BCM320 Reflection Report


My Digital artifact consisted of me investigating Studio Ghibli films and how they reflect aspects of faith in Japan, with a focus on the Shinto religion and how its shown in the films My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Spirited Away (2001). I started by watching the films and then researching the studio and its history. I then sat down to write about the studio, and how the films shaped my views of the Shinto religion.

Changes to the Project  

I started this Digital artifact as more of just an exploration of my first experiences in watching films from the studio, and what I thought of them. I watched Spirited Away (2001), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) when I started out, but once I looked back on my thoughts on the films, the interest in the faith and Spirituality that was displayed in a few of the films stood out to me the most. I then shifted my focus onto how the films shaped by perception of the faith. This change was also inspired by the writings about auto-ethnographic studies and their use of ‘epiphanies’, which are remembered moments that have a significant impact on the person’s life or experiences being documented (Ellis, Adams and Bochner, 2011).

Relevant Supporting Research

During my research into the studio I found many articles on the history of Studio Ghibli and how they came well known in the west. These included an Encyclopaedia Britannica piece on it that gave more of a basic overview of the studio. An article from HighSnobiety helped when I needed more information on what was touched on in Britannica. In May 2020 Polygon also produced a whole series of articles on the studio and its films that helped confirm things I had read as well, like the rumour that Harvey Weinstein was sent a katana when his company wanted to cut a lot from Princess Mononoke’s US release.

After the changes to the project was made I also needed to conduct research into the depiction of Shinto in My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Spirited Away (2001). To ensure that I kept in the spirit of auto-ethnographic research, I looked at the epiphanies that I had based my research and writing off that. By looking into these I was able find out that Totoro is meant to be not just a random spirt but a Spirit of the forest that the family lives near.

Spirited Away (2001) had a lot more epiphanies and information on Shinto then My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and I was able to learn that characters designs and purposes where based on actual folklore in Shinto. A helpful resource in confirming my epiphanies was Boyd’s 2004 paper on Spirited Away (2001) and Shinto. This paper has quotes from Miyazaki on his admiration for the folklore and how rituals surrounding bathhouses where the inspiration for the bathhouse in the film.


In summary, I started out my digital artefact with the aim to explore the films of Studio Ghibli from a perspective of someone who had never seen them before, however during the process and the documentation of my epiphanies I found myself leaning more towards investigating specific films reflection of faith in Japan, particularly how My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Spirited Away (2001) explore Shinto folklore and rituals.


Bather, L., 2020. Studio Ghibli Introduction: Everything You Need To Know. [online] Highsnobiety. Available at: <https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/studio-ghibli-best-movies/#:~:text=Common%20themes%20and%20artistic%20styles,from%20both%20Japan%20and%20Europe&gt; [Accessed 12 November 2020].

Boyd, James W. and Nishimura, Tetsuya (2004) “Shinto Perspectives in Miyazaki’s Anime Film “Spirited
Away”,” Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 8 : Iss. 3 , Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol8/iss3/4 [Accessed 12 November 2020].

Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A., 2011. Autoethnography: An Overview. [online] Qualitative-research.net. Available at: <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095#g2&gt; [Accessed 12 November 2020].

Learning about games – Contextual Report

Ideation and concept

The concept behind the digital artefact was the idea that I was surrounded by many people who played video games, and I enjoyed media that also surround them, but I didn’t play them much myself. The digital artefact was also inspired by the concept of video game literacy and what that means in relation to playing games for the first time ever.

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Studio Ghibli and Faith in Japan

History of the studio

Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by animators and directors  Hayao Miyazaki and Takahata Isao  and producer Suzuki Toshio, in Tokyo, Japan (Bauer, n.d.). To date the studio has produced over 20 films, starting with its first official release Castle in the sky (1986). Since then, the studio has become beloved across the world through its production of its most popular films like, Spirited Away (2001), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Spirited Away (2001) went onto be the second film ever (after Shrek) to win in the category of best animated feature (Bauer, n.d.).

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For BCM215 i have been writing blog posts about my experience playing games that would be considered iconic and important to the video game industry. Over the creation of my DA I have played and written about six different games. All of the posts are over on my second blog, Learning about games.

Below is a preview for the blog posts i wrote about the six different games. If you would like to read more, click on the titles to check them out!

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BCM215 Beta Comments

Comment 1 – Lauren


The first beta i commented on was Laurens, who is using their DA to speak about the positive effects that games can have on its players. This is being done by investigating experiences with nintendogs, a game a lot of people played in their childhood. I commented that i enjoyed her DA and the fact she was using audience feedback to keep a clear direction to her work. I felt like she was already drawing on subject materials well, so i offered her some research on how video games may be improving literacy in children as another example of the positive effects that games can have. I feel like this comment has improved over my past ones as i am a lot more direct and to the point in this comment.

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