A new game called Soulframe has been announced from the developer of Warfame, which is currently in development. One of its main advantages is that the world is inspired by Princess Mononoke, one of the most famous Studio Ghibli films. The trailer even shows how the main character saves a giant wolf, which will immediately seem familiar to some Studio Ghibli fans.
Soulframe is not the only company in the gaming industry that is inspired by Studio Ghibli. Many video games are beginning to touch on the same themes as Studio Ghibli films, such as environmental protection, pacifism, the beauty of nature, as well as the importance and usefulness of cooking, cleaning and creating works of art. The appearance of these games is not only a sign that such issues are important nowadays, but also that many anime fans and people who grew up on Studio Ghibli are now game developers.
Games inspired by Studio Ghibli
Soulframe is far from the first game inspired by Studio Ghibli. Game designer Douglas Wilson, who worked on the post-apocalyptic game Mutazione about life, mentioned that some of the themes of the game and its soundtrack were inspired by Studio Ghibli. In an interview with Polygon, Wilson said that the particular Studio Ghibli film that inspired Mutazione was “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds.” The soundtrack was inspired by the work of Joe Hisaishi, whose music was in “Gone with the Ghosts”. The head of Mutazione Studio Hannah Nicklin also noted that she likes how Ghibli is not afraid to focus on household chores. In their films, the mundane seems sublime.
Another indie game, Battle Chef Brigade, was inspired by Polygon from Ghibli. Art director Eric Huang said they were particularly focused on how Studiio Ghibli showed food. In his list of inspirations, he mentioned a bakery from Kiki’s delivery service, food from “Gone with the Ghosts” and the magical aesthetics of “The Walking Castle”.
Ori and the Blind Forest were greatly influenced by Princess Mononoke. Moon Studios co-founder Thomas Mahler told Polygon that he was fascinated by the film and watching it made him come up with the idea of the game. The visual effects of the game are very similar to the forest from “Princess Mononoke”. Moon Studios also drew inspiration from Studio Ghibli’s darker film “The Grave of the Fireflies”, which influenced the narrative in the game.
Boy and His Blob is another video game in the ever—growing list of games inspired by Ghibli. Art director Mark Gomez told Polygon that he thought a lot about My Neighbor Totoro when he created the game. He liked the idea of capturing a child’s surprise without using many words, and his game succeeded in this regard, using a small dialogue and a “hug” button for the boy and the drop.
All these games have one thing in common: these are indie games, not games created by medium or large developers and publishers. Because of the small teams, indie games often have more control and freedom with their art style and themes. This may be part of why so many indie games are inspired by Studio Ghibli. That’s because they have the freedom to do it. However, Soulframe now proves that Ghibli’s inspiration now carries over into AA and AAA games as well.
Why Ghibli Inspires So Many Games
Many gamers also love anime, so it’s not surprising that anime has influenced video games. However, the question remains why Studio Ghibli films influence the gaming industry. The answer may be about the current time. Between the climate chaos, overindustrialization and other problems, the environmental and anti-capitalist politics of Hayao Miyazaki’s films may have gathered a lot of fans. Gamers live in a time when stories about forest spirits, nature defeating industry, and the simple joys of creating something with their own hands are incredibly romantic and desirable.
Video games have a great future as they explore more and more themes and genres. Indie games are often the first to explore new areas and take risks, while larger companies wait to see what will sell and what won’t. It seems that with the release of Soulframe, large companies are beginning to realize the value of the worlds, themes and messages of Studio Ghibli.
Soulframe is currently in development.