I should mention two things right off the bat. #1: I’m a diehard fan of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. In my opinion, they can do no wrong (yes, even Tales from Earthsea). #2: I adore “art of” and “making of” books. I have more than is probably healthy.
So it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the new edition of The Art of Castle in the Sky from Viz Media, which released earlier this month to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the original release of the film. Castle in the Sky was the first feature film Miyazaki directed under the Studio Ghibli banner, and it remains one of the finest films the studio ever developed.
It also holds a special place in my heart as it was the first Ghibli film I shared with my daughter. She was 3, and I took her to a screening of the film at the marvelous AFI Silver Theatre (which was doing a complete Miyazaki retrospective). It ended up being in the original Japanese, but it hardly mattered. She was enthralled. I whisper-narrated the story to her throughout, but I almost didn’t need to. She was absolutely fine with the Japanese dialogue. She was hooked, and she’s been a Ghibli fan ever since.
The new book from Viz (who kindly supplied me with a review copy) is a gorgeous reprinting of the original Japanese edition, which I of course also own. I picked it up while in Japan, and I flipped through the two books to compare. Aside from the difference in text languages, the two editions are identical in content. The new Viz edition is printed on nicer paper (and comes in hardcover), so the illustrations and screenshots on every page really pop.
“We are proud to release this gorgeously illustrated book that celebrates the extraordinary artwork of Hayao Miyazaki’s groundbreaking film,” says Masumi Washington, senior editorial director of Viz Media. “This comprehensive edition is packed with the film’s art, from conception to final release, as well as commentary and insights from Miyazaki himself. It makes a fitting addition to our extensive Studio Ghibli library.”
So what’s included? The book opens with the original proposal for the film, written by Miyazaki in 1984. It’s a fascinating bit of insight into his goal for the project, coming off of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and his original outline for the story. There’s also a nice introduction that reveals a ton of detail about the creative process behind the making of the film and how it changed during development.
The bulk of the book, though, goes through the film chronologically and includes hundreds of stunning images. There’s original pencil sketches, concept art, storyboards, and finished cels. Captions walk you through the film and tell you what each image is and where it’s from. The book ends with the complete English-language dub script, which is based on the final Japanese version written by Miyazaki.
As I said, aside from it being in English, the book is identical to the original Japanese version, which is just fantastic. And if you’ve picked up any of Viz’s other Art of Ghibli books, you probably have an idea about what to expect.
All kinds of awesomeness. Stunning beauty. Grade-A eye candy. A must for all Ghibli and Miyazaki fans.