The history of representing the city in cinemas is long and robust. City representation in visual-media has helped shape the discourse around urbanism in no short part, which gave birth to a unique relationship between city, spaces and media. Cities have been a muse in various forms of literature, be it books, movies or songs — fiction or nonfiction, live-action or animated. Cities often become a character in themselves rather than just a setting for the story to take place in. As early production of films emerged in urban areas, films have shown life in the city since its inception. My presentation focuses on city representation in animation, and more specifically in the animated works of Studio Ghibli. How their films provide lessons on city planning by illustrating cities that are designed around the human foot and as socially, environmentally and economically vibrant places, in addition to showcasing the importance of environmental conservation, the impact of human activities on the environment, need for community action, the importance of long-term thinking, and the interdependence of humans and nature, all of which are themes policymakers and city planners need to be cognizant of. The urban revolution is already here. With seven out of ten people projected to live in urban areas by 2050, cities and their design would be the most influencing factor to affect the quality of human lives. City planners could learn from Studio Ghibli films, especially how to kindle wonderment for the city in its residents and visitors alike.
Priya Singh, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, India
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