When you think of Studio Ghibli, fantastical worlds and imaginative creations probably come to mind. From the flying city of Laputa (“Castle in the Sky”) to No Face, Totoro, Catbus and more, Studio Ghibli’s creativity is boundless, but a new 10-minuute video essay argues that their biggest asset is actually their use of immersive realism. Realism and Studio Ghibli aren’t two words you often associate with each other (there’s nothing too real about a fish befriending a child or a talking pig who happens to be a WWII fighter pilot, is there?), but that’s exactly why their use of world-building and tactile animation is their greatest subversive strength.
Uploaded to YouTube by filmmaker and video essayist Asher Isbrucker, “The Immersive Reality of Studio Ghibli” explores how the company builds their magical stories off of a foundation of realism, which includes lifelike character movements, meticulous world-building and animation styles like rotoscope. Anyone familiar with Ghibli films like “Grace of the Fireflies” and “Only Yesterday” will also know that subject matter often plays a powerful role in grounding these films.
The video essay arrives at the perfect time for Studio Ghibli fans. Earlier this month, news broke that company co-founder Hayao Miyazaki was coming out of retirement to make a new feature, “Boro the Caterpillar.” Distributor GKIDS is also partnering with Fathom Events to celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Spirited Away” by re-releasing it on the big screen next week.