage showing Howl’s Moving Castle winning at the Venice Film Festival. Finally, you’ll see Isao Takahata talking about the “Chojyu-giga”, an ancient 12th century scroll of 11 meters long depicting animals and nature which can been seen as the first piece of Japanese animation ever. You can watch the video over here. Enjoy!

9th of June, MIZUGUMO MON MON MUSIC: In January 2006 Rio Yamase was approached by Hayao Miyazaki to work on his latest project, the Ghibli Museum Short "Mizugumo Mon Mon". Rio Yamase ended up both composing as well as playing its lovely soundtrack of which I’m glad I own a copy (only available at the Ghibli Museum). For those who don’t own a copy, there’s good news. My friend Takahiro has let me know that Rio Yamase was the guest of a Japanese radio program on May 28th in which she played the opening song for "Mizugumo Mon Mon". The show can be listened over here. There you can hear her talking about "Mizugumo Mon Mon" (7 minutes 30 seconds mark), she and her 13 year old niece play Norwegian folk dance music (11 minutes mark) and furthermore she plays "Water Spider" (12 minutes 30 seconds mark), the opening song for "Mizugumo Mon Mon".

1st of June, WEBSITE KAZUO OGA’S TANEYAMAGAHARA NO YORU AND MORE: Today Studio Ghibli informed us over here about the opening of the official “Taneyamagahara no Yoru”-website. It features it’s trailer, some staff, story and DVD info and can be found over here. "Taneyamagahara no Yoru" will be the director's debut of background art master Kazuo Oga. It will be released directly on DVD on July 7. Also, starting from June 19, an A4 sized hardcover full color book of 72 pages will be for sale as well. I haven’t got an link yet, but you can buy it for 2,415 yen at 7andY. Otherwise try searching for it with ISBN 4-19-862175-6. To finish for today, my Japanese friend Nanashi made a translation of the Goro Miyazaki interview that was released last week. It can be found over here.

30th of May, ANOTHER GORO MIYAZAKI INTERVIEW: Yesterday Studio Ghibli posted some news on their site over here. Why? Because have posted another interview with Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki. It talks about different things, starting with his school days, being employed, furthermore switching jobs, until he became manager of the Ghibli Museum and finally became director of Ghibli’s latest feature film “Gedo Senki”. The original Japanese version can be read over here, perhaps a English translation will follow later on!

27th of May, SECOND OFFICIAL GEDO SENKI POSTER RELEASED: Today Studio Ghibli have announced the release of the second official Gedo Senki movie poster over here on their website. The picture below shows only a part of what it’s going to look like, but for a view of the entire art which is going to be used for the second poster, click here!!!

Starting today, those who live in Japan can run into the second Gedo Senki movie poster at their cinema. The first poster with the dragon was impressive, but the 2nd poster with the sea view adds a whole different feeling to it. To tell the truth, the printing of this poster was a big secret. Normally, movie posters are printed in 4 colors a.k.a. CMYK: the cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow (yellow), black (black). However, as for this new poster they will specially print it with 6 colors > two types of fluorescent ink are added. As a result, it will have a strange color glow over it which cannot be expressed. The reason for this is that it adds to the message of the new “copy” of the poster "The very thing which is not visible", just like the two types of fluorescent ink which were added.

Well, it looks really nice (so did first one). To be honest, original Japanese Ghibli movie posters are always really nice. ^_^ Unfortunately, they can be hard to get in the West, but the new ones are luckily more widely available (in Japan). I can't wait to add these Gedo Senki posters to my Ghibli Poster Collection. I’ll be framing them just like the other 20 full size (20.0" X 28.5" > 50.8 cm X 72.39 cm) original Japanese Ghibli movie posters I already have > see example below (more coming with an update of the "My Collection" part of Ghibli World).

24th of May, AARDMAN AND HAYAO MIYAZAKI, NEW TOSHIO SUZUKI INTERVIEW & GEDO SENKI ANIMATION PRODUCTION FINISHED: My Japanese friend Takahiro has let me know that a press conference for Aardman Animations exhibition was held at the Ghibli Museum which was attended by Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Lord, and David Sproxton. In addition my friend Nanashi made a translation of a news paper article and one of TBS’s news headlines which have more information about it. It can be read over here.

Also, I’ve got a translation of the second interview of Lawson’s special dedicated Gedo Senki website: an interview with producer Toshio Suzuki! You can check the English version out over here!

To finish for today, yesterday the Gedo Senki Production Diary announced finishing the animation production of Gedo Senki on exactly May 23rd 16:20. Sound production isn’t finished, but still… the duration of Gedo Senki’s animation production took only 8 months and 17 days! This is significantly shorter compared to Howl's Moving Castle (17 months and 6 days > 2/1/2003- 7/7/2004) and Spirited Away (16 months and 26 days> 2/1/2000-6/27/2001).

To give you a better idea about the time schedule of Gedo Senki, here’s some more details starting from the 6th of September, the day Gedo Senki's Animation Production started:
- Jan 20: 149 cuts (12%), Jan 27: 180 cuts (15%)
- Feb 3 : 230 cuts (19%), Feb 17: 326 cuts (26%)
- Mar 3 : 422 cuts (34%), Mar 30: 687 cuts (55%)
- Apr 7 : 776 cuts (63%), Apr 25: 935 cuts (76%)
- May 1 : 997 cuts (81%), May 23: 1,236 cuts (100%)

20th of May, GHIBLI AT CANNES FILM FESTIVAL AND AARDMAN AT GHIBLI MUSEUM: Studio Ghibli updated their website over here to remind us that today the special exhibition dedicated to Aardman Studios has opened. Aardman Studio was responsible for making “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”, a clay animation film which claimed this years Oscar for Best Animated Feature (instead of Howl’s Moving Castle). The exhibition can visited for a limited time only: from May 20th 2006 till May 2007.

Also, as you might know the 2006 Cannes Film Festival is being held right now. As it is henceforth the tradition, Cannes Classics proposes a selection of ten new or restored prints (chosen among proposals from studios, production houses, film museums, national archives...) presented from May 18-27 in the Buñuel theatre. My Japanese friend Nanashi has let me know that Nausicaa is being screened as part of the Cannes Classics of the Festival de Cannes. A dedicated page to its screening can be found over here.

18th of May, VARIOUS GEDO SENKI NEWS: As you might know LAWSON opened a special Gedo Senki website which has an interview with director Goro Miyazaki (a translation of the interview with Goro can be read over here). Anyway, Lawson have uploaded their second Gedo Senki interview: an interview with producer Toshio Suzuki! You can check it out in Japanese over here and if you’re lucky a translation will follow at Ghibli World as well.

Also for those who weren’t aware of it yet, Studio Ghibli have uploaded the second Gedo Senki trailer (thanks Takahiro and Takayuki!). However, just like the first trailer, it’s a streaming flash video which plays very badly. Luckily I already uploaded a video of it earlier! ^_^ Finally, according to the production diary of May 15th, 1,176 of 1,236 cuts (95.1%) of Gedo Senki have been completed. Key Animation and it’s following Key Animation Check are already entirely done, as well as Background Painting. All that’s left is Animation (1,233 cuts > 99.8%), Animation Check (1,223 cuts > 98.9%) and Effects (1,191 cuts > 96.4%). To finish Sound Production will continue until next month.

13th of May, VARIOUS GHIBLI NEWS: My Japanese friend Takahiro has send me some information about the Filmart-sha published database book "COMPLETE HAYAO MIYAZAKI" by Seiji Kanou of the Institute of Isao Takahata & Hayao Miyazaki.

I already knew about the book’s release, but I wasn’t aware of it’s contents. The book’s "Body Copy" is “Do not take a rest! Draw! Run!! Sublime fight to face creation of the world. Staff's marvelous making of was revealed.” Even though it's written in Japanese, there were enough reasons for me to order this book (for 2,520 Yen it’s yours, check Amazon). With a total of 344 pages the book parses 14 items about Miyazaki's 9 feature films and 9 short films, from Castle of Cagliostro to Water Spider Monmon:
1. Credits
2. Synopsis
3. Process of production
4. Film source
5. Technical achievement
6. Scene cuts
7. Production staff
8. Voice casts
9. Music and theme songs
10. Advertising and performance
11. Release and afterwards
12. Overseas reactions
13. Main review
14. General comments

So what's so special about this book? Well, the greatest thing of the book is a database with info about the 6 minute short film "Kusou no Sora Tobu Kikaitachi" (Imaginary Flying Machines) which was made for the Laputa exhibition held at the Ghibli Museum in 2002. It's a masterpiece that demonstrates Miyazaki's knowledge and love for flying machines, who also happens to be the only one doing the voices and narration in this film (backed up with a lovely soundtrack made by Joe Hisaishi). In this film Miyazaki becomes a pig and explains the flight system of a Tiger Moss and an Ornithopter, and the history of other imaginary flying machines. At the end of the film Miyazaki’s narration ends and a boy takes off into the sky with his cool ornithopter.

But there’s more. Studio Ghibli announced that the Gedo Senki sound track CD will have a SACD (Stereo/Multi-ch) HYBRID version and will includes 30 tracks. In addition to that, I’d like to remind you about another SACD as well: the "Czech Philharmonic Orchestra plays Studio Ghibli symphony collection". It was released last year and can be bought over here.

11th of May, GEDO SENKI SOUNDTRACK NEWS (PRE-ORDER) AND PRODUCTION NEWS: My Japanese friend Takahiro has send my some nice news again. Today Studio Ghibli announced the release date of the "Gedo Senki Song Collection" image album: July 12. It includes ten songs, like "Therru's song", the Gedo Senki theme song "Song of Time" and 8 other songs by Aoi Teshima. Goro Miyazaki (lyrics) and Hiroko Taniyama (composer). The Gedo Senki sound track by Tamiya Terashima will be released on July 12. For more info check the Japanese Gedo Senki website of Tower Records! For those only speaking English, it’s also up for pre-order at CD Japan and the CD single of Gedo Senki is up for pre-order as well at Amazon and Yesasia.

But there’s more. A new special feature column "How Gedo Senki is born." has begun in the Production Diary. The edition May 8th explains about the various production stages in a special Gedo Senki Production Flow Chart. My friend Nanashi (translation) and I (image editing) have made a translated version of it which you can find below. For a better view and reading, click to enlarge!!!

The edition of May 11th explains what an Ekonte is and how it is used for production. For example the Ekonte page below consists out of several colums. The red column shows the “cutting numbers”, with each number there’s no break, it’s one continued image. The blue and green columns are for stage directions and speech. The yellow column is used for time (number = seconds). It also mentions that the running time of Gedo Senki is about 110 minutes. According to it, the average of 1 cut of the Ghibli film is about 5 seconds. A total of 110 minutes is 6,600 seconds > Gedo Senki has 1,236 cuts > the average of 1 cut of Gedo Senki is a little over 5 seconds.

8th of May, GEDO SENKI TV SPOT AND AOI TESHIMA PLUS VIDEO & INTERVIEWS (UPDATED!): Some nice Ghibli news from Japan again (thanks to Takahiro). Studio Ghibli and Asahi Soft Drinks announced that Aoi Teshima appears and sings "Therru's song" in the collaborating TV spot for Gedo Senki which will be aired starting today. According to Studio Ghibli at first though it was scheduled in July. However, Studio Ghibli received a lot of inquiries from the people who saw the trailer. So, Asahi decided to appoint her this TV spot. According to Sports Hochi, she loves Porco Rosso, Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire and Billie Holiday. Anyway, my friend Nanashi made a translation of the full Sports Hochi article which can be found over here. But that's not the only translation. Last week LAWSON opened a special Gedo Senki website which has an interview with director Goro Miyazaki. A translation of the interview with Goro can be read over here.

Anyway, back to that Asahi Gedo Senki TV spot. It premiered on NTV's "Zoom In Super" this morning around 6:10 AM. "Zoom In Super" airs the entertainment news around 6:20 and 7:20 AM every morning. You can watch the captured 7:20 AM part over here. It didn't air the TV spot, but the TV spot can be watched over here and Aoi Teshima’s official website also opened, which can be found over here. Enjoy!

5th of May, HAYAO MIYAZAKI TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW FILM: Earlier this week it was already announced that, according to the TBS program schedule of May 5th, the 15 minutes interview with Miyazaki in NEWS23 (23:30-24:35) is titled "Hayao Miyazaki talks about "Japanese children" on the Children's Day... and his next film" (in Japan, May 5th is a holiday as "Children's Day"). Besides that, earlier this week Studio Ghibli also stated "NEWS23 of May 5 may not be missed. Please see it. We'll wait your impression." Anyway, today is May 5th the day of the show and my Japanese friend Takahiro provided me a compilation video of the show (as always ^_^)! Though he told a bit about his next film it was very abstract, for example he told about his mental attitude for his next film. Sumi Shimamoto (voice actress for Nausicaa) did the narration of this program. You can watch a video of the interview over here. Enjoy!