Hayao Miyazaki has often defined his method as an animator (and Ghibli’s, by extension) as being deeply rooted in natural observation. Many of his studio’s productions have had the artists travel to the stories’ actual locations, filling countless sketchpads with detailed life drawings. Such involved effort has certainly gone far in establishing the verisimilitude that sets every Ghibli film apart. The characters in The Wind Rises or Porco Rosso aren’t simply super-imposed over impressions of places. Hardly. They dwell in whole worlds that are plotted out as thoroughly as any real life locale. Such loving focus exudes from every shot and cel. Why, it’s just the kind of attention-to-detail… that Minecraft plays right into? Yep, that’s just what animator Alan Becker has demonstrated throughout the audacious, Ghibli-accurate levels whose building he’s overseen.
In this clip, for instance, he shows how Minecraft‘s toolkit can exactly re-create all the back-roads and grassy fields of My Neighbor Totoro’s idyllic countryside. Watch ’til the end, and you’ll see that Becker even managed to fashion the Catbus and titular forest spirit out of bricks, too.
Like what you see? Would you die to explore Totoro’s old haunts yourself? Well, some wishes are getting granted here, because this level and all the others Becker’s overseen are available for download.
As impressive as the Totoro level is, though, it’s Becker’s Spirited Away project that’s his true magnum opus. “Every building. Every room. Every hill. Even the rooms that you never see in the movie.” Those are his mission goals: aiming to create a real 3D world, and not focus simply on the memorable corners of the movie’s centerpiece bath house. Here’s a trailer of his evolving work, but the creation is so expansive already, its exploration requires a whole series of videos.
Howl’s Moving Castle is the next likely project for Becker, and this update video offers a fleeting glimpse of that delightful, chicken-footed monstrosity. You’ll note how Becker mentions these are still works-in-progress, being put together by many hands. And if you happen to be both a Ghibli fanatic and a Minecraft master builder, you can actually enlist in the build. The process is a bit formal, though, requiring aspirants to send in proper application forms.
Do these levels make your dreams of living in the worlds of Ghibli that much closer in reach? Fill the talkback with all your thoughts, question, and reactions.
Featured Image Credit: Alan Becker