While the house is definitely a bit of a fixer-upper, I think most anime fans who’ve watchedMy Neighbor Totoro have occasional daydreams about living in the quiet, peaceful country house into which main characters Mei and Satsuki move during the movie. Of course most of us have school, work or family responsibilities that keep us from packing up our things and moving to the Japanese countryside, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could have your own little version of the Totoro house?
That’s apparently what one papercraft master thought, and after years of folding, he’s finished his remarkably accurate recreation of Studio Ghibli’s most iconic residence.
Niconico Douga user Kurosuke recently uploaded his production log to the popular video-sharing website so that others could see he steps to his labor of love. The emphasis there is squarely on “labor,” by the way, since from start to finish the project took him two and a half years.
If it’s been a while since you’ve watched Totoro, or even worse, if you’ve never seen the classic at all, here’s how the house appears in the film.
It’s actually a pretty unique design, with both Western and Japanese-style sections. The basic frames for both of these are included in the commercially available papercraft kit that Kurosuke used as the starting foundation for his creation.
Once the two parts were complete, it was time to join them together and attach the roofs.
Putting all this together, and adding weathering effects to the surface, took about 10 hours. Kurosuke could have stopped here, but he decided to fashion his own embellishments to what came with the kit, such as using aluminum wire to recreate the rain gutters and sheets form a memo pad for the laundry the family dries in the sun.
After putting trees in the garden and stained glass in the window frames, Kurosuke was proud enough of his work that he entered it in a papercraft competition, winning first prize.
But while most people would be satisfied to stop there, Kurosuke still felt like there was room for improvement, so back to work he went. The first order of business was to redo the roofs, starting with the Western section. Using a chisel, he simulated the shingles byscratching in grooves spaced just 0.3 millimeters (0.01 inches) apart.
▼ Before (left) and after (right)
The Japanese roof required an even more labor-intensive process. This time, instead of working with a large sheet of paper, Kurosuke made each individual roof tile separately, applying the proper curvature to all 1,800 tiny pieces of paper.
As can be seen from the completed version on the left, this resulted in a much more realistic and three-dimensional effect.
Still, the artist wasn’t done, as a third section of the house’s roof is made with unpainted wood shingles. Kurosuke made these out of paper too, pressing each with a hammer to give it an appropriate warped and distressed texture.
Finally, he cut the foundation into a leaf shape, a choice we’re sure that nature-lovers Totoro and Hayao Miyazaki would both approve of.
Some may scoff at the idea of investing 30 months into what could be argued is just a glorified origami project. After all, with that much time, you could probably build a real, human-sized house. We doubt it’d come out anywhere as cool as Kurosuke’s papercraft, though, and we’re sure any Ghibli fan can respect his amazing work of mini anime architecture.