The future of beloved animation house Studio Ghibli remains in doubt, following the weekends news that film production would be halted and a total end to film making had been discussed.
The Japanese studio was one of the leading lights in anime, helping the genre reach audiences across the globe, but has now decided to initiate a major overhaul following long time Lead Director Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement in September.
Co-founder Toshio Suzuki told Japanese television a period of “housecleaning” was now necessary following Miyazaki’s departure. Whilst Suzuki said this was to “allow new animators and directors to make their mark”, many fear ‘When Marnie Was There’ will be their last film.
Miyazaki’s retirement seems to have hit Studio Ghibli at it’s very core, with rumours of financial difficulties in the wake of the weekends events.
The visionary film maker oversaw global hits such as Spirited Away (which won an Oscar in 2002 for Best Animated Feature Film), Howl’s Moving Castle (also Oscar nominated) and My Neighbour Totoro, helping the studio gain something of a reputation as the ‘Japanese Disney’ along the way.
It was a comparison which was both fair and unfair at the same time. Whilst both studios have become known for their memorable soundtracks and popularity with children and adults alike, Ghibli’s fantastical story lines and beautiful animation ensured their productions were always unique – even when compared to each other.
Real world issues also under pinned a number of their films. Pom Poko cut at the heart of deforestation, whilst the magnificent Grave of the Fireflies (directed by studio co-founder Isao Takahata) was once described as the ‘best film you’ll never want to see again’ due to it’s powerful telling of the story of two orphans during World War II.
But the serious undertones of some films was tempered by the timeless beauty and simple joy of others. It’s almost impossible not to be swept up in the child like joy of My Neighbour Totoro, or the sight of woodland creatures running around the gigantic robots that in habit Laputa – the castle in the sky.
Ghibli films presented the world through different eyes – ones you couldn’t fail but begin to use yourself once you’d entered their world.
With the studio approaching it’s 30th birthday; the timing could seldom be worse for a studio which had touched so many film lovers hearts.