They say that Disney movies touch the heart, but Studio Ghibli films touch the soul. None more so than the Miyazaki classic Spirited Away. I’ve modelled the works of this legendary Japanese animator in LEGO before, but on the 15th anniversary of its US release I figured it was time to take a deeper dive into this particular masterpiece:
Spirited Away remains unrivalled for its blend of the spiritual, realistic, fantastic, and human. In balancing all of those realms, Miyazaki was the master. No surprise then that this movie won the Oscar for best animated film and remains Japan’s highest grossing movie to date.
Click to see more Spirited Away scenes
Lynn MinMay from the Robotech/Macross anime series is brought to life by SPARKART! in a modified Brickheadz doll. The styling emphasises the head over other features, with her eyes capturing that genuine anime sparkle. Below you’ll find the parts list and instruction guide to build your very own singing space celebrity.
Click for parts and instructions
Weekends in our house growing up included Saturday morning cartoons, so when I saw this incredible Voltron by d’ Qiu Brick I had a huge pang of nostalgia for the days when cartoons on TV weren’t always about selling cheap spinning trinkets or collectible hatching toys.
It’s difficult to tell from the pictures, but I am pretty sure those lionized limbs transform into the robotic lions I remember growing up in the 80’s. The individual lion heads look amazing, especially the black lion with the face in the jaws. I love the seamless blending of Bionicle and System elements, the star on the belt buckle and the crested shield on his chest.
Builder LegoWyrm takes inspiration from Hatsune Miku, a humaniod anime persona. LegoWyrm gives it a Spanish flavour with a red themed outfit, and upped the cutness factor by shrinking the character to a chibi sized version. It works gleefully well, with the dress piece arrangement and the pose held together by the unique use of elements for the feet.
It’s quite amazing to pause and appreciate that Mazinger Z was first introduced to the world almost 45 years ago, and it still stands the test of time, finding relevance to fans even today, and mecha master Kelvin Low brings us a great Mazinger Z. One cool thing to note is that this design is a rebuild of a previous version that employed a central frame from the Hero Factory system, and now Kevin’s overhauled it to a regular brick-based build. What difference does that make? Building with the classic system elements gives a cleaner look that matches the anime, but at the cost of building to a smaller footprint as it becomes heavier with regular bricks.
Seasoned fans of Japanese television might recognize this tricycling toddler as Kinoko Sarada (lit. “Mushroom Salad”) from the 80’s show Doctor Slump. The show – which I’ve never seen but sounds completely insane – was the brainchild of Akira Toriyama, who later went on to create the more widely known Dragon Ball. In fact many Doctor Slump characters – including Miss Salad – even make cameos in the latter. Taiwanese builder Helen Sham has captured the bratty fashionista’s likeness perfectly, right down to her cool shades and pull-along radio.
Given the popularity of the manga and animated series, it’s surprising how few LEGO creations we see inspired by Dragonball Z. David Liu corrects this oversight with an adorable pair of custom BrickHeadz featuring Goku in his “Super Saiyan” form battling Frieza in his “100% Full Power” form on the planet Namek. Goku’s spiky golden hair is perfect, and the inverted purple cheese slopes add exactly the right detail to make the evil Frieza instantly recognizable.
A few years ago, I built a microscale version of Tokyo, complete with rampaging kaiju. While Marco Gan‘s microscale Tokyo is considerably less colorful, it accurately captures the view of Neo-Tokyo seen in the 1988 Japanese animated movie Akira (and Katsuhiro Otomo’s original manga version that ran between 1982 and 1990). The monochrome cityscape is built on a simple blue baseplate, but includes a density of detail, from the bridge spanning the two halves of the city to a proliferation of landscape fragments.
To tie his build to its inspiration, Marco also included a small backdrop with brick-built lettering spelling “AKIRA” with pops of red reminiscent of Kaneda’s bike. But it’s not until you view the diorama from a higher angle that you discover Marco has also recreated the distinctive outline of the bay from the original comic, representing a screaming human head.
With a career spanning four decades, Hayao Miyazaki holds a hallowed place in the crowded world of anime. Maybe that’s why it’s impossible to go to any convention without tripping over Miyazaki cosplayers or wander through any store in Japan without stumbling across a Miyazaki aisle. But 15 years after it’s release, his Oscar-winning film Spirited Away remains his best selling and most popular work – and holds a special place in many a fan’s heart. The movie’s character No-Face (カオナシ) has become particularly iconic, and DOGOD Brick Designs brings us this beautiful LEGO interpration of the mysterious monosyllabic spirit:
Unlike a much cruder version of No-Face that yours truly built back in 2010, this version actually features a hinged action revealing No-face’s terrifying mouth, complete with recently consumed frog spirit! Which is also highly reminiscent of the motorized No-Face piggy bank that is currently at the top of my shopping list.
We love LEGO’s new Brickheadz and all the ingenuity that fans are putting into creating custom Brickheadz based on their favorite characters. Like this Sailor Moon and friends by ckb ckd, which we’ve chosen as our new TBB cover photo. These adorable sparkly eyes will be staring back at you for the entire month of April! A cuteness overload is almost guaranteed.
Want to see your own LEGO creation featured across TBB social media for a month? Then read the submission guidelines and send us your photo today. Photos that do not meet the submission guidelines will not be considered, and will be removed from the group.
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Finnish builder Eero Okkonen is known for his excellent character builds, and his last one stunned us all with an eerily perfect Admiral Ackbar. The character he brings to life in his latest work is Mistral Nereis, the pirate gal from the baking-saturated anime adaptation of PSP SEGA game Shining Hearts.
The details included and techniques used to recreate not only the pose but also bring out the key features of this lovely character are stunning—for instance, the multi-layering and natural flow of her skirt. You can read all about how this build came together on Eero’s blog.
In the second episode of Rick and Morty (or as I like to call it “Back to the Future on acid”) Morty’s dog Snuffles is fitted with a device that boosts his intelligence, a move that (not surprisingly) escalates to Snuffles leading an army of dogs wearing robotic exoskeletons to enslave humanity. Ultimately the dogs are banished to their own world, which is envisioned here in LEGO by none other than Richard Van As, one of the show’s animators: