In the West, Shigesato Itoi is most famous as the guy who made the Mother games. But in Japan, his main job has been copywriting, including penning taglines for Studio Ghibli movies.
Itoi’s Ghibli connection is deeper than that. Not only has he written copy for Studio Ghibli posters, but he also voiced Tatsuo Kusakabe, the father in My Neighbour Totoro. It’s no accident that the first Ghibli tagline he did was for that film.
Itoi hasn’t done all of Studio Ghibli’s taglines, but he has done many of them. Via Japanese site Ghibli Goods, let’s take a look back at the standouts.
(Note: Some of the translations are not literal to capture the spirit of the originals. Moreover, Itoi’s use of commas has impact in Japanese, but don’t always translate into English grammar.)
My Neighbour Totoro
“These strange creatures still exist in Japan. Supposedly.” (このへんないきものは まだ日本にいるのです。たぶん。or Kono henna ikimono wa mada Nihon ni iru no desu. Tabun.)
Grave of the Fireflies
“At four and 14 years old, they thought to live.” (4歳と14歳で、生きようと思った or 4 sai to 14 sai de, ikiyou to omotta)
Kiki’s Delivery Service
“I felt bummed out, but now I’m good.” (おちこんだりもしたけれど、私はげんきです。or Ochikondari mo shita keredo, atashi wa genki desu.)
“This, this is what’s called ‘cool’.” (カッコイイとは、こういうことさ。or Kakkoii to wa, kou iu koto sa)
Whisper of the Heart
“I’ve met someone special.” (好きなひとが、できました。or Sukina hito ga, dekimashita)
“Survive.” (生きろ。or Ikiro)
“Beyond the tunnel, there was a mysterious town.” (トンネルのむこうは、不思議の町でした Tonneru no mukou wa, fushigi no machi deshita)
Howl’s Moving Castle
“The two of them lived there.” (ふたりが暮らした。or Futari ga kurashita)
The last Ghibli movie that Itoi wrote copy for was Tales from Earthsea, and since then, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki has written the films’ taglines.