Hayao Miyazaki’s Masterpieces Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke Imagined as 8‑Bit Video Games

As an unapolo­getic mem­ber of the “Mil­len­ni­al” gen­er­a­tion, allow me to tell you how to win over a great many of us at a stroke: just appeal to our long-instilled affin­i­ty for Japan­ese ani­ma­tion and clas­sic video games. Raised, like many of my peers born in the late 1970s and ear­ly 1980s, on a steady diet of those art forms — not that every­one knew to acknowl­edge them as art forms back then — I respond instinc­tive­ly to either of them, and as for their inter­sec­tion, well, how could I resist?

I cer­tain­ly can’t resist the ster­ling exam­ple of ani­me-meets-ret­rogam­ing in action just above: an 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma dou­ble-fea­ture, offer­ing David and Hen­ry Dut­ton’s pix­e­lat­ed ren­di­tions of huge­ly respect­ed Japan­ese ani­ma­tion mas­ter Hayao Miyaza­k­i’s films Spir­it­ed Away and Princess Mononoke. In just under eight min­utes, the video tells both sto­ries — the for­mer of a young girl trans­port­ed into not just the spir­it realm but into employ­ment at one of its bath­hous­es; the lat­ter of the unend­ing strug­gle between humans and for­est gods in 15th-cen­tu­ry Japan — as tra­di­tion­al side-scrolling, plat­form-jump­ing video games.

Clear­ly labors of love by true clas­sic gamers, these trans­for­ma­tions get not just the graph­ics (which actu­al­ly look bet­ter than real games of the era, in keep­ing with Miyaza­k­i’s artistry) but the sound, music, and even game­play con­ven­tions just right. I’d love to play real ver­sions of these games, espe­cial­ly since, apart from an unloved adap­ta­tion of Nau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the Wind, Miyaza­k­i’s movies haven’t plunged into the video-game realm.

And if you respond bet­ter to the aes­thet­ic of clas­sic gam­ing than to that of Japan­ese ani­ma­tion, do have a look at 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma’s oth­er work, much of which you can sam­ple in their show reel with clips from their ver­sions of pic­tures like The Shin­ingKill Bill, and The Life Aquat­ic with Steve Zis­sou. I remem­ber many child­hood con­ver­sa­tions about how video games would even­tu­al­ly look just like our favorite movies, ani­mat­ed or oth­er­wise; lit­tle did we know that, one day, our favorite movies would also look just like video games.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hayao Miyazaki’s Uni­verse Recre­at­ed in a Won­der­ful CGI Trib­ute

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

The Simp­sons Pay Won­der­ful Trib­ute to the Ani­me of Hayao Miyaza­ki

The Delight­ful TV Ads Direct­ed by Hayao Miyaza­ki & Oth­er Stu­dio Ghi­b­li Ani­ma­tors (1992–2015)

The Phi­los­o­phy of Friedrich Niet­zsche Explained with 8‑Bit Video Games

8‑Bit Phi­los­o­phy: Pla­to, Sartre, Der­ri­da & Oth­er Thinkers Explained With Vin­tage Video Games

The Big Lebows­ki Reimag­ined as a Clas­sic 8‑Bit Video Game

The Great Gats­by and Wait­ing for Godot: The Video Game Edi­tions

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • tahrey says:

    Seems a bit schizo in its approach re: whether it’s going for an 8 or a 16-bit vibe, and the times where its Flash con­struc­tion is a bit too obvi­ous (things sud­den­ly hav­ing diag­o­nal­ly-aligned pix­els when they rotate instead of alias­ing to strict horizontal/vertical lines…) — but if they exist­ed I would play the hell out of these games. The art style is oth­er­wise right in the sweet spot and the idea is some­thing sore­ly miss­ing from real life.

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