NIPPONIA No.27 December 15, 2003

Special Feature*
Inside the World of Animé
Animé have fascinated children and adults for decades, but the genre is not static — the commercial and entertainment aspects of animé continue to evolve through the efforts of many companies and artists.
Written by Torikai Shin-ichi, Komatsu Megumi
Photos by Nishida Mitsuyoshi, Sugawara Chiyoshi
Other photo collaboration: Suginami Ward, Tokyo; Comic Market Steering Committee
The Ghibli Museum's spiral staircase and aerial walkway create an enchanting mood. Three-dimensional anime characters wait inside.
Above: The Cat Bus is soft and fluffy.
Above right: The robot soldier on the museum roof.
Open 10a.m. to 6p.m.; closed Tuesdays.
Website (with ticket information only in English):
© Museo d'arte Ghibli

Surprises and Discoveries Galore
Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
Totoro, an animé character, greets visitors at the entrance to the Ghibli Museum. The head of the museum is Miyazaki Hayao, the director of Spirited Away — which won an Oscar for best animated feature film at the 75th Academy Awards. At the museum entrance is a sign with a message from Miyazaki: "When you enter the Ghibli Museum you are entering a story, and you are the main character." The museum is located in Mitaka, a city a little to the west of central Tokyo.
The museum lets you experience animé produced by Studio Ghibli, a company established by Miyazaki and his partners. Inside the building, you walk through a maze and come in touch with the world of animé, each exhibit offering some surprise or discovery. Open a door and you might be staring at yourself — or rather, at your reflection in a mirror. Ghibli animé characters hide, waiting to pop out unexpectedly. Fossils of extinct marine creatures called trilobites lurk among the flagstones. As Miyazaki's sign says, at this museum you become the hero or heroine of an animated story.
One of the best displays, as far as children are concerned, is the huge stuffed Cat Bus on the second floor. Kids have a great (and comfortable) time on it, jumping up and down, pulling the tail, doing whatever they want. On the roof of the museum stands a robot soldier, placed there for some mysterious reason. He forms a good backdrop for picture taking.
The permanent displays include a room called "The Birthplace of a Film." There you will see gadgets and art materials used to make animated films, and a desk littered with half-done drawings. An animé creation in progress? The atmosphere is thick with tension, as if the director Miyazaki is struggling hard to transform some inspiration into an animé scene. In the basement, the Saturn Theater shows short, original animated films.
Entry to the museum is by reservation. Only 2,400 people are admitted each day, 600 at a time. Restricting the number of visitors gives everyone an opportunity to explore the museum fully.


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