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The Kodama’s Project is, basically, an archive of Studio Ghibli’s movie posters and other collectibles, featuring the collection of me, Diogo Cerdeira, a Portuguese lawyer and an animation enthusiast, from Fundão, Portugal.
Essentially, the site came into being because I wanted a way to view and appreciate my collection without having to constantly handle the items and posters – most currently being stored in archival pockets, out of sight and never seen – and risk damaging them. The site is also a way to share those posters and items with fellow collectors.
Furthermore, I conceive this site as a space where I can share the (little) knowledge and information that I have gathered about these specific movie posters and items, regarding its history, design, size and other details.
The site’s name and logotype are based on a collective character of one of my favorite Studio Ghibli’s movies: the Kodama, which are unnamed tiny creatures from Princess Mononoke.
I was a late starter to the world of collecting movie posters, but I watched films at home and at the movie theatre since I was very young. One of the first films I remember seeing was Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, back in 2003. When I saw the movie for the first time, I was so amazed by the richness of Hayao Miyazaki’s imagination that I instantly became a fan of him and Studio Ghibli’s creations. To this day, I still keep the VHS tape that my parents bought me back then.
However, only many years later I realized that original movie posters are gorgeous pieces of art, worth collecting, that represent a small part of a movie’s history, as they were meant to be displayed in and around the movie theatres to advertise the release of a given film at the time.
Therefore, the collection began in July 2016, when I bought my first original film poster: a B2 size Japanese poster for the release of master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s 2004 film Howl’s Moving Castle.
When I started out, my collection consisted solely of Studio Ghibli Japanese posters, which I purchased mainly in Yahoo Japan. But after venturing to eBay, and other sites, I began to add a few posters from other countries (Portugal, France and the USA).
Concerning the size, I collect mainly B2 size posters (51.5 cm x 72.8 cm), which is the most commonly used Japanese movie poster size. I also own B1 size posters (72.8 cm x 103 cm) and even B5 size posters (18.2 cm x 25.7 cm), also known as “Chirashi” (literally “flyer”). I never bought a “Chirashi”, but some kindly Japanese sellers sent them with the B1 or B2 posters I purchased, so I kept and added them to the collection.
All in all, the main focus of the collection is definitely the B2 size Japanese Studio Ghibli posters. I don’t believe my collection will ever be complete as there are still many older or rare posters I’m yet to find and still more to be discovered. Finding these rare items is part of what makes collecting exciting for me. As far as I’m aware, there are between 60 to 70 different styles of original Studio Ghibli’s movie posters.
All posters and other items that are shown on this site are believed to be genuine, with a few exceptions. Nevertheless, should you have any information to the contrary please do not hesitate to contact me. This will be investigated, and should the information be found to be incorrect the page and information will be updated accordingly.
Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio headquartered in Koganei, Tokyo. It is best known for its animated feature films, and has also produced several short subjects, television commercials, and two television films. Its mascot and most recognizable symbol is a character named Totoro, a giant catlike spirit from the 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro.
The studio was founded on June 15, 1985, by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, after the successful performance of Topcraft’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). It has also collaborated with video game studios on the visual development of several games.
Five of the studio’s films are among the ten highest-grossing anime feature films made in Japan. Spirited Away is second, grossing 31.68 billion yen in Japan and over US$380 million worldwide; and Princess Mononoke is fourth, grossing 20.18 billion yen. Many of their works have won the Animage Grand Prix award. Four have won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. Five of their films have received Academy Award nominations. Spirited Away won the 2002 Golden Bear and the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
The name “Ghibli” was chosen by Miyazaki from the Italian noun “ghibli”, based on the Libyan Arabic name for hot desert wind, the idea being the studio would “blow a new wind through the anime industry”. It also refers to an Italian aircraft, the Caproni Ca.309. Although the Italian word would be more accurately transliterated as “Giburi”, with a hard g sound, the studio is romanised in Japanese as “Jiburi”.
The signature style and recurrent themes of the studio reflect those of Miyazaki and the other directors and creatives. Common themes include the risks posed by progress to tradition, environmentalism and the natural world, independent female protagonists, the cost of war, and youth. They tend to use intricate watercolor and acrylic 2D animation with vivid colors (particularly greens) and have a “whimsical and joyful aesthetic”.
Find more about Studio Ghibli’s history on ghibli.jp and nausicaa.net.
Simply put, an original film poster is an item of printed marketing material that was specially commissioned by film studios and distributors to be displayed in and around a cinema to advertise the release of a given film.
Advertising posters used outside a theatre (wilding, bus shelter, subway, and billboard) during an original release are also considered original movie posters.
There are also “studio issued” original movie posters. These were printed at the same time as theatrical display posters. Although usually not meant for theatrical display, they are still considered original. They were distributed to “insiders” and those who worked on the film.
Posters that were made to be sold to the public in stores or online are reproductions/reprints or restrikes are not original movie posters, even if they were printed around the time of the film’s release.
The other point to mention is that these posters were only meant to be used for the short period that they were displayed in the cinema whilst the film was playing. The mere fact that some of them still exist at all is something of a miracle, particularly for some older posters that were only printed in small numbers. The number of copies of a poster depends entirely on how popular a film is and how many cinemas it’s shown in.
Most of the “The Kodama’s Project” collection consists of original film posters, though I have a few commercial prints that are clearly marked as such.
Today, almost all film posters are available in reprint form from various outlets including eBay. Sometimes these reprints are very easy to spot as the print quality is poor, they are notably undersized and the paper they are printed on is incorrect.
Many film posters were also officially licensed by the studio or distributor for mass reproduction. Studio Ghibli does this a lot. They have licensed several poster reproductions, making it difficult to tell them apart from the original movie posters. In most cases, those are absolute perfect reprints.
Over the decades there have been film posters that were more desirable than others and there are instances of these being copied (forged) and reprinted. Most of the time these fakes are fairly straightforward to spot, although there a number of titles that have had very high quality copies made and they can fool both dealers and collectors alike.
To the best of my knowledge all of the posters on this site are genuine originals. Of course, it’s perfectly possible that I have inadvertently added a fake to the collection (without being aware of it). I welcome contact from anyone who suspects that one of my posters is not an original, though I would require some kind of proof before I agree to mark it as such or remove the offending item from the site.
The fakes issue is something that any new collector should be aware of, particularly since there are so few guides available online that detail these fakes.
Some that exist include:
Learn About Movie Posters has a guide to fake posters.
Movie Poster Collectors also has a gallery of some of the more notorious fakes and how to authenticate your own posters.
Marqueeposter.com has a very interesting article on how to authenticate a Japanese B1 original poster of “Lupin III – The Castle of Cagliostro”.
While me and my brother were photographing the posters, I also took the opportunity to measure them so I could add this detail onto the site. The measurements of a given poster are often cited as a good way to identify reprints/fakes. Measuring a large piece of paper accurately is not as easy as it sounds, but I took care to be as precise as possible, particularly with those posters that have known copies in existence.
Single-Sided or Double-Sided
At the end of the 1980s certain film posters began to be printed double sided, meaning that the image is mirrored on the reverse of the poster. The intention here was to enable them to be placed in advertising light boxes outside cinemas, allowing light to shine through the poster and illuminate the colours of the design. This worked better if the back of the poster wasn’t all white (and therefore more likely to reflect the light back into the box). Today, the vast majority of posters printed are double sided, but there are still many exceptions and there are certain countries that have never printed double sided posters.
The Eirin Mark
Eirin is the abbreviated name for the Motion Picture Code of Ethics Committee in Japan, which serves the following purpose: to classify films depending on their suitability to minors, depending on whether they contain sexual or violent material.
It is mandatory that the studio gets the approval from the Eirin board before they show the film in the theatres, so the theatre posters normally carry the Eirin mark to show that approval. Some advance posters or posters from some small independent studios don’t put the seal on the poster.
The majority of the time, it will distinguish a non-original poster from an original one , although we have had reports of some video posters also having the mark.
LAMP have an excellent guide to the history and ultimate demise of the Eirin Board. The article also explains how to read the Eirin Mark.
Every single photo on this was captured by me and my brother, unless clearly marked otherwise.
All the photos were taken using a Canon EOS 1100D. It took us a while to find the perfect conditions and in the end we blacked out a lot of the room in which we were photographing as well as purchasing a set of soft boxes to ensure we had a minimum amount of light.
The silver dots in each corner of a poster are the magnets used to hold it to the board because they were photographed in a vertical position.
I have ensured there are multiple images of every poster, particularly of the small details such as the Eirin Mark and other copyright markings.
Regarding the photos’ editing, I only corrected things like lens distortion, under exposure, black levels, and other tweaks. I purposefully haven’t removed blemishes or damage from posters, and these should be readily obvious in the photographs.
The creation of the site wouldn’t have been possible without the generous input of four people:
José Pedro Cerdeira – my brother, who is an architect, that helped me taking the photographs and gave me some advice on design matters.
Hugo Dias Silva – built the site and put up with endless questions and requests from me during the production. I can’t thank him enough and I highly recommend his services.
Eddie Shannon – a fellow collector and owner of the website “Film on Paper”, from which I took inspiration to develop this project.
Mariana Silva – a freelancer graphic designer/illustrator that created the logo. Check her work at @mariicomdoisis in Instagram.
Books are a great way to learn about the fascinating world of movie poster collecting. There are very few books and articles about the Studio Ghibli’s movie posters but, nevertheless, I know at least two sets of books that contain specific information on these posters:
▪ The Archives of Studio Ghibli, Volume I to V – a five volume series released by Studio Ghibli in 1996. These books contain a vast number of images of marketing materials, including the original movie posters’ design, used for advertising the release of the movies.
The movies featured in the books are Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky (Volume I), My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies (Volume II), Kiki’s Delivery Service, Only Yesterday (Volume III), Porco Rosso, Ocean Waver (Volume IV), Pom Poko and Whisper of the Heart (Volume V).
▪ Studio Ghibli Art Books – A collection of over 20 books with generous sets of concept sketches, fully rendered characters and background drawings, paintings, and cell images of Studio Ghibli’s movies. Along with the stunning visuals, the books also present interviews and comments with the production staff, including key points from the director. They also contain images and information on the movie posters and its design. These books were published by Studio Ghibli, both in Japanese and English.
Nausicaa.net – a site dedicated to collecting and organizing information about Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, his colleagues, their works, and Studio Ghibli. Each film has a “related media” section with pictures of the movie posters around the world.
Ghibli.jp – the official Studio Ghibli’s site. Only in Japanese.
Ghibli Museum – the official Ghibli Museum’s site. Here you will find accurate reprints of the posters for all 23 of Studio Ghibli’s theatrically released films for sale, under the label “Ghibli Movie Collection”.
Ghibli Blog – a website dedicated to Studio Ghibli, animation and the movies. It extensively covers the careers of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, as well as their peers and contemporaries throughout the world. This site was founded in 2006.
Ghibli Wiki – Ghibli Wiki is an encyclopedia of all the works of Studio Ghibli’s past, present and future. Films, documentaries, books and games. Characters and shorts can also be found here.
Buta Connection – a french website that provides detailed information on all the films produced by Studio Ghibli. It also has an online forum.
Learn About Movie Posters (LAMP) – an excellent resource site with a huge archive of images and information. Ignore the outdated look and check out the various guides as well as the extensive database and, particularly, the section concerning Japanese movie posters.
All Poster Forum – a fairly new forum, but one that’s very much alive, with a large amount of the vocal poster-collecting community currently active there. Has several sub forums covering a variety of topics.
Vintage Movie Posters Forum – Another rather new forum about vintage movie posters.
NSFGE – an alternative poster forum with an eclectic mix of participants.
Expresso Beans – discussion board focused on art prints, including Studio Ghibli related ones.
Internet Movie Poster Awards (IMPAwards) – features a massive amount of film poster images as well as an annual award for the best overall poster (as well as other categories).
IMDb – without question the best movie database on the web, this site proved invaluable when it came to tracking down film data such as year of release, stars and film origin.
The original artwork and poster designs featured are copyright of the relevant studios or artists, including Studio Ghibli, Toho, Toei and more. The same applies to all the video games and items displayed on this site.
The photographs and text content are the copyright of The Kodama’s Project and may not be used for any commercial purposes. Credit is appreciated if the photos are used in a non-commercial capacity.
The Kodama’s Project © 2023
Developed by: Hugo Dias Silva