16 Facts About Studio Ghibli That Will Change How You See The Films
I love cartoons. Disney, Looney Toons, Tom and Jerry, and just about anything animated has a soft spot in my heart. But many of the newer cartoons seem to fall flat for me, except for that wonderful Japanese import: anime. Anime is more than just a cartoon; in the right hands, with the right story and animators, it becomes art. No other animation studio embodies that mentality more than Studio Ghibli. The films are beautiful and the stories are so complex that I notice new details every time I watch them.
1. Castle in the Sky’s original soundtrack only featured an hour of music.
When the film was released in America, the composer, Joe Hisaishi, had to write additional pieces to appease Disney. Apparently, Disney was under the impression that American audiences would not enjoy the movie with the original soundtrack’s duration.
2. Miyazaki handles the storyboard for every single film.
This gives Studio Ghibli films that element of consistency not found in many other animated features. Rather than allow a team to handle the storyboard, working on different scenes to speed up the process, it’s Miyazaki’s vision that brings the films to life.
Though well-known for his feature films and animes, Hayao Miyazaki has been known to provide illustrations to several popular mangas. While the drawings are similar, the styles do differ slightly, showing just how versatile his talents really are.
4. Miyazaki doesn’t know how the films will end when he starts the drawing process.
Production begins long before Miyazaki is finished creating the storyboards, so the ending is almost a surprise for him when he gets there. The result is a series of captivating events that leave us in awe and surprise as the film reaches its climax.
There’s a reason the films feel so realistic.
5. Some of the characters are derived from real-life inspiration.
Miyazaki based the character Chihiro on his friend’s younger daughter. Apparently, the character’s apathy was real!
6. The studio’s lifelike portrayals are due to their intense focus on the little details.
If you’ve ever noticed that the movement of clothing seems exceedingly lifelike for an anime, you’re not alone. Miyazaki is known to spend time watching people to understand their movements and better portray them through animation.
7. Studio Ghibli relies heavily on hand-drawn animation.
In today’s age of digital animation, most studios are making way for computer-generated graphics. However, Studio Ghibli still employs a large group of traditional animators to keep their films up to par with their particular standards. In fact, the studio has a strict policy which states that no more than 10% of any project can be comprised of digital animation.
8. International distributors must accept the films as-is.
After a few debacles over cut scenes, Studio Ghibli decided that their films were perfect the way they were. Instead of allowing foreign distributors to cut scenes, the studio insists that the movie retains all scenes deemed relevant for the Japanese release. This helps ensure consistency across international releases.
The creators started producing films long before Ghibli was a thing…
9. One of the films most associated with the studio, Nausicaa, was released before Studio Ghibli was founded.
Despite it’s close association to Studio Ghibli, Nausicaa was released a year before the studio opened. Studio Ghibli has since acquired the distribution rights, though.
10. The studio is not afraid to recycle characters if they have a fanbase.
The ‘kitsunerisu’ (fox-squirrels) appear in both Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky. They’re the cutest things ever after all, so why not use them in several films?!
11. The films take inspiration from real-world locations.
For example, the theme park in Spirited Away was largely inspired by a museum in Tokyo.
12. The periods of stillness are completely intentional.
Miyazaki is a fan of the many still scenes in the films. He believes that the still scenes indicate a sense of pure emotion that helps people become more connected to the characters in a way that dialogue cannot achieve.
You’ll never guess how the founders of the studio met…
13. Contrary to popular belief, Miyazaki’s career did NOT start with Studio Ghibli.
He first entered the world of animation with Toei Animation in 1963 and stayed with the company until 1971. While there, he had the privilege of working with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki on a number of projects long before Nausicaa was in development.
14. They produce films geared towards Japanese audiences.
Though the films are widely distributed, international releases are not the studio’s main focus. That’s why so many of the films are rich in Japanese culture, history, and tastes.
15. Miyazaki’s love of planes was part of the reason he suggested the name ‘Studio Ghibli’.
The Ghibli is an Italian plane that was used in World War II but its name is of Arabic origin. Loosely translated, Ghibli means, ‘hot air blowing through the desert.’ Allegedly, Miyazaki suggested this name because he and his business partners wanted to create a wind of change around the way anime was created in Japan.
16. Despite having a central antagonist, most of Studio Ghibli’s films lack a completely evil or completely good character.
Instead, the characters are a mix of both good and evil, allowing the films to mimic real life more closely than other anime franchises. This serves to emphasize the sense of hope each protagonist clings to as the story progresses.