The beautiful love story between Vincent and Alliz reminds us that “life is beautiful but fragile, like glass itself“.

Studio Ghibli films have been inspiring artists around the world since the mid-’80s, when the studio was first founded in Japan by the now world-famous directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and the producer Toshio Suzuki.

One of the most charming aspects of any Ghibli film is the exquisite hand-drawn animation, which creates a sense of intimacy and magic that computer-animated movies have a hard time replicating, and it’s this human element that’s now inspiring a group of animators in Pakistan to take out their sketchbooks to create a brand new anime that takes its styling cues from the world of Japanese animation.

Called “The Glassmaker“, this new film is attracting attention amongst anime fans around the world with its beautiful stills, heartwarming storyline, and its groundbreaking ambition. Usman Riaz, the artist, composer and director of the new film, first fell in love with Studio Ghibli movies from a very young age, and recently fulfilled his dreams by founding Mano Animation Studios, the very first hand-drawn animation studio in Pakistan.

Riaz and his animation studio now employ a small group of talented artists, who are working to produce The Glassmaker, using the same hand-drawn animation process as Studio Ghibli. The results, which can be seen in the first five minutes of the clip below, promise to take us into the beautiful coming-of-age love story between Vincent, the son of a glassmaker, and Alliz, a young violin prodigy.

The Ghibli inspiration is evident in the scenes featured in the clip, and in the storyline itself, which deals with issues such as war and growing up, but there’s still a beautiful local touch to the anime, as the characters speak in their national language of Urdu throughout.

The story, which is narrated by Vincent as an adult, recalls his childhood, and his relationship with Alliz, whose interaction occurs mainly inside the glass shop. According to the director, the glass shop is a metaphor for life, as “life is beautiful but fragile, like glass itself”.

In the behind-the-scenes look at the new studio and its artists, which follows the preview in the clip above, it’s revealed that The Glassworker initially began as a short film, but as Riaz continued to make storyboards, the film grew in length, with the director finally deciding it should be a full 80-minute long feature-length movie.

Riaz credits the many supporters who helped raise more than US$116,000 for the movie on Kickstarter in 2016, saying everything they’ve been able to do has been because of them. While the movie will take a few years to complete, Riaz says he is “fully prepared to do whatever it takes to making our dream of making hand-drawn animation a reality in Pakistan”, which would be a huge first for the country.

To find out more about the movie, and to keep up-to-date with developments as the film progresses, be sure to check out the studio’s website and Twitter account. The release date is currently set for the end of 2020, which looks to be the start of a good decade for anime fans, with the new Ghibli Park scheduled to open in Japan, along with a new feature-length film from Hayao Miyazaki in store for us then too!

Images: YouTube/Mano Animation Studios
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