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It’s been years since we saw the arrival of a period that was as rich for Studio Ghibli fans as this year has been. We get new films from not one of the studio’s major directors, but two: Hayao Miyazaki, with The Wind Rises (see the new US trailer here) and Isao Takahata with The Legend of Princess Kaguya.

The latter film adapts the Japanese story The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, in which an aged and childless bamboo cutter slices open a glowing bamboo stalk to find a tiny child inside. He and his wife raise the girl, Kaguya, who grows into a delicately beautiful woman. The cutter also finds himself rich as his work, impossibly, yields gold from bamboo. The strange truth of her existence is revealed, as hopeful suitors arrive to ask for Kaguya’s hand in marriage.

We’ve seen various small trailers and footage breaks from The Legend of Princess Kaguya over the past couple months, but now we’ve got an extended six-minute trailer that really shows off the film’s gorgeous animation, influenced by ancient Japanese illustration styles. Read More »

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Twenty-five years ago Studio Ghibli’s second major release was the double feature of My Neighbor Totoro from Hayao Miyazai and Grave of the Fireflies from Isao Takahata. This year we’ve already seen Miyazaki’s latest, The Wind Rises, arriving to acclaim (and some controversy) in Japan, and we’ve now got a poster for the US release.

At the same time, Takahata’s latest film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, is soon to be released in Japan, and we’ve got a new three-minute trailer for the film. We’ve seen some footage from that already, but this offers a lot more to take in.  Read More »

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When Studio Ghibli comes up in conversation, it is inevitably co-founder Hayao Miyazaki who dominates the talk. For good reason: he’s made more movies than any other director at the studio, and his films have helped change the face of animation.

That said, while another Ghibli co-founder, Isao Takahata, is less prolific, his films are no less effective. Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies, which officially launched Ghibli along with Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, is a testament to the power of animation as a straight narrative form, free of genre-based embellishments. Films like Only Yesterday, My Neighbors the Yamadas, and Pom Poko (a personal favorite) tell stories of modern Japan that are unlike any other animation director’s work.

For his latest film, however, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Takahata has gone back to ancient Japanese folklore. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is the inpiration for this film, and in keeping with that starting point, Takahata’s animation is inspired by charcoal, watercolor, and sumi-e ink illustration techniques. If you think of Studio Ghibli as having a house style, footage from The Tale of Princess Kaguya will shatter that notion.

It’s gorgeous to see in motion; have a look at a trailer below.

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The best way to learn about Japan’s famed animation house Studio Ghibli is simply to watch Ghibli’s films, especially those made by co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. Barring that, a visit to the Ghibli Museum in Japan will give you a good look at the studio’s history; cheaper but also far more limited is the selection of “making-of” clips that accompany some of the company’s films.

How about a better middle ground? A documentary called The Kingdom of Dreams & Madness is in the works now. The film will look at the making of two new animated films, among them Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises.   Read More »

Not long ago, domain name registrations all but confirmed that Studio Ghibli will release two films in 2013: The Wind is Rising (Kaze Tachinu) from director Hayao Miyazaki, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya (aka The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, or Kaguya-hime no Monogatari) from Grave of the Fireflies director Isao Takahata. (The two men are also Ghibli’s founders.)

Now those two films are fully confirmed, as Studio Ghibli has formally announced each one, and has specified that they will be released on the same day. That echoes the release in 1988 of My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies, which were released on the same day that year. Not a bad 25th anniversary celebration of that event.

Studio Ghibli also launched official websites to promote the films. With those sites come early art for the movies, which you can see below. Read More »

So-Cal Studio Ghibli fans jealous that New Yorkers got to see new prints of these classic animated films projected on the big screen won’t have to wait long to get their turn. The Studio Ghibli Collection makes its way to Los Angeles, at both the Egyptian and Aero Theaters, from January 26-February 12.

Fourteen films produced by Ghibli: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984),Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Only Yesterday (1991), The Ocean Waves (1993), Porco Rosso (1992), Pom Poko (1994), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Princess Mononoke (1997), My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), Spirited Away (2001),The Cat Returns (2002) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), will screen both in their original language with subtitles as well as dubbed Englis for younger audiences. Find out how to get tickets and more after the break. Read More »

In the two and a half decades since its inception, Studio Ghibli has consistently put out some of the most beloved classics of animation — from Castle in the Sky and My Neighbor Totoro in the ’80s to more recent projects like Ponyo. So the recent announcement of not one, but two new projects, from studio co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, is exciting news indeed. The report of a new film by Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) is especially intriguing since it’ll be his first feature since 1999′s My Neighbors the Yamadas. Read more after the jump.

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After a nice ten year hiatus since he completed My Neigbours The Yamadas, Isao Takahata is back at work directing the next feature film from Studio Ghibli. Taketori Monogatari, which translates as The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, will be an adaptation of the story considered to be the oldest surviving Japanese folktale. It is an incredibly well known story, at home, much as Grimm’s Fairy Tales are in the West.

I recall that Kon Ichikawa made a live action version of the tale with Toshiro Mifune and, according to my Google Research, Big Bird witnesses a telling of the story by schoolchildren in the TV movie Big Bird in Japan but I dare say most renditions will become ancillary to the Ghibli version, if not outright forgotten in its shadow. I suspect this toon is likely to become a definitive version in Japan much in the way Disney have laid claim to Snow White or Pinocchio for Western audiences. You only have to imagine how deeply entrenched a Pixar version of

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