Arguably the greatest of Japan’s studios is getting out of the animation business, according to reports from Japan.
Those who saw The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness in this year’s NZIFF will have seen Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki (The Wind Rises, Ponyo, Spirited Away) speak about what would happen to the studio so strongly associated with his name after his retirement, which happened last year.
The studio, home to the Oscar-winning Miyazaki since the early 1980s, has announced no new titles since When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marnie) two years ago. Marnie went on release in Japan two weeks ago.
According to the Japanese report, from an interview with an unnamed Ghibli staff member, the company ceased production with the completion of Marnie, but will live on as a rights management company.
The studio’s GM Toshio Suzuki, who co-founded Ghibli with Miyazaki and director Isao Takahata, yesterday gave an interview on Japanese TV confirming the substance of the anonymous statements. closure, stating that the studio’s animé production department would be “dismantled”.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Kaguya-hime no Monogatari), Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli swansong, is also playing this year’s NZIFF. Its box office performance in Japan is also getting much of the blame for the decision to close the studio’s doors.
UPDATE: A number of sources are now offering translations of Suzuki’s comments from his TV appearance, some of which claim he was saying the studio will take a break from production, rather than cease completely. Time will tell which interpretation is correct.