Anime-style Malaysian scenes and school uniforms 

It’s safe to say that many of us have been binge-watching Studio Ghibli films after Netflix put up a whole bunch of them on their streaming site. Stunning sun-filled backgrounds – coupled with magical stories and a romantic look on the ordinary – have made them a favourite among casual watchers and anime movie buffs.

Giving familiar Malaysian school scenes a Studio Ghibli-like twist that includes its well-known aesthetics, Malaysian artist Mclelun Lee‘s anime-style Malaysian scenes, including ones with standard national school uniforms, are bound to give millennials and zoomers a taste of what life would look like if we lived in a scenic Japanese animation. 

Mclelun Lee gives Malaysian school scenes a Studio Ghibli twist

Anime inspired art of school uniforms
Image credit:

Standard school uniforms are part and parcel of student life in public schools. But more specifically – baju kurungs or pinafore school uniforms for teenage girls, and white button-downs and olive green slacks for teenage boys, are what many of us remember spending a good 5-6 years of our lives wearing during our formative school days.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to find someone who likes wearing these uniforms, as teachers didn’t let us accessorise or show off our personalities by altering them. But in illustrations Mclelun shared on his Facebook page of school uniforms in Malaysia set against familiar Studio Ghibli-inspired backgrounds, these uniforms are turned into an aesthetic part of his anime-style Malaysian scenes. 

Anime inspired art of school uniforms
Image credit: Mclelun

As Studio Ghibli films often take ordinary scenes and makes them aesthetically pleasing, Mclelun does the same by animating female students in pinafore school uniforms walking along a level crossing where trains pass. Fans of the anime Slam Dunk might also spot how this background resembles Kamakurakōkōmae Station, a real location in Japan featured in an episode of the popular series. 

Anime inspired art of school uniforms
Image adapted from: Mclelun

Other scenes Mclelun illustrated with a more local touch include one with several students standing on a stairway made scenic with rays of sunlight and greenery, and one of a female student holding an umbrella in a typical Malaysian rainstorm. Look a little closer at the details in the background of the latter and you’ll find a motorcycle and a orange plastic safety road barrier, commonly seen on our roads. 

He also pays homage to kedai runcit, or grocery stores, where many of us spent our childhood splurging our pocket money on toys and snacks. Another illustration shows a female student standing in front of an old kedai runcit, housed in a shophouse with a familiar vintage shopfront exterior. 

Anime inspired art of school uniforms
Image credit: Mclelun 

Other anime-inspired art with a Malaysian twist

Aside from these stunning artworks, and sharing helpful illustration and animation tutorials on his website and on YouTube page, Mclelun often takes on anime-style Malaysian scenes regularly in his other artworks.

A “Classroom” series of illustrations shared online on his Behance page, a social media platform for creatives to showcase their work, shows a scene many of us are familiar with. From poster boards to wooden desks, glass-shuttered windows, and overhead fans, the scene he drew is just like classrooms we might see in the flesh in Malaysian public schools.

Anime inspired art of school uniforms
Image credit: Mclelun at Behance

His newest short animation film, Framed Memories for Spectrum – a project showcasing animated works of 7 artists from Malaysia and Singapore – is another of his works worth noting. Just in time for Chinese New Year, it tells a heartwarming tale of family, speckled with nostalgic scenes of familiar hometown settings and situations, that mashes up the best of Disney animated films and Studio Ghibli films. 

You can watch the full film Mclelun directed here.

Anime inspired art of school uniforms - Framed Memories
Image adapted from: Viddsee 

Artist draws anime art of local school scenes & uniforms

Malaysia has no shortage of talented individuals, such as this artist who came up with stunning Penang-inspired art for popular game Overwatch, and another designing a massive mural for a Taiwanese cruise ship.

These anime-inspired artworks starring Malaysian school uniforms by local illustrator, Mclelun, is yet another example that we often don’t have to look far from our shores to find our share of them.

You can check out more of Mclelun’s works on his website, YouTube, Vimeo, DeviantArt, or Behance pages, and give him a follow on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Cover image adapted from: Mclelun 

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