Today, DnH takes you on a tour of the Studio Ghibli/Viz Media artbook The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.
Note: The subject of this review is the English-language version (published in 2002 by Viz Media) of a 2001 book first released in Japan by Studio Ghibli and Tokuma Shoten.
As the title states, this artbook is all about the critically acclaimed 2001 animated film Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (which was retitled as Spirited Away for its English theatrical release). I have never seen the film – in fact, I’ve never seen any of Miyazaki Hayao‘s works – but I’ve been meaning to watch it for a couple of years now. Trouble is, I can’t find a legitimate copy anywhere in this city. (Bootlegs are as common as cockroaches, yet there’s no way I’m soiling my soul with one of those.) As of the moment, it appears that my only option is to order the DVD from a online retailer, which I plan to do in the very near future.
Now, back to the book. I acquired my copy of The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away from the main branch of Fully Booked, on Bonifacio High Street. It was the only copy on sale at the time (and when I returned a week later they still hadn’t brought out any other copies), but if you’re interested in the book I’d advise you to check with customer service just to be sure; they might have other copies in storage. The price tag: PHP 1,922.00 (USD 43.35 at the current exchange rate), but I got it for 10% less thanks to my discount card.
The main body of The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is divided into three parts. The first part contains concept art and storyboards (drawn by Miyazaki himself) illustrating the director’s initial ideas for the film. These include everything from character sketches (above) to architectural renderings (below).
I’m in no position to judge his directing abilities (remember, I’ve never seen any of his films), but I need no further evidence of his skills as an illustrator. While essentially rough drafts, these initial drawings are impressive works of art in their own right, and I wouldn’t think twice about putting some of them on my wall if I could afford to purchase the originals.
The next section features concept art, backgrounds and character designs arranged according to their place within the completed film. Four sample spreads are presented below.
Quite stunning. I’m particularly impressed with the production team’s masterful use of colour to create lush, vibrant, visually stimulating scenes (such as those featured in the second and fourth spreads above).
The last part deals with the use of digital technology to create the beautiful images that make up the film. The following spread was taken from this section.
Fans of Spirited Away will find a special treat at the end of the book: the film’s complete screenplay, featuring the English-language adaptation prepared for the film’s U.S. theatrical release. While I would have preferred a close translation of the original Japanese script – or, even better, a bilingual screenplay with the Japanese text on one side and an English translation on the other (similar to the Latin-English format used for the Loeb Classical Library) – I’m confident that the screenplay will prove an invaluable reference when I finally get the chance to see, and in due course write a review of, this film.
Final verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.