Studio Ghibli is an animation film studio based in Tokyo and often referred to as the ‘Disney of Japan’. The studio is the most successful producer of animation in the world. To fans, the studio's work showcases the very best of anime, using its mastery of the genre to make encapsulating, enriching and enthralling works of art.
How did Studio Ghibli come about?
Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by the father of anime, Hayao Miyazaki, alongside director Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. They founded the studio after the success of their anime film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
From 1986 to 2014, the studio, under the guidance of Miyazaki, has produced some of the very best anime work of all time. The studio has won countless accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film for the 2003 film Spirited Away.
Who is Hayao Miyazaki?
If Studio Ghibli is the Disney of Japan, perhaps that makes Hayao Miyazaki the Japanese Walt Disney. Although, that may be a disservice to an artist who should be thought of in his own right. His career spans five decades, during which time he has written and directed some of the most famous and highest grossing anime films of all time.
Born in 1941 in Tokyo, Hayao Miyazaki’s animation career started in 1963 and grew significantly from there onwards. He has also produced many of his own manga works, from Nagagutsu wo haita neko first published in 1969, to the last of his manga works, Kaze Tachinu, published in 2009. After more than half a century in the business, nobody in anime is more revered than Hayao Miyazaki.
Highest grossing Studio Ghibli films
Studio Ghibli have been responsible for 8 of the top 15 highest grossing anime films of all time. Although fans will debate which Studio Ghibli film is the best, these four offerings are the highest grossing worldwide:
Spirited Away (2001)
The highest grossing anime film ever until the release of Your Name in 2016, Spirited Away grossed over $274 million worldwide. Spirited Away tells the story of a ten-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighborhood, enters the spirit world when her parents turn to pigs. Miyazaki has called the film a comment on greed in society.
Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Howl’s Moving Castle tells the story of a young girl who is cursed by a witch with the body and appearance of an elderly woman. In order to reverse the spell, she seeks help from a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his enchanted walking castle. The film grossed $235 million worldwide.
The plot of Ponyo centres on a goldfish princess who longs to escape her marine world and become a human. During a forbidden excursion to the surface, she encounters and eventually befriends a five-year-old boy. The film grossed $205 million worldwide.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Grossing over $159 million worldwide, Princess Mononoke focuses on, Ashitaka, who finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. Interestingly, Hayao Miyazaki had intended to Princess Mononoke to be his final film before retiring but the success of the movie thankfully changed his mind.
What does the future hold for Studio Ghibli?
Back in 2013, Hayao Miyazaki announced that he planned to make no more feature length films. His retirement, although perfectly understandable at the age of 72, caused a great deal of uncertainty about the future of the studio.
This uncertainty didn’t subside and in 2014, Toshio Suzuki announced that Studio Ghibli would take a "brief pause" after Miyazaki's retirement. His words did nothing to quell the concern among fans, many of whom worried that there would never be another Studio Ghibli film again.
Fortunately, it seems you can’t keep a good man down. Hayao is back, developing a short film, which will be screened exclusively at the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo in 2018. A full-length feature of the film looks set to hit the screens in 2019.
The Studio Ghibli Museum is located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan and is well worth a visit for any anime enthusiast. If that seems like slightly too far a journey, be sure to visit our London Anime and Manga store to celebrate all things Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.