It’s been almost a year since Studio Ghibli’s last film opened in Japan, and it’s not looking like we’re getting a new one anytime soon, if at all. But that doesn’t mean the fabled anime production house’s employees have all given up the art form for which they have so much talent.
Recently, we’ve seen a number of commercials created by Ghibli artists, with beautiful animation being used for a bakery in Kyushu and train travel to western Japan. And now, Toshio Suzuki, Ghibli’s most accomplished producer, has put together this short anime to promote Bandai Namco’s Taiko no Tatsujin video game series.
When the very first Taiko no Tatsujin title was released in Japanese arcades, no one really expected it was the start of a long-term franchise. Unlike other musical rhythm games that simulated dancing, being a DJ, or strumming a guitar, Taiko noTatsujin was based on playing a traditional Japanese drum, which seems like it should have a far narrower appeal.
But the simple joy of the straightforward concept and controls (hit the drum in rhythm with the beat) meant that not just the musically gifted, but the young, inexperienced, and even inebriated could all enjoy Taiko no Tatsujin. 15 years later, the series is still a Japanese arcade mainstay, and has been ported to a multitude of home consoles, portable systems, and mobile devices.
To celebrate the decade-and-a-half milestone, Bandai Namco commissioned a short piece of animation, to be included within various Taiko no Tatsujin games. They didn’t skimp on the game’s 15th birthday present, either, as they contracted Studio Ghibli to make it for them.
Featuring a mouse getting swept up in the festive spirit of sentient taiko drums Don and Katsu, if the 30-second short seems to have an excess of charm, you can thank Suzuki for serving as producer, the same role he held for anime classics such as Princess Mononke, Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises, and who thought up the mouse character in the video himself. Handling the animation was Katsuya Kondo, a veteran Ghibli animator of close to a dozen of the studio’s films, stretching all the way to Castle in the Sky Laputa, the very first movie produced under the Studio Ghibli name.
It’s good to know that even if Hayao Miyazaki isn’t making any anime these days, the rest of the Studio Ghibli family is still giving fans a little something to smile about.