Sensei's Anime Gallery
Pippi Longstocking (Miyazaki/Takahata, 1971): Color Tests

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The celebrated anime artist/director Hayao Miyazaki began his career in 1963 working for Toei Animation, where he established a close working relationship with fellow animator Isao Takahata. In 1971, the two left Toei to freelance for other studios. They began their independent career by proposing an anime series based on the Pippi Longstocking [Pippi Långstrump] books by the Swedish children’s writer Astrid Lindgren. They titled the project Nagakutsushita no Pippi, Sekai ichi tsuyoi onna no ko, or “Pippi of the Long Socks, Strongest Girl In The World."

The animators traveled to Sweden to visit Visby, the original setting of the tale, and Miyazaki made a large number of preliminary sketches in pencil with watercolor accents. During the trip, the two artists met with Lindgren to try to gain her support. In the end, however, permission was not granted, and the project was abandoned. In 1983 Miyazaki published a selection of his preliminary drawings and watercolors for Pippi in the art book Hayao Miyazaki Image Board (Kodansha).

Up to now, interested anime scholars have had to be satisfied with these to get a sense of what the proposed series would have looked like.

This gallery adds seven previously unknown images produced for the 1971 Pippi project, which were preserved in the form of 4x5 color transparency photographs. They show that Miyazaki and Takahata worked up some of the preliminary drawings and watercolors into test set-ups using cels and watercolor backgrounds. These tests do not duplicate any previously published Pippi art, although, as the notes indicate, some are closely related to the Miyazaki drawings reproduced in the 1983 art book.

It is unknown whether duplicates of these slides were made or distributed, or if only one set of safety copies were made. In any case, it’s not known if the set-ups themselves still survive, or if so, in what condition. So it is likely that these transparencies are the best – perhaps the only -- surviving record of the cels Miyazaki and Takahata had made for the Pippi project before it was abandoned.

The slides are vintage pieces, with the film darkened and a little color-shifted to purple, as normal for transparencies of this age. The scans of the tests have been digitally adjusted to return the color balance to the original values. But the margins have been left uncropped to show the typical notch code and “Kodak Safety Film” stamps on the edge.

For more about these transparencies, their historical context, and what they reveal about the original setups, click here!

 Pippi: Character Design

 Pippi carrying her horse into Villa Villekulla

 Pippi getting out of bed

 Pippi dangling out of a window

 Pippi and a frog

 Pippi in the chimney

 Ouch! Pippi and the candle

Curator: 60something-sensei
Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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Presentation 8.81/10   Collection 9.46/10   Overall 9.02/10   Votes 83 votes
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