Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki.
For fans of anime and animated films in general, those words should bring some very distinctive images to mind. Scenes of magic, warmth, and unparalleled beauty and depth. Studio Ghibli–the studio behind memorable films such as Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro–makes the kind of films that captivate and leave viewers in awe. These are the kind of films you wish you could step inside and experience again and again. Luckily, those in Seoul get to do just that.
During my recent trip to Japan, I took a trip to the official Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka. And while the experience was a lovely and emotional one, it was not nearly as immersive and squeal-inducing as this temporary exhibit.
Tucked away in the mega shopping plaza, i’Park Mall, the exhibit is a magical and detailed Studio Ghibli fan’s dream.
The exhibit is organized by series, featuring all of the recent favorites, as well as some lesser-known titles such as Pom Poko and Porco Rosso. In each area there is a variety of displays ranging from miniature dioramas to roped off statues and full-scale photo-op zones. I got to snuggle with No Face, have a wondrous moment in the scenic hills, and um…cop a feel in Howl’s Castle.
Interactivity is by far the exhibit’s strongest point. Video and flash photography are not aloud, but otherwise you can snap flash-free photos to your heart’s content. The only downside is that everyone is equally excited about these photo opportunities, and thus there’s often a lot of waiting among excited couples and a sea of selfie sticks.
Not all displays are created equal. Princess Mononoke, Totoro, and Spirited Away had painstakingly detailed full-scale displays that really blew me away. Unfortunately, my favorite film, Howl’s Moving Castle…not so much. They did a wonderful job with the moving castle model, but Howl himself looked like an awkward mannequin and even in her elderly form, Sophie truly had seen better days.
Depending on your pace, I’d say the exhibit may take somewhere between 20-40 minutes to see everything. Of course, no great exhibit is complete without a gift shop. Be sure to stop by the small but charming gift shop at the end full of calendars, statues, postcards, plushies, and much more. I was a little disappointed at the lack of merchandise for some titles, such as Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle, but that’s really my only complaint.
The exhibit will continue to run until March 1st 2015, and costs about $15, so if you live in Seoul or have any plans to visit, I highly recommend stopping by for a magical, childlike experience. You can find additional details and directions here. Many characters and creatures await ^_^