Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: The Secrets of Takahata & Miyazaki Animation exhibit

Studio Ghibli. First official exhibition outside of Japan. I’m totally there.

Hyundai Card Culture Project (which was responsible for bringing the Tim Burton exhibit awhile back) is currently holding a special exhibition at the Seoul Arts Center. The name is rather long – but it does provide one with the information about the exhibit. At 15,000 won for individual adults, one can see thousands of layouts from Studio Ghibli’s films.

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As a fan of Studio Ghibli since I was four years old, I was ecstatic to be given the chance to attend such an exhibition. Even if it is in Korea and not in Japan – which I hope to go to one day and go to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. I loved seeing the hand drawn layouts of so many of these much-beloved films. The details, intricacies and imagination of these layouts were simply amazing and I’m further impressed by the talents of the animators. I’ve always admired the fact that Studio Ghibli still draws these animated films by hand. To actually see the hand drawn layouts that created the films were definitely a worthwhile experience.

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Although it was a shame that no photographs were allowed inside the exhibition, it did allow one to enjoy and experience the exhibit with proper attention. I don’t think photographs could properly capture the quality of the drawings to begin with. It would take away from the exhibition experience since the idea is to see the original hand drawn layouts as they are. To satisfy the fans, the exhibit had little areas where one could take photos. This included the poster image of Ponyo with little buckets that had a mini Ponyo inside. There was a life size replica of the Spirited Away layout with Chihiro and No Face. At the end of the inside of the exhibition, there was a giant Totoro on the floor for fans to take a photo ( I decided to pass on that), and walls covered with stickers of fan art. Definitely one of my favourite art exhibitions yet.

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The gift shop was a Studio Ghibli heaven. It had many items that I’ve seen in stores back home for years – dolls and keychains. There were also DVDs of the movies and soundtracks. There were also many “the art of” books – which are all, appropriately given the venue, in Korea; and thus not something I want to invest in. But I did leave with a couple of postcards, including one of a layout from My Neighbour Totoro, and a chu-Totoro doll. Surprisingly, it is my first Totoro doll. It finally felt right to buy it; after experiencing an official exhibition. I might go broke if I ever do visit the Ghibli Museum in Japan.

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I’m also really looking forward to watching the two newest Studio Ghibli films – The Wind Rises and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Or just any Studio Ghibli films; left all my DVDs at home.

If you’re in Seoul from now till September 22, 2013, be sure to check out the exhibit while it’s still here.

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