I am a huge fan of Japanese culture, especially the incredible work of Studio Ghibli. The minute I hear those two words, I’m taken back to a rainy day in my childhood memories; with my feet kicked back on a sofa and a steaming bowl of champorado (chocolate pudding; a Filipino delicacy) ready for me to devour. From the East to the Southeast of Asia, it’s amazing how a Japanese work of art can take the world by storm.
Honestly, I’ve been wanting to do Studio Ghibli-inspired work for a long time. It wasn’t until last year when I was commissioned to work on a menu for a Japanese inspired cafe along Quezon City that I got my head into gear. Unfortunately, the cafe shut down due to bankruptcy before the menu could see the light of day. Bu between the bankruptcy and me being asked to do this, the manager asked for something nostalgic and aesthetic to attract younger college students around the area. I had a lot of ideas at the time, from a chalkboard-themed menu to something authentically Japanese (with pictures alongside a food item).
Out of all those ideas, I fell in-love with doing Studio Ghibli the most.
So, here are the discarded images that could’ve been menus in an alternate dimension.
Over here, we have the loveable no-face from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Out of all the ghibli characters I’ve watched over the years, I’ve connected with no-face the most. To me, he represents someone who yearns to fit in a mold in society; making him a sponge to the things he ‘eats’ and resides in. The corruption in Yubaba’s bath house consumed him with greed and gluttony for the lavish lifestyle the people in the establishment have yearned for, Yubaba especially. When he left and settled for Zaneeba’s humble lifestyle, he grew calmer and more resilient to negative energy.
Toraya’s the name of the cafe whose menu I was asked to work on. It had so much potential. But not all good things last, I’m afraid.
Considered to be the hearth of Howl’s Moving Castle (literally), Calcifer is a fire demon packed with so much personality. But beneath his untrustworthy facade is a loyal, genuine friend you can count on in times of need. The scene when Sophie cooks a breakfast of bacon and eggs using Calcifer, to me, sets him in being one of the most memorable characters in the movie- and one of the reasons why I thought he was a good idea for the menu.
And finally, we have Totoro from Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. To me, he’s the definition of childhood nostalgia. Sure, he’s big. But who wouldn’t want a pet this fluffy and adorable? Maybe let him have a leaf over your head on a rainy day or just let him take you to places you’ve never been to. He’s the ultimate love-able thing! ❤
So there you have it! What could’ve been menus turned out to be fulfilling artwork instead. ❤