Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short
This DVD is a compilation of individual Studio Ghibli works; music videos, animation showpieces, commercials and just short animated vignettes to name a few. While some of these pieces do have an overarcing story, the DVD itself is more of a collector's curiosity.
When I bought this DVD some years ago, I initially got it solely for the sake of On Your Mark, which I had seen and wanted to own on DVD. As it turned out, however, the DVD itself contained quite a few interesting animation pieces that can be enjoyed by anyone who has more than a passing interest in animation or just Studio Ghibli in general. As such, this review will be discussing each of the segments in separate parts, although the rating will reflect whether I think the DVD's asking price will be worth it, all segments included.
Special thanks go to Nausicaa.net for providing information for my Japanese-impaired self for the benefit of this review.
Sora Iro no Tane.
The DVD kicks off with a short called Sora Iro no Tane (the Sky-colored Seed), a TV spot for the Nippon TV network to celebrate its 40th anniversary. In it, we see a young boy receiving a seed from a passing fox. Planting the seed, it grows into a tiny house. A passing chicklet takes residence in the house, which promts it to grow in size. With the added room, it attracts the attention of a cat, who also moves in (somehow without thinking of eating the little chicken), which prompts it to grow some more. Eventually, as the house grows, hordes of humans and animals come running to move into the rapidly growing house until they're all suddenly evicted by the fox who gave the boy the seed. However, the house continues to grow until it hits the sun, which prompts the house to fall apart, leaving the fox with nothing.
The art style is fairly simple, looking more like something you'd find in a children's book. But it's animated very smoothly, and during the worst move-in rush, there's a hell of a lot of movement happening all at once. It's a charming little piece, despite having no actual dialogue and a rather simple tune playing in the background.
Well, it's a green pig-like thing.... that snorts lesser pig-like things out of its nose, amongst other things. Like the peculiarity that was the opening vignette of My Neighbor Totoro, it's a short series of vignettes made for Nihon TV, and, like the name indicates, noone seems to know what that thing is.
Being vignettes, they're short and simple in drawing. The animation is also simple, but occasionally very well done, with a keen attention to the small details. (Like the one where the pig-like thing is eating the letters.) One of them is made in 3D CG, apparently a parody or a homage of monster movies, with our friendly, neighborhood green pig-like thing in the middle and not really all that small anymore.
On Your Mark.
And here we have the reason I chose to buy the DVD in the first place. On Your Mark. I'm not going to say anything more about it, since I've already reviewed On Your Mark here. (Just between you and me; that music video alone makes the price of the DVD worth it.) What I am going to say, though, is that this particular segment also comes with an alternative musical remix, and not a completely unpleasant one at that, even if it smells of "melancholy disco remix". Sorta. Kinda. Hey, it's an extra, and not a replacement.
That done, it's time for some commercial spots. Most of these pieces are short, and with a good variety of art and animation styles. There's two short spots featuring lineart-style character animation from two Ghibli movies with song segments from the same. (Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies.) There's a short segment for the Shop1 network, drawn and animated in a simple, comic-like style. And then, there's the Umacha commercials, which adapts a more watercolor-painting-on-sketchwork style for its art.
The real gems of the commercial collection is the ones for curry, or "House Shokuhin" as they were named. Dammit, Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short! You're making me enjoy watching commercials. That... that wasn't supposed to happen. Ever! Anyway, this is where we get to see just why Studio Ghibli is considered such an animation powerhouse. Character art is just flat out gorgeous, easily recognisable as the work of Ghibli, and the animation is as sumptuous and gorgeous as you'd expect, INCLUDING the background work.
There's a few more to follow, and to be honest, I have no idea what they're commercials for, but they're all interesting pieces in their own right, despite the fact that some of them are outright bizarre.
Doredore no Uta.
And speaking of bizarre (and sometimes hilariously morbid), here's an animated music video of sorts that also seemingly doubles as another commercial. The song, sung by Meiko Haigou, is a short guitar-and-piano ditty where our animated representative are walking around singing among the busy hustle and bustle of an insect community taking part in what looks suspiciously much like it's modeled after human society. The art is again very simple, and I'm willing to bet computers have been taken in use to create the rapidly changing backgrounds where all this is happening. There's no catbus, but there IS a centipede underground train, except that it's running on leaves. Literally. It's another simple but fun animation piece that was never mean to impress, but leave you with a smile on your face.
Portable Airport/Space Station no. 9.
The art style takes on a whole new design here, with flighty, sketchy character designs and background work mostly in 3D CG. The characters in it are curiously featureless, and the whole thing comes across as something of a 70's groove and polyester throwback, and yet, this seems to be the visions of the future from the creator; Yoshiyuki Momose. In it, we follow an unnamed redhead who's travelling to Space Station no. 9, presumably on her way to someone's wedding. (Since that's where she ends up.) It's all particularly stylistic, set to the same kind of technological grooves you might find on albums by AIR or The Gentle People. It's fashionable interstellar travel. It's flying pink Cadillacs and travelling by weird bubblesuits or long glass tubes. It's glam and glitz, even if it's not particularly flashy by itself, and while I guess I'd have to say it's probably the least entertaining of the many segments found on this DVD, it's still rather interesting.
And that marks the end of our little journey through the Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short collection. Those of you looking for a full feature film, or a series, might not appreciate what this DVD has to offer. (Though I still say it's worth it for On Your Mark alone.) For those of you interested in animation pieces in general, this DVD is a treat. Granted, you might, like me, feel dirty for watching what pretty much are commercials and enjoying them, but that's just the added price you have to pay.
It's a bit of a variety pack, so there's always the chance that you might not like everything on this DVD. I'm sure that you'll find it worth your money all the same, though. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The only thing somewhat questionable in this DVD is the violent segments in On Your Mark, which feature a police raid on a large building, with the inevitable gunfight. The sequence isn't particularly explicit, though, so it should be fine for teens.
Version(s) Viewed: R2 DVD, Japanese audio only
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short © 2005 Studio Ghibli, BVHE Japan
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