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World of Ghibli celebrates Japan's pop culture exports

Marcel Thee
Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, September 6, 2017 | 09:19 am
World of Ghibli celebrates Japan's pop culture exports

Nekobus (The World of Ghibli Jakarta/File)

Studio Ghibli’s work may not yet be as embedded in the landscape of Indonesian pop culture aficionados as some of the country’s other exports, such as its drama series and girl groups like AKB48 or even more mainstream animation and comics (manga) such as Dragon Ball or Naruto.

But the studio’s prestigious output and earned- respect — it has won Oscars, for instance — is slowly but surely attracting the attention of Indonesians.

And the exhibition, which runs until Sept. 17 at the Ritz-Carlton in Pacific Place Jakarta, aims to instill even more of that growing fascination.

Among the displays and exhibits being featured at the exhibition — a collaboration between The World of Ghibli Jakarta, Marubeni and Hakuhodo, together with Studio Ghibli — are the first 8.5 meters of Howl’s Moving Castle installation.

Read also: Tips before you go to The World of Ghibli Jakarta exhibition

Others include a replica of the Totoro and Nekobus (a bus shaped as a giant cat) characters from My Neighbor Totoro; the Laputa robot and Laputa’s Flapter from Castle in the Sky; the beach and aircraft from Porco Roso; Ponyo’s wall from Ponyo; and Baby Ohmu from Nausica of the Valley of the Wind.

TotoroTotoro (The World of Ghibli Jakarta/File)

“[We] want to gain awareness and spread the positive message of Ghibli in the Southeast Asia market, especially now, when the demand for world-class exhibitions is growing. We want to show the capabilities of Indonesian and Japanese artists through this exhibition,” explains Ignes Dea, the event’s volunteer and representative.

“We hope to spread the value and philosophical approach that Studio Ghibli represents.[…] We recognize there is a delay in several installations caused by technical difficulties, and we’re very sorry to the customers,” she said, adding that a special pass ticket was given to the affected visitors to allow them to visit the exhibition again.

Aware of the studio’s underdog status here, the exhibition, which was preceded by limited screenings of its movies, aims to change that.

“Honestly, we feel that Studio Ghibli exposure in Indonesia is still quite low, that’s why we need to make a ‘big splash’ with this exhibition, for people to recognize Studio Ghibli and the spirit it represents,” she says.

Howl's Moving CastleHowl's Moving Castle (The World of Ghibli Jakarta/File)

The organizers are confident that the values found in Ghibli films will connect with Indonesians.

“Talking about connection, a lot of Studio Ghibli movies have a philosophical approach, like nature, female heroines and the balance between good and evil, so we think it relates with many people, including the Indonesian market,” she says.

“For example, Princess Mononoke is a movie about balance and conflict between nature and man, and one of the movie’s signature objects is a sacred forest. And Indonesia is home to many forests and amazing nature.”

Read also: Welcoming Totoro: Why it’s never too late for Ghibli

The World of Ghibli Jakarta Exhibition made the “Mononoke Forest” installation especially, so that Indonesians understand the value of forests and nature. “We want to spread a positive message about the importance of balance,” Agnes says.

As an example of that balance, a lot of Indonesian designers were part of the exhibition.

The blueprints of the installations were all made by Indonesian artists and craftsmen with the support and assistance of Studio Ghibli representatives.

The World of Ghibli exhibition is an attempt to celebrate one of the world’s most respected animation studios and one of Japan’s most recognized pop-culture exports.The World of Ghibli exhibition is an attempt to celebrate one of the world’s most respected animation studios and one of Japan’s most recognized pop-culture exports. (The World of Ghibli Jakarta/File)

“These Indonesian artists are young and talented, Studio Ghibli is very impressed with their work,” says Ignes, proudly.

These blueprints were then submitted to local vendors and production began under the close supervision by the artists and Studio Ghibli representatives.

Some are first-time installations that you will not see anywhere else in the world, such as the Laputa robot which is bigger and a lot closer in interpretation to the animation, compared with the Laputa robot in Museum Ghibli, Mitaka.

Moreover, the Nekobus cat bus at Jakarta’s exhibition is also bigger than the one in the museum. Photographing the original Nekobus in Japan is not allowed, unlike in Jakarta.

Ignes said anyone with a passing interest in Japanese pop-culture should come and visit.

“This is a collaboration between Indonesian and Japanese craftsmanship. This is the biggest exhibition in the history of Studio Ghibli, so we want to bring the imaginative world of Studio Ghibli to life,” she says.