Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ghibli Museum

P6060196 You may have never heard of “Studio Ghibli” but if you are even remotely interested in Japanese animation you must have watched “Spirited Away” (which won an Oscar), “Howl’s Moving Castle” or “My Neighbor Totoro” – all considered to be extremely good examples of the genre. Well, all of these gems were produced by the same company – “Studio Ghibli” or “スタジオジブリ”.  This animation studio has a museum in Mitaka which hosts a lot of sketches done in preparation or during the production of their animation masterpieces. I got a chance to visit the place for the first time after spending almost 18 months here – something I should have done much much earlier. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside but as you can see from the little metal cover on the floor in the garden there are a lot of interesting things outside too.


There  are so many interesting things inside other than the drawings.  Even the ticket that you get inside, for admittance to the movie theatre (which happens to show a special 12 min animation only shown at the museum), is made of a part of a film strip from one of the animations (though I also heard they can be from Pixar movies as well since there is some sort of agreement between Pixar and Ghibli). They even sell little set-ups that let you inspect the films closer. This is one of the two pictures I managed to take inside before I was (very politely) told off by the nice lady inside. You can kinda see the ticket inside and the magnifying glass on the side. There are a lot of models based on the animation characters, some of which actually move. One particularly amazing setup involves many little models from Totoro looking like they are dancing around thanks to strobe lighting. There are two stores in the museum as well, one selling primarily books and the other one all sorts of related merchandise from Totoro earrings to jackets with the museum coat of arms. On the second floor there is even a full sized cat-bus from the Totoro movie though unfortunately only elementary school students or younger are allowed inside the fluffy vehicle.


The second floor opens to a garden outside and through some more stairs one reaches the towering statue of the robot from “Castle in the Sky”. Saying that it is life-sized would be doing it a disservice. The thing is huge and extremely detailed, just like all the other things in the museum. If you follow the little walkway in the back you can end up by an extremely detailed cube statue with writings which is also from the same movie. It is definitely a photo-op for everyone. Oh, and there happens to be at least one (though I suspect two now) cafe in the museum. Next time I go I will be sure to check it out.

No comments: