The comparison between the animation juggernaut that is Disney and The Japanese animation legend that is Studio Ghibli is not at all a new one. This is likely a result of the fact that both are known to push the boundaries when it comes to capturing viewers through animated story telling.
However, this might be the only thing the two have in common – apart from the fact that their products are animated – of course. The reality is that the two have completely different ideas of what progression in their segment of the motion picture industry is.
A Quick Look At Where They Came From
Walt Disney burst onto the scene way back in 1928 with the very successful theatrical debut of the short, Steamboat Willie, animated film. It was also the debut of the now iconic Disney character, Mickey Mouse.
Studio Ghibli – on the other hand – is a significantly younger animation house, only coming to life years later in 1986, The first offering, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, immediately winning the favour of Japanese animation watchers.
Contrasting Approaches To Animation
Generally speaking, a large portion of all animated watchables that are available are built around a storyline of fantasy. Therefore, it is somewhat natural that this area would be one where the two production houses deviate from one another.
Walt Disney storylines tend to take the viewer’s imagination a great distance away from the stresses of the real world and into that of the protagonist that they are following. One could even view Disney’s style as being an escapist approach to storytelling.
Studio Ghibli takes a different approach. Although you still have the element of spirits and flying castles and the like. Ghibli’s time never stray too far away from social concepts that we are exposed to on a day to day basis – in many instances focusing on the negative ones- like greed and corruption. The Ghibli approach is a critique of some of humanities facets through animation.
The use of technologies like CGI is another point that represents a massive gulf of difference between the two.
Disney has always made a point of keeping up to date with the technical advances in their field. Combining this approach with the right talent was Disney’s way of striking gold.
Studio Ghibli is of a different view. Ghibli relies on traditional sketches and only uses technology to ever so subtly enhance their production process and its results. In this Studio Ghibli still benefits from new tech without it having “too much” of an effect on the overall look and feel of the film.
The reality is that the comparison between the two may not be a fair one. Disney has come a long way from its humble beginnings and is now an animation powerhouse that prides itself on how advanced its films are.
Ghibli’s focus is more about using meaningful storytelling to further the animation field. To Ghibli, new technologies are not much more than a tool that is used in much the same way as a subtle application of make-up. This makes it an apples versus oranges kind of comparison.