Before summer

Trip to Ghibli Museum in Tokyo
Trip to Ghibli museum 2015

Above you can see my first museum trip, in Tokyo, Japan! Studio Ghibli will be featuring in my dissertation along side Hayao Miyazaki himself. It was a really amazing museum, with a lot of information of how the films were produced, it also showed the beauty and imaginations of the films. I want to continue reading about Ghibli. Below are some GIFS I created in order to show the variation of Ghibli films which are complex, imaginative and always different! This was one of the reasons I wanted to look into this topic, why is there not more films like this in the mainstream for children?

(Hover mouse over pictures for film name and release year.)

Here was my first progress map I created with some added notes over summer. I decided I wanted to create a blog where I could add my own thoughts and ideas more like a journal, over just having a timeline. I found this more useful than just dates of things I did.

January (The month of exploring ideas)

In January, I had the First Dissertation planning sessions. For DISS PREP. Met with tutor and dissertation group. Presented three main ideas which I am interested in investigating. After developing these ideas, I created spider diagrams seen above in timeline at the beginning I have decided on “Risks in Animation.”

Narrowed down a rough question as:

“Is the west too scared of taking risks in animation?”

I created a more in depth presentation to show my research strategy and plans for this question. Which you can see below. This was the beginning stages of the pr

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This presentation was really useful in putting down initial ideas, I still use this when I want to see how far I have come from the end of the dissertation. It reminds me of the essence of my question.

Identified 7 books to begin to read.

I identified seven books that I would get out again over summer and read. I used the study zone for all of these other than the Hayao Miyazaki book which I brought, these biographies are really useful.

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Theories I want to look into to support my hypothesis: Globalisation, cultural theories, americanisation and more story theories.

I wanted to generate ideas for some theories that already exist above are several of these. Especially cultural theories. I want to push the idea that culture and stories are very much very important to how we interpret stories to this day.


Have decided some of my primary research I would like to carry out. Basis for my research strategy. I have also starting to conduct a list of contacts to begin sending out emails.

Invested in a folder to keep all my findings together, trying to make sure all my research is organised to help me when it comes to referencing and writing my dissertation.

Read more into theories.

Have thought about doing a visual dissertation, however I think a written dissertation would allow me to create a clearer argument for my argument. I have decided here that I want to do a written dissertation.



Created synopsis for my dissertation where I have explained that I would like create a written dissertation and commented my research strategy in order to carry out such a dissertation.

Main keywords are: Culture, risks, storytelling

Submitted my Synopsis early.

Briefly allowed time for the rest of March and the beginning of April to work on my Animation unit.

Saw Zootopia in cinema, the film tackled themes like diversity and acceptance. It seems Disney are reacting to updating the stories they tell.



Identified several films to begin analysing.

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I want to re-watch several of these films again, to re- analyse but have been able to watch these listed here. May decide to look at some more films, consider this and update progress map.

I will go to Ireland and visit the Book of Kells

Was unable to make time to visit Ireland, however I will think of an alternative to this trip. Maybe making contact with someone at the museum, about the book itself.

Have begun watching Documentaries, such as the making of Princess Kaguya, Roahl Dahl, Beatrix Potter and C.S Lewis documentaries.

May + June

Have taken out 19 books from the Study zone, over summer I read 13 of these, need to continue reading especially theory books which I somehow left till the end!

Used this time to create a contact list with contact information, get ready to begin to send out emails when I go back to university.

I have watched the following films and written notes, I am filmaholic so it was a pleasure to re-watch some of these films! I will mark any riskful content and summarise the story to compare to the different

Cinderella (2014)


Cinderella is one of the many retellings that Disney is re-releasing, I want to see how different the story is to the original Disney film. As one of my points is how riskful Disney are being with the stories they are telling. Is there any new angles? I noted this down ready to analyse.

Spirited Away(2001)


I want to talk about Studio Ghibli, therefore I wanted to re-watch it’s Oscar winning Spirited Away. It’s story is very epic and different to stories told in the west.

“Spirited Away may be a fairytale, but I don’t want to make it a western-style one, with lots of easy outs…but I instead, like to think of it as the direct descendant of Japanese folktales like Suzume no oyado.” (P.199)  Turning Point 1997-2008  Hayao Miyazaki  

Princess Mononoke 


I wanted to re-watch Princess Mononoke because Hayao Miyazaki has a whole section of his work about the violence and complexity of this story. This story has indeed a lot of violence from amputation and hatred. It challenges the themes we can show children.

Making of Princess Kaguya (2014) / The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2014)


These two films, were documentaries that showed how Ghibli created two of his films (Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki.) It was really great to see the process, and the work that goes into the two films discussed (Princess Kaygua – Below and The wind rises).

Princess Kaguya


Priness Kaguya directed by Isao Takahata is a japanese film that pushes the style of the animation in Ghibli films. The story is based on Japanese folklore and because of this is very different to a western storytale. It is agains sophisticated in themes and subject matter.


Went to Cornwall for a week 

Cornwall – Week break from Dissertation research

Continued reading book list. Have discovered some amazing points of view on several articles online.

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Visited the National Gallery this week, it was interesting to see how artist from the same time period differed and were very similar in there storytelling. As there was so many paintings that were similar it was hard to look at every painting. Maybe come back and retry experiment if I had time. When I did look round however what I noticed was Vincent Van Goghs work. It broke conventions at the time it was painted and subsequently only one painting was sold. Many people believe it was because it was different to the paintings being created it broke the style. Similar to how there is one style currently and it is hard to get recognition for any other type.

This is the apparant painting which sold in Van Gogh’s lifetime (The Red Vineyard – 1888)

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“Vincent had to find people in the art world whom others trusted, and this was difficult. At the time, the way Vincent painted was so bizarre and offensive that people didn’t know what to do with it. It looked like child’s play. But when he met a group of French painters, everything changed. He realized that his dense paint and broad brushstrokes full of bright, vibrant colors had a name: Impressionism.”

Find people who resonate with your work. Even if that means seeking out other outcasts, as it often does for creative individuals, you need a collective. The French Impressionists were in many cases banned from art galleries and their work was censored for years. But they banded together to create something new and fresh. And over time, people began to understand it. But until that happened, they had each other, which was enough encouragement to keep going. (West, website, 2016)

The idea that Van Gogh struggled in a world which did not except his style, the impressionist movement.



Started a alongside Dissertation Journal which was an advice I found in one of the books I got out from the study zone. It told me to write in it a little bit every time I researched. I thought this was a really good thing to do over summer. Below is some of the pages I write in July time once coming back. I begin to look at why I chose the question. It is more opinion based than my dissertation will be, more like a research journal.

Have started to look into visiting the v&a archive to look at Beatrice Potter illustrations. I want to understand the relationship between storyteller and culture. Beatrice Potter was inspired by the country. This fed in to her stories. I think it would be an interesting angle to how the culture can influence stories. It was


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I also write any interesting ideas I get from reading a book.

I have watched the following films over this month, watching several films a month will help me when it comes to decided which ones best prove my points. I am trying to choose films from the West in mainstream animation and ones which are not. I will be using the next couple of months to organise the films to discuss. As I watch each film I am measuring risk and summarising the story in notes.

James and the Giant Peach (1996)


I wanted to watch James and the Giant Peach as I have been exploring Roahl Dahl and his many stories which he lovingly crafted. This was the animation that was created for James and the giant Peach. Oddly I always thought it was an English film when it fact it is American! Later on, when doing my survey many other people made this mistake too.

“Some larger changes, however, cause problems. Young James’ desire to get to New York City—a place he and his parents dreamed of visiting—gives the film an oddly pro-American and nearly anti-British tinge, which I suppose is to be expected in an American-produced film, but still feels a bit odd. The change in some of the insect accents is also a bit disconcerting. In the book, after all, these are British insects, and hearing a vamped out Spider and a New York Centipede somewhat threw me out of the story, even if I suppose Miss Spider could have been reared in a very vampiric family and Centipede could have picked up his accent from listening to the radio. A lot. (Not to mention a distinctly Scottish Earthworm—hello, Remus Lupin!—although that’s a bit easier to fanwank—he’s either from Scotland himself, or from a Scottish family, and in either case has spent far too long beneath the earth to have that original accent distorted by more southern tones).” 

Beauty and the Beast(1991)


Beauty and the Beast is one of the animations that brought back Disney after the 80s in its decline. It is a fairtyale classic and started the process of adding an animated feature category in the Oscars.

My Neighbour Totoro(1988)


My neighbour Totoro is another Ghibli film which is very different to many Disney films. It seem much slower in pacing and focuses on children and family. The film is very japanese inspired, but is one of the films most linked to Ghibli. Totoro being the face of Ghibli as Mickey Mouse is for Disney.

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Inside out is one of the newest Pixar films, it shows some of the diversity in the new themes. Exploring the humans emotions it breaks the story traditions of the west, and is something to comment on in my dissertation!


Went to Dorset for a week

A week break from Dissertation work.

Continued reading from book list.

I continued reading my books trying to make my way through the 18 I took out. I carried on writing the personal journal. I am reading the Arthur Rackham fairy book, analysing the different stories. One story which I come across is : Jack and the Beanstalk. I don’t know what the moral is? Jack climbs up a beanstalk and stealks the egg, the chicken and the gold and then murders the giant who he steals from… Interesting to analyse the stories with cultural significants in the West.


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I have also began to watch videos about different storytellers, mostly English looking at Roahl Dahl, Beatrice Potter and C.S.Lewis. They have actually been so interesting to watch and makes the research feel like fun! (But I am a passionate storyteller so this could also contribute to it hehe!)

I like here that Roahl Dahl emphasises how writing for Children is harder than writing for adults. Hayao Miyazaki says something really similar in his book. I watched lots of Roahl Dahl documentaries as well because what he does in storytelling is different to what we see in Disney. He makes the ordinary wonderful, he can take simply a child going to school overcoming her fears (Maltilda). I hope to talk about Dahl in my dissertation!

I have watched these films this month, I am able to dedicate several films a month! At this point I’m not sure what films I will be discussing in my dissertation but it allows me to consider a greater scope on some of the studios I am talking about. A.K.A Disney, Ghibli, Pixar. : 



Ponyo was a film created by Ghibli, it is a story that received great exposure in the West and received a lot of results on Rotton Tomatoes, Reported a 92% “Certified Fresh” out of the reviews. It is nice to see how Ghibli tackled a smaller less epic fairytale esk film.

Secret of Kells(2009)


Secret of Kells by Cartoon Saloon was a film I wanted to re-watch, heavily influenced by the culture of Ireland it allowed me to explore the culture, and how culture can enrich a story. Similar to how Ghibli use there Japanese culture to enrich their stories.

Ernest and Celestine(2012)


I wanted to watch Ernest and Celestine because it was made from a smaller studio in France. I wanted to see how stories other than Disney present stories. I had never seen this before so it was great  and very beautiful! The story was about friendship and acceptance so in some areas it was similar to stories we had seen before.

Prince of Egypt (1997)


Prince of Egypt is a momentous biblical epic, directed by Steven Spielberg. With strong moral and historical illustrated. It has “biblical violence” on the DVD case so it does show violence of murder and disease. It is an animation that challenged the animations that was out at this time.


Went to Devon for a week

A week away to Devon break from dissertation work. Took two books for dissertation to read in the evenings and journeys. and read both!

Spent a lot of this month catching up with my Animation summer projects as I spent a lot of time on dissertation on the previous months, but continue to read books and write quotes when I have spare time.



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