The Whale Hunt
The Whale Hunt (くじらとり Kujiratori?) is a 16 minute film that screens at the Studio Ghibli Museum. It also played at the 2002 New York International Children's Film Festival. Currently there has been no commercial release for this film.
The film itself is a departure from more realistic-looking Studio Ghibli works, such as Spirited Away; rather than being grounded in reality, the characters look cartoon-y and the world in which they live is painted in bright pastels. This helps to invoke the spirit of childish imagination which is a major theme in The Whale Hunt.
In the film, a group of elementary school children play in their classroom, imagining that they are on a boat in the ocean. This fantasy becomes reality, and soon all the students find themselves stranded in the deep blue sea, looking for their own Moby Dick. Some of the kids want to harpoon the whale, others want to take its picture, and many of the kids are afraid and just want to return home. In the end, a gentle Totoro-esque whale shows up and plays with the children until their fantasy ends and they are again back in school.
Click on the thumbnails below for some sample pages from the film's booklet: