(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films and television properties that inspired George Lucas’s iconic universe. In this edition:Princess Mononoke.)

George Lucas often spoke about how anime inspired his decision to create Star Wars: The Clone Wars. During a Q&A at the Siggraph convention, he said about the creation of the animation facility in Singapore that was responsible for a lot of the work on that show: “A lot of (Asia) is still trying to move into the 3D age. I set up a plan to speed up the process and to build up the community there. I also look at this as a way to get my foot into anime.”

One of the chief anime influences on The Clone Wars was Hayao Miyazaki’s landmark animated fantasy film Princess Mononoke. Roger Ebert called it one of the best films of 1999—the year it was released in the United States. The New York Post’s reviewer actually called it “the Star Wars of animated features.”

So, how did this film influence not only The Clone Wars, but serve as a pattern for the recently released thirteenth chapter of The Mandalorian? Let’s dive in.

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(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)

For the first time in its 36-year history of making some of the most breathtaking animated masterpieces of all time, all of Studio Ghibli‘s movies are available to stream right now. The Japanese animation studio best known for its adorable raccoon-like mascot and the acclaimed works of animation titan Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli is often written off as the maker of peculiar arthouse animes — too philosophical for western kids used to fast-paced Disney movies, and too anime for cinephiles. Well, I’m here to prove those hypothetical haters wrong. Or, at least, to lend a helping hand to those who are interested in diving into the works of Studio Ghibli, but are unsure about where to start or if the studio’s films will even appeal to them. I can assure you, of the 21 feature films (and one TV movie) released by Studio Ghibli since its inception in 1984, there will be something for you.

So in this week’s Pop Culture Imports, I’m shaking things up a bit and spiriting you away across the Pacific to give you a beginner’s guide to Studio Ghibli movies.

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Studio Ghibli fans, mark your calendars for two weeks from today. On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, the beloved Japanese animation studio will finally release its complete library of films on digital home media in the U.S. and Canada. Ghibli’s North American distributor, GKIDS, has announced through a press release that the studio’s entire catalogue will be available to download for the very first time on all major transactional platforms, including Apple TV, Amazon VOD, Vudu, Google Play, Sony, Microsoft, and Fandango Now.

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studio ghibli theme park

There’s no experience more magical than that of watching a Studio Ghibli film. But what about actually experiencing one? Studio Ghibli is bringing to life the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and its other renowned anime directors in the form of its long-awaited theme park, which is now officially in development thanks to the help of local partners in Japan. The unnamed Studio Ghibli theme park is scheduled to open in 2022.

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hayao miyazaki prints

There’s nothing as magical as watching a Hayao Miyazaki film, and letting it transport you to a fantastical world where dragons soar and castles walk. But a Hayao Miyazaki print done in the style of Japanese woodblock prints may just come close.

For a limited time, Japanese woodblock-style prints of Studio Ghibli movies directed by the legendary anime filmmaker are available to purchase. But better snatch them up quick, because like a certain antique grandfather clock in Whisper of the Heart, at the stroke of midnight, they may disappear.

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studio ghibli theme park concept art

Come 2022, you can be spirited away to the world of Studio Ghibli. An upcoming theme park will bring to life the vibrant and surreal worlds that were first introduced to us in the animated movies by Hayao MiyazakiIsao Takahata, and other illustrious anime directors.

The theme park’s opening is still several years in the future (they’re probably trying to figure out how to make a real-life Catbus as we speak), but for now, we can get a first look at some absolutely magical Studio Ghibli theme park concept art.

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The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray Set will be released by Disney in North America and is now available for pre-order for $224.99. The U.S. release of this set appears to be an Amazon exclusive. Shipping is free with or without Amazon Prime. The set includes the following films: Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and The Wind Rises. An international trailer and details about bonus features included in the set, can be found after the jump.

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See The Studio Ghibli Theme Park We Wish Were Real

Studio Ghibli Theme Park

How much would you love to visit the worlds of Hayao Miyazaki? Who wouldn’t want to stay at the Hotel Adriano from Porco Rosso or the Aburaya Bathhouse from Spirited Away? Japanese artist Takumi has dreamed up a Studio Ghibli Theme Park we can only wish were real — its not gonna happen but imagine if Disney were to buy Ghibli and create such a theme park in Japan. After the jump you can see the fantastic designs created by Takumi which bring together many of the worlds seen in the Studio Ghibli movies.

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Best Screenprinted Movie Posters of 2014

Screenprinted movie posters continued to explode in 2014. I drool over so many posters every year, it’s very difficult to pick favorites. With movies, at least you know what you like and you don’t like. Why something works and why something doesn’t. Physical art is more subjective. Some art just hits people one way and others another. Such it is with pop culture posters. Maybe I love one subject more than another and that makes the art seem better. Maybe the art is absolutely incredible but, if I don’t connect with the subject, it’s harder to appreciate. Long story short, ranking them in any definitive ways seems futile.

That said, we figured it would be fun to at least call out a few of coolest screenprinted movie posters of 2014. Fifteen personal favorites that stand out, for one reason or another, to me. Posters are are beautiful, unique and make me remember their subject in a new, vivid way. Check out my favorite screenprinted movie posters of 2014 after the jump. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Doaly John Woo

Don’t let the name “Kung Fu Theater” throw you off. The latest exhibit at the Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles, CA isn’t explicitly about martial arts. That subject is in there – big time – but this exhibit features Asian films of all action persuasions. The weapons aren’t just feet and fists, but guns, swords, monsters, robots and more. The show opens Friday November 14 and will be online Saturday November 15. Below, you can check out some of our favorite pieces in the show, as well as the exclusive reveal of Craig Drake‘s Princess Mononoke poster which will be available on bamboo. Read More »