Minecraft builders create an amazingly detailed world of Spirited Away, give us a video tour

Who needs a movie when you can just tour the Minecraft recreation?

Minecraft builders have made some truly impressive worlds, and, owing to their beauty and mysticism as well their fame, the settings of everyone’s favorite Ghibli movies are popular inspirations for many. The complex worlds of My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind are just a few that have been perfectly and beautifully recreated with the game’s digital building blocks.

Spirited Away, another world-famous Ghibli film, has been the subject of YouTube user and Minecraft Builder Alan Becker’s attention for four years now, and with the evolution of the game, his Spirited Away world has also evolved. He recently posted a video of his and his team’s updated recreation, and the high level of detail of the town, the bathhouse, and everything around it will blow you away.

Spoiler alert: the video includes a play-by-play of the film, so if you haven’t seen it yet, beware!

The video starts out with a tour of the road that Chihiro’s family drives through on their way to their new home. Since you don’t actually see all that much of the town, Alan Becker and his team painstakingly created much of the town purely based on quick reflections in the windows of the car. Each of the buildings also has a fully furnished and decorated interior, which Becker says they designed based on videos of home tours in Japan.

One of the neatest parts is the recreation of the shot in the title screen, which is composed of rolling green hills and a line of homes. We would venture to guess that many Spirited Away builders would skip this part to focus on the more popular bathhouse, so we appreciate this tribute to the beginning of the movie.

They also recreated the back side of the clock tower that serves as Chihiro’s doorway to the mysterious spirit world, right down to the face of the statue in front.

And of course the colorful and festive-looking empty town behind it was also carefully created. Becker explains that a lot of these buildings are not actually shown in the movie, so they had to be invented by the team. It’s hard to believe that they weren’t based on storyboards from the Ghibli Studio since they look just like they belong there.

Of course, what everyone wants to see from Spirited Away is the great, beautiful bathhouse, which serves as the primary setting for the movie. The details on the exterior are amazing, but the interior is equally impressive.

Both inside and out, every detail is accounted for. As Becker walks us through the bathhouse, he basically shows us each scene of the movie, and it’s clear that his team paid careful attention to every single detail of every scene, no matter how small. It’s extremely impressive. The buildings even include working and moving functions like elevators, steaming water, an opening and closing boiler door, and even the rows of doors leading to Yubaba’s rooms that open in a sequence.

The only thing the recreation lacks is most of the characters of the movie, but that’s much harder to do in Minecraft. Even so, some characters, like the soot balls and No-Face, do appear at certain times, so if you explore the world you might stumble upon some surprises.

▼ Even the treacherous pathway down to the boiler room was meticulously sculpted.

If you want to check out Becker’s Spirited Away world in Minecraft, you can visit their server at play.ghiblicraft.com. It looks like they have some other Ghibli worlds, too, so take your time to look through it carefully! If you don’t play Minecraft but still want to explore the other worlds, Becker’s YouTube channel also has video tours of each one.

If Ghibli is not your thing but you love to look at different Minecraft worlds, check out one builder’s replication of the city of Kyoto. The talent and dedication of these builders is astounding.

Source: YouTube/AlanBeckerMinecraft via Shoutaro Blog
Images: YouTube/AlanBeckerMinecraft

Beautiful new Levistone from Ghibli’s Laputa anime going on sale soon, so order yours ASAP【Video】

Recreation of magical pendant from Hayao Miyazaki classic couples with elegantly detailed music box.

As the premier supplier of memorabilia based on the films of Studio Ghibli, Donguri Kyowakoku always has a catalog full of things that anime fans would love to own. Still, the chain really outdid itself when it created a replica of the Levistone from Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky Laputa.

Unfortunately, Donguri Kyowakoku did a little too good a job recreating the magical pendant worn by heroine Sheeta, and demand was so high they sold out almost immediately. A restock came much later, but now there’s something even better: an updated version that’s even more faithful to the artifact’s onscreen appearance in the first-ever animated work produced under the Studio Ghibli name.

The new version is officially called the Castle in the Sky Laputa Shining Levistone–Guidance of Light, in contrast to the older model, which bore the subtitle “Power of Light.” The new Levistone’s color was formulated to more closely match the lovingly hand-painted animation cels of the movie, and it lights up randomly in one of two patterns when you say the ancient word of power, balse (barusu, if you’re going by the Japanese pronunciation). The stone also glows softly if you speak the lengthy incantation “rite ratobarita urusu ariarosu baru netorimu,” as taught to Sheeta by her grandmother.

▼ The Levistone can be worn as a necklace or used as a decorative bag/mobile phone strap.

In addition, Donguri Kyowakoku is releasing a companion piece in the form of Laputa’s iconic robot. The 11-centimeter (4.3-inch) tall figurine doubles as a music box which plays an instrumental version of the film’s theme song, “Kimi ni Nosete” as the robot’s eyes and crest light up.

▼ The robot’s video preview

Making the figure even more special is that when you place the Levistone in the tray at its base, you’ll hear the same sound as when the robot awoke after its centuries-long slumber in the anime.

The Shining Levistone–Guidance of Light is priced at 2,600 yen (US$24) and goes on sale June 22, while the 4,800-yen robot music box becomes available for purchase on July 20. Whether you decide to order them separately or as part of a large-scale splurge bundle along with your 30th-anniversary Totoro cel reproduction and Seiko wristwatch is up to you, but considering how quickly the Levistones sold out last time, you might want to jump on the new version sooner rather than later.

Related: Donguri Kyowakoku official website, Donguri Kyowakoku online shop
Sources: 1up Joho Kyoku, PR Times
Top image: YouTube/どんぐり共和国そらのうえ店
Insert images: PR Times, YouTube/どんぐり共和国そらのうえ店

Seiko to release new Ghibli watches, including limited-edition 30th anniversary Totoro watches

Fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service will also want to check these out.

It’s a great time to be a Ghibli fan right now. With the Ghibli amusement park in the works, an adorable Totoro cafe opened in Thailand, and Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki out of retirement, fans have numerous things to look forward to from their favorite animated film studio.

Plus, even with tons of great Ghibli merchandise already available, new Ghibli products are always becoming available. Adult fans of My Neighor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service may especially like the newest line of casual watches from Seiko which feature adorable motifs from these classic animated movies.

This collection of eight watches is from Seiko’s brand for everyday wear, Alba, and are designed to be affordable, stylish watches that fans of Ghibli can wear at any age. Each of the face designs are subtle yet adorable, while the straps and casings of the watches are sleek and chic. They’re designed with women in mind, but of course any Ghibli fan can appreciate their mature homage to these beloved films.

The watches’ faces come in four different designs for each movie, totalling eight unique varieties, and the leather straps come in seven different colors, so hopefully anyone can find a style that they like.

But the faces are not the only Ghibli-specific features: the back of the straps and the stainless steel watch case are also engraved with Totoro and Kiki motifs. Fans can appreciate the quiet nods to the films on every corner of these new watches.

In addition to the eight styles above, two limited-edition My Neighbor Totoro watches are going to be released exclusively to celebrate the movie’s thirtieth anniversary. The face’s design comes in ivory and black, and features a small Totoro peeking over a flower garden and holding a four-leaf clover.

These watches are limited to just 1,000 units in each style and come with a serial number on the back of the case ranging from 0001 to 1000, which verify their authenticity. They’ll also have the words “30th Anniversary” engraved on the back and will come in a cute “30th Anniversary” box, so these are guaranteed to become super collector’s items.

Each of the regular edition watches will be priced at 9,000 yen (US$81.64) and will be on sale from July 7, while the limited edition Totoro watches will retail for 15,000 yen starting from August 4. The company are being coy about where you can get these, making them real collector’s items, and while there’s no word yet of overseas or online sales, visitors to Japan may want to look out for them at Ghibli merchandise shop Donguri Kyowakoku or any store where Seiko watches are sold as soon as they can.

Looking for more Ghibli goods? Totoro collectors will love the limited-edition handmade reproduction cels of the film, which are now available for preorder, and fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service might also like Donguri Kyowakoku’s new line of Kiki perfumes. If you’re a Ghibli fan, it’s almost guaranteed that there’s a product out there for you!

Source, Images: PR Times

Studio Ghibli creates gorgeous hand-made Totoro reproduction cels for fans and collectors【Video】

An iconic image from Hayao Miyazaki’s anime classic is ready to adorn the walls of superfans’ homes.

Like many fans of Japanese animation, my student-day bedroom walls used to be covered in cheap bootleg wall scrolls of anime art, as well as even cheaper laminated color photocopy posters of anime art. Now a full-grown adult, I’ve had to scale back the fanboy elements of my home décor, but this gorgeous piece of Studio Ghibli artwork is classy enough to grace the walls of any home.

One of the most beloved images associated with director Hayao Miyazaki’s 1988 classic My Neighbor Totoro, the scene shows sisters Mei and Natsuki frolicking through a field of tall grass, accompanied by the titular forest spirit and his tiny white version. Awash with warm color, it’s a throwback to an earlier era of anime visuals, instilling a sense of nostalgia even in those who didn’t personally live through that age, much like Studio Ghibli’s films themselves do.

To celebrate My Neighbor Totoro’s 30th anniversary, Studio Ghibli is producing a limited (and unspecified) number of reproduction cels. And if the idea of “reproduction” has you thinking that some corporate moneygrubber is just sitting at a computer and clicking “print” over and over again, think again. Each cel is hand-made by Studio Ghibli artists using a silk-screening process, as demonstrated in this preview video.

▼ The cel is colored on both sides, with the character colors applied to its back and the environmental ones to its front.

While this particular drawing doesn’t appear in the film proper, it’s become one of the most iconic pieces of key art for Totoro. Each reproduction cel comes with background art and a frame made of Japanese Kishu Hinoki cypress, bears a hand-printed “edition number,” and is bundled with a certificate of authenticity from Studio Ghibli.

Preorders for the artwork, officially called Cel Art Print From Studio Ghibli My Neighbor Totoro, are now being taken online here through Ghibli merchandise specialist Donguri Kyowakoku. Each cel/frame combo is priced at 70,000 yen (US$640), with shipping scheduled for late July.

Sources: IT Media, PR Times
Top image: PR Times
Insert images: PR Times, YouTube/どんぐり共和国そらのうえ店, Donguri Kyowakoku

Live-action adaptation of Earthsea confirmed, netizens hope it’ll turn out better than the anime

Will we see a great classic suffer another bungling adaptation?

Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of Earthsea, a series of high fantasy novels and short stories set in an archipelago of countless islands. First published in 1964, the award-winning series has continued until Le Guin’s passing in January this year.

Le Guin’s absence left a gap in fan’s hearts, but according to entertainment news website Deadline, they’d be pleased to know that film producer Jennifer Fox acquired film rights to Earthsea before her death.

Known for her roles in Nightcrawler, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Michael Clayton, Fox will be bringing Earthsea’s intriguing story to life in a string of live-action films.

▼ Book-to-film adaptations can be a hit or miss,
but history has shown that Earthsea ones tend to follow the latter.

American channel Syfy aired a TV miniseries based on Le Guin’s work back in 2004, which turned out to be a mere shadow of the original. The displeased author called it “A whitewashed Earthsea”.

Goro Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli then gave it a shot too in 2006, creating a jumbled, less-than-stellar anime film based on the first four translated books.

With such a troubling history of adaptations, Japanese netizens and fans of Le Guin’s novels voiced their concerns with Fox taking the reins this time:

“Please don’t do unnecessary things and just adapt it faithfully.”
“Will these be aired in Japan? I hope the story of
Earthsea will be properly conveyed.”
“Let’s pray it won’t be as disastrous as Ghibli’s remake.”
“The original story isn’t bad, but brace yourself if you’re expecting something polished like
Lord of the Rings. Live-action filming takes a lot of money. If the second half of the story can be completely made into an original scenario, I might watch it as a grand fantasy movie. Honestly, the second half of the original script is rubbish.”

Expectations for the film seem to be as low as it gets in Japan, due in part to Goro Miyazaki. Let’s hope Jennifer Fox avoids the pitfalls of her predecessors, lest she joins them as the third musketeer.

Source: Deadline via Cinematoday, Hachima Kikou
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

Japanese Twitter user divides anime into “world-class” and “ones otaku think are world-class”

Sparks heated debate about which type deserves worldwide recognition.

A lot of people outside of Japan have heard of anime hits like Your Name or any of the classic works made by famed director Hayao Miyazaki, like Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Filled with gripping plots and relatable characters, one can argue that such anime are the pride of Japan.

But opinions are split on what constitutes an “extraordinary anime,” and according to Japanese Twitter user @amamituhakushi, there’s a stark difference between what otaku consider to be anime masterpieces compared to the rest of the world. They tweeted this comparison out (in a tweet that has since been deleted):

▼ On the left are world-class anime hits and on
the right are what otaku think are world-class.

“World-class anime hits” seem to be made up of films that depict the lives of people during turbulent periods in history (such as The Wind Rises and In This Corner of the World), or are science fiction classics featuring futuristic post-cyberpunk settings (like Ghost in the Shell and Akira).

“What otaku think are world class” is populated by anime like Sword Art Online (SAO), Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World and Steins;Gate, which all contain relatively new concepts like getting stuck in alternate or virtual reality worlds or time traveling. Also present is Clannad, a light-hearted high school drama that quickly shifts to emotional adulthood.

▼ Wait, so historical classics and sci-fi are well-received overseas?

As expected when posting such generalized opinions, the tweet sparked heated discussions:

“Fans of SAO and Re:Zero are all made up of kids and people who love cute animal girls. They’re the embarrassment of Japan. I think Clannad is a work we can be proud of, but I don’t know if it suits a global audience.”

“This is deeply intriguing. If you show the four anime on the right to foreigners, you’ll get the same ‘ew gross!’ response like you would in Japan too.”

“I’m sorry. The productions on the right might not be great, but the ones on the left aren’t that fantastic either. Anime on the right are popular in both Japan and overseas, so it’ll be wise not to lump them all together with otaku.”

Even animation legend Hayao Miyazaki once complained of terrible anime quality in recent years, but complicated debates like this will likely never reach a satisfactory conclusion. Rather than focusing on which kinds of anime Japan can be proud of, perhaps it’s better to appreciate how much variety the country has given the world.

Source: Twitter/@amamituhakushi via My Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@amamituhakushi
Insert images: Twitter/@amamituhakushi, Pakutaso

May’s Garden House Restaurant: The first Totoro-themed restaurant officially licensed by Studio Ghibli

The grand opening is scheduled for late May.

For Studio Ghibli fans around the world, a visit to the Ghibli Museum in Japan is a dream destination. Now, though, there’s a new spot vying for everyone’s attention, and surprisingly, it’s not in the animation studio’s home country of Japan – it’s in Thailand instead.

Called May’s Garden House Restaurant, the new establishment is the first Totoro-themed restaurant officially licensed by Studio Ghibli. While the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka district is home to the Straw Hat Cafe, where diners can enjoy a changing menu of items inspired by a number of Ghibli films, an official restaurant dedicated solely to the star of My Neighbour Totoro has never existed…until now.

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Located in Sukhumvit, Bangkok, May’s Garden House Restaurant has been inviting guests to dine with them during their pre-opening period, which began on 16 April. With guests providing feedback on the menu and the facilities, the restaurant’s grand opening is scheduled for the end of May, by which time some of their yet-to-be-unveiled areas, like the Children’s Playground, the Orchid Glasshouse, the Boat Water Pool, the Library and two Halls are scheduled to be completed.

▼ While adults will love the new restaurant, many of the areas inside have been designed with children in mind.

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A first look at the interiors show there are a lot of Totoro surprises in store for visitors.

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▼ Meals will be served in a bright and spacious dining room, with a giant Totoro to keep everyone company.

While the menu is yet to be finalised, some of the offerings provided to guests during the pre-opening period look to be pretty delicious.

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▼ Totoro’s Forest in Thailand is filled with Isaan food!

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As well as Thai soups and curries, there are other more meaty dishes on the menu, like chicken wings.

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The significance of the chicken wings on the menu harks back to the intriguing story that led to the actual creation of the restaurant. According to a discussion by Ghibli producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki on Tokyo FM Radio, the idea for the restaurant came about after one of his visits to Thailand, where he met up with an acquaintance who was a single mother working to provide for her young children and extended family in the rural Pak Thong Chai Village.

The half-Thai, half-Japanese woman called Kanyada owned a humble stall that served up delicious chicken wings, which Suzuki immediately fell in love with. However, on a recent trip back to the restaurant, the owner told him she would have to shut the restaurant, as there weren’t enough customers visiting the rural town to keep her in business.

▼ Suzuki says Pak Thong Chai Village in Nakhon Ratchasima Province brought back memories of the Japanese countryside from his childhood, and also conjured up images of Totoro’s Forest.

Coincidentally, Kanyada’s nickname was May, similar to the main character of Mei in My Neighbour Totoro, which gave Suzuki the idea for the new restaurant. Touched by her plight, he called it “May’s Garden House Restaurant”, and designed it so that the flavours and atmosphere of May’s rural town could be brought to the city of Bangkok, where diners could conjure up images of the countryside while chowing down on those tasty chicken wings.

▼ Suzuki was the driving force behind the opening of the new restaurant in Thailand.

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Suzuki’s love for Kanyada’s chicken wings may have also been the inspiration behind Colko and Peeko, two characters that he designed exclusively for May’s Restaurant.

These original mascots also bear a resemblance to the Siamese Fireback, the national bird of Thailand.

Aside from the cute merchandise, there’ll also be some adorable meals to choose from, with Italian owner-chef Federico Colpi, a colleague of Suzuki’s from the anime industry, overseeing the development of the menu.

Fluffy Mini Totoro Steamed Buns In Caramel Sauce.

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Neko Bus Has Come To Town

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May’s Hat

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A Gift From Totoro

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Totoro in the Rain

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Sleeping Totoro

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And while you feast on Totoro, the characters from the film will be there to greet you at every turn, including a giant Totoro that everyone is bound to fall in love with.

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Suzuki also designed the sign for the restaurant, playing up the Totoro theme with an image of the Cat Bus from the movie.

So whether you’re able to make it over to Thailand or not, you can expect your Instagram feed to soon be inundated with cute images of Totoro and friends from May’s Garden House Restaurant. Here are the details below so you can get in on the action too!

Restaurant Information
May’s Garden House Restaurant
Address: 18 Soi Lak Khet (Sukhumvit Soi 29), Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok, Thailand
Hours: 12:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.

Source: Facebook/May’s Garden House Restaurant via Ghibli no Sekai
Featured image: Instagram/May’s Garden House Restaurant