This Ghibli-inspired animated film is the first in Pakistan


You know how influential someone is in your life when he or she has caused you to do something you wouldn’t have normally pursued on your own. For example, hearing that awesome guitar solo by a legendary musician made you want to play the guitar professionally. Or after reading a well-written book, it has moved you to write your own piece of literature as well. Whoever they may be or whatever they have done, they have inspired you to act and tap into your potential.

The Glassworker, Studio Ghibli, Mano Animation Studio, Pakistan, Usman Riaz
Photo by Mano Animation Studio

This is exactly how acclaimed Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli, affected this musician turned animator from Pakistan to create not only his own film, but also put up the first-ever hand-drawn animation studio in his country.

The Glassworker, Studio Ghibli, Mano Animation Studio, Pakistan, Usman Riaz
Photo by Mano Animation Studio

Usman Riaz, the founder of Mano Animation Studios, shared how a rare visit to the Studio Ghibli in Japan made him realize that he’s love for animation is stronger than his passion for music. At that time he was enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston and he decided to drop out.

He then started a campaign via Kickstarter, promising “an authentic, hand-animated feature imbued with Pakistani culture.” Raising a budget of $116,000, Riaz started working on his first feature film — The Glassworker. But he had to start from scratch — learning the basics and studying graphic design and illustration at Indus Valley School of Art in Pakistan.

The Glassworker, Studio Ghibli, Mano Animation Studio, Pakistan, Usman Riaz
Photo by Mano Animation Studio

Riaz shared that at first he had no intention of putting up his own animation studio. But there wasn’t any in his country. The closest to Studio Ghibli or Disney, were animation houses that work on commercials, 3D shorts, or computer graphics for live-action movies. The idea of the hand-drawn animated feature such as The Glassworker was laughed at.

The Glassworker, Studio Ghibli, Mano Animation Studio, Pakistan, Usman Riaz
Photo by Mano Animation Studio

Yet that didn’t deter Riaz from pursuing his passion — even if it means putting up his own animation studio from the ground up. Teaming up with his wife to kickoff the business, their team has already grown to 20. And the upcoming film, The Glassworker, is already making a lot of noise on social media after they released the film’s prelude.

'The Glassworker – Prelude' [Official] & Behind the Scenes at Mano

'The Glassworker – Prelude' is a hand-drawn animation directed by Usman Riaz, made by Mano Animation Studios in Pakistan. The short ‘Prelude’ is the opening of the full feature and is the first short hand-drawn animation to come from Pakistan.Funded with $116,000 on Kickstarter, the Prelude includes a behind the scenes documentary following the making of the work.The Full Prelude (8 mins) is exclusive to Kickstarter BackersRelease Date: End 2020

Posted by Mano Animation Studios on Wednesday, February 21, 2018

According to their website, The Glassworker “…is a coming-of-age story about two children from separate walks of life, set in the fictitious Waterfront Town. Vincent is an apprentice Glass Blower learning from his father in their Glass Shop. Alliz is a prodigious violinist striving to find her own unique voice on the instrument.” Riaz further added that this story reminds us that “…life is beautiful but fragile, like glass itself.”

The Glassworker, Studio Ghibli, Mano Animation Studio, Pakistan, Usman Riaz
Photo by Mano Animation Studio

You can watch the full prelude here:

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