Studio Ghibli Makes 1,178 Images Free to Download from My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away & Other Beloved Animated Films

Studio Ghibli make lush and captivating animated films. So, on occasion, do other studios, but of how many of their pictures can we say that each and every still frame constitutes a work of art in itself? As a test, try putting on a Ghibli movie and pausing at random, then doing the same for any other major animated feature of similar vintage: chances are, the former will far more often produce an image you’d like to capture in high resolution and use for your desktop background, or perhaps even print out and hang on your wall.

Now, Studio Ghibli have provided such images themselves, in an online collection (click here and scroll down the page) that offers more than 1,100 stills from their films, all free for the download. This trove has grown considerably since we first featured it this past fall here at Open Culture.

In that post, Ted Mills quotes Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki as instructing visitors to use the images “freely within the scope of common sense.” It was Suzuki, you may recall, who once taught us to draw the eponymous feline-ursine star of My Neighbor Totoro, the most beloved of the studio’s works — downloadable frames from which Ghibli put up only in November.

Along with Totoro came images from the acclaimed (and highly successful) likes of Spirited Away and Porco Rosso, as well as its lesser known romantic drama Ocean Waves, made for television by the studio’s younger animators in the early 1990s. The most recent update, made earlier this month, includes images from 1984’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which is now considered Ghibli’s honorary first picture, having been directed by co-founder Hayao Miyazaki before the studio’s foundation. There are also stills from 2016’s The Red Turtle, the stark, wordless feature produced by Suzuki but directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit.

Though the site is only in Japanese, anyone who’s seen at least a few Ghibli movies should have no problem finding their favorites, from the aforementioned residents of greatest-animated-films-of-all-time lists to highly respected but lower-profile works like Only Yesterday by Miyazaki’s Ghibli-founding parter, the late Isao Takahata. There’s also plenty to delight Ghibli fans of a more die-hard persuasion: take, for example, the visual materials from “On Your Mark,” the futuristic, nonlinear animated music video made for rock duo Chage & Aska. Whatever your own level of investment in the work of Studio Ghibli, you’d do well to assume that they’ve only just got started putting up their archives.

Related Content:

Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli Releases Free Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away & More

Studio Ghibli Producer Toshio Suzuki Teaches You How to Draw Totoro in Two Minutes

Hayao Miyazaki’s Sketches Showing How to Draw Characters Running: From 1980 Edition of Animation Magazine

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

Build Your Own Miniature Sets from Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Films: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service & More

Software Used by Hayao Miyazaki’s Animation Studio Becomes Open Source & Free to Download

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Technology Arbitrage: Amazon is Selling Airpods Pro Headphones for $50 Less Than Apple

Psst. Amazon currently has AirPods Pro headphones for $199, while Apple has them listed for $249. It’s the deal of the day for anyone looking for wireless Bluetooth earbuds, with noise-cancelling, immersive sound.

H/T Rolling Stone

When Queen’s Freddie Mercury Teamed Up with Opera Superstar Montserrat Caballé in 1988: A Meeting of Two Powerful Voices

Combining pop music with opera was always the height of pretension. But where would we be without the pretentious? As Brian Eno observed in his 1995 diary, “My assumptions about culture as a place where you can take psychological risks without incurring physical penalties make me think that pretending is the most important thing we do. It’s the way we make our thought experiments, find out what it would be like to be otherwise.” And with Freddie Mercury and Queen, if it wasn’t for pretense we wouldn’t have “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Hell, we wouldn’t have Queen, period.

But in 1988 the gamble didn’t exactly pay off. To the British music press, Mercury was coasting on Live Aid fumes and the shadow of his unsuccessful solo album. And then to hear that he’d teamed up with opera singer Montserrat Caballé? Despite what any hagiographic tale of Mercury might say, this passed your average rock fan by.

Outside the whims of the charts, however, Mercury’s team up with Caballé was the fulfillment of a goal he’d had since 1981. The singer had fallen in love with Cabellé’s voice in 1981 when he’d seen her perform alongside Luciano Pavarotti.

Then began a dance between the two artists. Mercury was worried that Caballé would not take this rock star seriously. Caballé, on the other hand, was a rock music fan just like so many people. They owned each others’ albums. Finally, in early 1986, the two met: Caballé’s brother was the music director of the upcoming 1992 Barcelona Olympics and ‘Who better to do a theme song with than Freddie Mercury?’ said the singer.

According to Peter Freestone, Mercury’s personal assistant and longtime friend, meeting Caballé was the most nervous he’d ever been. Mercury was worried the opera singer would be aloof and distant. But she was as down to earth as Mercury in their offstage moments.

As Freestone recounted, “Freddie assumed they’d only make one song together. Then Montserrat said: ‘How many songs do you put on a rock album?’ When Freddie told her eight or 10, she said: ‘Fine – we will do an album.’”

Mercury had two deadlines: one based around Caballé’s schedule, and the other based around his recent AIDS virus diagnosis. Though he had composed the opening song “Barcelona” to sing alongside Caballé at the 1992 opening ceremonies, he told her that he probably wouldn’t be around for that to happen. (Caballé instead sang “Amigos para siempre (Friends forever)” with Spanish tenor José Carreras.) They did manage to perform together, singing “Barcelona” at a promotional event at Ku nightclub in Ibiza in May, 1987.

Mercury wrote the eight songs on the Barcelona album with Mike Moran, the songwriter who’d also worked with Mercury on his previous solo album and whose “Exercises in Free Love” was adapted into “Ensueño” for the album, with Caballé helping in the rewrite.

According to Freestone, watching Caballé was the most emotional he’d seen the usually reserved singer: “When Montserrat sang ‘Barcelona’, after her first take was the nearest I ever saw Freddie to tears. Freddie was emotional, but he was always in control of his emotions, because he could let them out in performing or writing songs. He grabbed my hand and said: ‘I have the greatest voice in the world, singing my music!’ He was so elated.”

In time, the album has gained in reputation, but is criticized that the label spent most of its money on the title track—full orchestration, the works, as benefits a meeting of two operatic minds—and relied on synths for the remaining songs. Fans are asking for a rerecording that brings the full orchestra to all the tracks. We’ve certainly seen odder requests granted in the last few years, like the remix of what many consider Bowie’s worst album. So who indeed can tell? Watch this space.

via Messy Nessy

Related Content:

What Made Freddie Mercury the Greatest Vocalist in Rock History? The Secrets Revealed in a Short Video Essay

Marionette Freddie Mercury Performs on the Streets of Madrid

Hear a Previously Unheard Freddie Mercury Song, “Time Waits for No One,” Unearthed After 33 Years
Meet Freddie Mercury and His Faithful Feline Friends

Freddie Mercury Reimagined as Comic Book Heroes

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

The Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants: Discover the 1977 Illustrated Guide Created by Harvard’s Groundbreaking Ethnobotanist Richard Evan Schultes

I mean, the idea that you would give a psychedelic—in this case, magic mushrooms or the chemical called psilocybin that’s derived from magic mushrooms—to people dying of cancer, people with terminal diagnoses, to help them deal with their – what’s called existential distress. And this seemed like such a crazy idea that I began looking into it. Why should a drug from a mushroom help people deal with their mortality?

–Michael Pollan in an interview with Terry Gross, “’Reluctant Psychonaut’ Michael Pollan Embraces ‘New Science’ Of Psychedelics”

Around the same time Albert Hoffman synthesized LSD in the early 1940s, a pioneering ethnobotanist, writer, and photographer named Richard Evan Schultes set out “on a mission to study how indigenous peoples” in the Amazon rainforest “used plants for medicinal, ritual and practical purposes,” as an extensive history of Schultes’ travels notes. “He went on to spend over a decade immersed in near-continuous fieldwork, collecting more than 24,000 species of plants including some 300 species new to science.”

Described by Jonathan Kandell as “swashbuckling” in a 2001 New York Times obituary, Schultes was “the last of the great plant explorers in the Victorian tradition.” Or so his student Wade Davis called him in his 1995 bestseller The Serpent and the Rainbow. He was also “a pioneering conservationist,” writes Kandell, “who raised alarms in the 1960’s—long before environmentalism became a worldwide concern.” Schultes defied the stereotype of the colonial adventurer, once saying, “I do not believe in hostile Indians. All that is required to bring out their gentlemanliness is reciprocal gentlemanliness.”

Schultes returned to teach at Harvard, where he reminded his students “that more than 90 tribes had become extinct in Brazil alone over the first three-quarters of the 20th century.” While his research would have significant influence on figures like Aldous Huxley, William Burroughs, and Carlos Castaneda, “writers who considered hallucinogens as the gateways to self-discovery,” Schultes was dismissive of the counterculture and “disdained these self-appointed prophets of an inner reality.”

Rather than promoting recreational use, Schultes became known as “the father of a new branch of science called ‘ethnobotany,’ the field that explores the relationship between indigenous people and their use of plants,” writes Luis Sequeira in a biographical note. One of Schultes’ publications, the Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants, has sadly fallen out of print, but you can find it online, in full, at the Vaults of Erowid. Pricey out-of-print copies can still be purchased.

Described on Amazon as “a nontechnical examination of the physiological effects and cultural significance of hallucinogenic plants used in ancient and modern societies,” the book covers peyote, ayahuasca, cannabis, various psychoactive mushrooms and other fungi, and much more. In his introduction, Schultes is careful to separate his research from its appropriation, dismissing the term “psychedelic” as etymologically incorrect and “biologically unsound.” Furthermore, he writes, it “has acquired popular meanings beyond the drugs or their effects.”

Schultes’ interests are scientificand anthropological. “In the history of mankind,” he writes, “hallucinogens have probably been the most important of all the narcotics. Their fantastic effects made them sacred to primitive man and may even have been responsible for suggesting to him the idea of deity.” He does not exaggerate. Schultes’ research into the religious and medicinal uses of natural hallucinogens led him to dub them “plants of the gods” in a book he wrote with Albert Hoffman, discoverer of LSD.

Neither scientist sought to start a psychedelic revolution, but it happened nonetheless. Now, another revolution is underwayone that is finally revisiting the science of ethnobotany and taking seriously the healing powers of hallucinogenic plants. It is hardly a new science among scholars in the West, but the renewed legitimacy of research into hallucinogens has given Schultes’ research new authority. Learn from him in his Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants online here.

Related Content: 

How to Use Psychedelic Drugs to Improve Mental Health: Michael Pollan’s New Book, How to Change Your Mind, Makes the Case

New LSD Research Provides the First Images of the Brain on Acid, and Hints at Its Potential to Promote Creativity

Artist Draws 9 Portraits While on LSD: Inside the 1950s Experiments to Turn LSD into a “Creativity Pill”

Hofmann’s Potion: 2002 Documentary Revisits the History of LSD

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Essential Bradbury: The 25 Finest Stories by the Beloved Writer

The late Ray Bradbury wrote a dizzying number of short stories over a career that spanned nine decades. Authorized Bradbury biographer Sam Weller, author of the bestselling The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury and the indispensable companion book, Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews makes sense of Bradbury’s voluminous short story output by selecting “The Essential Bradbury,” the 25 finest tales by the beloved writer.

Bradbury wrote defiantly across genres: gothic horror, social science fiction, weird tales, fantasy, and contemporary literary fiction. He is, perhaps, best known for his 1953 chef d’oeuvre, Fahrenheit 451, but Weller (and Bradbury’s late wife of 56 years, Marguerite for that matter) argue that Bradbury’s finest work came in the form of the short story.

Weller’s “Essential Bradbury” includes some cool, never-before-seen ephemera, culled from the biographer’s personal archives. Sam Weller worked with Ray Bradbury for 12 years. You can read his “Essential Bradbury” here.

Related Content:

Ray Bradbury Wrote the First Draft of Fahrenheit 451 on Coin-Operated Typewriters, for a Total of $9.80

Ray Bradbury Reveals the True Meaning of Fahrenheit 451: It’s Not About Censorship, But People “Being Turned Into Morons by TV”

An Animated Ray Bradbury Explains Why It Takes Being a “Dedicated Madman” to Be a Writer

Ray Bradbury Gives 12 Pieces of Writing Advice to Young Authors (2001)

Archaeologists Discover an Ancient Roman Snack Bar in the Ruins of Pompeii

Have you ever wondered what generations hundreds or thousands of years hence will make of our strip malls, office parks, and sports arenas? Probably not much, since there probably won’t be much left. How much medium-density fibreboard is likely to remain? The colorful structures that make the modern world seem solid, the grocery shelves, fast food counters, and shiny product displays, will return to the sawdust from which they came.

Back in antiquity, on the other hand, things were built to last, even through the fires and devastation of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Archaeologists will be discovering for many more years everyday features of Pompeii that survived a historic disaster and the ordinary ravages of time. In 2019, a team fully unearthed what is known as a thermopolium, a fancy Greek word for a snack bar that “would have served hot food and drinks to locals in the city,” the BBC reports. The find was only unveiled this past Saturday.

Images from

You can see the excavation in a subtitled virtual tour at the top conducted by Massimo Osanna, Pompeii’s general director and the “mastermind,” Smithsonian writes, behind the Great Pompeii Project, a “$140 million conservation and restoration program launched in 2012.”

Richly decorated with brightly-colored paintings, preserved by ash, the Thermopolium of Regio V, as it’s known, features a scene of a nereid riding a sea-horse. Surrounding her on all sides of the counter are illustrations of the food for sale, including “two mallard ducks shown upside down, ready to be cooked and eaten,” notes the official Pompeii site, “a rooster,” and “a dog on a lead, the latter serving as a warning in the manner of the famed Cave Canem.”

Undeterred and spurred on by the Romans’ famed love of graffiti, someone scratched a “mocking inscription” into the frame around the dog: “NICIA CINAEDE CACATOR—literally ‘Nicias (probably a freedman from Greece) Shameless Shitter!’” The message may have been left by a disgruntled worker, “who sought to poke fun at the owner.” Also found at the site were bone fragments in containers belonging to the animals pictured, as well as human bones and “various pantry and transport materials” such as amphorae, flasks, and other typical Roman containers.

Despite its elaborate design and the excitement of its discoverers, the thermopolium was nothing special in its day. Such counters were like Starbucks, “widespread in the Roman world, where it was typical to consume the prandium (the meal) outside the house. In Pompeii alone there are eighty of them.” Will future archaeologists thrill over the discovery of a Cinnabon in a thousand years’ time? We’ll never know, but somehow I doubt it. Learn much more about this discovery at the official site for Pompeii, which hopes to reopen to visitors in the Spring of 2021. All images come via

Related Content: 

Watch the Destruction of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius, Re-Created with Computer Animation (79 AD)

See the Expansive Ruins of Pompeii Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before: Through the Eyes of a Drone

High-Resolution Walking Tours of Italy’s Most Historic Places: The Colosseum, Pompeii, St. Peter’s Basilica & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How Martin Luther King Jr. Got C’s in Public Speaking–Before Becoming a Straight-A Student & a World Class Orator

How many Americans have never heard the name of Martin Luther King Jr.? And indeed, gone more than half a century though he may be, how many Americans have never heard his voice, or can’t quote his words? Long though King will doubtless stand as an example of the English language’s greatest 20th-century orators, he once showed scant academic promise in that department. Tweeting out an image of his transcript from Crozer Theological Seminary, where King earned his Bachelor of Divinity, Harvard’s Sarah Elizabeth Lewis notes that King “received two Cs in public speaking,” and “actually went from a C+ to a C the next term.”

Still, that beat the marks King had previously received at Morehouse College. In an article for The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Stanford’s Clayborne Carson quotes religion professor George D. Kelsey as describing King’s record there as “short of what may be called ‘good,'” but also adding that King came “to realize the value of scholarship late in his college career.” This early underachievement may have been a consequence of King’s entrance into college at the young age of fifteen, which was made possible by Morehouse’s offering its entrance exam to junior high schoolers, its student body having been depleted by enlistment in the Second World War.

But King “probably realized that he would have to become more diligent in his studies if he were to succeed at the small Baptist institution in Chester, Pennsylvania, a small town southwest of Philadelphia,” writes Carson. “Evidently wishing to break with the relaxed attitude he had had toward his Morehouse studies,” he “quickly immersed himself in Crozer’s intellectual environment” and adopted a mien of high seriousness. “If I were a minute late to class, I was almost morbidly conscious of it,” King later recalled. “I had a tendency to overdress, to keep my room spotless, my shoes perfectly shined, and my clothes immaculately pressed.”

The young King eventually rose to the role in which he’d cast himself, thanks in part to the rigor of certain professors who knew what to expect from him. Apart from the sole minus blemishing his grade in “Christianity and Society,”  his transcript for 1950-51 shows straight As. “By the time of his graduation,” Carson writes, “King’s intellectual confidence was reinforced by the experience of having successfully competed with white students during his Crozer years.” Named student body president and class valedictorian, “he was also accepted for doctoral study at Boston University’s School of Theology, where he would be able to work directly with the personalist theologians he had come to admire.” Even then, one suspects, King knew the real work lay ahead of him — and well outside the academy, at that.

Related Content:

How Martin Luther King, Jr. Used Nietzsche, Hegel & Kant to Overturn Segregation in America

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Handwritten Syllabus & Final Exam for the Philosophy Course He Taught at Morehouse College (1962)

Martin Luther King Jr. Explains the Importance of Jazz: Hear the Speech He Gave at the First Berlin Jazz Festival (1964)

Albert Einstein’s Grades: A Fascinating Look at His Report Cards

Famous Writers’ Report Cards: Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Norman Mailer, E.E. Cummings & Anne Sexton

John Lennon’s Report Card at Age 15: “He Has Too Many Wrong Ambitions and His Energy Is Too Often Misplaced”

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Your 15 Favorite Posts on Open Culture This Year–and What a Year It Has Been

So, it’s been a year. For those of us in parts of the world where the pandemic still rages uncontained, it’s going to be an even longer winter. It may be utterly trivializing to speak of silver linings when it comes to clouds this size, but there’s no reason not to use our time wisely in quarantine, lockdown, cocooning, or whatever we’re calling it these days. For all of the enormous challenges, outrages, sorrows, and horrors of 2020, natural and manmade, we can be grateful for so many opportunities for personal growth.

“Those of us who are not sick, are not frontline workers, and are not dealing with other economic or housing difficulties” Rebecca Solnit writes, are given the task “to understand this moment, what it might require of us, and what it might make possible.” It is a moment, she says (echoing Heidegger’s ruminations on life after the dropping of the atomic bombs), in which “the impossible has already happened.”

Impossibles can be catastrophic and world changing disasters that “begin suddenly and never really end.” They can also be radical responses to disaster that open up possibilities we never imagined:

A disaster (which originally meant “ill-starred”, or “under a bad star”) changes the world and our view of it. Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges. Change is not only possible, we are swept away by it. We ourselves change as our priorities shift, as intensified awareness of mortality makes us wake up to our own lives and the preciousness of life. Even our definition of “we” might change as we are separated from schoolmates or co-workers, sharing this new reality with strangers. Our sense of self generally comes from the world around us, and right now, we are finding another version of who we are.

It is no exaggeration to say we have collectively witnessed the world change in a matter of a few months. Since Solnit wrote in April, we’ve had many more opportunities to meet circumstances wildly beyond our control. We are shaped by events, but how we respond, individually and together, also determines the kind of people we become.

We at Open Culture like to think we’ve contributed in some small way to our readers’ personal growth in the time of coronavirus, to their view of the world and their sense of who “we” are. Our readers responded most to messages of hope, resources for self-improvement and self-understanding, and cultural phenomena that have become sources of delight and inspiration no matter what’s going on. See our 15 top posts of 2020 below.

  1. Quarantined Italians Send a Message to Themselves 10 Days Ago: What They Wish They Knew Then
  2. Download Free Coloring Books from 113 Museums
  3. Use Your Time in Isolation to Learn Everything You’ve Always Wanted To: Free Online Courses, Audio Books, eBooks, Movies, Coloring Books & More
  4. Exquisite 2300-Year-Old Scythian Woman’s Boot Preserved in the Frozen Ground of the Altai Mountains
  5. Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli Releases Free Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away & More
  6. Google Introduces 6-Month Career Certificates, Threatening to Disrupt Higher Education with “the Equivalent of a Four-Year Degree”
  7. Janis Joplin & Tom Jones Bring the House Down in an Unlikely Duet of “Raise Your Hand” (1969)
  8. The Names of 1.8 Million Emancipated Slaves Are Now Searchable in the World’s Largest Genealogical Database, Helping African Americans Find Lost Ancestors
  9. Why “The Girl from Ipanema”‘ Is a Richer & Weirder Song Than You Ever Realized
  10. Watch the Rolling Stones Play “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” While Social Distancing in Quarantine
  11. Bill Murray Explains How He Was Saved by John Prine
  12. The Story Behind the Iconic Photograph of 11 Construction Workers Lunching 840 Feet Above New York City (1932)
  13. The Grateful Dead’s “Ripple” Played By Musicians Around the World (with Cameos by David Crosby, Jimmy Buffett & Bill Kreutzmann)
  14. Watch Joni Mitchell Sing an Immaculate Version of Her Song “Coyote,” with Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn & Gordon Lightfoot (1975)
  15. The 150 Best Podcasts to Enrich Your Mind

Let us know in the comments what other posts that didn’t make the list resonated with you in this time of sweeping change, and why. Perhaps it’s one more cosmic irony that the nightmarish year of 2020 also happens to be the number we use to symbolize perfect hindsight. But also tell us, readers, what did you learn this year, and how did you grow and change in ways you might have thought impossible a year ago?

Related Content:

The 150 Best Podcasts to Enrich Your Mind 

1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities 

Sign Up for Open Culture’s Free Daily Email 

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

More in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.