Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli’s 1991 masterpiece ‘Only Yesterday’ finally set for North America release

From the talent that brought you Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle comes the archived masterpiece Only Yesterday. Originally released in Japan in 1991 under the title Omoide Poro Poro or translated as Memories Trickle Down, the story follows that of 27-year old Taeko as her travels to the countryside are interlaced with memories of booming metropolitan Tokyo.

Daisy Ridley (Rey of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Dev Patel (Chappie and Slumdog Millionaire) voice the main characters in the Isao Takahata-directed animation with Hayao Miyazaki as general producer.

Only Yesterday hits the IFC Center theater on January 1 and select theaters nationwide on February 26.

Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki hard at work on first ever CG short

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RocketNews 24:

Hayao Miyazaki, the world-famous (supposedly retired) director and face of Studio Ghibli, is currently working on his first ever fully computer-generated movie, it has been revealed.

Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki announced earlier today that retired director Hayao Miyazaki is hard at work on a brand new short animation for the studio. What may come as a surprise to many of the veteran director’s fans, however, is that this time round the production will be entirely computer generated.

The short film, which is to be screened only at the Studio Ghibli Museum located in Tokyo’s Mitaka City, is expected to have a run-time of just 10 minutes, but in true Miyazaki style will take approximately three years to create.

It is apparently based on an idea for a feature-length film which Miyazaki had back in 1997, prior to the release of Princess Mononoke.

Little else is known about the production at this time, but Suzuki mentioned during his announcement of the project that, far from being intimidated by the new digital medium, Mr Miyazaki was positively “fired up for the challenge”.

This amazingly detailed theme park map is what Tokyo Ghibli Land would look like

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RocketNews 24:

At the Ghibli Museum in Mikata, Tokyo, in an enchanting building designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself, you can wander among sketches and storyboards, gaze up at the iconic Robot Soldier standing guard on the building’s roof, and learn about the history of animation.

What you can’t do is ride a Laputa roller coaster, a Sea of Decay log flume, or a monorail shaped like the Cat Bus, because a) Mr. Miyazaki would probably hate that and b) Ghibli is presumably doing pretty well out of its other endeavours and doesn’t feel the need to build an actual amusement park just yet.

So, alas, these beautiful plans for a full-blown theme park by Japanese artist and Studio Ghibli fan Takumi won’t be being realized any time soon. Which is a shame, because Takumi’s incredibly detailed Tokyo Ghibli Land is one theme park that we’d happily pay through the nose to visit.

Takumi posted his beautiful plans to Twitter on January 31, along with some pretty serious-sounding statements of intent.

And we are seriously impressed with the attention to detail in these plans.

At the centre of the imagined park is Calcifer as a Ghibli-style house with pipes and chimneys poking out all over the place. His lolling tongue rolls out onto Kingsbury Square, named after the fictional town in which Howl’s Moving Castle is set:

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Of course, guests to Takumi’s Ghibli Land park would need accommodation, and the artist has included Hotel Adriano (from Porco Rosso), and the Aburaya Bathhouse (Spirited Away) for guests to choose from. Leading up to the Aburaya Bathhouse is a beautiful homage to the street scenes from Spirited Away, the aptly named Buta-kui Food Court where you can (of course) eat like pigs:

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Elsewhere, there are other cool little details, like a Forest Animals attraction guarded over by Shishigami and occupied by a whole host of mythical creatures, and an Aviation Museum holding flying machines from a Flaptter (Castle in the Sky) to Jiro’s Birdplane from The Wind Rises. Snaking around the whole site, of course, is a Cat Monorail made up of five stuck-together Cat Buses.

▼ Shishigami (Princess Mononoke) and friends.

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▼ The Aviation Museum and Cat Monorail. We wanna go!

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Clockwise from top left: Hotel Adriano (Porco Rosso); Automobile Mountain (with a gun-toting Dora from Castle in the Sky); Laputa Labyrinth; Hatter hat shop (Howl’s Moving Castle); Uncle Pom’s Planetarium, Flying Flaptters and Tiger Moth Adventure 3D (Castle in the Sky); Therru’s Dragon (Tales from Earthsea).

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▼ Shishigami’s Animal Forest (Princess Mononoke); Zeniba’s Cake Factory, Aburaya Bathhouse, and Eat-Like-A-Pig Food Court (Spirited Away); Mei’s Acorn Hunt (My Neighbour Totoro); Jiro’s Bird-Plane (The Wind Rises); Atelier Antique Shop (Whisper of the Heart); Yakul Carousel (Princess Mononoke); Calcifer Talk (Howl’s Moving Castle). Centre: Irontown (Princess Mononoke).

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▼ Sea of Decay Cruise (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind); Koriko town and Gutiokipanja (Kiki’s Delivery Service); Cat Monorail; Aviation Museum.

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▼ Arrietty’s dollhouse; the Marsh House (When Marnie Was There); Sousuke’s Pop Pop Shop (Ponyo); Susuwatari Mansion (i.e. Mei and Satsuki’s house); Safflower Picking (Only Yesterday); Princess Kaguya’s Bamboo Grove; Fujimoto’s Twenty Thousand Leagues and the Devonian Period Aquarium (Ponyo); The Cat’s Office (The Cat Returns); Manpuku-ji Temple (Pom Poko).

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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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Studio Ghibli’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” nominated for Academy Award

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RocketNews 24:

We’re just about a month away from the 87th Academy Awards presentation, and if you’re a general cinema fan, odds are you’ve been looking forward to the event. However, if the only thing that can make you take a trip to the theater is a screening of a Studio Ghibli anime, you might not have been expecting too much from the gala to be held at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater.

Ghibli’s newest film, When Marnie Was There, hasn’t been getting the sort of rave reviews of a Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Six months after its Japanese release, Marnie is mostly forgotten in its home country and still unreleased in North America, making it ineligible for this year’s Oscar race.

Thanks to the time lag caused by international distribution, though, Ghibli does have one film eligible for the upcoming academy awards, and it just cleared the first hurdle with the Academy announcing The Tale of Princess Kaguya as a nominee in the Best Animated Feature Category.

Although Kaguya premiered in Japanese theatres in late 2013, it wasn’t until the following year that it arrived in North America. Helmed by Isao Takahata, the director best known for heart-rending Word War II tragedy Grave of the Fireflies, Kaguya is based on the Japanese folktale often referred to in English as The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.

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Many of Kaguya’s elements will be familiar to viewers who’ve read or know the basic structure of the 10th century literary classic it draws from. Its visual style, though, is unprecedented, composed of subdued colors and vaguely sketched outlines that are in stark contrast to the ultra-polished look of most other Studio Ghibli films.

Also nominated for Best Animated Feature are Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Song of the Sea. Unlike Ghibli’s last shot at winning an Oscar, when Hayao Miyazaki’s swansong The Wind Rises got steamrolled by Frozen in 2014, none of Kaguya’s competitors completely set the world on fire (despite our growing infatuation with Big Hero 6’s Baymax). As such, what’s assumed by many to be Takahata’s final film has a fighting chance, although it will still have to overcome what seems to be a growing distaste in North America for non-CG animation.

▼ Since the establishment of the Best Animated Feature in 2001, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is the sole hand-drawn film to win the award, and one of only two winners that weren’t computer animated.

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With Hayao Miyazaki retired from theatrical animation and having already received an honorary Oscar for his body of work, Marnie’s lukewarm reception, and the possible disbanding of Studio Ghibli as we know it, this may be the last opportunity for Japan’s most respected animation house to bring home the Academy’s highest honor. We’ll find out whether or not it did at the awards ceremony on February 22.

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)

http://www.ifccenter.com/films/nausicaa-of-the-valley-of-the-wind/

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)

http://geekimprovement.com/movies/movie/kikis-delivery-service/

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)

http://www.mildlypleased.com/2014/02/miyazaki-month-castle-in-the-sky/

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)

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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)

https://mubi.com/films/lupin-iii-the-castle-of-cagliostro

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.

Lego models of Ghibli characters pay tribute to Hayao Miyazaki

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RocketNews 24:

 

It’s been an emotional week for fans around the world after news broke about the possible closure of Studio Ghibli’s production department. Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki thankfully cleared up some of the misconceptions out there, and while we’re still left with many unanswered questions, his words left us with a glimmer of hope that even the great Hayao Miyazaki himself may be back to make a short animated film in the near future.

Miyazaki himself has publicly stated that last year’s The Wind Rises would be his final feature-length film, even if he continues making short films after retirement. So how do you pay tribute to a man whose career spans decades and who created some of the most beloved movies around the world? Well, one fan’s idea to build Lego models of his famous characters and a bust of the master himself seems like a good start!  

These photos recently popped up on a Japanese forum where viewers laughed about the surprisingly intricate craftsmanship of the Lego characters. Whoever built them sure has a good grasp on their finer details, right down to the curse on Ashitaka’s right arm:

 

▼Ashitaka and San, Princess Mononoke 

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Also making an appearance were some of the cast members from the Oscar-winning Spirited Away. No-Face in particular is creepily accurate to its animated design, wouldn’t you say?

 

▼Chihiro in her civilian clothes, No-Face, and Sen in her work clothes, Spirited Away

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Finally, we have Hayao Miyazaki himself, in Lego form! One viewer commented how his large nostrils made the model seem more like a cross between Miyazaki and the titular character of Porco Rosso.

 

▼The master appears to be in rare form

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▼Here’s a photo for comparison if you’re not familiar with what he looks like in real life.

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