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News: Ghibli continue animations of 800-year-old “manga”

Studio Ghibli have animated a second ad based on the famed Choju Jinbutsu Giga Emaki (Scrolls of Cartoons of Birds, Animals and People) for Marubeni Power, a Japanese energy company who promote conservation. Katsuya Kondo, character designer and animation director for Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo, is at the helm for these commercials, the first of which, ‘Encounter’, depicted a rabbit and frog escaping a rainstorm, while the newest, ‘Balance’, has the two join forces to cross a river.

Acclaimed pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii plays the background music, and the tagline at the end reads, “There is a Japan I want to leave behind for future generations.” The man behind the voice that says the company’s name, Marubeni Shin Denryoku, is Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, who has revealed that Ghibli is making a total of three commercials for the campaign.

The scrolls themselves, which are held as national treasures at Kyoto’s Kozan-ji temple, depict through animals life as it was around eight centuries ago, between the Heian and Kamakura periods. They’re widely considered the oldest surviving example of Japanese manga, only contested by another scroll, the Shigisan Engi Emaki, and they’ve influenced the artists at Ghibli before. The studio’s co-founder Isao Takahata drew inspiration from them for his most recent, Oscar-nominated film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and has also written a book about emaki scrolls entitled Juni Seiki no Animation: Kokuho Emakini Miru Eiga-teki, Anime-teki Naru Mono (12th Century Animation: The Elements Seen in the National Treasure Scrolls that Evolved into Movies and Anime).

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