Keeping Totoro’s Forest safe: Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki volunteers in conservation event

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RocketNews 24:

When Studio Ghibli’s classic anime My Neighbor Totoro first screened in the U.S., more than a few people assumed the titular forest spirit must be a traditional figure from Japanese myth or folklore. Considering how well-realized the character is, and the reverence the film treats him with, it’s not surprising that some people would arrive at that conclusion, but the fact of the matter is Totoro sprang directly from the active and ample imagination of Hayao Miyazaki.

The acclaimed director did have a little real-world help creating the film’s settingthough, which is said to have been inspired by a patch of Japanese forestland called Fuchi no Mori. The forest helped light a creative spark in Miyazaki, and now he’s returned the favor by volunteering in an annual conservation event that helps keep the Fuchi no Mori green and healthy.

Fuchi no Mori straddles the Yanasegawa River, which serves as the borderline between Tokyo’s Higashimurayama and neighboring Saitama Prefecture’s Tokorozawa City. Literally meaning “The Abyssal Forest,” it’s also commonly referred to as Totoro’s Forest, because of its resemblance to sisters Mei and Satsuki’s country surroundings in the film.

Tokorozawa has been the 74-year-old Miyazaki’s home for the last 45 years, and in 1996 he made a donation of 300 million yen (US$2.8 million, at the time) in order to protect the forest from housing developments. The timing coincides with the production of Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, the 1997 release with heavy environmental themes which was written and directed by Miyazaki, who had initially intended for the theatrical feature to be his last.

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Miyazaki has provided more than just monetary aid, though. As per the suggestion of the anime icon’s wife, Akemi, volunteers annually gather in winter to clear away underbrush and dead branches from Fuchi no Mori. Doing so allows both the indigenous sawtooth and konara oaks, as well as the maples and satinwood trees, which were introduced as part of reforestation efforts, to flourish in the coming spring.

This year, some 260 environmentally minded individuals answered the online call for participants, coming from as far away as Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. On January 18, they were joined by Miyazaki himself, who pitched in and worked side-by-side with the volunteers during the four-and-a-half-hour event.

Miyazaki’s hands-on approach has drawn praise, given that he’s both wealthy and old enough that society wouldn’t knock him for taking a pass on manual labor. But while some might have expected the famously stern animator, who is said to go for daily walks in the woods, to speak about the deep responsibility represented by the event, he downplayed the weight of what the group had set out to do. Instead, he passed it off as merely a natural and obvious course of events, saying:

Conservational activities are a function of the community’s attitude towards nature. For me, this forest is now a part of my lifestyle. I don’t think so deeply about whether or not I have an obligation to do this. Rather than hold meetings about these kinds of things, what’s important is for us to take action, with our own hands, as part of the flow of time.”

If he could talk, we’re sure Totoro would say the same.

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Anime/animation worlds collide when Disney Artist combines ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ with ‘Big Hero 6′ 

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 Audrey Magazine:

Big Hero 6‘s Baymax is easily one of the most beloved animated characters of 2014. What’s not to love about this personal healthcare provider? He’s big, huggable and has a warm heart (metaphorically speaking).

But as we list all these lovable traits, it’s a little hard not to think about another popular animated character. Sure he’s decades older, but Studio Ghibli’s Totoro certainly holds many of the same qualities found in Baymax.

Jin Kim, the Character Design Supervisor at Walt Disney Animation Studios, certainly seemed to see the correlation as well. Kim, a South Korean-native who worked on the character designs for Big Hero 6, has made it clear on his personal blog that he is a Studio Ghibli fan. He took this one step further by combining Big Hero 6 with the famed animated film My Neighbor Totoro.

Kim originally posted this image back in November, but it has recently gone viral on twitter and has delighted the hearts of many.

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Here is the original, iconic bus stop scene from My Neighbor Totoro.

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Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen artists recreate this bus stop scene. Hayao Miyazaki’s work has been so inspiring, we’ve seen this moment re-imagined with everything from Pokemon characters to Marvel characters.


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Top 5 Miyazaki films for those who have only seen ‘Spirited Away’ 

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 Audrey Magazine:

By now, you’ve probably heard of the legendary filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki and his award-winning animated film Spirited Away (2001)Some other Miyazaki fan-favorites that come to mind include My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving CastlePrincess Mononoke and Ponyo (If you haven’t seen these yet — go watch them! They’re classic Miyazaki and beautifully rendered).

But apart from these five, how many other Miyazaki films are well-known? With so many Miyazaki films, the average movie-watcher may not bother with films beyond the fan-favorites, but many of the lesser-known films are definitely worth your time. The more you get into Miyazaki’s world, the more curious it gets.

In honor of famous filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki receiving an honorary Oscar last November 8th at the Governors Awards ceremony, here are five of our favorite Miyazaki films that often fly under the radar.


1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is Miyazaki’s second feature film, and its animation, especially in the 1980s, is impressive. In fact, this is the very film that led to the creation of Studio Ghibli. The film is set a thousand years after an almost-apocalyptic war forces mankind to live in a polluted forest filled with huge insects. Luckily, the princess of the Valley of the Wind recognizes the importance of preserving the forest and its environmental significance.



2. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki’s Delivery Service is often known as the most popular with mainstream audiences, but it’s on this list because many core Miyazaki fans may not regard it as such. While there might be less drama, the basis of the film is its focus on character. The story is of Kiki developing a sense of independence and confidence though her delivery service (by broomstick) in a faraway city.



3. Castle in the Sky (1986)

Castle in the Sky is an epic fantasy story with beautiful animation adornment. Not only was it Miyazaki’s third feature film, it was also one of the first to put Miyazaki on the map for being an excellent storyteller. The film is of an orphan girl who inherits a crystal that links her to Laputa, a legendary kingdom. During the adventure, she crosses paths with a brave young man, evil forces and ancient technology.



4. Porco Rosso (1992)

Often referred to as Miyazaki’s strangest movie, Porco Rosso is on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Kiki’s Delivery Service. An Italian pilot/bounty hunter has a curse that gives him a pig’s head in place of a human head. As he navigates his life in the early 1930s, Miyazaki gives us plenty of gorgeous airplane and aerial shots.


5. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

Right to the beginning is Miyazaki’s first feature film Castle of CagliostroLupin III is a criminal genius and sly thief who accidentally steals counterfeit bills from a casino. He traces the money to a small country, where he and his ninjas team search for a fortune and save a damsel. As Miyazaki’s first film, the animation techniques are a bit unrecognizable, but there’s something about all Miyazaki films (this one included) that capture a sense of wonder and adventure.

New Totoro plush is super pricey, rarer than an encounter with the big guy himself

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RocketNews 24:

As fictional (sorry, I mean completely real and definitely not made up) creatures come, furry forest spirits like Studio Ghibli’s Totoro are pretty rare to begin with. Heck, even the theme song to My Neighbor Totoro tells us that we can only see them when we’re “very young”, so it’s not like we’re tripping over the things in the street.

But if you’re the kind of person who simply must have every piece of high quality Ghibli merch, the rarer the better, then this limited edition plush is definitely one you’ll want to look out for.

The product of a collaboration between Studio Ghibli and the Japanese arm of German plush toy company Steiff, this 25-cm (9.8 inches) handmade Totoro plush is set to go on sale in Japan sometime in June 2015 and will cost a whopping 42,000 yen (US$361).

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The price, however, isn’t the only hurdle that would-be buyers will have to overcome. Only 1,500 units of the cuddly toy will be made, with each one stamped with an individual serial number to prove its authenticity and uniqueness. Sure, 1,500 cuddly toys may sound like a lot at first, but when you consider that the population of Japan (all of them Ghibli fans from birth, of course) currently stands at roughly 127.6 million, you’ll realise just how tricky it will be to get hold of one of these things.

Orders for the rarer-than-rare forest spirits will reportedly start being taken “one day soon”, but whether that means sometime this week or by the end of the month is anyone’s guess, so if you’re in the market for one you’d better keep a keen eye on Steiff Japan’s homepage.


Special exhibits on Studio Ghibli’s art and architecture coming soon to two Tokyo museums


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RocketNews 24:


For any serious anime fan making a trip to Tokyo, a visit to the Ghibli Museum should be at the top of their list. Not only is the design of the building bursting with subtle references to the works of esteemed director Hayao Miyazaki and his compatriots, the on-site theater also screens Ghibli shorts you can’t see anywhere else, such as the heart-warming follow-up to My Neighbor Totoro.

This summer, though, two more Tokyo museums are getting in on the act with special exhibits focusing on the architecture of Studio Ghibli plus artwork for the animation house’s newest film.

One of Japan’s most unique museums is the Edo-Tokyo Tatemono-en, also known as the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. Located in western Tokyo, not far from the Ghibli studio itself, the museum is made up of a number of buildings of historical merit, which visitors can enter and wander about.


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From July 10 to December 14, the museum will also be hosting an exhibition of background paintings and other artwork connected to the buildings featured in Studio Ghibli’s films, starting with the upcoming When Marnie Was There and stretching all the way back to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which predates the formal founding of Ghibli itself.


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Included in the exhibit will be such plausible structures as Mei and Satsuki’s house from Totoro, and the Tsukishima home from Whisper of the Heart, as well as more fantastic creations such as castles of both the in the sky and moving varieties, as seen in Laputa and Howl’s Moving Castle.


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Aside from two-dimensional artwork, miniature recreations of some of the more famous Ghibli buildings are also planned to be on display, although the museum has yet to announce which particular ones.


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Just a few weeks after the Open Air Architectural Museum’s Ghibli event kicks off, the Edo-Tokyo Museum (which is indoor and focused on art, history, and culture) will hold its own anime-inspired event, an exhibition focused on the When Marnie Was There anime and the film’s production designer Yohei Tanada, who also served as an animator on the 2002 theatrical feature Innocence.


▼ A piece from the exhibit shows off the sort of seemingly simple yet deceptively complex artwork Studio Ghibli has become known for.

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While tickets can be bought for the two museums separately, there’s also the option to prepurchase both in a set for 1,500 yen (US $14.70). While this doesn’t give you any sort of discount, the first 3,000 purchasers will receive a cool freebie in the form of a small sketchbook modeled after the one that appears in Marnie.

What will save you some money, though, is the triple pack which also includes entrance to the Ghibli Museum for 2,360 yen ($23.17). Granted, it’s only 140 yen cheaper than the normal price for admission to the three facilities, but with Marnie showing in theaters on July 19, that’s money fans can put towards their tickets for opening day.


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Special exhibits on Studio Ghibli’s art and architecture coming soon to two Tokyo museums



Anime news: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray collection to be released with special bonus content


RocketNews 24:

Miyazaki DVD box

We’re sure many of our readers have seen films by Hayao Miyazaki and know first-hand what it is like to be utterly drawn in to the fantastic yet convincing world he creates. Now, it’s unlikely anyone familiar with Miyazaki’s works will dispute that he is a giant in the anime industry, but a new DVD collection which has recently been announced reminds us just how much of a giant he is.

That’s right, a collection of anime films directed by Miyazaki will be released on June 18, and we have to say the list of movies it includes is impressive. What’s more, the films will all be in Blu-ray and come in a fancy package with extra bonus content! What fan wouldn’t want one of these, right?

There will be eleven movies in the collection — most of them released from Studio Ghibli, but not all — from the very first theater-released film directed by Miyazaki to his latest work, The Wind Rises. Here’s what the box will contain:


[11 Miyazaki films in Blu-ray]
– The Castle of Cagliostro 1979 (Miyazaki’s first theater released film)
– Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 1984
– Castle in the Sky 1986
– My Neighbor Totoro 1988
– Kiki’s Delivery Service 1989
– Porco Rosso 1992
– Princess Mononoke 1997
– Spirited Away 2001
– Howl’s Moving Castle 2004
– Ponyo 2008
– The Wind Rises 2013

[Bonus Disc 1]
– Pilot film from Yuki’s Sun (5 min) 1972 (Pilot for a TV series, entirely storyboarded by Miyazaki himself)
– Three episodes of the TV series Akado Suzunosuke (30 min each) 1972-73  (storyboarded by Miyazaki)
– Promotional music video for the song On Your Mark by CHAGE and ASKA (7 min) 1995

[Bonus Disc 2]
– Miyazaki’s retirement press conference on September 16, 2013 (90 min, uncut)


How’s that for a full serving of Miyazkai anime?

And on top of all this, the collection will come in a uniquely designed box made from a special material with Miyazaki illustrations embossed on it.


This is what the box is expected to look like, although the actual product may end up appearing slightly different:


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So, fans understandably have reason to be excited about this Blu-ray collection. Unfortunately, though, the collection doesn’t come cheap, at a suggested price of 64,000 yen (US$617) and marked down to 51,192 yen ($494) on Amazon Japan. Some Internet users in Japan have already commented on the steep price, saying that it would be more economical to buy the individual Blu-rays for just the movies that you really like.

Nonetheless, we have a strong feeling that there will be more than enough fans willing to pay that price to be the proud owner of this special Miyazaki Blu-ray collection. Whatever you think of the price, one thing that can definitely be said about the collection is that it’s guaranteed to provide many hours of quality entertainment. After looking at the list of movies included in the collection, we can’t help but be impressed with the volume and quality of the work Miyazaki has produced over the years. The only question we now have is, will Miyazakai remain in retirement, or is there a chance he might make a come back… again? Well, we guess we just have to wait and see on that, and maybe enjoy the movies in the Blu-ray collection in the meantime!

Source: AMAZON.JP via Yaraon (Japanese)


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Anime news: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray collection to be released with special bonus content


Enter the dark world of anime and manga urban legends

RocketNews 24: 

Be it movie, TV show, or book, whenever something achieves a certain level of popularity people begin to create their own stories surrounding them and urban legends are born. Japanese media is no different. Rumors spread and before you know it JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure accurately predicted the September 11 terrorist attack in New York.

The following is a collection of urban legends surrounding some of the most famous works in Japanese pop culture. Remember, most of these are not facts, just theories. Otherwise, about 80 percent of our most beloved anime characters are actually dead and just don’t know it yet.

 Spirited Away is actually a story about the sex industry

Some folks out there believe that Miyazaki’s Spirited Away fairy tale was either a parable for the sex trade or, in fictional fact, the bathhouse that Chihiro worked at was actually a cover for a brothel. Japan has a particular type of sex industry known as soaplands where women erotically wash the male clientele in a public bath setting.

These subscribers feel that Yubaba is actually the mistress of a house of ill-repute due to the fact that all of the supernatural customers who visit are men. Also, Chihiro is renamed ‘Sen’ when she starts working there. Yubaba renames all her workers – a pretty common practice in the sex trade.

 The Prince of Tennis shouldn’t call itself tennis

This popular manga and anime series had a long run in Weekly Shonen Jump and has also built up a legendary reputation online for its ridiculously increasingly implausible tennis moves. While it’s all in good fun for the readers, legend has it that an official tennis organization was none too pleased. They wrote an open letter to the magazine complaining, “Please stop using the name ‘tennis.’ This is not tennis anymore. We want you to use something like ‘tenninu’ or ‘ultra-tennis’ instead.”

 Extended Ending to Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Sometimes when feature films make their way to television broadcasts, parts are either added or cut to fit the time constraints. It was believed that such an alteration was made to the broadcast version of Ghibli’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

Word had it that an extended ending contained a scene where Pazu visits Sheeta in her hometown and a scene showing Sheeta hiding a crystal in her fireplace. Studio Ghibli officially denied that these ending scenes were made.

It would seem that people got confused by some illustrations used in an Animage manga serialization which contained an epilogue that took place six months after the events of the film.

By the way, Muska’s falling scene when the castle collapses was also once an urban legend but has been proven true.

 The Minky Momo Earthquakes

There is a belief that episodes of the animated Magical Princess Minky Momo are somehow linked with the occurrence of earthquakes in Japan. The first case occurred in 1983 when a broadcast of episode 46 of the magical-girl series aired. A superimposed warning came up informing that a mild earthquake had struck the Kanto region.

During the airing of the final episode later that year, the Sea of Japan Earthquake struck, claiming the lives of 104 people. Then – as the legend goes – the final episode was re-aired on January 17, 1995 just as the far deadlier Great Hanshin Earthquake hit.

 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure predicts the September 11 World Trade Center attacks

Volume 20 of the JoJo series was published in February of 1991 and inside we find a ‘Prophet Stand’ hanging from a telephone pole. The stand is wearing a shirt which reads “911” and in the background a crescent moon hangs and an airplane glides by with a rather sinister grin.

Then in another page the character (kind of) looks at his watch and remarks “Oh, it’s 10:30!” The second WTC tower collapsed at 10:28am. Have fun with that Illuminati believers.

 The Final Episode of Sazae-san

Some feel that the final episode of this extremely long-running (44 years) animated series will reveal that the entire family had actually perished in a plane crash in the ocean while going on vacation. That’s why everyone is named after things found in the ocean.

And if you think that’s morbid, we’re just getting warmed up.

 Doraemon’s hidden episode

There is also a theory that the whole Doraemon series is actually a dream Nobita is having while lying in a vegetative state following a car accident. If true that would explain the trippy premise behind a bizarre buried episode that is rumored to exist somewhere.

In it Nobita asks Doreamon to take him shopping in the underworld. The robot cat agrees and pulls out a hoop that takes them down there. While in the underworld, they meet people who are speaking in an unintelligible mumbling. Then they enter a room with a large model of the planet Earth. However, the model cracks open and blood begins to poor out. Nobita and Doraemon are terrified and hold each other while crying profusely. Cut to black and roll credits.

 The girls in My Neighbor Totoro die partway through the movie

A few frequent viewers of the Miyazaki classic found it was odd that while watching My Neighbor Totoro the two protagonists Mei and Satsuki both lose their shadows. Thus the theory was born that they had somehow died partway through the movie and hadn’t realized it which would explain the encounter with the supernatural Totoro beings thought by some to be spirits of death.

Ghibli made a statement on their blog saying that the omitted shadows were simply a cost-cutting tactic. However, theorists remained unswayed feeling that it was out of character for the famous studio to cut corners like that.

 Crayon Shin-chan’s Final Episode

Yet another long-running animated series has a dark predicted ending. People are expecting the final episode to reveal that the main character Shinnosuke had actually died when he was five while rescuing his baby sister from being hit by a car.

All of those sassy, light-hearted adventures we’ve enjoyed over the years were actually the creations of his mother going through the grieving process. When the final episode comes we will finally understand that all this time she was just envisioning what her deceased son’s life might be like had he lived. The titular “crayon” is the object that she clings to in memory of her lost child.


Well, on a brighter note: There’s also a theory which is probably 100 percent true that says the recurring character of Shinko-chan, the girl from the future, is actually Shinnosuke’s little sister. In the Japanese language version of the anime, she sometimes slips and says “oni[chan]” (brother) only to quickly catch herself “oni… giri-head” (riceball-head).

 Goodbye Doraemon

We’ll leave you with one last touching legend about arguably Japan’s most beloved cartoon.

The story goes that on the day Hiroshi Fujimoto (one half of Fujio Fujiko, the writing team behind Doreamon) died, Doraemon unexpectedly appeared on TV at midnight. Alleged witnesses disagree on whether or not the title credits played but afterwards rather than a typical episode of the lovable robot cat and his clumsy pal, all you could see was Nobita walking with his back turned to the camera.

This continued for ten minutes. Then, at the end Nobita said, “I gotta get going now” and the screen faded to black.

Source: Naver MatomeYouTube – klusfv zagoerfv

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Enter the dark world of anime and manga urban legends


Watch The Simpsons tribute to filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki

In a rare interaction between animation icons, The Simpsons paying tribute to Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, director of Studio Ghibli classics such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

Just last September, the 73-year-old anime veteran announced his retirement from film making following the release of his last film for Ghibli, The Wind Rises. The episode-long homage to Miyazaki will air this coming Sunday on FOX and will be chock full of references to his films.

Check out this brief clip from the episode now.


The best My Neighbor Totoro bus stop parodies…


When Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement, fans quickly reacted. Suddenly, the already large fandom grew in number and in passion. His movies were popping up all over social media, children were cosplaying his characters left and right and suddenly everyone wanted to take part in the Studio Ghibli fandom.

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The Best Totoro Bus Stop Parodies

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Live-action version of “Kiki’s Delivery Service” in production


Though Hayao Miyazaki may be heading into retirement, the Japanese animator’s films, which include much-beloved Studio Ghibli titles such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro have clearly made their way into the hearts of millions.

To the delight of many, a still photo coming from the set of the live-action version of Kiki’s Delivery Service was released.

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Live-action version of “Kiki’s Delivery Service” in production

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