Studio Ghibli, the whimsical company responsible for such brilliant films as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, has been making headlines recently. First, Miyazaki announced his retirement and his last film, The Wind Rises, debuted with much critical acclaim. Now, purported inner turmoil is threatening to close the doors of the studio he left. However, despite doom and gloom articles abound on the status of the most prominent Japanese animation studio, the official word from the Ghibli’s mouth about their current hiatus is lacking a terminal diagnosis.
According to the studio heads, their break is just a “normal” part of the creative and business process and that there is no legitimacy to speculation about closing up shop. However, it certainly is a natural train of thought about a company that was largely fueled by the creative genius of Hayao Miyazaki for the last thirty years. Not unlike the passing of Steve Jobs from Apple or Walt Disney from Disney studios, the public looks on to companies like Ghibli wondering how much of the “magic” will remain after the powerful figurehead is gone.
There are two films set for release—one, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, later this year. The other, When Marnie was There, does not have an American release date yet, but opened in Japan on July 19th. The director of the latter film is Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who already had a hit with 2010’s The Secret World of Arrietty and this latest film is garnering comparable critical praise. As to what the long-term future holds for Ghibli—only time will tell. If the vision of Miyazaki lives on as Disney’s arguably did, we may still have a Japanese equivalent of Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King in store, so…be prepared.