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"They say he is already in the forest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England: they say many young gentlemen flock to him every day, and fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world."

Often paired with Adventure Towns in anime, this area consists of the entire relatively pristine wilderness outside of The City. Urban sprawl is not much of an issue, especially if you just start building your cities up (or underground). An hour's drive from your house can take you to a place that's virtually a national park. Cue the stirring overworld music!

It's a hiker's dream. This might be a result of historically good city planning, although a story taking place After the End might imply a disaster hit the place and it's just regrowing after the humans vacated.

If humans do live there, but it is still idyllic, it is Arcadia -- which, indeed, often lies by the Ghibli Hills.

Of course, despite its soothing grass, great blue skies and small animals, Ghibli Hills is still a lawless wilderness, crawling with wandering monsters, highwaymen and wild magic. Hence, it is subject to what is known as Ayn Rand's Revenge. See also The Lost Woods. Though it may also serve as the Good landscape, in contrast with the Evil Is Deathly Cold Shadowland, Grim Up North.

In most anime, especially with ones trying to deliver a message, this speaks to the nostalgia of many older directors for the traditional Japanese countryside that largely no longer exists because of urbanization. One historical western equivalent is Merry England for historical settings. Other times the pristineness is explained by alternate history, particularly the avoidance of major conflict or wars which lets people concentrate on improving themselves.

Named for the lush, friendly settings of Studio Ghibli films. Which largely stems from the fact that Mitaka and Musashino, Tokyo's affluent residential suburbs where the studio itself is headquartered [1], generally have exactly that kind of scenery.

Sometimes overlaps with Scenery Porn but contrasted with Scenery Gorn. Compare to Wild Wilderness if its a modern setting set in large wilderness areas like the North Western United States or Black Forest area of Germany.

The polar opposite would be Mordor or Polluted Wasteland... or perhaps City Planet.

Examples of Ghibli Hills include:


Anime and Manga

  • Like most anime with RPG roots, the universe of Pokémon has a literal overworld, with the characters heading through Ghibli Hills frequently.
  • The future in Sailor Moon seems to be a bright city, surrounded by nothing but green.
  • See, of course, Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and, to a lesser extent, Porco Rosso and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Interestingly, Miyazaki's first feature Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind has no Ghibli Hills, being set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland instead.
    • Also Howls Moving Castle and Ponyo to a lesser extents. There are very indulgent shots of the ocean and mountains, but they are significantly shorter and occur less often in other Studio Ghibli films.
    • Kiki's Delivery Service is a more western equivalent, with the suggestion that it takes place in a sort of European setting where World War Two never happened.
  • Kino's Journey
  • Also used more darkly in Isao Takahata's tanuki story Pom Poko. The tanuki (raccoons in the English dub) start out living happily in the Tama Hills west of Tokyo until the city starts encroaching on their territory. Soon the tanuki are forced to use their legendary powers of illusion in an increasingly desperate struggle to protect their forests, even going so far as to reveal their fantastical existence in a final plea for the environment. In the end the defeated tanuki combine their powers for one last nostalgic illusion depicting their forests as they once were to show the humans what had been lost Ironically, the next Studio Ghibli film, Whisper of the Heart is set in the very same Tama New Town suburb created by this development.
  • In Ranma ½, anywhere in Japan that isn't Nerima is presented as Ghibli-esque landscape (until Ranma and co finish trashing it, that is).
  • It seems that all of Japan is scenic mountains and valleys in Mushishi, which seems to draw other influences from Miyazaki as well. This is largely justified, as it is set in the past, much of Japan IS mountains, and mushi live in all sorts of locations.
  • In One Piece, Luffy's hometown of Gao Island has Ghibli Hills between Windmill Village and the depressingly disgusting garbage city, lying outside the nobles' city. It's here that the mountain bandits thrive and Luffy spends most of his time with Ace and Sabo.

Film

  • Western example: Mufasa's kingdom in The Lion King is like a Ghibli Savanna, which later becomes Mordor once Scar takes over the throne.
  • Some of the filler bits (and by 'filler bits' I mean the scenes between zombie attacks) in 28 Days Later show nice greenery, flowers/hallucinogenic visions, and horses running about in the wild. Even the ruins of Manchester are photogenic. Maybe England's just like that sometimes. Special.
  • The future city in Meet the Robinsons is surrounded by lush green hills under blue skies, with the Robinsons house atop one of the hills. In the Bad Future controlled by Doris, the city becomes an overindustrialized Crapsack World.
  • Naboo in Star Wars Episodes I and II has huge tracts of forest, swamp and grassland. Only one major city (Theed) is ever seen on-screen. (Well, there's the Gungan City of Otoh Gunga, but since it's underwater it doesn't make an impact on the scenery.) The climactic battle between the Droid Army and the Gungans takes place on the grassy plain outside Theed.
    • If by "outside Theed" you mean like the Himalayan Mountains are outside New York City. The grassy plain is supposed to be closer to the Gungan swamps.
      • The Gungan capital is implied to be nearly on the opposite side of Naboo from Theed (given references to traveling through 'the core' to get from one to the other). The battle plain cannot be that far from Theed, however, as it is clearly daytime in both at the same time.
    • The Gungan swamps are also Bubblegloop Swamp.

Folk Lore

  • Robin Hood and his Merry Men live in the wilderness of Sherwood Forest -- always.
  • King Arthur's knights would go off on adventure in the wilderness for the chance at knightly deeds.

Literature

  • The lushly-described hills of Andelain in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are brimming with beauty and niceness. They are not entirely safe from monsters, just enough to give a real nasty surprise when monsters do appear.
  • Almost everywhere in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but especially Rhovanion/Wilderland/"The Wild", which as the name suggests lacks much organised government. The appendices explain this is because it was depopulated by plagues and wars.
  • The Hundred Acre Wood in the Winnie the Pooh books.
  • Lovingly described in Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men. In this, they're actual hills.
  • In the works of Arthur Machen, nature is home to dark secrets and hidden horrors, such as the Little People and the Great God Pan.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's The Song of the Cardinal, the story opens with exalting descriptions of the Limberlost's lushness and fertility with its birds, flowers, berries for the birds to eat, and beasts. Freckles also features it, less centrally, once Freckles Face Your Fears, and A Girl of the Limberlost. It does, however, feature poisonous snakes that can be quite dangerous.


Live Action TV

  • Footage originally shot for the first pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series, and recycled in the two-part episode "The Menagerie", suggests that many of Trek-era Earth's cities are surrounded by 50-mile-wide parkland zones. They later went with this idea in Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent series.
    • Given fast, cheap, scalable air transport (not to mention teleportation for more urgent trips), the presumption is that suburbs disappeared.

Newspaper Comics

  • Calvin's backyard in Calvin and Hobbes is a gigantic pristine forest. This serves as a backdrop for wagon strips, sledding strips, snow sculpture strips, and many strips simply have Calvin and Hobbes carrying a conversation while going for a walk through the forest.

Tabletop Games

Theater

  • In Shakespeare's As You Like It, the exiled duke, and later his daughter and niece, take refuge in the Forest of Arden. In fact, by the end of the play, so many people have taken refuge in the Forest of Arden that the usurping duke sets out to take it by force. (He doesn't get far.) Despite the population explosion, the forest proper remains a Ghibli Hills, pristine except for Orlando's carvings of love on the trees... It has more than a touch of Arcadia about it, as witness that the daughter is able to buy out a man's flocks of sheep.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy XI has the forest of Ronfaure as San d'Oria's easiest outside area. However, it also has the barren wasteland of Gustaberg and the savanna of Sarutabaruta for Bastok and Windurst, respectively. As San d'Oria is in some ways the most typical RPG setting, the Ronfaure = Ghibli Hills scenario still works.
  • Final Fantasy XII features Tchita Uplands and Cerobi Steppe, which are relatively untamed despite being just outside the bustling imperial capital of Archades and the port of Balfonheim, and also full of relatively high-level monsters.
  • Justified in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, where humans are literally incapable of developing outside of a set boundary due to miasma.
  • Both Cyrodiil and Morrowind in the Elder Scrolls series feature large tracts of unspoiled wilderness between cities and towns. While some areas veer more towards Arcadia, most of the countryside remains wild and untamed.
    • The wilderness areas of Cryodiil in Oblivion are, however, actually patrolled by the Imperial Legion, so it's not entirely untamed wilderness.
      • Inverted in Paradise, where believers of Mythic Dawn go to when they die. While it looks like something from Ghibli Hills, it's anything but.
    • And Morrowind is a sort of reverse of the above -- while there aren't a whole lot of guards (or "people") in certain areas of the game world, some areas themselves aren't too pleasant, either, ranging from ashstorm-covered deserts to areas of hardened (and not-so-hardened, for the very misfortunate) volcanic lava.
  • Mulgore and Nagrand in World of Warcraft (although Nagrand is considerably weirder than most examples of this trope).
    • Don't forget the Emerald Dream, which is the physical representation of what the entire world would have been like had the sentient races never existed.
    • Howling Fjord and Grizzly Hills, Borean Tundra and Sholazar Basin in Northrend could also fit. The two former and two latter adjacent zones are on either side of the continent and have been left mostly untouched, separated by Icecrown to the north and Dragonblight in the south.
    • The Dragonshrine areas of the Dragonblight are special cases. They are small pockets of areas sacred to the different Dragonflights and under their protection from the wasteland that covers most of the Dragonblight.
      • The Emerald Dragonshrine is protected by Alystros and Ysera of the Green Dragonflight and remains a pristine eden-like garden.
      • The Ruby Dragonshrine was under the protection of Dahlia Suntouch. Her murder has left the Ruby Dragonshire open to assault by the Scourge, although it is still strongly defended by the Ruby Dragonflight and still retains much of its sylvan environment.
      • The Bronze Dragonshrine is under serious assault by the Infinite Dragonflight. It's uncertain if the desert-like environment is its natural state or a result of the constant attacks.
      • The Obsidian Dragonshrine is a charred and smouldering cave, which is probably just fine with the Black Dragonflight, although it has been invaded by members of the Cult of the Damned who are using it as a base for raising undead dragons.
      • The Azure Dragonshrine has been entirely corrupted repurposed by Malygos and the Blue Dragonflight and used as a focus for Malygos' plans to siphon the magic from Azeroth.
  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas featured expansive rural and unpopulated areas in stark contrast to the series' dense urban mainstay (though it has that too).
  • This turns out to be the true form of the Midnight Channel in Persona 4.
  • Both Fable games have landscapes like this in between cities, except in places that are near places of evil, such as Wraithmarsh and Darkwood.
  • The First Town in The Witcher is a subversion of this. The village of Murky Waters appears later than half-way through the game. Though ominously named, it's the most peaceful place in the game, filled with beautiful rolling hills, pleasant people who actually respect and appreciate witchers, and light, optional action. Of course, like everywhere else, Geralt leaves it in ruins.
  • Backyard Football 2006 has a forest stage, uninhabited by humans, that is right next to the city.
  • Pokémon, quite frequently. Consider, for example, the Ilex Forest which is just a stone's throw from the metropolis Goldenrod City. Generation III in particular takes this trope and turns it Up to Eleven.
  • Gensokyo, the setting of Touhou, is this.
  • The popular MMORPG Mabinogi. Every. Single. Place. In. The. World. It's a shame, even, that some of the more well-designed areas serve little purpose, some fans wander them just to see what's there.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Skyrim do a good job of depicting Tamriel like this.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Samurai Jack: for a world controlled for hundreds of years by an evil wizard that supposedly sucked the earth dry of resources, there seems to be an unbelievable amount of unspoiled wilderness between the huge futuristic cities.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The city of Ba Sing Se has a large agrarian zone between the outer wall and the city proper that looks like it would come straight out of a Studio Ghibli film (which is weird considering it's a barren wasteland right outside the wall).
    • It's likely that Earthbending has agricultural applications which makes this possible.
    • It's also noted in the DVD Commentary that the Fire Nation (which is geographically based on Iceland) looks a lot better than it should considering the people have been strip mining it for over a hundred years.
  • The animated movie of Watership Down is this trope incarnate.
  • "The Rite of Spring" in Fantasia.
  • The Secret of Kells. Though the ENTIRE film could suffice, Brendan's first visit to the forest definitely counts, particularly after he meets Aisling.

Real Life

  • Probably Truth in Television for most of human history until trains became popular. When it's an all-day stagecoach ride from Washington to Baltimore, not much point in building commuter suburbs.
  • The Ghibli version is actually not so unrealistic: 85% of Japan is too steep to be built on or farmed and remains forested. As long as the city you're trying to escape from is not Tokyo, which is located in the middle of one of two plains in the country, you can drive out into the forested hills pretty fast.
    • Over the centuries it's been inhabited, the Japanese have cleared and leveled as much as they possibly could and built on every inch they can. Essentially, any place that isn't intensely developed is completely wild.
      • Although this is changing as the cities recede from the foothills due to population shrinkage and mass-migration to the largest cities. An estimated 1/4 of houses in the country are abandoned, all in the countryside... still hasn't stopped the logging though.
    • Although, the other side of the coin is that since all of the inhabitable land is densely inhabited, it can be jarring to Americans who are used to traveling through wide stretches of extremely sparsely populated land to get between cities.
    • Of course, once you leave Tokyo, you know what they have? Three-inch long hornets with venom that can dissolve human flesh, and which it can spray like a cobra! No wonder these people came up with Godzilla!
  • Gas Works Park in Seattle, and....the rest of Washington, really.
    • Except for the ruins of the Gas Works itself.
  • Real Life Example: Boston's "Emerald Necklace".
    • Another Real Life example: Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, which also really * is* a national park.
    • Cleveland's Metroparks, which also go by the nickname "Emerald Necklace".
    • Large parts of the world have been like this throughout history, except our ancestors for very good reasons usually thought more in terms of lawless than pristine.
      • It would seem parts of Central Park in NYC would invert this.
  • Yellowstone National Park.
  • Glacier National Park.
  • The Home Counties that surround London are steadily becoming more urbanised but still have large areas of countryside. The Surrey hills are particularly nice. London Town itself is surrounded by a government created "Green Belt" area, with development restricted.
    • Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Especially Fern Canyon, which was a filming location for the Jurassic Park sequel.
    • Traveling across the country on a bus, this American trooper was honestly surprised at how much of the UK was still photogenically undeveloped. Or at least hid it well.
    • Holyrood Park, being a Royal Park and therefore under the protection of the Crown, is a little bit of Ghibli Hills in the middle of Edinburgh.
    • Similarly, Richmond Park is a huge expanse of grassland and woods, to be found in southwest London. It's chiefly known for the hundreds of deer which roam there.
    • That bleak, wild forest clearing in the opening battle scene of Gladiator? Bourne Woods, Surrey.
    • "Cleckhuddersfax" in Yorkshire has nice, relatively undisturbed woodland a ten minute walk from civilisation, in what is probably the most densely populated area of the UK outside of a major city.
  • Anywhere that counts as part of the Boreal Forest, especially in Canada. A 10-minute drive out of your local Northern town, and you find yourself literally facing the same countryside that the first settlers had to deal with. Great for hiking and hunting. Feels like The Lost Woods, especially in summertime.
  • Norway. Thank you for your time.
    • Sweden qualifies as well.
    • Nearly all of Iceland, only without the trees.
    • Finland. As a bonus you get the lakes and rivers.
  • Appalachia, specifically in the mountainous regions of North Carolina, USA. Take a compass and some survival gear, because if you park your car and walk for fifteen-twenty minutes, you will be so far from civilization that you can't hear it anymore.
  • Oregon. The government just signed in 200,000 more acres of protected forest. Soon, there'll be Portland, Salem, and Eugene, and that's it.
    • That assumes the cities are the only bastions of civilization. There are plenty of developed areas outside the I-5 corridor, we just put a minimum of 10-20 miles of wilderness between them. Essentially, just about every community in the Pacific Northwest is surrounded by Ghibli Hills/Forest/Mountains.
      • Oregonian woods are often more gardens then wilderness with convenient lodging and rest stops close by and well marked trails. Eastern Oregon which is semi desert is more wild.
      • Tacoma and Olympia are like this. Many wild parks. In Tacoma particularly you can be amid dense trees a half hour from downtown if you check Google Maps first.
  • Most of New Zealand, except possibly Auckland.
  • Upstate or the Northernmost part of California.
  • Ottawa's "Green Belt".
    • Much of Canada, for that matter. Winnipeg in particular, despite its large footprint and significant number of sleeper communities, just sort of springs up from out of nowhere, especially as you approach from the south. Many logging communities are built in the woods, and five minutes out of town is also five minutes into the forest. Cities in the arctic regions are devoid of the farmland or orchards surrounding more southern destinations. The second-largest country in the world by land mass has an abysmally low population (about 34 million, as of January 2011) and the resulting small population density is emphasized by the massive distances between major centers. To give you an idea: St. John's, Newfoundland, is closer to London - across the freakin' Atlantic Ocean - than it is to Victoria, BC.
  • Vermont, it's not called the Green Mountain State for nothing, but that might be because there was very little urbanization to begin with...
  • The Wasatch Front (the western slopes of the Wasatch Mountains) in Utah is home to two million people strung out along a 120-mile long north-south axis. It's an average of 5 miles wide and never more reaches a width of more than 18 miles. Ten minutes to the east and you're in deep forest and/or open grassy plateaus. Thirty minutes to the west and you're in barren salt flats and deserts. Two hours to the south, you're in arid redrock country. One hour to the north, vibrant farmland. The next major urban area is 300+ miles in any direction. Even in the Wasatch Front, if there are enough rain clouds (which isn't horribly often though), the Wasatch Mountains look like the Misty Mountains.
  • Ha, Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, is right around Vitosha mountain, which happens to be a natural park too. An hour drive? Sadly yes. Traffic jams.
    • Not to mention the natural reserve in the Rila mountain that is one hour away (when you finally leave the city). By the way Rila mountain is the highest mountain in South-Eastern Europe. So yeah...
  • The Swiss Alps. Though Alpine scenery has been famously described in positively Mordorian terms:

 It is, indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green water roaring forever down, and the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing forever upward, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and clamor. We stood near the edge peering down at the gleam of the breaking water far below us against the black rocks, and listening to the half-human shout which came booming up with the spray out of the abyss.

    • Austria's are not much different. Even outside the alpine areas (near the Iron Curtain) you can find fairly Ghibli-esque areas. Just drive a short while and enjoy the scenery.
  • Two words. Costa Rica. More Scenery Porn that you can possibly imagine while cruising it leisurely in 24 hours or less. Nuff said.
  • Many parts of Tuscany still evoke this, though there are more people and factories dotting the hills these days.
  • Sydney is particularly Egregious with this. Unless (or in some cases even if) you're on the major transport corridors, you're likely to be in the wilderness, often officially. This is entirely justified however, mainly due to the very rough terrain surrounding the Sydney Basin, which is full of canyons, steep valleys and thick vegetation.
  • Many regions in France are a paradise for hikers. Creuse, Ariège, Massif Central and so on. Regarding greenery just outside of the city, Paris has the Sénart, Vincennes and Boulogne forests.
  • Many areas in Ireland. Hey, it's called the Emerald Isle for a reason.
  • Juneau, Alaska. Even the cheapest apartments have stellar views of unspoiled pine forests, and the university overlooks a giant glacier. Getting to an area of virgin woodland is a matter of about a five minute walk in any direction.
    • This is particularly amazing to a Troper from the California desert. So much green EVERYWHERE. All of it damp and soft and fertile.
  • Calgary, Alberta is around an hour's drive from the Rocky Mountains, so this fits the description above perfectly. Those who find Banff National Park to be a bit crowded will find solitude in the Kananaskis Park.
    • An example closer to home is Nose Hill, which has become an oasis of nature surrounded completely by subdivisions. Zoning laws prohibit development on Nose Hill to preserve the prairie wildlife, and today, it is a popular park for hikers and cyclists. A conservation-development program is under way, aiming to pave existing gravel trails and replanting where cyclists have previously torn up the vegetation. Native trees are also being planted on the slopes of the park.
  • Nairobi National Park is just outside Kenya's capital, and as a result the only place you can see entirely wild lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, etc with skyscrapers in the background.
  • A lot of Russia was like this, thanks to Communism deciding that everyone should live in Apartments (better equality and opportunity for spying on each other) making very condensed cities with surrounded by pristine countryside. Less so now.
  • A lot of New England. Even along the highways, there's beautiful forest all around.
  • Nearly all the parts of Slovenia that aren't cities/towns/villages. Sometimes during a drive between one village to another, when a road goes through a forest, etc., there can be a feel you are kilometers from civilization. That's also because the forests are original ones, not introduced back by forestation that has even spaces between trees, which makes it look artificial.
  • Alpine Austria can of course feel like this, but the most attractive areas (lakes!!!) are often highly populated and f.ex. on the coast of Wörthersee, it's hard to find a semi-wild corner of the beach, there's mostly private villas around (blocking access to the lake!).
  • Southern Germany, Alpine and Subalpine regions can feel charming and idyllic, even though they may be populated, or were so in the past (Roman colonies!).
  • East of San Francisco, California across the bay and on the other side of Oakland Hills is this incarnate,and truthfully just about all of California that isn't in the Central Valley or the Mojave Desert or in one of the Urban Areas is this what with the vast amount of Redwoods.
  • Arkansas is not called "The Natural State" for no reason.
  • Driving along the West Virginia Turnpike has this in spades. Once you're past the suburban sprawl of Charleston, WV, the unspoiled mountain wilderness that surrounds the road is almost surreal. One particularly beautiful moment comes anytime after a rainstorm - a small creek that flows along the road for about a mile is suddenly swollen and gushing with intensity. Most of Appalachia in general has this.
  • Poland's very own Gdynia. Aside from being a city built in the 1920s by connecting villages together and building a city center, a good deal of the city area is the Tri-City National Park. The fastest way to get around in Gdynia is to actually go through the woods: this troper used to spend over an hour getting to school for a year before she realized she could cut that time to a little over fifteen minutes by using a simple forest path.
  • Go to a map. Look for Australia. Look for New South Wales, and go to its most North-Eastern point. That region is called "The Northern Rivers". Here one will find The Caldera, so named for the fact that the entire region was once a large shield volcano that went extinct. All the mountains there are the result of erosion, leading to rounded yet striking mountains. In the centre you will find Mt. Warning (Wollumbin), the first point each morning in all of Australia to be struck by the light of dawn. Much of the "pristine-ness" of the region is simply due to both the enormous amount of crownland (land that cannot be settled due to steepness or inaccessibility, or even logged practically) and the fact that most of population there lives in either villages of varying size or in Murwillumbah, the largest town in the Caldera, with a population of less than 8,000. Despite the number of farms (the region might better fit in 'Arcadia' for this reason) they are usually small and hardly damage the land (leave a farm for a few dozen years and it looks like old-growth). Examples on the other wiki here and here on the Other Wiki. There is a reason the area is filled with hippies, ex-hippies and general environmentalists.
  • The Oak Ridges Moraine outside of Toronto.

Notes

  1. To the point that Hayao Miyazaki is Fan Nicknamed as The Lord of Mitaka
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