Design Analysis: Assignment 1

For this assignment I chose to analyze the design of the poster for the Japanese film, “My Neighbor Totoro” by Hayao Miyazaki.  Generally speaking, I am attracted to beautifully drawn animations, so it’s no wonder why I enjoy watching his films.

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My first observation was the subtle difference between the Japanese and English posters. Other than the language of the title, the differences are the font type for the title and the color scheme. It begs me to question, what is the significance of the color choices. We had discussed the appeal to green in the last class, as many people said green was there favorite color. Green can represent many moods depending on the shade, e.g. nature, peace, excitement, wealth. In the Japanese poster the greens seem to represent more of nature and tranquility. The poster seems to be almost made with water colors and therefore has a soft touch as if the colors were casually swept on the poster with a paintbrush.

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In the English version, however, the color scheme is based on reds:

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We see softer shades here as well. Similar to the Japanese version, the dominant shade is the lightest. Each poster share the dark shade that takes up the bottom half. Even after singling out each color, I still am curious why red for English (American) and Green for  Japanese. Often when a movie is translated into a new language, the poster differs from the original, as it will reflect the culture of the translated language. However, for these, the two are identical except for the color scheme.


I find that the composition of this poster is very balanced–the bottom half is very dark, whereas the top half is very light showing the softness of nature. The trees act like arrows, and literally point to the top half, which has a more tranquil feel.

The gridlines below show an equal balance of space. Although most of the poster is symmetrical, there are aspects that show movement, e.g. the birds flying and the larger person standing next to the smaller, and the mountain landscape. These subtle imbalances of the symmetry reflect the continuity of nature, which seems to be a theme.

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Although I wasn’t able to identify the type font of the Japanese title, the letters have a very simple precision, making them bold but not overwhelming. The font for the English poster is in Seta Reta NF (this is my first time ever talking about fonts), but what I learned is that this font is clean, crisp, and elegant. Visually different typefaces, but giving off a similar message.

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There’s a lot going on in this poster, yet I don’t find it overwhelming. I am first attracted to the face inside the dark section of the bottom. At a glance it’s not clear what the shape is, however once the face is seen, then it leads to seeing the entire entire character, which then draws the attention to the title. I personally like designs that have hidden messages and the fact the ears of the character, Totoro are shown as trees signify a nature theme, and in turn brings the eye to the top half of the poster.