Monday, August 04, 2014

Studio Ghibli

Screenshots from two early Studio Ghibli films, Kiki's Delivery Service and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, in the wake of the news that the beloved Japanese animation studio may actually shut down. Anyway, Miyazaki has retired.

For the past week or so, speculation has been building that Studio Ghibli is to cease making animated movies. And overnight, the news was lent credibility by a television appearance from Ghibli's general manager Toshio Suzuki.

Suzuki, appearing on Japanese television, at first seemed to confirm that Studio Ghibli's production studio was effectively set to be shut down, with no plans for any further features. Instead, the remaining Studio Ghibli company would be in place to manage trademarks. However, Anime News Network has clarified things a little, reporting that "great changes" are taking place, and "that these changes may include dismantling the production department". However, "while there has been talk among some about dissolving the studio outright", what's actually taking place right now is "the studio is considering housecleaning or restructuring for now".

Suzuki noted that it's not out of the question to carry on producing films forever, but said that "we will take a brief pause to consider where to go from here".

Whichever way you read it, there's a sadness at the heart of this. Studio Ghibli's output, even with its weaker films, is distinctive, full of heart and quite special. Unfortunately, its recent productions, including The Tale of Princess Kaguya and The Wind Rises, have struggled to recoup their investment.

And then there's the retirement of studio founder Hayao Miyazaki, who signed off with his final movie, The Wind Rises, last year. Inevitably, losing such a huge and important figure has left Studio Ghibli facing some tough questions.
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Studio Ghibli, Inc. (株式会社スタジオジブリ) is a Japanese animation film studio based in Koganei, Tokyo, Japan. The studio is best known for its anime feature films in addition to producing several short films, television commercials, and one television film. The company began in June 1985 after the success of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) with funding by Tokuma Shoten. Its logo features the character Totoro (a large forest spirit) from Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro produced by Ghibli.

Eight of Studio Ghibli's films are among the 15 highest-grossing anime films made in Japan, with Spirited Away (2001) being the highest, grossing over $274 million worldwide. Many of their works have won the Animage Anime Grand Prix award, and four have won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. In 2002, Spirited Away won a Golden Bear and an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
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