Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animation powerhouse, has enchanted wide-eyed anime fans for more than four decades. Hayao Miyazaki revealed last month that he would put his retirement plans on wait in order to give us Boro the Caterpillar, his final fanciful animation, bringing us back into the colorful world of Totoro, Ponyo, Kiki, and Chihiro.
Although family turned into pigs, warrior princesses brought up by wolves, and fighter-pilot pigs may not be the pinnacle of what we think of as realism,’ the animator’s power to make in-depth magical narratives that feel genuine because of their detail and fervor is. This is what Isburcker refers to as “world-building” – when even the most fanciful features of Ghibli become immersive and real, we suspend our disbelief and buy into the world of Ghibli.
‘Anime may represent fantastical worlds, but I believe that at its foundation it must have a certain reality,’ Miyazaki says in Starting Point, a 2009 compilation of essays and interviews devoted to the Studio Ghibli founder. The idea is to make the world represented appear as real as possible, even if it is fake. To put it another way, the animator must create a fiction that appears so lifelike that spectators believe the environment depicted is real.
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