Because of that "ten" (Japanese for exhibition), this week's ToM is zooming on in our favorite
1. "Hoshi wo Katta Hi", a.k.a. "The Day I Harvested a Star"
Hoshi wo Katta Hi, also known as The Day I Harvested a Star, is a lovely animation and... it comes with a superb soundtrack by Hisaishi Joe. As a personal favorite, this work started screening in January of 2006. Direction wasn't done by Miyazaki Hayao, but by Ai Kagawa, who also was key animator on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Only Yesterday, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Howl's Moving Castle and was main animation director under
2. "Yadosagashi", a.k.a. "House Hunting"
This Ghibli short is about a girl who goes on a trip to look for a new house. Where it receives two thumbs up is for its (for Ghibli) experimental execution. Rich Japanese expressions such as "zah" and "zo zo zo" were used to visualize the sounds and atmosphere by animating them on screen as well. Really funny and witty. Like
3. "Mei to Konekobasu", a.k.a. "Mei and the Kittenbus"
Luckily, Studio Ghibli isn't particularly your sequel plant. Indeed, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns are very loosely connected. And then there's the closest thing you'll ever come to a Ghibli sequel: Mei to Konekobasu. But that truly is all of it.
Mei to Konekobasu's original story, screenplay and direction were done by Miyazaki Hayao. Its soundtrack came from the musical mastermind of Hisaishi Joe who composed two new pieces for this short. Furthermore, animation direction was handled by Maikiko Futaki, Sachiko Sugino and Hiromasa Yonebayashi. The last one of that trio deserves a special mention as Yonebayashi is to make his directing debut with Ghibli's latest full length feature Karigurashi no Arrietty which is to be released this summer.
Storywise this short is very simple, but the animation is breathtaking. What particularly comes to mind is one of the first scenes during which Mei becomes friends with the baby cat bus by offering it a caramel. The animation of the little baby catbus going beserk while being trapped in Mei's room and enjoying Mei's treat is definitely a highlight. Later on the two go off to the forest at night where spooky ghosts gather and many mysterious creatures appear in the world where Totoro and the catbus live. Worth noting is that Hayao Miyazaki did one of the voices during that scene (guess who? > check the picture).
4. "Mizugumo Monmon", a.k.a. "Monmon the Water Spider"
Some of the trials Studio Ghibli had during the production of their museum shorts made it possible for them to make Ponyo without CG. Koro no Daisanpo brought it the picture book style backgrounds (the warm and nostalgic style painted by Yoshida Noboru was first accepted in that movie). Yadosagashi gave it the typical depiction of trees, grasses and winds which were drawn using Sakuga. Hoshi wo Katta Hi gave them its three-dimensional depiction without using CG mapping. And what about Mizugumo Monmon? That short gave Ponyo something unmissable: its detailed depiction of water.
The story basically is a love adventure of a water spider who drags a bubble of air underwater to make a nest and then meets a water spider. It beautifully portrays life in the pond in which they live such as enormous crawfish, fish and small water flea and these lovely images are backed up with a nice happy, folkloristic sounding soundtrack using lots of violins.
The studio used 30,000 cels to make Mizugumo Monmon. The amount of cels is of such a high quantity, because it took a lot of cels to depict bubbles and the rippling of water. It is something that was also reflected in the costs of this production. Making short films is definitely not commercial, but that's where
5. "Chuu-Zumo", a.k.a. "A Sumo Wrestler's Tail"
Released this January, this short is Studio Ghibli's latest addition to their collection of museum shorts. Its scenario was made by
All in all, this ToM wasn't much of an in-depth analysis of the Ghibli shorts. That's not what this is about, as it would just spoil the fun. These little great pieces of animation are more about the experience, creativity, mood and atmosphere, so forget about mind blowing storylines and engaging character development. All young and old will certainly enjoy sitting front row in