February 1, 2012

Bento Bako Lite: The Art of The Secret World of Arrietty

Title: The Art of The Secret World of Arrietty
Publisher: Viz Media (Studio Ghibli Library)
Author: Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Hayao Miyazaki, Yoji Takeshige, Noboru Yoshida, Ai Kagawa, Akihiko Yamashita
Price: $34.99
Vintage: 2010 by Studio Ghibli in Japan, February 7, 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Artbook, film art

This book has everything you could ever want to know about how Studio Ghibli creates their breathtaking animated films. From concept on through final execution, this gorgeous book takes fans through every element of the film making experience, through the voices and artwork of its leading staff. Page after page is filled with colorful artwork, including early character concepts, Hayao Miyazaki’s own early sketches, first time director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s story boards, backgrounds, and film stills. Each image is accompanied by a detailed footnote or personal anecdote. In a world where so many films are done with computers, The Secret World of Arrietty, which is Studio Ghibli’s sixteenth animated theatrical feature, boasts 74,761 hand drawn individual frames and 996 shots. The film is based on the beloved children’s classic The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, published in 1952.

Aside from the pages of high quality reprinted artwork, the book also features many interviews from the production staff, delineating personal experiences working on the movie, including their individual artistic choices and inspirations. The book is broken up into two main sections, Pre-Production and Production. The Pre-Production section includes: Preliminary Concept Sketches; Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Director; Concept Sketches; and Production Sketches. The Production section includes: Making the Scenes: Layout and Process; Yoji Takeshige (who worked on the “big people” world), Art Director; and Noboru Yoshida (responsible for the Clock house and family), Art Director.

If you’re a fan of animated films, and of the Ghibli style in particular, this 245 full color book is well worth its price. I would like to note, however, that if you are very excited about the film and plan to see it when it hits American theaters in February, I would put off the art book until after. Not only does the book go through the entire process of creating the film, it also goes through the film’s entire story from beginning to end, and will ruin any plot points you may want to discover for yourself. As an added bonus to this already wonderful book, included in the back is the full dialog script for the movie (the English script), as well as the lyrics to the film’s theme songs written and performed by C├ęcile Corbel. The only complaint I have, and it’s such a minor one, is that the hand written notes across some of the included images are not translated into English. I hardly expect Viz to mar the art (they may not have been allowed to anyway) for this, but there’s a lot of white space throughout the book. Ghibli fans, I don’t think you have to worry about this being Yonebayashi’s directorial debut, because it’s obvious from this book how much of the studio’s characteristic thought, detail, and care has gone into its production, and it is sure to pay off in the final product. I think the future of Studio Ghibli will be in good, talented hands.



















Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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