Rumor has it you’re here to explore some Studio Ghibli-themed Dream Addresses in Animal Crossing: New Horizons!
You’ve come to the right place.
But first, let’s dim the lights and set a nostalgic, pensive mood. You know the one – where you’re lying in a lush field of grass, staring up at the glistening stars radiating throughout the night’s sky. Maybe you spent the past hour pacing circles across the porch, ruminating about a magnificent scheme that’ll change the course of your life. Maybe you’ve shut your eyes to replay scenes of a recent date with a long-lost crush.
That’s where we want to be.
I still remember the first time I watched Spirited Away. It feels like centuries have passed.
Wars have flickered in and out of existence. Anime has exploded into mainstream media. Sometimes it feels like my emotions have spilled out from a glass jar all over the kitchen floor – leaving me a hollow carcass, jaded and dull.
But each time I’m hit with The Sixth Station, my reality evaporates into an eerie, impalpable mist. The rich piano douses my skin in ghostly goosebumps. A wide, simple melodic triad blasts on repeat, each lap growing more dissonant.
Until finally, the mournful instrument refuses to resolve. We hear nothing but a macabre interlace of diminished chords and unsettling minor second intervals. It leaves the heart yearning, uncertain.
I’ll ease off the music jargon. You aren’t here to read about songwriting.
But I couldn’t resist.
That song captures the ambiance and magic of every Miyazaki film. The raw emotional fortitude. The ethereal, serene setting. A careful cross-stitch of the liminal spaces that shaped our tiny human selves.
Years flipped by as pages of a dusty scrapbook, a hazy blur of love and loss, and Spirited Away eventually became the highest-grossing film in the history of Japanese cinema.
Of course, Spirited Away only scratches the tip of the Ghibli iceberg. We can’t ignore classics such as:
Each film unleashes a thunderstorm of primal emotion, embroidered in the delicate twine of childlike hyperbole. Each dazzling, whimsical fantasyscape is built from a foundation of familiarity that fills a silenced void left in our hearts.
In an uncanny way, I think AC:NH occupies a similar mystifying headspace as a Ghibli film. An oddly nostalgic feeling latches to Isabelle’s welcoming face as she’s bumbling through her daily announcements. She offered us refuge – during a time when news outlets echoed incantations of the enigmatic invisible death looming just beyond our doormats.
Meshing the Ghibli and Animal Crossing aesthetics was a sublime and harmonious experience. It rivaled my first trip with Chihiro down the rails of the isolated Sixth Station.
Time to ditch the intro.
Somebody phone Kiki. It’s time to deliver the 7 best Ghibli-themed dream addresses to grace Nook’s estates!
Oh boy. Where do I begin? This is the most stunning dream address I’ve ever witnessed.
I fumbled across this island while hunting down Princess Mononoke-themed DA’s, but this island is so much more than a few quirky little Kodama and a blind-as-a-bat Okkoto resting outside Irontown.
It covers many Ghibli films, and every region packs pristine precision and charm. This creator has a knack for arranging furniture.
To top it all off, we can catch Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, Marco Rossolini from Porco Rosso, and our favorite little delivery witch prowling the streets.
I won’t spoil all the cameos. Check for yourself!
Mononoke is Japanese for wandering spirit. They’re often vengeful – sometimes boasting the ability to shapeshift – but not always. To anyone interested, I cover legends such as the Yuki-Onna and the Baku in my Pokémon origin series.
The real folklore in Princess Mononoke lies in the Kodama. They’re animated souls of tree spirits. They reside within ancient forests. Kodama can curse beings who cut down their homes or bring blessings to those who pay respects.
*Press F to pay respects*
Kodama are notorious for their groans. Storytellers rarely claim to see them. Instead, if prolonged moans of trees linger through the airwaves of a tired old forest, a Kodama could be near. These sounds often signify an upcoming calamity or the falling of a long-inhabited tree-home.
A Kodama dies without its tree. The connection between the two is severed, and a spirit without a home spells disaster.
Q: Who is your favorite main character from a Ghibli film?
A: I’m crazy about Porco Rosso. He’s an attractive character, faults and all!
Q: Were there any in-game items that you struggled to get your hands on while developing this dream address?
A: Glowing moss was the hardest ingredient to come by. It’s quite expensive and difficult to stack. I used a ton of DIY’s with it. I probably ended up using hundreds of them on this project!
Q: Do you think Marco Rossolini (Porco Rosso) and Gulliver would be best friends or sworn enemies if they met?
A: Honestly, I think they’d be excellent friends! They’ve both fallen into the sea. They could probably share their stories over a couple of drinks.
The dream address for Bunny is an exclusive tribute to Spirited Away. Each location shares a lovely postcard-perfect design. You’ll walk away with some breathtaking photos – souvenirs from your voyage to the spirit realm.
Plus, the island jingle is guaranteed to spark a smile on any fan’s face.
The “Lion-Dog Statue” in AC:NH is a direct replica of the sculptures seen early in the film. These statues are called Dōsojin. Specifically, they’re shrines placed near rivers and roads to protect travelers.
In traditional Japanese folklore, children under seven are considered partly within the spirit world and, therefore, more attuned to its presence.
The Japanese coined the term spiriting away for the occasion where Kami or ghosts would abduct small children, causing them to vanish into the spirit world. Scholars speculate this myth became commonplace as a coping mechanism for children’s high mortality rates.
Q: What was your favorite moment from Spirited Away?
A: My favorite moment was when Chihiro cleanses the river spirit. I love this particular scene because it shows how Chihiro is changing. She’s becoming more independent. She’s handling a difficult situation without guidance.
I think we can all look back on similar moments from our childhood and see how they shaped who we are today! I adore how Miyazaki captures these instantaneous, profound changes occurring in our youth.
Q: How long did it take to polish your dream address?
A: Almost a year! I didn’t work on it consistently. Inspiration typically came in bi-weekly bursts. Then I’d leave it for a month.
I wanted the island to look clean and picturesque. Each scene had at least three versions before I settled on a final.
Q: If you could pick one character from Spirited Away to be an in-game villager, who would you invite to your island?
A: Oh! I’ve actually thought about this a lot! I would love it if an Otori-Sama (the duck spirits, as I’ve always called them) were a villager. They’re so cute and silly – a perfect match for the Animal Crossing aesthetic.
Q: Were there any runner-up Ghibli films that almost inspired your island, or was Spirited Away your natural first pick?
A: I originally planned to make a Totoro-themed island. I’d even started it, but one day I was struck with the idea to make the train on the water from Spirited Away. I knew I had to do a Spirited Away island once I finished it.
Even though it’s the first piece of the island I completed, the train is still my absolute favorite.
Here’s a special shout-out to the island of Fire for showing Isao Takahata some love. Grave of the Fireflies is a tragedy capable of melting the most ironclad of hearts. Pom Poko was a wild ride in its own right. The English dub tried to trick us with the terminology “raccoon sack,” but they weren’t fooling anyone.
Also, while we’re talking behind the scenes, I saw the most incredible idea nestled in this dream address. Miyazaki himself was roaming the island. His house was transformed into his personal studio!
This puts a fun little twist on this particular island getaway package: The island itself was the studio’s brainchild utopia.
It’s a total mind explosion, and an effortless and creative way to mix and match Ghibli films without breaking predefined rules.
The tanuki running rampant in Pom Poko have a longstanding oral tradition of being mischievous shapeshifting creatures.
Unlike Kitsune, these little critters are too fun and endearing toward treats to prove any real threat to humanity.
Tom Nook himself is another tanuki! Sure, he drains our pockets of bells, but he also employs Timmy and Tommy to buy our garbage and bugs. I’d say it evens out.
The island of Kavinston had some ultra-imaginative indoor decor layouts.
In one room, I gazed upon a secluded No Face devouring a frightfully large buffet! In another, I shrieked in fear as I’d realized I stepped foot into the chambers of Yubaba’s overgrown baby.
But another stellar aspect of this island is its fluidity. For example, Floor tiles of soot sprites were used intermittently to generate confluence between Spirited Away segments and their My Neighbor Totoro brethren.
Yubaba’s character is based on the Yama-Uba. In English, we call that a villainous mountain crone. They’re often old exiled women offering weary travelers a place to rest for an evening.
Although, when nightfall hits, their personality shifts. The Yama-Uba becomes motivated by greed. They’re known for subjecting their visitors to indentured servitude and often exhibit cannibalistic behavior.
Yubaba’s baby also ties into Yama-Uba folklore. Some tales mention a Yama-Uba birthing a giant child with inhuman strength – a hero called Kintarō.
This dream address does something bold.
Instead of relying on references to Miyazaki films, it dares to take on a brand new world utilizing Ghibli’s charm.
I mean, you’ll see little hints:
But this island goes above and beyond.
We catch a peek of an ultra-fresh urban Japanese setting with the cutest street tiles imaginable!
Ghibli doesn’t always draw from Japanese folk tales. Sometimes they discover inspiration from overseas!
My Neighbor Totoro pulls some of Lewis Carroll’s biggest tropes from Alice in Wonderland: Mae follows rabbit-eared spirits into a wondrous hole, and our beloved cat-bus bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Cheshire.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear I’ve covered Alice in Wonderland-themed dream addresses.
Overall, the real selling point of Dootopia is its beaches. On most fully-developed islands, beaches often look out of place – either under-decorated or severely disjointed.
Don’t believe me? They nailed the opening scene from Porco Rosso. They also show more love to Ponyo than any other island on this feature.
The personification of classic Gōdai elements is a practice still used in stories across the globe.
It’s also a popular base for instructors of martial arts. The “Fu” in Kung Fu derives from the element of wind. Sui like in Suicune personifies water. Chi is earth, Ka is fire. There’s also a secret fifth element I don’t want to spoil.
See if you can spot the elemental feng shui hidden in this dream address!
Pokyland employs custom dress designs to recreate a wax museum-style tribute to all things Ghibli.
The opening tune from My Neighbor Totoro is also the island jingle! That’ll ring in your head for hours.
Overall, this island packs the biggest punch for references by cutting back on scene sizes.
The “Borrower’s” featured in Arriety are based on the Koropokkuru. They’re miniature people believed to inhabit the land long before humans, even predating the indiginous Ainu.
Not all storytellers believed Koropokkuru to be mere inches in height. Sometimes they’re up to three feet tall or the size of a more traditional Leprechaun. They’re also pretty hairy little buggers.
Koropokkuru can communicate with humans, but they’re incredibly bashful and skittish. They supposedly traded with the Ainu, but they did it swiftly and only under the veil of night.
Pokyland was the invention of an ex-Twitter user named King_San. They seem to have gone into hibernation, but I wanted to credit the creator anyway.
Here’s the truth: This batch of DA’s was the best I’ve traversed. They’re phenomenal highlights of Miyazaki’s most definitive screenwriting trait:
Extracting magic from the mundane.
Because overall, each theme and setting is bound by a powerful connection: Pummeling through hardship.
Ghibli films are the producer’s expose on overcoming childhood trauma in a war-torn Japan. They’re an expression of Miyazaki’s deepest concerns for humanity. He scribbles each line – constantly berated with images of his father’s airplane rudder company lunging into the skies of World War II. He was a three-time bombing refugee by age 4. His mother suffered from spinal tuberculosis.
Miyazaki is no stranger to life’s toughest struggles, and he doesn’t hide a grain of that tainted rice from his films. But the films aren’t tearjerkers. Instead, they leave a cathartic melancholy sensation, blossoming into thoughts of self-exploration.
Studio Ghibli strives to transform hellish realities into a cheerful learning experience for future generations to enjoy.
(Like the time Animal Crossing: New Horizons brought a sliver of light into our shared chaos.)
Brewster, Blathers, Luna, and heck, even Redd would all agree that these Ghibli-themed dream addresses are a goldmine of cozy, artistic inspiration.
They’re masterpieces. While I’m still a sucker for excavating traditional fantasy islands such as Zelda-themed DA’s or Witcher-themed DA’s, these Ghibli-themed dream addresses transported me to a special place.
They lured me into an extraordinary land without really taking me anywhere at all. It’ll be a dreary Saturday afternoon glued into my memory for years to come.
Thank you, creators. I had a blast!
And I hope you enjoy them, too. These islands were a glorious homage to an iconic studio whose legacy will surely outlive mine.
Sweet dreams, my fellow villagers. As always, tell Luna I send my regards! And if you’re itching for dreams that aren’t so sweet, check out my post for Nightmare Before Christmas dream addresses!