From Totoro to Ponyo, Studio Ghibli’s characters are adored by millions of people the world over. But if those cute and cuddly creations were given a more realistic makeover would be still be quite so fond of them? If Totoro went from “Aaaaw” to “Arrrgh!” would quite so many kids insist on being tucked into a Ghibli bed-spread each night?

US artist and owner of one of the best names ever Andrew Michael Golden may be familiar to some readers for his “Videogame Characters in Real Life” series which went viral back in September this year. Well, since then he’s been hard at work bringing all of your Studio Ghibli favourites into our world.

And, goodness me, they’re eye-catching…

This is your Throwback Thursday article of the week, your peek into the archives of RocketNews24 featuring articles from back when we were just getting started. We’d hate for you to miss any of the quality quirky news from Asia and Japan just because you recently stumbled upon our site. And if you’re a devout RN24 reader, thanks for sticking around! Enjoy this blast from the past! 

(Originally published on November 12, 2012)

In 2001’s Spirited Away, when 10-year-old Chihiro accidentally steps into a world ruled by spirits, she somehow manages to keep it together. But had those ghosts and gods been drawn with quite the same level of realism as Golden’s depictions, our cute little heroine might have cracked up the second she realised that she was being stalked by a looming black phantom…


Golden’s work is impressive to say the very least, and, while sometimes a little disturbing, his real-life depictions of our favourite characters remain faithful to Ghibli’s original designs.

Quite whether we’d like to bump into some of the more unworldly characters we’re not so sure, and finding real-life Ponyo in a fishing net would likely have us recoiling in abject horror, but we still find ourselves drawn to the images. Golden’s black-and-white portrait of Porco Rosso, in particular, had us staring in disbelief earlier today and deserves to be hung in Mitaka’s Ghibli Museum, if you ask us…

We’ll leave you with a selection of Golden’s work. Prepare to be blown away.

▼Porco Rosso looking sharp

Kiki’s Delivery Service’s Jiji is watching you…

The Cat Returns with style

▼The robot from Castle in the Sky is another of our favourites

▼Real Ponyo is still kind of cute

▼My, Totoro, what big teeth you have…

Princess Mononoke comes to life…

▼Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle

▼Nausicaä’s alien world

All images (C) Andrew Michael Golden