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From up on blocky hill

Kaizen87 shows us around his Miyazaki-inspired city!

I think everyone who’s seen a Studio Ghibli film has wanted to step inside and be surrounded by that wonderful fantasy feeling. And thanks to Kaizen87, now you can! He’s built a whole city inspired by the work and ideas of Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

The city mixes big and small, natural and man-made, to bring out the feeling of the beautiful animated movies. Narrow streets wind around details like flowerbeds, fountains, and statues. Boats float gently in the harbor. And the large defensive walls are slowly being absorbed by greenery growing up and over them. It’s the kind of place you could get lost wandering for hours and still find something new to see around every corner! 

“I spent about two weeks on this build,” says Kaizen. As well as being inspired by Miyazaki’s movies, he was inspired by his words. One famous quote from the animator is that “the creation of a single world comes from a huge number of fragments and chaos.” That’s something that Kaizen tried to reflect in his city, with all kinds of bright colors and different elements mixed together to create the final product.

That led to an unplanned, creative building style. “I just built what I felt,” he says. He tried not to worry about whether anyone else would like it but just stuck to what he felt worked well. Of course, it turns out that quite a lot of people agree, including us here at! 

Kaizen invites people to create their own stories using the city as a backdrop, just like Studio Ghibli does with their movies. But he did give a hint as to the history of the city as he imagines it. “I tried to make sure that the streets of the city had a lot of vegetation, so that people lived in harmony with nature,” he says. That’s my favourite part – the plants everywhere. Pink blossom trees, little parks with ducks on the pond, and even some melons stacked up in the square. A cool slice of fruit would definitely be welcome after exploring this city!

What kind of film could you imagine springing out from that starting point? Maybe something went wrong, and it’s up to you to bring balance between plants and people back to the streets! Or maybe you want to get up to the big castle at the top of the mountain? What’s that mysterious tower in the distance? How many different colours and secret details can you spot? Or maybe you just want to have fun walking around and smelling the flowers! With so much to see, you can really let your imagination run wild. 

Kaizen also wanted to use Miyazaki as inspiration because of the director’s history as well as his creative approach. Although Miyazaki creates beautiful animations, he didn’t learn to do that in school. Instead, he studied politics and economics. But that didn’t stop him from becoming an incredible artist! That’s a lesson that Kaizen keeps in mind whenever he’s building. “You don't have to be educated to create,” says Kaizen. “Anyone can create their own world.”

And Kaizen certainly has created many of his own worlds. He’s built everything from giant mansion houses to cities like this one and even survival bunkers. And he has more planned! He tells me that his next city might be based on New York and draw inspiration from Pixar movies this time. What kind of differences might come from that animation style?

He hopes that by showing the world what he has learned himself, he can encourage others to get out there and create something, too. “It might inspire people not to be afraid to build big works,” he says. You might be nervous about trying your hand at something as grand as one of Kaizen’s builds. But he reminds us that his own skill didn’t come right away. Instead, he gained experience over time by sticking to building what he found fun and beautiful. “The main thing is not to give up,” he says.

I’ve got to go – I can feel the rush of motivation to start creating my own city! 

Jay Castello
Written By
Jay Castello

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