Last week, we featured a trio of ridiculously cute commercials about a cat called Konyara. The company that made them was none other that Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki's animation shop. Those commercials, drawn in an elegantly simple style that recalls traditional Japanese sumi-e illustrations, had the same meticulous attention to detail and fluid movements that are Miyazaki's trademark.
As it turns out, Ghibli didn't restrict its commercial endeavors to cartoon cats. Above are a bunch of commercials the company did over the years stretching all the way back to 1992. The ads range from ones about bread to banks to green tea. There are also quite a number of tie-ins from the studio's movies, like an ad for Lawson's convenience stores that features collectible dolls from Spirited Away. What is fascinating about these ads is the range of styles they exhibit. Many are done in a way that clearly recalls Miyazaki's movies, others look much more minimal and much more gestural.
In other Miyazaki related news, it turns out that the master isn't retiring after all. Following the release of his feature The Wind Rises in 2013, Hayao Miyazaki announced he was getting out of the animation biz. But as with his numerous declarations of retirement in the past, it didn't take.
Miyazaki is reportedly making a 10-minute long animated short called Kemushi no Boro (Boro the Caterpillar). The director describes the short as "a story of a tiny, hairy caterpillar, so tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers." He has been developing on the idea for a couple decades now and, in spite of the short’s length, the film is projected to take three years to make.
What might be surprising is that the film will be entirely computer generated. Miyazaki is perhaps the world’s most famous proponent of hand-drawn cel animation. As a younger man, he railed against CGI calling the method “shallow, fake.” Over the years, however, his feelings evolved.
"If [hand-drawn cel animation] is a dying craft we can't do anything about it,” he told The Guardian back in 2005. “Civilization moves on. Where are all the fresco painters now? Where are the landscape artists? What are they doing now? […] Actually I think CGI has the potential to equal or even surpass what the human hand can do. But it is far too late for me to try it."
Apparently it is not.
Boro will screen exclusively in his Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, so if you want to see the master’s next work, be prepared to fly to Japan.
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. The Veeptopus store is here.