“Let’s become lost children together”

Posted by on Oct 13, 2011 in Tokyo, Travel Volunteer Journey | 5 Comments
“Let’s become lost children together”

It’s 1995 and I am 12 years old. It is a very hot night in Scotland, which are as common as snowfall in Saudi Arabia. I am unable to sleep, so turn on the small television in the bedroom I share with my brother. There are four channels: the two from the BBC, which are getting ready to shut down for the night, ITV which is playing endless adverts, and Channel 4, which was, is and forever will be, the best terrestrial channel in the UK.

To my surprise, they are about to start showing a cartoon. Cartoons at midnight – this is the dream!

When it starts, though, it’s in a language that I cannot understand. My eyes have to work hard to keep up with the dialogue, especially as there is so much to look at on the screen. It feels like I’ve somehow joined in the middle of the movie, but despite that, everything is strangely familiar. The animation is different to anything I’ve seen before, and the characters move like real people. Very quickly a part of my brain knows that this is not intended for children. It’s violent, shocking at times, and consistently confusing. And then there’s that bike. The next day in school my friends didn’t believe a word I said about this strange, foreign cartoon.

The film was Akira. By chance my first ever anime was also one of the greatest and most influential of all time. Over the next four or five years, I would cram as much of this new genre into my life as possible – at one point literally every empty ceiling and wall space was taken up by anime posters, which I bought in lieu of being able to get a hold of many actual videos.

Akira stands up today, still confusing and scaring me a little each time, still making me lust after Kaneda’s bike, too. However, I’m sure in some circles it’s regarded as old-hat, because in the modern world of Japanese anime, there is only one name that seems to matter: Studio Ghibli.

Though the studio has been around for over 25 years, it was responsible for a massive spike in the popularity of the genre only a decade ago. By releasing Spirited Away in 2001, it was as though anime had been born for the first time in the consciousness of the West. The story about the weird adventures of a 10-year-old girl whose parents turn into gluttonous pigs may have used themes that have been around for centuries, but it the world greeted it like the arrival of a animated messiah.

“It is a beautifully drawn and wonderfully composed work of art – really, no other description will do,” said the Guardian; while Roger Ebert declared: “Apart from the stories and dialogue, Spirited Away is a pleasure to regard just for itself. This is one of the year’s best films.”

It went on to become the most successful Japanese film in history. The Academy duly handed out the Oscar for best animation a year later. These days even my old friends at Channel 4 regard it as the 8th greatest cartoon of all time (Akira is 16th on their list).

But what the wider world has now slowly realised is that Studio Ghibli is much more than just a single film – in Japan it’s a real institution. For ten years it has had its own museum which, just as creator Hayao Miyazaki intended, leaves people feeling “more enriched than when they entered.”

It’s something that Katy had been looking forward to visiting for a long time. Spirited Away was her first Studio Ghibli film, but she later tracked down Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, and Ponyo to name a few. She loved them all. It’s the imagination and artwork, the simplicity and the beauty of the characters look and mannerisms, that pickle her mind.

The trip to the museum was a chance to indulge in all of that. They don’t allow pictures, which is a shame for me because, like the Ghibli films, a lot of what’s inside is beyond logical description. The study upstairs is a remarkable collection of colourful clutter to illustrate the mind of an artist. Sketches line the walls, figurines guard the mantel-pieces – there isn’t a single empty, wasted space. It felt like walking through the corridor of creator Miyazaki’s brain.

Elsewhere in the building there is endless memorabilia from all of the Ghibli movies, an original short playing in the basement cinema, and a dark room where the secrets of animation continually blow the minds of children into another realm. There three floors of this stuff, inside and out the giant cartoon building. The adults can’t help but be affected, too, because the beauty of this place is not constrained by age, gender or language.

It reaches out to everyone, all the time.

Ten of our favourite anime:

Akira (1988)

Spirited Away (2001

Princess Mononoke (1997)

Ponyo On A Cliff By The Sea (2008)

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Paprika (2006)

Ninja Scroll (1993)

Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

Fist Of The North Star (1986)

Guyver (1989)


*We did our best to make sure that we weren’t treading on any toes regarding the copyright of these images, if we are, please let us know and we’ll stop using them.






スタジオジブリは25年以上に渡ってアニメの制作を続けている会社で、アニメ業界に新しい風を吹き込んだ会社と言えるのではないだろうか。『千と千尋の神隠し』が制作されたのは2001年。それは欧米人に、まるで初めてアニメを見たかのような衝撃を与えた。 ストーリーは両親が姿を豚に変えられてしまうという10歳の女の子の奇妙な冒険の物語だ。 物語の根底にあったストーリは昔から語り継がれてきたものが基盤になっているのかもしれない。だがアニメとしてはセンセーショナルなものだった。

 “それはとにかく美しく描かれている芸術作品だ。それ以外の言葉で語る事ができないほど素晴らしい”とイギリスの新聞、ガーディアンは評し、ロジャー・エバーとは“『千と千尋の神隠し』は今年一番の映画である”と語っている。 そしてそれは日本の映画界の歴史に残る最高作品となった。アカデミー賞でもベストアニメ部門でオスカーを手にし、今でもチャンネル4では史上8位の人気アニメ作品として根強い人気を誇っている。(ちなみに『アキラ』は16位らしい)


ジブリ美術館を訪れる事はケイティの長年の夢だった。『千と千尋の神隠し』が彼女にとっての最初のスタジオジブリ映画で、その後『もののけ姫』で完全に虜になってしまった。『となりのトトロ』や『崖の上のポニョ』と、名前を挙げだしたらきりがない。そのイメージや芸術作品としての魅力、そのシンプルさやそれぞれのキャラクターの美しさなど、とにかく彼女はスタジオジブリの大ファンなのだ。 ジブリ美術館に行く事、それは彼女の夢の世界を手に入れる事だったのだ。残念ながら美術館での写真撮影は禁止されていたため、ジブリの映画にあるような繊細で多彩な面をここでお届する事はできないが、館内はジブリの世界を生み出した素晴らしい芸術の心で満たされている。壁に掛けられているスケッチや、フィギュアなど目にしながら、きっと宮崎駿氏の頭の中はこんな風になっているのだろうと思ったぐらいだ。









攻殻機動隊 (1995)


獣兵衛忍風帖 (1993)

鉄コン筋クリート (2006)





  1. Kat
    October 13, 2011

    I’m a big fan of Studio Ghibli works, and of anime in general. Have you seen their adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle? I got to watch Akira in 1997 and it was pretty mind-blowing. Anime changed my views on “cartoons is for kids”. A couple of people I know note that Paprika is somewhat like Inception.

    The Ghibli museum = must visit. Someday. :)

  2. Robert
    October 13, 2011

    Wich movie where they showing in the Saturn Theater?

  3. aprilius20
    October 13, 2011

    Wow. The Ghibli museum must have been fantastic. I loved films like Spirited Away, Mononoke. Howl actually inspired me to read the original books, which were just as beautiful. Interestingly it was the reverse with Gedo Senki- I read the books first, but the movie was a tad disappointing:P

  4. Tee
    October 14, 2011

    Definitely on the go visit list – the Ghibli museum – nothing else like it :)

    Cheers, Tee

    Tee is Senior Editor of digital magazine http://www.CostaRicaCLOSEUP.com about Costa Rica