Friday, June 4, 2010

The Magic of Studio Ghibli Museum

For a couple of years now, I have been a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. Naturally, when I found out there was a Studio Ghibli Museum (his studio), I had to go there. We somehow made it in time for our entrance appointment (you must get there prior to your reservation or you cannot go in), and I entered what could only be described as a world of imagination and whimsy. Designed my Miyazaki himself, the museum is as amazing and visually stunning as any of his films. If you are ever fortunate enough to go here, you will first be given the honor of seeing a short, exclusive film only shown in the museum. Our film of the day was a heartwarming tale about sumo wrestling rats. What struck me most about the film was it’s lighthearted animation and background scenery that almost looked as though it was made with pastels.

Words cannot describe the experience I had inside the animation exhibit. Inside were three dimensional animated sculptures unlike anything I had ever seen. The most amazing one was a Totoro animation. It’s difficult to describe, but basically there were many figurines positioned in a circle. Each sculpture was posed slightly different. Then, the tree starts spinning and a strobe light starts going off. In doing so, there was an almost magical effect of hundreds of tiny Totoro and friends dancing around a tree. Then, the wheel stops spinning, and you realize the animated figures are merely still objects. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I will never forget the whimsical effect it had.

Found this on YouTube.... you are totally not supposed to film this!

It was as though I had stumbled upon a tiny village of Totoros myself. This was not the only animation either. We also had the chance to see many original storyboards and concept drawings done by Miyazaki himself. The room that held these treasures was designed to look like Miyazaki’s own workspace. The architecture of the museum was simply otherworldly, with cartoon-like walls, and rich stained glass murals of characters in his films. I was expecting a lot, and my expectations were blown away. Every detail, from the sewer drains to the rooftop garden was something else to see. It sounds cheesy, but going to the Studio Ghibli Museum felt like a trip to a magical land, where you can view the world with the hopeful eyes of a child.

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