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20 Things You Didn't Know About Studio Ghibli

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20 Things You Didn't Know About Studio Ghibli film still

To celebrate the release of From Up on Poppy Hill, LWLies presents a handful of interesting facts about Japan's animation giant.

1. The name Ghibli derives from the Arabic name for Mediterranean wind. The founders of Studio Ghibli wanted to stamp the idea that they would, "blow a new wind through the anime industry and into peoples heads."

2. All the films that have ever been produced by Hayao Miyazaki are done so without a script. In an interview he stated it’s because he, “usually doesn’t have the time.” So these intricate animated films we’ve come to love and cherish are just a spur of the moment thoughts.

3. The first official Studio Ghibli film wasn't originally produced under the Studio Ghibli banner. Even though Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was directed by the big daddy Hayao Miyazaki himself, the film was created one year before the creation of Ghibli by a studio known as Topcraft.

4. To do the voice of Chihiro’s mother (in Spirited Away), actress Yasuko Sawaguchi actually spoke the dialog while eating a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Actress Lauren Holly did the same thing in the English version with an apple.

5. The film Arrietty takes place in Western Tokyo's neighbourhood of Koganei, which is where Studio Ghibli HQ is located.

6. Founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, allows no more than 10 per cent of footage in his films to be computer generated.

7. Eight of Studio Ghibli's films are among the 15 highest-grossing anime films made in Japan, with Spirited Away being the highest, grossing over $274 million worldwide. 1992's pig-in-a-fighter-plane saga, Porco Rosso knocked E.T. off the top spot as the highest-grossing film in Japan, while Princess Mononoke from 1997 was tussling at the upper echelons of the box office with James Cameron's Titanic.

8. Two actors who have played Batman on screen have lent their voices to the English language adaptations of Miyazaki’s films. Michael Keaton, who played Batman in the Tim Burton films, provided the voice of Porco Rosso, while Christian Bale, who played The Caped Crusader in the Christopher Nolan films, provided the voice of Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle.

9. The design of Howl's Moving Castle, the actual castle itself, was originally not meant for the film, it was actually intended to fill an empty space at the Studio Ghibli Museum. When Suzuki was asked by Miyazaki, "what design should I use for the castle?” this was proposed. To make it moving, Miyazaki just added four chicken legs.

10. Ocean Waves was the first Ghibli anime directed by another person other than Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. It was directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, and it was his sole collaboration with the company.

11. Miyazaki spent quite a few hours in the city looking at how women's skirts and dresses moved in order to create Kiki's dress in Kiki's Delivery Service. We hope he notified the police of his activities beforehand.

12. In Spirited Away, Chihiro's father drives a first-generation Audi A4 Sedan. The level of detail included by the director includes the Audi's trademark "Quattro" four-wheel drive system when Chihiro's father decides to take the car into the forest.

13. 1994's Pom Poko, directed by Isao Takahata, is perhaps Ghibli's most rum movie to date. In it, a band of raccoons save a forrest from a local housing development with use of their magic testicles. In these scenes, their racoons' testicles expand to double the size of their entire body, help them to fly and can be used as a mace-like swinging weapon.

14. Grave of the Fireflies was produced concurrently with My Neighbour Totoro. As a result, many of the animators had trouble remembering which film they were animating. As long as they weren't sending a cuddly flying giant rabbit into war-riddled Japan, they'd have been A-okay.

15. Hayao Miyazaki refused to attend the 2002 Academy Awards out of protest over the American invasion of Iraq.

16. In Kiki’s Delivery Service, the dialogue during a scene in which Kiki is given coffee, changes the beverage to hot chocolate in the Disney release. This was done because Disney thought it was inappropriate for children to drink coffee. And yet, in Pinocchio, a fat Englishman rounds up boys to take to ‘Pleasure Island.’

17. The character, Sosuke, in Ponyo is based on Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro Miyazaki, when he was five years old.

18. The production of the film The Cat Returns started when Studio Ghibli received a proposal from a Japanese theme park to make a twenty-minute animation starring cats.

19. It took just 40 years for Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata to finally stop mulling and decide to transform Arrietty from a novel into a film.

20. Hayao Miyazaki smokes 30 cigarettes a day. Second only to Francis Ford Coppola, who apparently used to blaze something a little stronger to get the creative juices flowing.

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