Koro's Big Day Out (コロの大さんぽ Koro no Daisanpo) is a 14-minute animated short film, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. It premiered on January 3, 2002 and is exclusively shown at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan.
The story is about puppy named Koro who gets lost in a small town after her owner leaves their front gate ajar. The film was inspired by the Higashi Koganei area located in the suburbs of Tokyo where the Studio Ghibli is located. The film was a departure from prior Ghibli films in that its backgrounds used colored pencils, reminiscent of Akiko Hayashi and her picture book for children, "Hajimete no Otsukai" or "Miki's First Errand". A real dog was recorded as the voice of the lead, Koro.
Ths proved to be a difficult task for long-time Ghibli Art Director, Noboru Yoshida, who had worked "Princess Mononoke" (1997), and later works such as "The Cat Returns" (2002) and "Howl's Moving Castle" (2004). This technique would later by adopted for "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" (2008).
The film is about Koro, a puppy who runs away from his mistress, a little girl named Sawako, after she forgets to close the front gate, when she leaves for school. Koro experiences some adventures around town as he is picked up by a girl riding a bicycle, but slips away at the level train crossing. He meets a friendly old dog and his kindly owners, while his mistress and her father ride around town putting up "Lost" signs on the power poles. Koro eventually falls asleep under a delivery van, whose driver gives him a ride. When he gets near home, Koro smells the familiar neighborhood and leaps out of the truck and into the arms of his delighted mistress.
Behind the Scenes
Period of Transition
According to French Ghibli fansite "Buta Connection", it was in 1997, when the production of "Princess Mononoke" came to an end, that a new idea germinated in the mind of Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli was in a transitory phase in producing animated films, as the industry was moving away from traditional hand drawn cel-animation.
"The town of Koganei was chosen as the setting where the story will take place. In addition Studio Ghibli being located there and the staff being familiar with the location, Miyazaki was then closely interested in the history of the city. This is how a story unfolds in which a puppy named Koro gets lost and looks for his way through Koganei.
In 1997, Masashi Andô, then director of animation at Ghibli for "Princess Mononoke" and the then-upcoming "Spirited Away", was responsible for drawing up the storyboard. Miyazaki planned to use traditional cel-animation for the production.
The following year, 1998, marked the beginning of the construction of the Ghibli Museum. "Koro's Big Day Out" was to be shown exclusively for the museum. However, Miyazaki changed plans midway and abandoned traditional cel animation in favor of digital. When the Ghibli Museum opened in 2001, visitors could see the original story cels in the first-floor gallery to compare both versions.
In 1999, during a speech to his team, Hayao Miyazaki he announced the first three exclusive short films intended to be screened at the Ghibli museum was "Koro's Big Day Out", "The Whale Hunt" and "Mei and the Kittenbus". This was the first time Studio Ghibli would produce three films at the same time. A week later, Miyazaki began drawing the "e-conte" or storyboards. It was during the same period that the pre-production for "Spirited Away" began in parallel.
The team realize that in order to realistically depict Koro on screen, they would have to research dog movements. They learned that the artistic director Nizô Yamamoto had two little dogs named Ten and Ken. The team therefore visited him to observe and film their movements.
Two weeks after Miyazaki's announcement, Miyazaki completed his storyboard. He was satisfied with the result and the speed with which he was able to complete his job. However, his team was going through a period of low morale as they were overworked and realized from Miyazaki's storyboards that Koro would be moving a lot and would require a large amount of drawings.
On September 17, 1999, a meeting between the main collaborators of the team was organized, marking the concrete start of production work. It was then decided they would take inspiration from the graphic style of illustrator Akiko Hayashi. Hayashi's visual style consisted of soft colors, enhanced by lines of colored pencils. Noboru Yoshida, art director of Ghibli at the time, knew the team faced a great challenge in capturing this style.
In November 1999, Miyazaki listened to the auditions tapes for the lead roles and made his choice. The chosen ones were: Kenji Imura for the role of Sawako's father, (he was a producer at Studio Ghibli who worked "The Whale Hunt"), Haruyo Moriyoshi for the role of the mother, (she worked at Tokuma International), Akiko Kitajima for the role of the art student riding a bicycle, and Shigeru Morita, for the role of the plumber who find Koro in his van, (he worked at the Ghibli Museum). Recording began in a few weeks.
During production, nine puppies were born to a dog named "Yuki" that Tamaki Kojo of the Studio Ghibli photography department keeps at his parents' house. The Ghibli staff thought the Yuki's puppies would be the perfect choice as the voice actor for "Koro". Recording began on February 2000.
By May 10 2000, the score by Yuji Nomi was completed. The composer sat with Miyazaki and listened to the soundtrack as they looked at the first completed cuts of animation. A week later, Joe Hisaishi completed a short composition for the Ghibli sequence "Ghibli no Mori no Eiga" (The films of the Ghibli forest) that would appear before every Ghibli Museum short film.
On June 10, 2000, Miyazaki presided over the voice recording session. Many of the actors were amateurs, but they did a solid job despite several attempts to record their lines. One actors had to drink sake to calm down. Itsuki Komazawa, who plays the role of the lead, Sawako, is a very young actress, but she amazed everyone with her talent and professionalism. Once recording was completed, the production of the film officially ended.
The film was well received by critics abroad, with Animetion UK praising it's style and heartwarming story, "Those used to Studio Ghibli films will be surprised by the look of this short. Instead of the incredibly detailed watercolour backdrops the studio usually uses, those in "Koro's Big Day Out" are picked out in pencil crayon, giving the short a much more childlike feel. Don't think this means a drop in quality though, the visuals are stunning and the combination of pencil art and normal animated characters is refreshingly different. The story itself is fun and realistic, and that's where "Koro's Big Day Out" really excels. The sketched backgrounds - somewhat surprisingly - really brings the Tokyo suburb in which the short is set to life, and the characters are realistic too. However, I was most impressed that it focuses on a cute puppy but doesn't fall into the usual cartoon conceits of slapstick comedy and talking animals."
- In the pamphlet that came with the film, a map was drawn to show Koro's path through the city of Koganei.
|Director, Storyboard||Hayao Miyazaki|
|Art Director||Noboru Yoshida|
|Animation Check||Rie Nakagome|
|In-between Animation||Akiko Teshima, Mayu Yazawa, Kojiro Tsuruoka, Nozomi Ito, Aya Onishi, Minoru Ohashi, Tsutomu Sato, Masako Yokota, Masashi Yokota, Yumiko Toki, Yayoi Toki, Kiyoko Makita, Yukari Yamaura, Kumiko Tanihira, Morihiko Yano, Mai Adachi, Shinobu Saeki|
|Key Animation||Eiji Yamamori, Masaru Matsuse, Kazuyoshi Onoda, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Hiroyuki Morita, Nobuyuki Takeuchi, Etsuko Tomita, Chuji Nakajima|
|Background Artist||Naomi Kasugai, Kaichi Fukudome, Masako Nagata, Keiko Itokawa, Hiroaki Sasaki, Tomoe Ishihara, Kikuyo Yano, Osamu Masuyama|
|Color Supervision||Michiyo Yasuda|
|Animation Cooperation||Anime Toro Toro, Studio Cockpit|