Film Guru Guru (フィルムぐるぐる , Firumu Guru Guru) is a series of animated short films shown at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka from October 1, 2001, through November 17, 2008. The series was directed by Hayao Miyazaki with storyboards by Miyazaki and Hiromasa Yonebayashi (who also produced).
"I want to show how films move in all directions."
- —Hayao Miyazaki
Film Guru Guru is based on a concept by Hayao Miyazaki to show audiences how old film projectors worked. A special projector called Film Guru Guru (literally translated as Film Round and Round) was installed in the Room of the Beginning of Movement, a permanent exhibition room located in the basement of the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo.
An 80-meter film is spun at a speed of 24 frames per second on 124 reels, and short animations are projected on three screens. Additionally, there are three points where the picture appears to move in a single frame by projecting a blinking strobe light directly on the film from behind. This special light blinks at a slightly slower speed than the film's running speed (the light blinks 23.3 times versus 24 frames per second) providing an added dimension to the motion.
There are a total of eight short animated works produced for Film Guru Guru. A Splendid Ball, Rambutan Adventures, and Fish Fish, were initially available in a single reel of film when the museum opened on October 1, 2001. Tacolator, Piyopiyo Baba, and Bobo-kun, were added On November 27, 2002. In March 2005, sound effects were added to the exhibit. The film were replaced with Madalan World on April 18, 2007. That film was then replaced with Evolution on November 17, 2008. Madalan World and Evolution do not have sound effects, while the other six films with sound effects were moved into a mini-theater exhibit in the same permanent exhibition area.
Film Guru Guru consists of the eight original motion pictures, featuring work by veteran animation director Atsuko Tanaka.
- A Splendid Ball (華麗なる舞踏会 , Kareinaru Budōkai) (released October 1, 2001)
- A doll in a white dress spins at an incredibly high speed and then returns to a stationary state. While the doll is spinning, the skirt of the dress soars, which is beautifully depicted due to the speed of its rotation.
- Rambutan Adventures (ランプータンの冒険 , Ranpūtan no Bōken) (released October 1, 2001)
- A minute long short depicting a fight between Rambutan and a villain in a convertible. During the fight, the protagonist is thrown out of the car. The villain then approaches the hero's girlfriend, who desperately resists his advances by repeatedly kicking him in the face. Meanwhile, the protagonist gives chase on foot at an incredible speed and manages to jump onto the car and fend off the villain. Rambutan then hugs his girlfriend. The villain reappears and tears the two lovers apart, and the film loops as Rambutan hits the villain once again. The characters limbs stretch and contract, reminiscent of American animation in the 1920s.
- Fish Fish (魚の魚 , Sakana no Sakana) (released October 1, 2001)
- Several red fishes converge towards a small white fish, until one of them eats the white fish. A big fish appears and eats the red fish, who is then eaten by an even bigger fish. Several larger fishes appear and are eaten one after another. Finally, a massive white fish appears, and after eating a large green fish, swims toward the back of the screen. The white fish seemingly shrinks as it moves away towards the end of the screen, and becomes the white fish seen in the beginning. The red fish eats the white fish once again, and the film loops once again. The film makes good use of perspective.
- Tacolator (タコレーター , Takorētā) (released on November 27, 2002)
- An octopus climbs an underwater stairs from the lower left to the upper right of the screen. The film features complex movements of the octopus's legs and the fluctuation of water around it.
- Piyopiyo Baba (ぴよぴよバーバ , Piyopiyo Bāba) (released on November 27, 2002)
- Yubaba, a character from Spirited Away, returns in this short. She turns to the front, opens her mouth and laughs, and when she turns 180 degrees and turns backward, a small bird comes out of her hair and screams. When the little bird retracts into her hair, Yubaba turns 180 degrees again, turns to the front, and laughs once more.
- Bobo-kun (ぼうぼう君 , Bōbō-Kimi) (released on November 27, 2002)
- Madaran's World (マダラン界 , Madaran-kai)(released April 18, 2007)
- An unseen entity scatters green grains across some sand, and they slowly united to form a creature called "Mitochondria". This Mitochondria swallows a black worm called "Hamushi", which resembles a pill bug, and becomes a pink worm similar to an "earthworm". The earthworm or "Mimizu" moves toward the back of the screen, and defecates black poop along the way. A character called "Hun" appears and grows legs and becomes a "poop" and moves around a little bit. At the same time it rains and a puddle spreads and swallows the poop. When this one poop that remained until the end dives into the ground so as to escape from the water, the whole area becomes flooded, and a monster called "Tedaa" swims in the puddle. Eventually, when the water drains, a grass called "Mandora Gora" grows from the place where the dung is submerged, and it grows at a tremendous speed. The stems grow up, and many small white insects called "Nuro" walk toward the budding flowers, but the creature "Mogubo" also moves toward the flowers while eating Nuro. When Mogubo enters the flower, the flower produces a fruit called "blue strawberry", which falls to the ground and shatters. The shattered strawberries turn into green grains, which coalesce into Mitochondria again. The video then loops.
- Evolution (進化論 , Shinka-ron) (released November 17, 2008)
- The film tells the story of evolution on two characters. In the end the human looks for a bird, a longtime friend. It begins underneath the sea, where ancient creates are born from bubbles and that then evolve into fish. One of the main characters is a primitive creature being chased by a big fish, and is seemingly eaten until it manages to escape on land. He then begins walking on land and evolves into a frog. Meanwhile, the big fish that chased him also evolves into a frog, and a competition begins. Both begin a race where they evolve from a fish to a lizard and from a lizard to a dinosaur. The main character becomes a small herbivorous dinosaur, and is then chased as the other character becomes a large carnivorous dinosaur. As he escapes, the hero changes from a dinosaur to a cat, and dives into the lake and escapes once again. The carnivorous dinosaur then becomes a large bird and leaves. The hero who came out of the lake then changes from a cat to a monkey, and eventually became a bipedal humanoid and climbs a steep mountain road, but becomes a human boy as he stands on the summit. A human girl eating rice balls sits at the top, and when the main character boy hands her a bouquet, her outfit changes to a wedding dress, and they all live happily ever after.
Behind the Scenes
Few details are available regarding who worked on these animated shorts. At the very least, the director, storyboard and screenplay were by Hayao Miyazaki, the animation direction was handled by Atsuko Tanaka, photography by Yayoi Toki, and color designation by Michiyo Yasuda. Tanaka herself is a legendary animator who first worked at Shin-Ei Animation, later joining the Telecom studio, where she met up with Miyazaki where they collaborated on The Castle of Cagliostro and Sherlock Hound. She joined Studio Ghibli and worked on several other of his films. When describing her experience working for the man as such, "I’ve been working alongside Miyazaki for a long, long time, even before Ghibli. And before that, I think he was much scarier to be around. After Ghibli, of course, he was very strict on the work we do. However, he wasn’t really doing anything with us, so that was good."
Meanwhile, Hiromasa Yonebayashi was said to have directed Evolution, and many of its design cues and imagery of ancient sea creatures due to it being produced at the same time as Ponyo. Since it was created to be in line with the theme of the Ghibli Museum's permanent exhibition room, which was "to have fun of seeing pictures moving," the animation is very smooth, sporting a high number of drawings per second. Besides Evolution, each work has the same beginning and ending pictures, allowing the films to be looped in perpetuity.
- It is shown on a loop on film projector in the permanent exhibition room located at the basement floor of the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.
- The first animated shorts shown in the exhibit were A Splendid Ball, Rambutan Adventures, and Fish Fish.
- They were first produced as silent films, but music later was added in March 2005.