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ARE YOU ONE OF THE WINNERS OF THE GIVEAWAY CONTEST? The winners of our great giveaway contest have been determined. Read on below and check the news update of February 20 to find out if you’re one of the winners!



27th of February, MORE GEDO SENKI IN TAIWAN AND PARIS: This week Goro Miyazaki will be in Paris for the French premiere of Gedo Senki, or should I say Les Contes de Terremer. Next to Goro, the French animation director Michel Ocelot will be present as a special guest of honor. For those who don’t know Ocelot, he is the French director who made films like Kirikou et la Sorcičre and Princes et Princesses which were released in Japan by Studio Ghibli. Also, his latest film called Azur et Asmar will be released later this year by Ghibli’s newly founded label “Ghibli Museum Library”. Now this is nice news, but that doesn’t stop GhibliWorld.com to give a second update on older news from earlier this month. Early February director Goro Miyazaki visited Taiwan because of the Taiwanese premiere of Gedo Senki and one of our Taiwanese contacts provided us with more details on how its premiere was experienced in Taiwan.



With a pretty big amount of Taiwanese Studio Ghibli fans, it isn’t strange that Gedo Senki received quite some promotion over there. Besides a dedicated Taiwanese Gedo Senki website other promotional efforts were taken, like huge bill boards, busses in Gedo Senki style, a Gedo Senki coloring competition and a nice sum of Gedo Senki news articles. Talking about the last, following is a treat of two translated Gedo Senki / Goro Miyazaki related articles from Taiwan. Although some contained older news, interesting tidbits were also written. Like Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki assuring Goro Miyazaki will direct a second film in the future. It was mentioned before, but it is always nice to see it confirmed again on a website like the Buena Vista Taiwan website. Other interesting things include Goro Miyazaki doing up inspiration for following works when seeing Japanese old style houses in the streets of Taiwan. Check out the translated Taiwanese Gedo Senki news articles.

21th of February, KAZAO OGA’S NEW PROJECT, INOUE’S IBLARD DVD AND NEW GHIBLI MUSEUM ANIMATION: Time a for nice bit of interesting Ghibli news with an update from Studio Ghibli’s own diary which was updated yesterday.

February 10, Kazuo Oga came to office to have a meeting concerning the background art of Hayao Miyazaki’s next film xxx. As everyone knows, he is essential art staff when making a Studio Ghibli film. Even for Gedo Senki, Studio Ghibli’s latest by Goro Miyazaki, he drew many wonderful background cuts and they are much looking forward to his background pictures for the next film. They will truly be a pleasure to look at. By the way, you might know that last year he released his first own film"Taneyamagahara no Yoru" straight tp DVD. In a regular film we can't distinguish which cuts he drew, but in this film all were drawn by him and you can enjoy his artistic world in the best way possible. If you haven't seen it yet, please try and check it out by all means. More importantly, the diary mentions there will be big news about Kazuo Oga this summer! Please wait for the announcement (GhibliWorld.com note: Chances are that Oga will be directing a second film).



Remember Studio Ghibli is involved in the production of a special Iblard DVD with Ioue Naohisa (the artist who made the art for the fantasy scenes in Whisper of the Heart)? On February 14 they went to check out the sound effects with Inoue Naohisa at Kôji Kasamatsu’s studio Digital Circus, which has taken charge of all the audio of "Iblard xxx". In the studio, which is near the Ohi race track and was converted from a warehouse, they recorded the character's voice which Inoue has been worrying about. Tsuji and Nishihara joined together and Inoue spoke the script in Iblard language at random. The result was a strange conversation.



February 15, a new animation similar to the “Films go Round”-exhibition of the Ghibli Museum has been finished. This animation, being 1 cut only, has a duration of 82 seconds and consists out of 2,466 drawings. In charge of the animation douga was Toki who, since last October, worked for approximately 4 months on this project. He must be tired. Samkichi and Shintaro worked to take it into quick checker and it took whole day long. But it has so many drawings that the quick checker didn't work well. Nevertheless it must have much value to be seen if all goes well. It'll take a little more time to finish but by all means go and check it out later at the Ghibli Museum.

Photo below taken at Studio Ghibli - Can you tell how many true cats there are in this picture?



20th of February, ANNOUNCING WINNERS OF GHIBLIWORLD.COM FREE GIVEAWAY CONTEST: It’s finally time to announce the winners of the GhibliWorld.com Free Giveaway Contest! As written earlier, the winners were to be announced on January 31, but almost 1000 people entered the competition, so it took a lot of reading to decide the winners. Still, even though it took a hell of a time reading all the entries, GhibliWorld.com would like to thank everybody for their efforts! It was great receiving all your Ghibli Top 3’s, not only reading why and how much people are fond of Studio Ghibli films, but also reading interesting new views I hadn’t seen before. Some people also combined their Top 3 with moving personal stories or weren’t only creative in terms of writing, but used their artistic qualities as well. Either way, it confirmed yet again that there are lot of people loving Studio Ghibli films.

Unfortunately, there can be only three to win and the winners of the GhibliWorld.com Free Giveaway Contest are:
1 - Taras Tkachenko, Russia > read contest entry
2 - Ingrid Yu, Canada > read contest entry
3 - Marco Bellano, Italy > read contest entry

Congratulations if you’re one of the three persons mentioned above! I am sure you’ll love the prizes you’ve won. You’ll be contacted by e-mail to determine which Studio Ghibli DVD you’d like to have, which will be send together with the other great Ghibli items from the corresponding prize package.

Also, there still is some good news for those who didn’t win. Even though the amount of people who entered the competition is only a small fraction of the total amount of GhibliWorld.com visitors, the competition was a great enough success to have more competitions like this in the future. So who knows… you might be the winner of one of the future competitions! In addition, more info about how we got to pick the winners will be posted later.

Finally, I hope you understand if I haven’t answered your e-mail / contest entry, there were a lot of entries so it would take an enormous amount of time to answer everybody. And again… thanks for all your great entries!

19th of February, ANIMA 2007: Remember last year GhibliWorld.com had a personal interview with master animation director Isao Takahata? That interview was held at the international animation festival Anima in Brussels, Belgium and as usual they’re back with a brand new edition featuring new films and of course their Palmares International Competition. This year’s Anima Festival will be held from 16 to 25th February in the Flagey Centre in Brussels and if you happen live in Belgium or somewhere close you might definitely want to check it out: there’s nothing better than watching animation on the big screen. Their programme doesn’t only feature new animation pieces like Satoshi Kon’s Paprika and Michel Ocelot's latest film "Azur et Asmar", it also screens animation classics like Hayao Miyazaki’s “Laputa: Castle in the Sky” and Mamoru Shinzaki’s “Barefoot Gen” (Art Direction by Studio Ghibli’s Kazuo Oga). In addition the festival also features interesting things like a conference by Aardman animator Dug Calder about the making of Flushed Away, panel conversations and an exhibition dedicated to the universe of Michel Ocelot's “Azur en Asmar”.



12th of February, GORO MIYAZAKI & GEDO SENKI IN TAIWAN: Studio Ghibli posted a small update in their diary. February 3, Goro Miyazaki went to Taiwan to do a campaign for Gedo Senki. Today was the first day and they attended the Taiwan book fair which was visited last year by 110,000 people. The main event of today was Goro's talk show and autograph-signing session. A lot of people gathered and listened intensely to Goro's talking. The autograph-signing session was limited only to 150 people who bought the Gedo Senki film comic books, but as you can see in the photos many people lined up so it was very crowded. Goro was a bit nervous as it was the first time for him to experience an autograph-signing session, but he gradually shook down and in Japanese he told quite a bit about his thoughts about the movie. As you can see below Goro also signed his autograph on one of the posters at their booth.



5th of February, MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM, ATSUSHU OKUI, GIVAWAY CONTEST AND MORE: As usual Studio Ghibli updated their diary on their Japanese website and it has some interesting info, the post of January 30 has info on the voice casting of Hayao Miyazaki’s new film…

A voice cast audition for Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie was held today. This time it was for child parts only. All entrants were children and with a total number 160 participating it brought all kinds of children. I hear it wasn't easy to run the audition smoothly. When facing towards the microphone some didn’t talk easily and some only did a impersonation as his/herself. Adding to that, they must choose brilliant jewels in these kids as the kids actors are very important for Ghibli’s next movie and they'll have to worry about it for a while.



Besides that they checked the exhibitions for the next Ghibli Museum project at Miyazaki's atelier. Miyazaki had the idea, but Takahata attended as well because he is much involved with this exhibition. They have had a long-term relationship for 40 years long, but these days they rarely work together and only see each other when attending the executive board of the Ghibli Museum or during a company trip. We hardly can see both of them together so it was enough reason to post a photo of this in the Ghibli diary. As you can see above it shows Miyazaki and Takahata preparing for the exhibition which will open in May.

The diary post of February 1 mentions some of the staff of the photographing and CG section went on a company tour to IMAGICA. IMAGICA is one of the largest motion picture film laboratories in Japan which also has one of the largest high-end video post-production facilities in Japan and produces digital and optical visual effects for feature films, TV commercials and TV programs. Director of Imaging Okui Atsushi frequently goes and visit them, but for others it was their first time to visit it, though they only saw the preview room. Ghibli has been involved with IMAGICA for a long time, they have done the image development for many Studio Ghibli films. Of course they have developed many films for other film companies as well and you surely have seen films developed by IMAGICA. Okui commented on a question on what kind of company IMAGICA is. He only said "the company cafeteria is wonderful, I wish Ghibli had one like that." To give you some extra reference info, IMAGICA used to have an interview with Okui Atsushi from 2001 on their website. It is no longer available, but a copy can be found over here.



Also a preview of the French 3DCG film "Renaissance" was held at the preview room of Studio Ghibli. It was arranged by Kanai, a Studio Ghibli contact from foreign distributor Tornado Film, and for those unfamiliar with this film, it’s a hardboiled animation film located in Paris somewhere in the future which will be released in Japan this summer. Some people from Ghibli asked "Why Renaissance?" and the person from the distributing agency answered "Maybe because its pronunciation sounds like Innocence?". Perhaps the director is a fan of Mamoru Oshii (note: Innocence was produced by Toshio Suzuki and a Co-Production of Studio Ghibli). Anyway, as Renaissance was previewed at the Ghibli preview room, I am curious to see if Studio Ghibli has any role concerning its Japanese release. Perhaps the film will be connected to “Ghibli Museum Library”, Ghibli’s recently launched label to release Western animation pieces in Japanese cinemas and on DVD. This has not been confirmed though. For those who are interested check out the trailer, read the review of our friends at Twitch and if you’re into it, you can already purchase the UK DVD or the French “Coffret Ultimate” which comes with the DVD CE, a book, soundtrack, 10 postcards and movie poster of Renaissance.



To finish today’s post there's info on the GhibliWorld.com Free Giveaway contest which was a great success. A huge amount of people entered the contest, which is a good thing but it makes picking the winners quite hard. Therefore unfortunately the winners of the contest aren't determined yet, though of course they are to be announced as soon as possible so please be a little bit more patient. It was a great success so expect more contests in the future!

29th of January, PASSING AWAY OF ANIMAGE FOUNDER HIDEO OGATA: The last days I’ve been busy watching loads of great movies at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. This is also the reason for today’s news being about something which unfortunately happened on Thursday January 25. Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, informed us that Hideo Ogata, the founder of Japan's first animation magazine "Animage," has died of stomach cancer. He was 73. Ogata joined the Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. in 1961. In the wake of the popularity of animated movie "Uchu Senkan Yamato" (Space Battleship Yamato) released in the late 1970, he became the founding managing editor of Japan's first animation magazine, Animage, published by his company. Among his achievements, Ogata helped launch the comic version of Hayao Miyazaki's "Kaze no Tani no Nausica" (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind), and was involved with the hit movie of the same title. As a producer and planner, Ogata was involved in other Studio Ghibli works including "My Neighbour Totoro" and "Kiki's Delivery Service".

In addition Studio Ghibli also paid respect to Hideo Ogata in their latest diary entry. It mentions his passing away on the morning of January 25 with Studio Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki immediately having contacted the bereaved family and funeral authorized personnel. Also, the post of the 28th informs us about Hideo Ogata’s funeral service which was visited by Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, who also spoke during the funeral service. May he rest in peace.



21th of January, GEDO SENKI "WINNER" BUNSHUN RASPBERRY AWARD "WORST FILM 2006": Of course with all the great movies made by Studio Ghibli we’re often blessed with good Ghibli news. However, this time it’s not the case. Logboy, from the excellent film website Twitch, pointed me to a news item on Hoga Central about Japan's annual Bunshun Raspberry Awards. For those not familiar with these awards, they are given to the worst movies in the year selected by 32 movie critics in Japan. Unfortunately, Gedo Senki "won" the award for worst movie, as well as Goro Miyazaki "winning" the award for worst director.

I guess it’s a matter of taste… Though I agree that the movie has it bad points, it also has its good points. Of course people had high expectations as it's a Studio Ghibli film, but I guess they had to rate it as a film on its own. It’s quite impossible for somebody with no experience to make a movie of the same quality like those made by master animation directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki. For those interested (if you hadn’t checked it out already), my review on Gedo Senki together with my interview with director Goro Miyazaki can be found over here.



18th of January, MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM TO BE ANNOUNCED, MORE GHIBLI MUSEUM LIBRARY: This week Studio Ghibli officially announced that it launched a new label called the “Ghibli Museum Library” which is to release Western animation pieces in Japanese cinemas and on DVD. Between the corresponding articles on this news, a really interesting news piece was posted yesterday by the Japanese sports website Sponichi Annex which didn't only mention Ghibli's Japanese release of Aleksandr Petrov's "Haru no Mezame" on March 13. It also mentioned that during the press conference at Cinema ANGELICA producer and president of Studio Ghibli Toshio Suzuki stated Miyazaki’s new film will be officially announced in March. So unfortunately no further details yet, but at least we know when these are coming.



16th of January, FOLLOW-UP ON FUTURE GHIBLI PLANS & OU TO TORI DVD ANNOUNCED: Time to follow-up last week’s news about Studio Ghibli’s future plans, because today Ghibli became more specific about these plans with a post they made over here.

Today Studio Ghibli officially announced that it’s starting a new part of business called the “Ghibli Museum Library” which is to release Western animation pieces in Japanese cinemas and on DVD. Like mentioned last week, in the past Studio Ghibli already released several other western animation pieces to Japan, for example Michel Ocelot’s Kirikou and Sylvain Chomet’s Triplettes de Belleville, but with this new line they will put extra focus on these kind of activities. Official mascot of the Ghibli Museum Library official will be Ghibli Museum character Museo Mushi, a character that will appear in a Ghibli Museum film and DVD. In addition to all of this, a special dedicated Ghibli Museum Library website was launched today as well, with the first post being one in the blog written by Kiyofumi Nakajima, the current Ghibli Museum director who followed up Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki.



Talking about Goro Miyazaki, last week’s Sports Hochi article mentioned Goro is currently making a selection of pictures as project manager of the "Haru no Mezame" exhibition, an exhibition about Aleksandr Petrov’s latest film “My Love”. This film will be released in Japan on March 17 by Studio Ghibli as the first release from their new “Ghibli Museum Library”. Managing its corresponding exhibition is Goro Miyazaki’s first job after having directed Gedo Senki and today Aleksandr Petrov & the Ghibli Museum held a press conference to officially announce this new Ghibli Museum exhibition. A specially dedicated "Haru no Mezame" website was launched as well, which offers quite some info (in Japanese) and pictures of the film together with a embedded Flash trailer. By all means go and check it out and if you have the opportunity to see the film itself, please do! Though there isn’t a lot of resemblance with Studio Ghibli’s works, it shares the same passion, creativity and vision with which is was made. For more info about “Haru no Mezame” check out last week’s news post if you hadn’t read it.



Besides the news above, there’s more about the new “Ghibli Museum Library” as today the Japanese DVD release of "Ou To Tori" (the Japanese edition of Paul Grimault’s classic “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”) was announced to be the first Ghibli Museum Library DVD and a special DVD trailer was released as well. There will be two editions which will both be released April 4. The standard 2-disc edition will be available at 4,935 Yen, with disc one containing the film itself and a 15 minutes discussion between Ghibi director Isao Takahata and comedian Hikari Ōta (currently one of the most recognized faces on prime-time Japanese television), and disc 2 containing a 77 minutes short animation compilation. There will also be a limited 3-disc edition available at 6,825 Yen, with disc one and two being the same as the standard edition and disc three including various featurettes like "Paul Grimault Exhibition and Isao Takahata in France" (20 min) and "Isao Takahata and Paul Grimault Exhibition in Tokyo" (20 min). Unfortunately, it seems neither of the two DVD releases will contain English subtitles.



9th of January, REMARKABLE FUTURE GHIBLI PLANS + GEDO SENKI HONG KONG DVD RUMORED TO BE RELEASED THIS FEBRUARY: Today there’s some interesting Studio Ghibli news with details about various future plans of Studio Ghibli. One of them is a possible collaboration with a foreign director…

Before getting you all up to date with Studio Ghibli’s future plans, I’d like to start with something that might be a rumor. Yesasia have stated over here that the Hong Kong DVD of Studio Ghibli’s latest film “Gedo Senki” is expected to be released on February 5, 2007. I’m thinking this probably is an error, as the Japanese edition is still to be officially announced and chances are probably zero that the Hong Kong version would be available before the Japanese version is released, but it’s still a good thing that it’s coming. For your information Amazon.co.jp have already listed DVD details about the Japanese Gedo Senki DVD over here, without a release date though!



To head on to the really interesting news, today Sports Hochi, an affiliate newspaper of Yomiuri Shimbun, posted an article about various future Studio Ghibli plans online. One of them is that Studio Ghibli is to continue distributing western animated films.

Last summer Studio Ghibli already had a great success with the Japanese re-release of "Ou To Tori" (the Japanese edition of Paul Grimault’s “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”). Though this animation classic had already been released on DVD before, Studio Ghibli brought it to the Japanese cinemas this year. Starting at one cinema it became a hit and spread out through whole Japan eventually reaching 20,000 people which is actually quite a lot for a film like this. Some of you might know that in the past Studio Ghibli already released several other western animation pieces to Japan, for example Michel Ocelot’s Kirikou and Sylvain Chomet’s Triplettes de Belleville, but as 58 year old Studio Ghibli President & Producer Toshio Suzuki mentioned in the Sports Hochi article, it would be a waste to stop after the success of "Ou To Tori", they might as well continue while everything is “warm”.



For starters, on March 17 Studio Ghibli will release Aleksandr Petrov's latest animation piece from 2006 called "My Love". Many people probably haven’t heard of Petrov as his work isn’t really for the general public, but I am not at all surprised by Ghibli’s choice. First of all Petrov’s animation pieces are superb. “My Love” was one of the winners at the 2006 Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan and it is one of the most beautiful, stunning things I've ever seen. It's expressionism at its finest truly and I love the way he manipulates everything to get across what the characters are feeling or thinking.

Besides that, Petrov was a disciple of Russian animator Yuri Norstein at the Advanced School for screenwriters and directors in Moscow. Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata have been friends of Norstein for some time now and both of them have been great admirers of Norstein’s work. In late 2003 until early 2004, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka Japan even hosted an exhibition of Norstein’s work and several of his short films were shown at the Saturn Theatre inside the museum. It is said that Kihachiro Kawamoto, a pioneer in the neglected field of stop motion puppet animation, stated that Norstein is being funded by Toshio Suzuki until the end of 2007. Furthermore, Petrov was one of the animators that worked on Fuyu no hi, a.k.a. Winter Days, which is momentarily the latest work director Isao Takahata worked on.



Now, there are lots of more connections and reasons to mention why Ghibli’s choice for Petrov’s “My Love” is logical, but it’s better to just watch some short clips of Petrov’s work. Montreal based production studio Pascal Blais has a clip with sections from "My Love" and clip with a scene from Petrov’s Oscar-winning "The Old Man and the Sea". Technically impressive, his films are made entirely in pastel oil paintings on glass. By using his fingertips instead of a paintbrush on different glass sheets positioned on multiple levels, each covered with slow-drying oil paints, he is able to add depth to his paintings. His films can be characterized as a type of Romantic realism. People, animals and landscapes are painted and animated in a very realistic fashion. However, there are many sections in his films where Petrov attempts to visually show a character's inner thoughts and dreams.



Anyway, this isn’t all of Ghibli’s future plans… They also plan to handle the Japanese release for another film: Michel Ocelot's latest film "Azur et Asmar" (release date still to be announced). Both of the films will be shown at Tokyo Shibuya ‘s Cinema ANGELICA which has been designated as a "Studio Ghibli specialized theater". Last, but certainly not least Suzuki mentioned that Studio Ghibli has plans for a foreign animation director to create a film with Ghibli in the future! Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is in the midst of production, but Suzuki said “the magnificent dream” of letting a Ghibli film being directed by someone from a foreign country does not run out.



6th of January, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES COLLECTION: The plan was to update the “My Collection”-part of GhibliWorld.com all in one time, but I guess that fell through as it’s just to much to do all in one time. In the meantime I’m slowly updating it and today that means you get to check out the Grave of the Fireflies Collection. It’s one of the smaller parts, but contains some rather interesting items so go and check it out now and enjoy.



5th of January, HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S BIRTHDAY : Today’s post doesn't contain really big news, but has something which is still worth mentioning. Today is the 66th birthday of the man who brought us numerous animation masterpieces: Hayao Miyazaki. May he have a great day!



1st of January, NEW YEAR GREEETING FROM STUDIO GHIBLI AND BEST WISHES FROM GHIBLIWORLD.COM: First of all let us wish all of you a brilliant 2007 bringing you some - possibly all - things you're longing to. Second of all Studio Ghibli have sent their new year greeting card for 2007. Following is a translation and of course a picture of their new year greeting card illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki himself…



Happy New Year! According to the oriental zodiac system this year is the year of the boar. It is said the year of boar is supposed to be rough and often comes with abnormal weather and accidents. That might be the case, this winter is extremely mild with less snow than usual and there may be dark clouds in the political situation.

Studio Ghibli is working on its next movie now. What kind of film should we make in such age? We and Miyazaki are always considering about these kind of things. We can't reveal anymore details on our new film yet, but you can expect something from Studio Ghibli which will make you glad.

Also in this year we look forward to your continued love for Studio Ghibli!

29th of December, MORE ON MIYAZAKI’S NEW FILM IN STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY & GIVEAWAY CONTEST REMINDER: With Christmas behind us and new year’s eve straight ahead of us, it’s time for a nice big summary of the Studio Ghibli diary with new info on how Miyazaki’s next film is developing and more giving you insight into what kept the guys at Studio Ghibli busy this month. But before you’re reading any further, check out our great giveaway contest if you haven’t seen it yet!



December 5th, some unused cels where moved from the OO-depot nearby our studio to the XX-depot where the temperature is kept optimum. The OO-depot only has a roof and walls, so in summer it’s hot and in winter it’s intensly cold over there. A part of the cels were moved here when Mononoke Hime was finished and might be impossible to be used, but as there is no factory anymore producing these kind of cels they are very precious. Of course nowadays Studio Ghibli rarely uses cels because digital finish has become the standard, but they sometimes use them when making "kumisen". Also, when "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Imaginary Flying Machines" were made, they used them for a technique called "cel-harmony". There might be a possibility for Studio Ghibli to use the cels somewhere in the future.

December 6th, this morning the "Anime Fair Meeting" with Production IG and Movic was attended, but Nihon-TV was absent today. This meeting is always a "curry meeting" so they all ordered curry at the cafe where the meeting was held. Makes you think of Ghiblies Episode 2…



December 7th, there was a business meeting with the car dealer about Studio Ghibli’s new company car. The writer of the diary was much surprised that all of the cars have so many different model numbers. It has 2 types of wheel drive, 3 types of engine, 9 grades and finally 83 types of functions. It wasn’t easy to decide which car to choose.

Later on that day some Ghiblies including Toshio Suzuki were invited to a “forget-year-party” at a high class Sukiyaki-restaurant in Akasaka. The restaurant displayed a lot of art made by famous artists like Munakata Shiko. Steve Alpert, head officer in charge of the international strategy of Studio Ghibli, was so pleased and nearly touched the dish made by Hamada Shoji, but a shop clerk was surprised and stopped him in stern.

December 8th, today it’s “bonus day” all over Japan so also Ghibli. The diary mentions they only get a payment slip, but they are very glad from bottom of their hearts. (Note: In Japan bonuses are generally paid twice a year: June and December. Research shows an average of 860,000 yen is paid this December in Japan, but I suppose they got more than that at Ghibli)

Also, production chief Shinsuke Nonaka held a “forget-year-party” at his house for his own section (3rd studio 2nd floor). The main event of this day was a “competition” between Nagami and Itou (both are from the advertising department) in making gyouza. The participants told Itou's shrimp gyouza was just a little bit more superior over Nagami's garlic gyouza.

December 9th, it was cold and rainy today. The diary writer caught Miyazaki when he came back from manipulative treatment and had a talk about the current status of making his next film. Of course Miyazaki recognizes the hardship the staff has and they share the way to breakthrough it. This is something which doesn’t seem easy to do, but if they don't they won’t be able to go ahead anymore. The people of the production section are the ones who must manage it now.

December 11th, as the return of layout (modoshi) for Miyazaki’s new film is getting later than planned, there was a meeting with sakuga director xxtou. He understands the delay, but there’s a schedule after all, so it should be followed. It won’t be good if the quality of the layouts becomes very good, if the movie isn’t finished in time. It’s a tough thing to balance between quality and schedule.



December 13th, the company members that were involved in this year’s Japanese re-release of "Ou To Tori" (the japanese dub of Paul Grimault’s “Le Roi et L’Oiseau”) had a "job-well-done-party” at Ebisu. When leaving Ebisu station there was a unusual feeling of strangeness... Yes, there were no Christmas lights around there. Why was it so quiet there?

December 16th, as usually done at the end a of the year, a company bargain sale was organized by the merchandise section. A lot of Studio Ghibli goods were sold at super-discount. The displaying of the goods was prepared yesterday, but almost all of them were sold out as soon as the sale started. As you can see in the pictures below the Studio Ghibli staff tends to buy goods as fast a they can... Photo I: 5 minutes after the sale started. Photo II: 15 minutes after the sale started > sold out completely!



The uniforms of the Studio Ghibli baseball team "the Kajino Big Mouths" arrived. They were much excited to get them and will play a game against the team of the major agency Hakuhodo. They’re supposed to be hard to beat so the Studio Ghibli baseball team mates seemed to be nervous.

That night, a mechanical actuation test of the Miyazaki Clock set at NTV in Shiodome was done. Shinsuke Nonaka and Junichi Nishioka witnessed the test which was done in secret while all passersby were gone. The execution was much more than expected, no doubt it should be very popular when it’s open to the public.



December 18th, the people at Ghibli’s production section got happy as some “genga”-cuts for Miyazaki’s new film got finished. One of the cuts was a huge monster cut including 50 layers and more than 1500 drawings. However, a moment later after seeing it, gladness went away and anxiety took over, thinking about all the difficulties when making douga and so on. Of course this cut is special and others will not be so big. The style of Ghibli’s next movie is to move pictures by genga, so it will need more drawings than usual. We can't imagine how many drawings will need to be done.

Yesterday was Nonoka’s 4xth birthday, so the 3rd studio had a celebration with a birthday cake. Despite the fact that usually he’s rather strict, he was a bit embarrassed as his age almost needs 5 candles but they subtracted one for service.



December 19th, mr. Oxx, who once worked at Studio Ghibli and now works at Gynax, came by to visit the studio with his cinematography crew. Their photography team was just recently formed and the chief of Studio Ghibli’s photography section lectured them about Ghibli’s system. I doubt it could help them because the system of Ghibli is out of the pattern. For example, Ghibli’s animation software differs from that of other studios. During the conversation with the visitors, the guys at Ghibli recognized that they are fortunate as their studio has various sections and equipment and in addition also has excellent human resources.

December 20th, after a long interval, many genga were finished. The cuts that Yamaxxx stocked were released all at one time, they felt they got an early Christmas present. There are still some days before it’s Christmas and they expect more presents will come out.

The unveiling ceremony of the Miyazaki clock at NTV Shiodome was held today. From Suzuki down some guys of Studio Ghibli attended it. Seen from up close it's awfully impressive and exciting, a true must-see. Makes you wonder why the clockwork mechanism only moves a few times a day. Perhaps they considered the neighborhood noise. Of course Miyazaki also has a special interest for the clock and they say he will come to see it some day.



Above a picture of Suzuki and Ujiie (president of NTV) pushing down the lever and a picture of Shachimaru Kunio in whom Miyazaki puts a strong faith (Shachimaru Kunio also to made the giant Laputa robot on the rooftop of the Ghibli Museum, but also the tortoiseshell-shaped bathtub, the Robot Soldier for the “Rising Sea Stream” exhibition and the cover for the patio drain are Ghibli Museum items made by his hand).

19th of December, MEMORIES FROM GEDO SENKI WITH CARLOS NUNEZ: Yomiuri Online and Studio Ghibli inform us that Spanish bagpipe and flute player Carlos Nunez, one of musicians for the sound track of Gedo Senki, will release a new album in Japan as a tribute to Gedo Senki. The album will be titled "Melodies from Gedo Senki" and will include new unreleased Gedo Senki OST tracks added with new tunes by Carlos himself. The album, which will be released for sale on January 17, 2007 at a price of 2,310 Yen (for example at Amazon.co.jp, will contain the following tracks:

1 - Song of Therru (Instrumental) (H. Taniyama)
2 - Beyond the Darkness - Anthem from Earthsea (T. Terashima)
3 - The Misty Land (T. Terashima)
4 - Spanish Dragon (T. Terashima)
5 - The Bounty of the Land (T. Terashima)
6 - Town Jig (T. Terashima)
7 - Arren' s Way - Gedo Senki Overture (T. Terashima)
8 - The End of the Land (T. Terashima)
9 - Song of Time (Instrumental) (A. Arai / H. Hogari)
10 - Over Nine Waves (C. Nunez)



Last summer Studio Ghibli released their new film "Gedo Senki". Carlos Nunez was one of the musicians of it’s soundtrack and his bagpipe highlighted the movie with its beautiful sound. With "Melodies from Gedo Senki" Gedo Senki’s soundrack composer Terajima Tamiya and Carlos Nunez continue their cooperation. Terajima got inspiration from the world of Gedo Senki and with this new album we will be able to relive the scenes where Nunez played his bagpipe, with a sound that smells like the wind from Earthsea.

Of course the trigger for this project was the recording of soundtrack of Gedo Senki. The entire staff, Toshio Suzuki and Goro Miyazaki included, were much impressed with the beautiful sound of his ocarina, whistle and bagpipe. As the music in Gedo Senki was not to appeal too much (as not to disturb the screen image), they wanted to listen to Nunez' sound more in another place. This simple wish realized the starting of this new project: "Melodies from Gedo Senki".



The moment Carlos heard the musical score, he was much excited and offered to attend in this new project. The sound of Eartsea that Terajima wrote is filled with continental sense of nostalgia and strook the right cord of Carlos. While exhanging opinions Carlos and Terajima boldly re-interpretated the music. A new world of Gedo Senki was completed by combining different kinds of music. With Celtic arrangements those beautiful melodies familiar from the movie were born again, more vivid and delicate and amazing us with imagination.

The recording work was mainly done in Galicia in Spain where Carlos has his studio. Terajima went there to witness Carlos creating a unique sound by combining flamenco guitar, flutes, bagpipe and Irish-harp, taking the blood from Gedo Senki, but opening the door to a new horizon. He has been felt a spiritual relation between Japan - the country of sunrise - and Galicia - the land of sunset -. Through Gedo Senki the spiritual characteristics of this album will be a cultural bridge between Japan and Celtic.

18th of December, TIME TO GIVE AWAY SOME GREAT GHIBLI STUFF! The people who have been visiting GhibliWorld.com for a longer time perhaps remember I held a free give away contest in June 2005. As this is quite some time ago, it's time for a new give away contest. Only this time with bigger and more exclusive prizes and the best of all: it's free, just like last time! You can check out all the details over here...



8th of December, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY, CAPSULE & STUDIO KAJINO AND AOI THESIMA IN CONCERT: As always Studio Ghibli updated their diary this week. They seem to be looking forward to their yearly forget-year-party. Every company in Japan has such a party and they usually have a banquet, attractions, a bingo game and karaoke. How will Studio Ghibli’s party be? Time for a short summary for the posts of November 27th till December 2nd followed with more Studio Ghibli related news…

November 27th, the staff and xxxxxda, who is the art director for Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie, had a meeting concerning starting the work of the art department. They confirmed the allocation of the scenes to each background artist and layout process. The backgrounds and finished cuts must always come out together in Production, because following works like color specification need both of them. If it doesn't work well, they'll waste much time. The production department must make a prediction for each process every time. Note: the art director might be Noboru Yoshida (just a guess).



Furthermore the post of the 27th mentions the pork buns (butaman) which they ordered in Kobe arrived. The entire refrigerator is filled with sooo many butaman. Also, Toshio Suzuki's car was recalled to his car dealer and they brought him a loaner car: a Suzuki Swift. Does Suzuki ride a Suzuki???

November 29th, Studio Ghibli is going to replace one of their company cars. The dealer brought so many catalogs, they can't decide which car to buy.

December 1st, the first meeting for preparing the company year-end party was held. This year they'll follow last year's pattern, but must consider about banquet or attraction or games. The car dealer also came by with a test drive car which was a bit too big to ride to the Ghibli Museum, it can take 7 passengers. Studio Ghibli will show the car on their website when it is decided which car they’ll buy.

December 2nd, a baseball game will be held between the team of Studio Ghibli and the team of a certain major ad agency company. They ordered new uniforms, made a cute emblem character & logo and also came up with a name for the team which is called "Kajino Big Mouths". A suitable name for the Studio Ghibli baseball team, because it is supposed to be very weak but has big a mouth. ^_^



Of course Kajino refers to the address of Studio Ghibli which is 1-4-25 Kajino-cho. Talking about Kajino… Studio Kajino… According to Yomiuri Online "Capsule" will release a new analogue recorded CD single on December 13. They will also release a new album next January. Capsule is a duo, Yasutaka Nakata (sound and art Direction) and Toshiko Koshijima (vocals), which attracts attention by taking part in various categories of music. Their former album "Soratobu-toshikeikaku" (Flying City Plan) is famous because Yoshiyuki Momose directed its promotional videos. Unfortunately, this new CD hasn’t got any relation with Studio Ghibli.



Now for those wondering what the above info has to do with Studio Kajino or perhaps haven’t heard of Studio Kajino… Studio Kajino is a subsidiary of Studio Ghibli whose name appears to be based on or inspired by Studio Ghibli's postal address (1-4-25, Kajino-cho). It’s a small structure created mainly to develop projects related to Hideaki Anno. In 2000 they released Hideaki Anno’s live-action film "Shiki-jitsu" and in 2004/2005 Studio Kajino released "Portable Airport" to accompany Hideaki Anno’s live-action version of “Cutie Honey” and also released "Soratobu-toshikeikaku" and “Space Station No.9”.



All three of these short videos (available on the Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short DVD) had music by Capsule and were directed by Yoshiyuki Momose who is famous for directing the great Ghiblies Episode 2. Of course Momose did more great things like the layout for Grave of the Fireflies, key animation for Porco Rosso and Spirited Away, storyboard and visual design for Only Yesterday and Pom Poko and much more…

To finish today’s post: Yomiuri Online informs us Aoi Teshima held her first live concert at the Ghibli Museum on December the 5th for which 240 citizens from Mitaka were invited. She sang 11 songs from her "Gedo Senki album" and the single "Tsurezure-youbi" (idol day of the week) which is included on her next album that will be released next February.



The concert was held at the lobby of the Ghibli Museum, the place where she recorded "Kazoeuta" from her "Gedo Senki Album". Teshima commented to be "Very happy as this place is of my memories". Of course Teshima also sang Gedo Senki’s beautiful theme song "Teru-no-uta" accompanied on piano by its composer Hiroko Taniyama. Gedo Senki director Goro Miyazaki also appeared as a guest talker and looked back at his first impression of Aoi Teshima. "When I first met her, she was so quiet that Suzuki only talked and talked!"

28th of November, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY, PASSING OF HAITANI KENJIRO: Yesterday Studio Ghibli updated their diary, this time with some posts for the 18th till the 24th of November. Time for a short summary followed with some other news…

The post of November 20 mentions a meeting concerning next year’s Studio Ghibli DVD release was held at the office of Buena Vista Home Entertainment which was attended by Toshio Suzuki and Itoi Shigesato. For those haven’t heard of Itoi, he is a famous copywriter who also did the voice of Mei and Satsuki’s father, Tatsuo Kusakabe, for Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro”. Most people know him for his excellent catch-copies and his involvement in the advertising of numerous Studio Ghibli movies, but in fact Itoi is a multi-creator who is involved with the production of videogames and vegetables, and also runs an international T-shirt project. More info on his website 1101.com ("1101" is "1-10-1", which is pronounced as "i-toe-i" and stands for his family name of Itoi).



Anyway, the Studio Ghibli diary mentioned both Itoi and Suzuki were “showing off” their latest gadgets. Itoi brought his high-end model digital Ricoh camera and Suzuki had his newest cell-phone, a SoftBank X01HT which runs on Windows. The Studio Ghibli diary reads “With the financial power of middle to elderly-aged men the Japanese domestic consumption continues to be supported.” ^_^

November 22nd, a meeting was held concerning Ghibli-related business. It usually takes more than 2 hours, because Suzuki smakes reports or long informal chat. However, today it only took 1 hour as Suzuki had a cold.



November 24th, a production schedule meeting for Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie was held, attended by Miyazaki and the main staff. As the Ekonte (storyboard) hasn't been completely finished yet, the schedule is only an expectation. Both parts A and B have already started making “genga”, so they made a confirmation of the times each department starts working. They must keep in touch with each other so to not go out of order.

For those unfamiliar with "genga", it’s Japanese for “original image”. Some say “genga” is everything that comes before hand, others say it‘s only the final finished drawing that the key animator makes for the key frame in the cut. Anyway, it’s a term for the refined key frame images that the key animators draw to show important parts in the motion of a sequence. Most of the times a genga drawing is used for an average of every 3-5 cels (not that these longer excist), though this quantity depends on the budget of the film and the type of shot it is being drawn for.



Something sad which was not mentioned in the diary of November 24th, but which might be related to Studio Ghibli is the passing away of Haitani Kenjiro. Haitani Kenjiro was a famous Japanese writer of popular children's books who passed away on the 24th due to esophageal cancer. He was 72 and most known for "Usagi no Me", his novel from 1974 which revolves around the exchanges between a young teacher and children who do not give up hope amid harsh conditions. Although it was aimed at children, the novel went on to sell more than 1 million copies, was widely read by adults and was hailed by the Hans Christian Andersen Award as an excellent example of children's literature.

The possible relation between Haitani Kenjiro and Studio Ghibli is that some Japanese fans have been speculating Miyazaki's film is based on one of Haitani’s books (though nothing has been confirmed, the story and title of Miyazaki’s new film are still a secret). Miyazaki’s new film seems to be set in or around Kobe, Japan. Haitani lived in Kobe and the places in his novels are often located in and around Kobe. The speculated book is called "Umi-Monogatari" which is set in a port town in the vicinity of Kobe. The story is about a boy called Kenta, who hopes to become a skilled fisherman just like his father, and hopes to make us think about environmental problems.



Anyway, as long as the title and story of Hayao Miyazaki’s new film haven’t been announced, people can keep on going guessing. Nothing has been confirmed. However, some things are sure: Haitani Kenjiro was a gifted writer who’s work deserves to be read and, like Toshio Suzuki mentioned in July at the TBS program R30, the title Miyazaki’s new film will contain the word “no” twice.

24th of November, VARIOUS GHIBLI NEWS: This week has been kind of quiet in terms of Ghibli news. There were some things though. As usual Studio Ghibli updated their diary, this time with some posts for the 13th till the 18th of November. It’s nice to read what keeps the people at Studio Ghibli busy in their daily life, but unfortunately there wasn’t any news about Hayao Miyazaki’s new film. Still, here’s a short summary…

The post of November 13 mentions Okui returned from his overseas trip for lecture and Ito’s wife gave birth to a little baby. The last babies being born at Studio Ghibli were mostly girls, but this time it’s a boy!



The post of November 14 mentions Studio Ghibli started their company. All went to Tokyo station in the morning to make a trip of three days and two nights. A total of 230 company members, including the staff of the Ghibli Museum, traveled by Shinkansen train to visit Kobe city. This year they seemed to be more quiet in the train: many of them caught a cold or were caught up in playing a Nintendo game. After arriving in Kobe they were allowed to do what ever they’d like, but for dinner everybody gathered at a Chinese restaurant. They were served so many dishes, they all gave up eating.

November 15. Basically the company trip of Studio Ghibli allowed them to do free action. They made many groups and left. Some went into the city, some to Himeji, Akashi, USJ, Kyoto, Awaji-shima, Tokushima. At night there was some entertainment. Mr. Fijimaki (who belongs to Hakuhodo Incorporated - advertising agency – and is in charge of Studio Ghibli) sang, just like every year. They also played a game of Daruma-otoshi, which you can see Goro Miyazaki doing in one of the photos. After that, some went to Mt. Rokko to see night scenery of Kobe city. Note: Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie is said to be located in Kobe. The main animation staff already came to visit Mt. Rokko to hunt scenery in July.



November 17. The company trip ended and all of the Ghibli employees started working today. Ito (from the advertising department) celebrated the birth of his new baby (one of the pictures shows him holding a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau). The diary ends with the post of November 18. It mentions Studio Ghibli having a marathon club and that some will attend a race which will be held at Toda city tomorrow.

On the 29th of November a Gedo Senki Piano Album will be released which will be available at a price of 2300 Yen. Pre-orders are up at CD Japan and Amazon.co.jp and in addition to its release the Tokuma Studio Ghibli Soundtrack Website launched a special page dedicated to the album. It’s not that big, but it mentions the album’s track list (11 tracks) together with comments on the production by composer Tamiya Terashima, who also made the Gedo Senki OST, and some of the musicians.



Time for something completely random. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Japanese tableware maker Noritake. Well, even though it’s nothing new, I just wanted to post a picture of their beautiful Totoro Collection. Just in case you’ve never seen it… Anyway, it’s not really something you’d buy instantly, but the art on these plates is just so lovely that even a bad dish will taste reasonable.



To finish, our friends at Twitch reminded me that the 2nd trailer of Makoto Shinkai’s upcoming new feature film “Byousoku 5 Centimeter” has been released (the 1st can be found here). Of course Makoto Shinkai is nowhere related to Studio Ghibli, but he’s sometimes referred to as “the new Miyazaki” for his dynamic and innovative animation style. Which is also the reason I’m posting this news… Anyway, I can see some resemblance, but Makoto Shinkai’s work still differs a lot from Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces.



Makoto’s new film will consist out of 3 short stories that take place in Japan from the 1990s till today. Dividing the film in this way should allow him to play to his strength in creating short stories, while also allowing him to create a rich, deep work. He's also decided to eschew the science-fiction trappings of his previous works, instead focusing on making the story and setting as realistic as possible. However the story turns out, one thing's for sure: the visuals will be stunning. “Byousoku 5 Centimeter” is to be released Spring 2007.



14th of November, MURATA KOICHI PASSES AWAY, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY UPDATE: Sad news… Exactly one week ago, on 7th of November in a hospital in Mitaka, leading illustrator Murata Koichi suddenly passed away at the age of 67. Murata was the president of animation company Oh Production and is known for his work on various anime classics. For example his work as a key animator on Hayao Miyazaki’s Panda Kopanda, animator on Isao Takahata’s Anne of Green Gables and working as executive producer for Isao Takahata’s Serohiki no Goshu. In addition, the Studio Ghibli Diary of the 11th of November mentions Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki and Michiyo Yasuda Yasuda attended Murata’s funeral which was held on that same day. Many animators gathered there and all regretted his death. Murata Koichi, may you rest in peace.



Luckily the circle of life also has it’s positive sides: the Studio Ghibli diary (updated yesterday with posts for the 6th - 11th of November) mentions that Ohashi, who works at the Sakuga (drawing) department, gave birth to a little baby girl. Congratulations! It’s already the second birth at Studio Ghibli in a short amount of time and Studio Ghibli has the custom of blessing the birth of a new baby by decorating his/her desk. Today's news mentioned that the birth ratio of male babies is decreasing, especially in the capital area and even more at Studio Ghibli!! They say electromagnetic rays might be the cause of this, but of course it maybe just a rumor. Anyway, there is a high voltage power line close to the studio…



The diary also mentions that twelve high school students came to interview Goro Miyazaki. The girls were very active, but the boys were not. Goro thought “Boys these days…” (see picture).

The diary of the 8th of November mentions there will be a company trip soon. Furthermore it says it was windy since yesterday and the air has been very clear. From the building roof of the studios you could see a beautiful sunset and today Miyazaki also came and see it. He said "Contrary to my expectation, we can see many mountains from here in Tokyo." The top of Mt. Fuji was seen far away today.



The post of the 9th of November mentions all of the job interviews for the production process department were finished. Many, many people applied, which Studio Ghibli appreciated very much, but it made the selection really hard because there was only one job opening. The diary ends with the posts of the 10th of November mentioning influenza is becoming epidemic around Studio Ghibli and the post of the 11th of November mentioning the sad news about Murata Koichi’s passing away.

7th of November, BLACKHAM’S WIMPEY, GEDO SENKI PIANO ALBUM AND MAX & CO: Yesterday I already told you about the Japanese version of Robert Westall’s "Blackham's Wimpey", the book for which Hayao Miyazaki made the front cover and a 23 pages full color manga.

What I didn’t tell you is that recently 7andY uploaded a special Blackham’s Wimpey page with some info on Robert Westall and various pictures of Miyazaki’s manga. You might also want to check out the Japanese Robert Westall Box Set that was released earlier this year. The set contains 8 books, which are also sold at the Ghibli Museum Book Shop, plus a special message written by Hayao Miyazaki attached to the box (see picture below).



Also, two weeks ago I already posted some information about a new Gedo Senki CD that will be released on the 29th of November: the Gedo Senki Piano Album. Today Yomiuri Online gives us an update with some on info about the CD together with its CD cover. At a price of 2300 Yen pre-orders are up at CD Japan and Amazon.co.jp. Yomiuri also remembers us about the new album of Youmi Kimura. Youmi became famous in 2001 for her song “Itsumo Nando Demo”, a.k.a. "Always With Me", which served as the closing theme of Spirited Away.



Ever heard of the French sales & production company Wild Bunch? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer to that question is “Yes, I have!”, as they’re responsible for the international distribution of Studio Ghibli. Wild Bunch has handled Spirited Way, Howl’s Moving Castle, and at Venice this year, Goro Miyazaki’s Gedo Senki. Their association with Studio Ghibli has brought them a spectacular success.

Also, a further move saw the company at Cannes representing French animator Michel Ocelot’s latest feature, Azur & Asmar, shown in Director’s Fortnight and singled out by many critics as one of this year’s festival highlights. Ocelot also directed films like Kirikou et la Sorcičre and Princes et Princesses and it’s interesting to know that the Japanese releases of these two splendid animation pieces were handled by Studio Ghibli.



Anyway, Wild Bunch has boarded a major new animation feature called Max & Co, which is presently being shot in Switzerland and carries a budget of 18.5 M Euros. Being one of the biggest animation features of recent years, the film involves a pan-European crew of over 150, including 27 top animators. The feature that is being made by Sam & Fred Guillaume who teamed up with people like Chief Animator Guionne Leroy, who boasts previous credits like Toy Story 1, James & The Giant Peach and Chicken Run. Also, character credits are assigned to special effects company Mackinnon & Saunders and model-rigger Andy Gent, who have previously collaborated on Chicken Run, Corpse Bride and Mars Attacks. The film’s chief painter Kathy Clark similarly holds a Corpse Bride credit.



Presently mid-way through a 38 week shoot being carried out in a gigantic Swiss warehouse, filming of Max & Co makes use of radical and unique stop animation techniques. Impressive statistics set the scale of the production: 27 sets functioning in parallel, largest of which is the size of a football field in relation to puppet size; a puppet stock of over 70 characters with over 15 puppets per character, plus specially developed computer technology and CGI software. Lengthy post-production will see the film ready for delivery mid-late 2007. Max & Co isn’t Studio Ghibli, but as a film lover I’m curious to see the end result!

6th of November, STUDIO GHIBLI DIARY UPDATE: Studio Ghibli has updated their diary with some more posts. The October diary has been updated with two more posts, one for October the 30th and one for the 31st, and the November diary opened with some posts for the 1st, 2nd and 4th of November.

To give you a short summary, I can tell you it seems that Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is being made smoothly. Every Tuesday a production meeting is held so that each part of the production staff can do their report and share their information. Though everything seems to go smoothly, the person writing the diary also mentions it’s not easy to draw “genga”. It’s a troublesome task and Miyazaki requires sophisticated work. The diary post of the 1st of November tells us Mr. Ohxxxx was the first to finish drawing “genga”. It's very skillful and amusing and all of the staff were much excited, including Miyazaki. I am not sure who Mr. Ohxxxx is though. Perhaps it’s Otsuka (very wishful thinking ^_^)?



The diary post of November 4 mentions that the Japanese version of Robert Westall’s "Blackham's Wimpey", the book for which Hayao Miyazaki made the front cover and a 23 pages full color manga, seems to be selling really well. "Brunch" announced the book sale rankings and Blackham even took a 3rd place today. Studio Ghibli has been a stranger to selling best seller books for years (apart from movies), so I'm glad the book is being sold well. What was funny to see, is that with a sarcastic tone the Studio Ghibli diary also mentioned it would be helpful for the company if Suzuki's only book "Eiga Douraku", would also sell a little bit more and posted a link to it. Suzuki’s book “Eiga Douraku” was released April 2005 and if you can read Japanese you might want to get it, it has some really funny and sharp analyses.



Concerning “Brunch”, I have no idea what it is (maybe it’s a TV program), so I checked the sales ranks at Yahoo Books to see if I could find it there. Unfortunately I couldn’t find it, but I guess it’ll show up soon. Either way, if you love Miyazaki’s work you really need buy "Blackham's Wimpey, even if you can’t read Japanese. The manga he made for the book is really terrific and I guess a fan translation will show up eventually which you can keep next to the book. Either way, buy the book. It’s great!



4th of November, SOMETHING TYPICAL: Earlier this week Toshio Suzuki posted an apology on the Japanese Studio Ghibli website concerning a certain declared “problem”. Though not many non-Japanese will have heard about it, I still would like you to know about the story just so that everybody gets the facts straight...

You will probably know that the lyrics of Gedo Senki's beautiful theme song "Teru no Uta" were written by director Goro Miyazaki (if don't know which song I mean, it’s song that is used in the trailer as well). In this month’s edition of the Japanese magazine "Shokun" a critic called Arakawa somewhat complained about the fact that it is nowhere mentioned that the lyrics were influenced by Hagiwara Sakutaro’s poem "Kokoro". For example, if you take a look at the CD cover "Teru no Uta", you will notice that it has a very simple design: no picture, no explanation.



For those who don't know, Hagiwara Sakutaro (November 1, 1886 - May 11, 1942) is acclaimed as the “father of modern Japanese poetry” and liberated free verse from the grip of traditional rules. His unique style quite fits the theme and corresponding subjects of Gedo Senki as he expressed himself through dark images, symbols, and expressions that revealed his innermost self, his doubts about existence, and his fears, ennui, and anger.

So what is the deal behind this story? Well, first of all I think we must appreciate that even Studio Ghibli, a company producing such masterpieces, can make a minor mistake. There is no doubt that on a superficial level Arakawa's assignment is correct (note that Studio Ghibli did mention the lyrics were inspired by Hagiwara's Kokoro on the Gedo Senki website). Therefore Suzuki apologized, mentioning that "Studio Ghibli must add a note everywhere the lyrics are showed, mentioning that Goro's lyrics were inspired by Hagiwara's Kokoro." He also says that Goro Miyazaki is nowhere to blame for this “problem” and thanks Arakawa and Shokun for this assignment at the end of text.



What Suzuki also mentions, is that he has been a great admirer of Hagiwara’s work since he was very young. Somewhat earlier in the production stage of Gedo Senki YAMAHA (the music company, not the motorbike maker) offered Suzuki to listen to a demo of a singer singing "The Rose", of course she's Teshima Aoi. Suzuki and Goro instantly liked her and Suzuki told Goro to make a poem for a song of Gedo Senki for which they would use. Goro was much confused. Then Suzuki recited "Kokoro" in front of Goro and, quite extraordinary, Goro made a poem the very next day getting imagination by Hagiwara's poem. Ten days after, the song was completed with the music by Taniyama Hiroko.

To conclude, Hagiwara's "Kokoro", which by the way means "Heart", was written in old literary language. For "Teru no Uta" Goro made it into a modern language version so that it would be suitable for the movie. Many people might not even see the resemblance and I can say the poem Goro wrote is extremely well written and almost all of it is original by Goro. Also, in my opinion Suzuki’s apology and appreciation for Arakawa should be taken with some subtle irony. If Hagiwara would know about the "problem" in heaven, he should cheer for Goro and admire him. He was a great romantic and had the delicacy like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. By the way, also note that all of Hagiwara’s copyright has already expired long ago, so there is no legal problem about not referring his poem. ^_^

Thanks to my Japanese Ghibli friend Masakazu Nakashima for pointing out the details behind this story.



26th of October, KAZUO OGA, COMINICA, GEDO SENKI PIANO ALBUM: Various things today… Earlier this week Yomiuri Online posted news about an exposition in Japan of some artwork made in 2003 by Kazuo Oga. Anyway, that news post wanted me to let you to know about these art pieces as they’re not that well known. So what about it? Well, not much… just that it’s beautiful and that I wanted to point those who are unfamiliar with it out to it’s official website and it’s gallery with some gorgeous Kazuo Oga art. Be sure to check it out!



Talking about Kazuo Oga, there is another thing I’d like to remind you about. Of course Oga is known for his beautiful background art for the Studio Ghibli films he worked on, but some of is his less known work is the work he did as an Art Director on an NHK animation piece known as “Girls in Summer Clothes”. Made in 1988, it’s a drama piece around the Hiroshima bombing. You might want to buy the DVD and check it out.



Also, for the Ghibli fans who are into merchandise, some final reminders. Studio Ghibli figures producer Cominica has released some new items. They are part of the Cominica Mini Select Series which currently consists out of six "My Neighbor Totoro" statues. Though the figures are only approximately 2.5" high or long, Cominca has put quite some attention to detail and fine paintwork. They also come with a screw and chain if you want to create a keychain out of it. And finally, Manu Robles (known for his Spanish Ghibli Blog) informed me that the 29th of November a new Gedo Senki CD will be released. This time it’s the Gedo Senki Piano Album which will be available for a price of 2300 Yen. Pre-orders are up at CD Japan and Amazon.co.jp.



18th of October, CHECKING OUT MIYAZAKI’S CLOCK PROJECT, GERMAN MONONOKE HIME LIMITED EDITION: If you read last week’s news posts, you’ll know it’s time for an update on one of Hayao Miyazaki’s current projects: designing an enormous mechanism clock for the NTV tower at Shiodome, Tokyo. The project was already announced last March, but after that it was kind of quiet. Luckily, last Friday NTV’s show "zoom in SUPER" provided a live update on Miyazaki’s clock, which happens to remind us of his film Howl’s Moving Castle.



When you look at the screenshots I made of some of the show’s footage provided by my Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro, you can see Miyazaki, sculptor Shachimaru Kunio and the rest of the production staff are doing a great job. Earlier this year Hayao Miyazaki already explained that "As time passes, the characters of the animation will be forgotten. Therefore I want to make something that will be loved by future generations as well." Producer Toshio Suzuki also gave some feedback on the clock project "The design was made to be look funny, but without forgetting the functional aspect of the clock and have the customers at NTV tower rejoice. Making a movie follows the same concept!".



Anyway, to give you a better look at the clock you can check out the compilation video I made. The clock will be 10 meters high and 18 meters wide and is planned to be revealed on December 20. Production is done by sculptor Shachimaru Kunio who also to made the giant Laputa robot on the rooftop of the Ghibli Museum, but also the tortoiseshell-shaped bathtub, the Robot Soldier for the “Rising Sea Stream” exhibition and the cover for the patio drain are Ghibli Museum items made by his hand.



To finish, one of our German readers reminded me that November 13 Hayao Miyazaki’s Mononoke Hime will get a new DVD release in Germany. It will be released as a special Collector's Edition with a limited releases of 3,000 and will come in a black varnished Japanese wooden box containing a 2-disc Digipack of the film, a poster and 10 laminated postcards. For those interested, you can purchase it at Amazon.de for a price of EUR 32,99.

11th of October, UPDATE ON MIYAZAKI’S CLOCK PROJECT: Time for an information update about the enormous copper mechanism clock designed by Hayao Miyazaki. Since being announced last March, we had to wait quite some time for another update on the project. However, not for long anymore, this Friday morning the Japanese television show "zoom in SUPER" is going to provide us more info on Miyazaki’s clock project. Studio Ghibli lets us know to please watch the show if you have the possibility to do so (and have access to Japanese television). The show will be broadcasted live.

For those who don’t know about the project, in a period over four years Miyazaki-san designed an enormous copper clock which will be made for the NTV tower at Shiodome, Tokyo. The clock will be 10 meters high and 18 meters, production will be done by sculptor Shachimaru Kunio who also made some nice items for the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan.



10th of October, MIYAZAKI & WESTALL, THE NAUSICAA COLLECTION AND NEW GHIBLI MUSEUM GUIDE BOOK 2006: My Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro informed me that Studio Ghibli posted a news item on their website about the fact that Iwanami Shoten has published Robert Westall’s book "Blackham's Wimpey". The interesting thing is that it was edited by Hayao Miyazaki who happens to be a great admirer of Westall. The book contains Robert Westall's novel "Blackham's Wimpey", "The Haunting of Chas Macgill", "The Making of Me" and Hayao Miyazaki's all color illustration essay "Westall's Fantasy - Trip to Tynemouth" which Miyazaki wrote newly when he visited Westall's birth. Besides that Miyazaki also made the front cover illustration for the book titled “Tynemouth. The book can be purchased for example at Amazon.co.jp (224 pages, A5 size, 1680 Yen, ISBN: 4-00-024632-1).



For those who don’t know Robert Westall (October 7 1929 – April 15 1993) is the author of many books, mostly fiction for children, though also for adults, and non-fiction. Westall's work can be roughly divided between the World War II tale, "school stories" and tales of the supernatural. Indeed, many think that his ghost stories are the finest since M.R. James, but Westall was especially adept at combining genres and merged all three themes effortlessly. His characters of any age are often blessed with strength of will and purpose that is the ultimate hallmark of his stories.

Besides that, today I uploaded a new version of the Nausicaa Collection, a special page on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind with not only information on the movie and manga, but also on some of the nicest items of Nausicaa merchandise with newly shot pictures. It’s far from all, but you got to start somewhere. Anyway, it’s worth checking out: the Nausicaa Collection.



Also, for those who haven’t been to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka Japan or for those just being a fan, I just wanted to remind you that this summer a new Ghibli Museum Guide Book has been released. The guide has been given a big make over: from the photographs and page dividing to the quality of paper on which it is printed. The Ghibli Museum Guide Book 2006 can be purchased for example at Amazon.co.jp for a mere 980 Yen. Below some pictures…





9th of October, INOUE DVD, HISAISHI AND MORE DETAILS ON HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S NEXT FILM: I was on vacation the last two weeks, so here’s a recap of the news I received from my Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro during that period...

First of all, Naohisa Inoue's website announced that the special Iblard DVD, which is produced with Studio Ghibli, is scheduled to be released simultaneously with the DVD release of Gedo Senki next summer. The Iblard DVD will contain about 80 works. Also the clouds, water and light in the pictures will be animated by Studio Ghibli and new composed music will be added.

Talking about music, master composer Joe Hisaishi has renewed his website. For the few who don’t know, Joe Hisaishi is known for the beautiful soundtracks he made for all the Hayao Miyazaki films, but also for several Takeshi Kitano films and many more. Check out JoeHisaishi.com!



Also, more information on Studio Ghibli’s new film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. According to the production diary of October 2, animation production of the new film has begun. Hayao Miyazaki explained the film’s content and production policy to the staff while showing a test cut of next film in the morning in the underground preview room of the second studio.

Besides that, the production diary entry of October 3 mentions that saku-uchi (*1) of part A (*2) of the new film was almost finished, part B of the storyboard is not yet completed. In addition, the entry of October 4 announced that, next to Hayao Miyazaki’s new project, Studio Ghibli is working on another film as well. It’s a new animation part of the Ghibli Museum film "Film Guruguru" (*3). A number of 2,500 animation cells are used for 1 cut of the new animation part.

*1: The word "saku-uchi", a.k.a. "sakuga uchiawase", means "animation meeting". Hayao Miyazaki and the key animators had a meeting on how they will draw the different cuts based on the storyboard.

*2: The Ekonte / storyboard of a Hayao Miyazaki film usually consists of parts A through E. He draws the storyboard while making a film, which is a big difference compaired to western animation films. The production diary entry of September 5 mentioned that part A part of the new film consists out of 282 cuts and has a lenght of about 20 minutes.

*3:"Film Guruguru" is a film with a length of about 5 minutes and which was made for a classic film projector displayed at a gallery in the Ghibli Musuem. The film consists out of 6 parts and it is screened endless:
1. Kareinaru Butoukai (Splendid Dance)
2. Ranputan no Bouken (Adventure of Ranputan)
3. Sakana no Sakana (Fish of Fish)
4. Takolator
5. Piyo Piyo Baba
6. Boubou-kun

Parts 4, 5 and 6 were added in November, 2002. Though this was a silent film at first, sound was added in March, 2003. The character of Piyo Piyo Baba is Spirited Away’s Yubaba and the character Boubou-kun was used as Calcifer in Howl's Moving Castle. The film’s staff consists out of Hayao Miyazaki (director and storyboard), Atsuko Tanaka (key animation) and Mito of Clammbon (sound producer).

30th of September, NEW DETAILS ON HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S NEXT FILM: My Japanese Ghibli friend Takahiro has just provided me with some great detailed news about Hayao Miyazaki’s next movie. According to the production diary of September 26, the storyboard of Hayao Miyazaki's new film is painted in watercolor. Because of this it is printed with a color copier, and distributed to the main staff as a special edition instead of a regular black-and-white Ekonte. Studio Ghibli’s production diary mentions "Even we have not seen a colored storyboard very often. Of course it is the first time for a Studio Ghibli film".



According to the production diary of September 27, the expression method of Studio Ghibli’s next film is really ambitious. Since the staff have to confirm the processing method of every cut, production becomes very hard. Therefore, it is very difficult to manage the production period.

Anyway, yesterday (production diary of September 29) it was announced that animation production will begin next week. If this film will be released in summer 2008, the production term will be about 20 months, which is longer than Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. In a recent interview Producer Toshio Suzuki mentioned "There won’t be a change in the fact of us releasing a film every 2 years". Spirited Away took 16 months and 26 days to produce (2/1/2000 - 6/27/2001), Howl's Moving Castle took 17 months and 6 days (2/1/2003 - 7/7/2004).

To give some extra information, the movie titles of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle were announced before the animation production started. However, the movie title of Hayao Miyazaki’s next film probably won’t be announced until December.

- Spirited Away was announced on December 13, 1999
- Japanese cinema release: July 20, 2001
- DVD release: July 19, 2002

- The Cat Returns was announced on December 13, 2001
- Japanese cinema release: July 20, 2002
- DVD release: July 4, 2003

- Howl's Moving Castle was announced on December 13, 2002.
- Japanese cinema release: November 21, 2004 (postponed from July)
- DVD release: October 1, 2005

- Gedo Senki was announced on December 13, 2005
- Japanese cinema release: July 29, 2006
- DVD release: July, 2007 (?)

26th of September, THE RETURN OF THE NEKOBUS: Today Yomiuri Online informs us about the return of the Ghibli Museum Short called “Mei to Konekobus” a.k.a. “Mei and the Baby Catbus”. This film is a mini-sequel to “My Neighbor Totoro” showing that there are many mysterious creatures in the world where Totoro and the Cat Bus live. Two new pieces of music were composed for this film. Besides that, Hayao Miyazaki also did one of the voices (guess who? > see the third picture below). Starting from October 2nd “Mei and the Baby Catbus” will be screened again exclusively at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. It will replace the screenings of the three newer Ghibli Museum Shorts: the superb “Hoshi wo Katta Hi”, the lovely “Mizugumo Monmon” and the witty “Yadosagashi”.



15th of September, GEDO SENKI AT VIFF2006 VIDEO: Today Studio Ghibli informs us that the Nippon News Network has made a special dedicated Gedo Senki at VIFF2006 video website. The website has a 14 minute video with footage of before, during and after the screening of Gedo Senki at the Venice International Film Festival. So for those who weren’t fortunate to be there: it’s worth checking out! And if you did happen to be there, it's worth checking out for you as well.



14th of September, HAYAO MIYAZAKI IS ONE OF THE “MEN OF THE WEEK”, STUDIO GHIBLI GETTING PAPERCRAFTED: Men’s portal AskMen.com has chosen Hayao Miyazaki to be one of the “men of the week” in their celebrity profile. Besides basic information on Miyazaki, like a small biography, it’s interesting to see the article also rates him in terms of “personality & talent”, “woman magnetism”, “accomplishments & fame”, “coolness factor” and “personal style”.



Something completely different, but also interesting is the combination of Studio Ghibli and a typical Japanese thing: paper craft, crafting three-dimensional objects out of paper (a bit similar to origami). During the release of Howl’s Moving Castle the Japanese part of printer manufacturer Epson already came with a free papercraft model of Howl’s Moving Castle. In addition, an extremely precise and difficult papercraft model in the form of a book was sold as well. It looks quite nice, but building the model takes a lot of time and patience! For those having both there’s good news, the Howl’s Moving Castle Papercraft book is getting a follow-up: Gedo Senki Papercraft.



12th of September, FULL REPORT ON GEDO SENKI AT VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2006: Today, one week after having returned from the Venice International Film Festival 2006, I bring you my report on Gedo Senki’s screening at the festival. It contains info and pictures of the screening, my review about the film and the interview I had with director Goro Miyazaki. You can read it here!



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