Ghibli-style magic sooner than expected

Studio Ghibli fans and animation aficionados: today, we’ve been granted a gift:

witch-image

That is a still from Mary and the Witch’s Flower, the first anime film from Studio Ponoc, helmed by Studio Ghibli alum Hiromasa Yonebayashi (director of When Marnie Was There and The Secret World of Arrietty). The film will be released in July 2017 in Japan with a late 2017 English release, according to Anime News Network. Studio Ponoc was founded in 2015; many of its animators are ex-Ghibli employees.

The film follows the adventures of a young girl who is granted magical powers for a single night. The anime is an adaptation of Mary Stewart’s 1971 novel,  The Little Broomstick.

Simply put, this is fantastic news. After viewing the trailer, the Studio Ghibli influences are undeniable. The fluid and high detailed animation takes the forefront, the Miyazaki-esque aerial shots ooze with style, and like most Ghibli films, the protagonist is a young female.

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What Does It All Mean and Why It Matters

The Animation Curation began as an overview of animation news and trends. Over time, my blog transformed from a news site to a review/analysis/reflection site. Essentially, I discovered my blogging style.

But what does it all mean and why does it matter? Why am I telling you all this?

Well: Every once in a while, I believe it is important to write about what we write about and why we write about it. Without doing this, the sense of purpose regarding why we write might fade. It’s important to remind oneself of the context of our our ideas and the inception of the big idea (in this case, The Animation Curation). Think of it as a reflection necessary to improve a craft.

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One of Google Image’s quite literal search results for “reflection.” Is this a subtle reference to an Arcade Fire song?

So readers, this is going to be a different type of post. No Disney dissections or 80’s OVA anime analyses. It’s time for my memories. 

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Starlight Angel, an Anime in Disney’s Tomorrowland

Robot Carnival is a 1987 anime anthology film in which every segment features a robot central to each short’s plot in some way. A fine collection of short films featuring narrative and visual experimentations (or both), my personal favorite is “Starlight Angel,” (link to video) a nine minute Disney-esque tale of magic and memories. Full spoilers of the short follow.

“Star Light Angel” centers around two friends enjoying each others company and forgetting some of life’s troubles at an amusement park that strongly resembles Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, though this is never stated,but instead called Robot Wanderland. The short contains no dialogue and features an unapologetically sentimental score by frequent Studio Ghibli film composer, Jo Hisaishi. The protagonist is a pensive brunette girl (who for the sake of making this piece less confusing, will be referred to as Jane), and her friend is a blonde girl who is the more extroverted of the pair (who will be referred to as Amy).

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Amy (left) and Jane (right) discussing which attraction to ride next in Robot Wanderland, an amusement park very similar to DIsney World’s Tomorrowland.

What’s so clever is that the theme park featured in “Starlight Angel” is Walt Disney’s perfected vision of Tomorrowland: it features functioning android performers, a ride in which a mechanical hand lifts guests from a ride’s queue into its vehicle, and even a sentient animatronic attraction attendant. The film’s atmosphere captures the feelings of innocence, nostalgia, and wonder associated with Magic Kingdom (or theme parks in general) through both fantasy and highly-detailed realism. Ever wonder what riding Space Mountain would look like if life were an animated film? “Starlight Angel” has the answer for you.

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