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The Studio Ghibli Museum

Sunday 15th January 2012

Rayna Denison gets lost in the Studio Ghibli Museum

The Studio Ghibli Museum

“Let’s Get Lost Together!”  said the first brochures for the Studio Ghibli Art Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo.  Fans were invited to wander the halls of the purpose-built, Miyazaki-designed spaces.  Indeed, only the entrance into the Museum follows a defined pathway, where your pre-purchased ticket is exchanged for a new ticket made of framed cels from a Ghibli movie. But once you’ve walked down the curving staircase to the main foyer, you are free to explore any way you like (though you probably won’t actually get lost).

TotoroGoing to the Art Museum is fundamentally like watching a Ghibli film – full of unexpected cul-de-sacs, intricately rendered details and beautiful imagery married to obvious commercialism. The Museum offers a good mix of exhibits that should please fans of all ages: there’s a permanent, children-only, giant fluffy Catbus (from My Neighbour Totoro) on the way to a roof-top garden featuring a large Laputa robot; there’s a cinema showing exclusive short films by Ghibli (these tend to have little dialogue, but come with no subtitles at all) and, being a Museum, there are also permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Make no mistake, this is not a theme park. Yes, the short films are perhaps more child-oriented than Ghibli’s feature films and, yes, the food is child-friendly. But, this is an Art Museum. It even has a book shop. Such a status is most obvious in the History of Animation exhibit, where you can see Ghibli-fied versions of the zoetrope and can watch Ghibli film reels on animated movement or human evolution whirring through old-fashioned machinery. There is also a permanent, and hugely romantic (the less charitable might say unrealistic), homage to the animator’s process, featuring cluttered workspaces and sketches from Ghibli’s most famous films. Laputa robot - Studio Ghbili MuseumThere are occasional moments that wouldn’t make it past a Disneyland designer – like the wall murals showing the all-male key animation staff, separated from their all-female supporting colourist counterparts. This aside, the details displayed are gorgeous, from popular characters depicted in stained glass, to specially designed tiles in the bathrooms, to the Mama Aiuto (Laputa again) shop.

While children have been playing on the Catbus since the Museum opened in 2001, now, for the first time ever, grown-ups can sit themselves inside their own life-sized Catbus in the Museum’s current special exhibition, “The View from the Catbus.” The special exhibitions change regularly, and often centre around Ghibli’s latest films or companies with whom Ghibli has important relationships, like Pixar. This current exhibition is all about Ghibli’s background art, which is brought to life, literally, in dioramas, making it possible to sprawl inside a Catbus, to pretend to eat noodles like Chihiro’s parents in Spirited Away, or to imagine yourself making hats like Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle.

Foreign fans get preferential treatment before they reach the Ghibli Museum.  Japanese tickets (from the Lawson convenience stores) are time-limited, whereas we can buy tickets from MyBus London that allow us to stay all day if we want. However, a morning or afternoon should do the trick for most.  If you want food at the Museum, the lunchtime queues are long at the Straw Hat Café, so try to dine off-peak. And though there is little actual danger of getting lost while ambling along the well-signed (and Totoro adorned) 15-minute route from Mitaka train station, a lot of visitors take the yellow bus from a special stand in front of the station, which costs an additional 200yen (one way) on top of the 1000yen (roughly £10) adult entry fee.

The Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, Japan is open 10:00-18:00, and is closed every Tuesday.


One Piece (uncut) Collection 14 (episodes 325-348)

was £34.99
Nami, despite her desperate dash, arrives at the station too late to stop the Sea Train, but she's relieved to learn that Sanji has stowed away on board the vessel and will stop at nothing to rescue Robin! With the storm of all storms bearing down upon them, Nami and Chopper risk their lives to save Luffy and Zoro from the rapidly rising waters. Back aboard the train, Sanji is aided in his battle against the CP9 goons by the arrival of the mysterious Soge King, a wandering warrior from the Island of Snipers!

As the scattered Straw Hats fight to reunite, fate draws them ever nearer the foreboding fortress of Enies Lobby. Will our heroes live to face the hour of reckoning?!



One Piece. Pieces of Hate

Been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt....
Of the anime titles turned into T-shirts by Uniqlo, One Piece is the biggest – the reigning king of all the anime and manga franchises, pretty much unchallenged in the 16 years since Eiichiro Oda began the manga, and 14 since Toei Animation started animating it. But perhaps Uniqlo would have turned One Piece into a line of shirts even if the saga hadn’t been a world hit. Just look at those pirate designs – brash, cartoony, uncompromising. There’s no whiff of a committee, no hint of a five-year product plan reliant on changing a heroine’s hair colour (or deepening her cleavage). It just helps that the pictures are as commercial when they move as they are when they’re a cool static graphic in a manga, or on the front of a T-shirt.

One Piece: Strong World

The Straw Hats Pirates come together for an adventure like no other...
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Matt Kamen turns video pirate!
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One piece: Crew Manifest #1

Matt Kamen finds out who’s who in the One Piece anime
Monkey D. Luffy: The founder and captain of the Straw Hats, Luffy is a carefree soul who wants to become king of the pirates. After eating the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit, he gained an elastic body, making him near-invulnerable and able to stretch but paradoxically making him unable to swim.

One Piece: Crew Manifest #2

Back at sea for volume two of One Piece
Before you set sail on the second round of voyages for One Piece, brush up on who you’ll be encountering in this latest volume of nautical nonsense

One Piece music: TOMATO CUBE

Tom Smith on One Piece’s TOMATO CUBE
One-hit wonders. Every country has them. And, as PSY can most likely attest, very few musicians really want to be labelled as one. Sure, it’s all fun, games and fancy dinners when that royalty cheque floats through the letter box. The one with all the zeroes from that single from yesteryear that went massive. But what about the rest of your work? It must be somewhat unsatisfying as an artist to be known for one track, while everything else remains relatively overlooked, and expectations are high for that difficult follow up single. If you’re TOMATO CUBE, you do nothing. Ever again.


Tales of Vesperia Cosplay: Estelle & Rita

Paul Jacques finds a princess and a... erm... scholar
Cosplaying away at Birmingham's Comic Con, Meg Atwill dresses up as Estellise Sidos Heurrasein (or Estelle for short), accompanied by Aimee Tacchi as the whip-wielding scholar Rita Mordio, both from Tales of Vesperia.

Appleseed: Alpha

The CG movie reviewed
With a series of box-ticking MacGuffins, wandering-monster encounters and vaguely defined side missions, Appleseed: Alpha feels all too often like one is watching someone else playing a computer game, not the least because several crucial moments are bodged or oddly framed, so that it is not always clear what’s going on.

Naruto Cosplay: Double Hatake

Paul Jacques continues to round up the best cosplay...
Anna Mateus and Karol Slomczynski snuggle up as two Kakashi Hatakes from Naruto, because one wasn't trouble enough. Snapped by our roving cameraman Paul Jacques at the London Super Comic Con.
Check out the first teaser trailer of the upcoming Godzilla: Resurgence (Shin Godzilla) film.

Mamoru Oshii Interview

The director of Ghost in the Shell on being digital
"For the first time in my career I was dealing with something that existed only as data within a machine. In a way, I felt shocked, but at the same time I understood that it was the prelude of what my job as a filmmaker was going to be."

Fairy Tail Music: Jamil

Tom Smith on Fairy Tail’s 8th Opening Theme
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a fair chance that the idea of visiting Japan has crossed your mind a few times. American-born Jamil Abbas Kazmi had a similar thought, though he wanted to take it one step further by establishing a career out there.

On the Origin of Sushi

Tom Smith investigates the evolution of Japan’s best-loved fast food.
Sushi is serious business. Thought to be healthy, fresh and hip, the combination of vinegared rice with various toppings (notably fish) has become the food associated with Japan, and its history there stretches back almost as far as the country’s writing system. But if you thought the iconic delicacy was Japanese in origin – or even fresh for that matter – hold on to your chopsticks.
The new cross-content project, nowisee, (pronounced "noise"), is aimed at young people, asking them to "question the meaning of life".

Dragon Radar GT 1

It’s going to be a tough journey – but who’s along for the ride?
Dragon Ball GT presents an all new adventure for Goku and his allies, sending them on an interplanetary quest to find the mysterious Black Star Dragon Balls and save the Earth! It’s going to be a tough journey – but who’s along for the ride?
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