Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Characters Reimagined in the Style of 19th-Century Woodblock Prints


Like illus­tra­tor Bill Mudron, I’m drawn to the back­grounds of direc­tor Hayao Miyaza­ki’s ani­mat­ed fea­tures. The shad­owy land­scapes and tra­di­tion­al wood­en hous­es exert a ton­ic effect, even as giant many-eyed insects roam free and curs­es turn par­ents into pigs. The char­ac­ters can become a bit cloy­ing (espe­cial­ly when dubbed for Eng­lish-speak­ing audi­ences), but I’ll nev­er tire of watch­ing that cat bus charg­ing through the Japan­ese coun­try­side.

Mudron’s take on six of Miyaza­k­i’s most fer­tile land­scapes, includ­ing Spir­it­ed Away’s bath­house, above, were ren­dered entire­ly in Pho­to­shop, but aes­thet­i­cal­ly, they’re of a piece with artist Kawase Hasui’s late-19th and ear­ly-20th cen­tu­ry wood­block prints. (You can pur­chase Mudron’s prints and sup­port his work here.)

Mudron told The Cre­ators Project that his project was born of read­ing a two-vol­ume book on Hasui, right after see­ing The King­dom of Dreams and Mad­ness, Mami Sunada’s doc­u­men­tary about Miyaza­k­i’s Stu­dio Ghi­b­li.

Tak­ing his lead from the fig­ures in Hasui’s shin-hanga (“new prints”), Mudron makes Miyazaki’s char­ac­ters whol­ly sub­or­di­nate to their set­ting. It’s pret­ty hard to ignore the weird spir­its throng­ing the bridge that leads to the bath­house when watch­ing the film of Spir­it­ed Away, but Mudron suc­ceeds by pin­ning them to a sin­gle moment in time and shift­ing the focus to their des­ti­na­tion.


Study the above detail from “Night Falls on the Spir­it Realm.” There’s still a lot going on on that bridge, but rel­a­tive to the big pic­ture at the top of the page, these spir­its are as anony­mous as the umbrel­la tot­ing fig­ures in Hasui’s “Snow at Heian Shrine, Kyoto,” below.


Scroll down for Muldron’s view of icon­ic loca­tions from My Neigh­bor Totoro, Kiki’s Deliv­ery Ser­vice, and Princess Mononoke.




via The Cre­ators Project

Relat­ed Con­tent:

French Stu­dent Sets Inter­net on Fire with Ani­ma­tion Inspired by Moe­bius, Syd Mead & Hayao Miyaza­ki

Hayao Miyazaki’s Mag­i­cal Ani­mat­ed Music Video for the Japan­ese Pop Song, “On Your Mark”

Watch Sher­lock Hound: Hayao Miyazaki’s Ani­mat­ed, Steam­punk Take on Sher­lock Holmes

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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