by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
Studio Ghibli is not quite dead, even though the announcement that When Marnie Was There was going to be the last Ghibli feature film in a while. The vaguely supernatural story of friendship between two unusual girls left you with a sense that this was farewell, at least for a while.
They did not mention anything about shorter-form animated projects, and now Ghibli has done a brief animation celebrating 15 years of the Bandai Namco game Taiko no Tatsujin, better known in the United States as Taiko Drum Master.
The animation features the two anthropomorphized drums Don and Katsu, (gee, why am I getting hungry thinking of those two names?) the mascots of the game, and their cute little mouse friend. It is done in a similar brush-painted style to The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the penultimate Ghibli film. Directed by Katsuya Kondo and produced by Toshio Suzuki, the brief short calls to mind the fun of the game and the festive aspect of Taiko drumming in modern Japanese culture.
And a former Ghibli producer, Yoshiaki Nishimura, has opened a new studio of his own, Studio Ponoc. Ponoc released a commercial of their own, done for Japan Railroad West.
The commercial has a very classic Ghibli feel, and features an extended Japanese family and their holiday in the Kansai countryside. Nishimura produced the commercial, and it was directed by Yoshiyuke Momose, a talented animator who worked on such Ghibli classics as Porco Rosso and Spirited away.
The message of the commercial is irresistible: drop what you are doing and hop aboard a train, for nostalgic summer fun. I'd say they were quite successful in getting the message across. It also makes us miss the beautiful animated features of Studio Ghibli that much more...(sigh)
Here's the Taiko Drum Master commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUw7-1AEa-U
And here's the JR West commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DdRLfU2E0o
It has also been brought to my attention that a second Ghibli animated commercial, this one for a bakery, has surfaced. The article is here, thanks to our friends at Rocket News 24: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/06/25/whimsical-ghibli-studio-style-animation-appears-in-bread-commercials【videos】/