Creator / Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli (pronounced "djibb-lee")note  was founded in 1985 by celebrated Japanese anime directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, along with producer Toshio Suzuki and publisher Yasuyoshi Tokuma, in the wake of Miyazaki's overwhelming success with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Studio Ghibli is known for its incredibly rich and detailed animation, exacting attention to detail, Crowning Music of Awesome (mostly but not entirely by composer Joe Hisaishi), and imaginative plots (frequently involving flying scenes, a personal favourite of Miyazaki's).

Ghibli has been rated as the top brand in Japan, and is a household name even among non-otaku. New Ghibli films are consistently the top grossers for the year in Japanese cinemas, and some films such as Spirited Away and Ponyo have gained a mainstream following in North America (in part thanks to a distribution deal with Disney; more on that below). The studio tends to focus on films rather than television series, but it is frequently the "gateway drug" for new anime fans. Ghibli is also like Disney in that Ghibli maintains their animation staff as full-time employees instead of the typical Japanese practice of employing freelance artists paid on a piecework basis, and Miyazaki has stated that this was intended to improve his animators' standard of living as much as the quality and consistency of their work.

Because of this ethos, though, Ghibli became infamous for its exorbitantly high overhead costs – almost on par with American animation studios.note  This, plus a few other factors, all led to the Studio's downfall during The New '10s… which will be explained more fully towards the bottom of this page.

Miyazaki has said that he chose the name of a World War II Italian fighter for his studio based on his love of aviation and Italy (vis. Porco Rosso). Unfortunately, the wrong characters were chosen to represent "Ghibli" in Japanese based on a mispronunciationnote , and Miyazaki didn't discover this until after he'd already named the studio. He has since proclaimed himself satisfied with the "jiblee" pronunciation even though it's technically wrong.

Several Maserati automobiles and at least one modern fighter plane have also been named "Ghibli", which means "hot wind off the desert". This is actually a Arabic word from Libya – the Italian equivalent is "Scirocco" – and it refers to a particular wind that sweeps across the Sahara.

Trope namer for Ghibli Hills. Has absolutely nothing to do with the jibblies.

To date, Studio Ghibli has produced the following movies:

  • The Red Turtle, directed by Michael Dudok de Wit (2016) note 
  • How Do You Live?, directed by Hayao Miyazaki (released in 2020 or 2021)

You can now vote for your favourite Ghibli film HERE!

Like many other Asian studios, they have also worked on productions as a support studio through their C-unit (Miyazaki runs the A-unit and Takahata runs the B-unit; the C-unit is random):

Animated works on which Studio Ghibli has assisted in some way:

Studio Ghibli also has a couple of games to its credit:

They also allegedly helped with the artwork for Jeanne d'Arc.

The studio has its own museum that shows exclusive short films. The short that evolved into Ponyo was first shown here. It also distributes Western animated films in Japan such as the works of Michel Ocelot, Sylvan Chomet, and Aardman under the "Ghibli Museum Library" label.

Studio Ghibli is well-known among anime fans for maintaining a very strict anti-editing policy when they license their films for international distribution – although they have no problem with foreign companies translating credits or dubbing dialogue and insert songs (in fact they encourage it because they value accessibility), they do not allow even one single frame of animation to be altered or edited out. This is due to the Warriors of the Wind fiasco, when New World Pictures heavily censored Nausicaä behind Miyazaki's back (more information about that can be found on the film's page). It became an issue after Disney negotiated a deal with Tokuma Shoten in 1996 that allowed Disney to distribute all but one of Ghibli's feature films.note  They handed localization of Princess Mononoke off to Miramax. Harvey Weinstein immediately tried to pull an Arabian Night on Mononoke in hopes of getting the movie re-rated PG. In response, Suzuki (allegedly) sent him an authentic katana, attached to which was a note: "No cuts!". On the one hand, this policy has allowed North America (where companies are notorious for censoring foreign things) to see these movies as they were meant to be seen; on the other hand, Mononoke's PG-13 rating almost certainly led to its being a Box Office Bomb and to Disney's subsequent refusal to allow Only Yesterday any release at all. Still, Disney has for the most part done rather well by the rest of Ghibli's catalogue, which are often the top-selling anime in North America for any given year due to the studio's mainstream credibility.

Unfortunately, despite all the critical acclaim, by the late-2000s it was clear that all was not well at Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki's infamous workaholic and Control Freak tendencies meant that the studio had not adequately fostered new directorial talent capable of taking over once he and Takahata finally retired. Indeed, the studio did not do so until it was absolutely unavoidable. Miyazaki did actually choose his successor back in the 90's; unfortunately for him, it was Yoshifumi Kondo (director of Whisper of the Heart), who sadly and unexpectedly passed away in 1998 after suffering a brain hemorrhagenote . Hayao's son Goro's 2006 directorial debut Tales From Earthsea received mixed reviews and the studio did not consider it a success. Producer Toshio Suzuki's decision to tap the younger Miyazaki to direct Earthsea caused a rift between the two Miyazakis, as Hayao believed that Goro was not ready to direct a filmnote , a belief that the film's lackluster performance appeared to confirm. However, the elder Miyazaki's opinion of the finished film, "It was made honestly, so it was good", did much to repair their relationship, as Japanese culture considers sincerity more praiseworthy than success. Miyazaki seems to have finally found his successor in Hiromasa Yonebayashi, director of Arrietty. In addition, Goro's second movie, From Up On Poppy Hill, won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, which has likely secured him a place as another worthy successor to his father.

But even finding new directors was not enough to stop Ghibli's financial troubles. The worldwide economic collapse of the late-2000s meant Ghibli could no longer depend on Western sales to cover its meager domestic profits – which alone were barely enough to cover its aforementioned absurdly high operating costs. Toshio Suzuki ominously intoned in 2010 that Ghibli would shut down if Arrietty did not sell enough at the box office to secure financial backing for another film. As it turned out, Arrietty did do well enough (80% of Ponyo's sales) to ensure funding for Up On Poppy Hill, which became the highest-grossing Japanese film for 2011. However, the studio ended up taking a loss on Princess Kaguya – unsurprising given Takahata's chronic inability to complete anything on time or within budget – and profits for Marnie and The Wind Rises were middling at best, putting the studio's future in question.

In early 2014, Miyazaki, Takahata, and Suzuki all announced their retirements – and Miyazaki, long infamous for flip-flopping on this subject, appeared to mean it at the time.note  On August 3rd, Suzuki stated that Studio Ghibli would take a break from feature film animation while they undergo restructuring and figure out where/how to continue the company in the future. Since then, Yonebayashi left the studio and joined Studio Ponoc to direct and co-screenwrite Studio Ponoc's first movie Mary and The Witch's Flower, and Goro has directed Ronja the Robber's Daughter as a TV co-production with Polygon Pictures.

New hope for the studio has been garnered when, in very late 2015, it was announced that Ghibli would be providing some of the animation for The Red Turtle, which was released September of 2016 in Japan. The film is notable for being a co-production between Ghibli and the European studio Wild Bunch. In late 2016, Miyazaki gave hints that he was un-retiring for one more feature film, which was confirmed early in 2017. On October 31st, 2017, it was announced that Miyazaki's next film would be an adaptation of the 1937 Genzaburou Yoshino novel, How Do You Live? which is planned for a 2020 or 2021 release.

In July 2017, GKIDS, which owns the theatrical distribution rights to the Ghibli films, acquired the home media rights to the rest of Ghibli's catalog in North America from Disney, with the exceptions of The Wind Rises and Grave of the Fireflies. GKIDS previously distributed From Up on Poppy Hill through Cinedigm, as well as The Tale of Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There, Ocean Waves, and Only Yesterday through Universal.

Studio Ghibli and its works provide examples of:

  • Career Resurrection: The Red Turtle was one of the first critically-acclaimed films by Ghibli after their restructuring resulting from the failures of When Marnie Was There and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor:
    • Beginning in 1997 with Princess Mononoke, every last one of their films has an All-Star Cast of veteran Japanese actors for their main characters, some of those including popular singers and stage actors. Even before then, Ghibli has used celebrities to voice supporting and main characters, such as Shigesato Itoi who voices Satsuki and Mei's father in Totoro and Issei Takahashi, who voices Seiji Amasawa in Whisper of the Heart.
    • In their English dubs produced by Disney and GKIDS, they have a mix of professional voice actors as well as celebrities who don't normally do voice acting.
  • Channel Hop:
    • Castle in the Sky was distributed by Toei and Totoro was distributed by Toho. When Kiki's Delivery Service, Toei distributed the film once again. Beginning with Only Yesterday, all of Ghibli's films would be distributed by Toho, which eventually served as one of the members of Ghibli's production committes beginning with The Cat Returns. To this day, all of the Ghibli films in Japan have been distributed by Toho in their theatrical releases.
    • The North American releases have a long history:
      • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was licensed first by New World Pictures and released it as the infamous Warriors of the Wind.
      • My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, and Kiki's Delivery Service was dubbed into English for screenings on Japan Airlines. Of these, Totoro was released in North America on VHS by Troma and 20th Century Fox.
      • For Grave of the Fireflies, it was licensed first by Central Park Media and later by ADV Films, who then restructered into Sentai Filmworks, who released a Blu-Ray with their own dub in addition to the original CPM dub. To this day, Sentai still retains the rights since the film isn't represented by Studio Ghibli.
      • When Disney signed a deal with Tokuma in 1996, they acquired all of their films and redubbed all the films with an All-Star Cast for future distribution of their works.
      • In the early 2010s, GKIDS decided to take up home video and theatrical rights to From Up on Poppy Hill, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There, Only Yesterday, and Ocean Waves, as well as the theatrical rights to all of the remaining Ghibli films. Then, by July 2017, GKIDS acquired home video distribution rights for the entire film catalog previously released from Disney. Thus, GKIDS owns the theatrical, television and home video rights to every Ghibli film, with the exception of Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind Rises, which will be respectively retained by Sentai Filmworks and Disney.
  • Creator Killer: The failures of both When Marnie Was There and The Tale of Princess Kaguya caused the studio to restructure itself.
  • No Export for You: Until Disney negotiated a deal with Ghibli's former owner Tokuma Shoten in 1996, any attempt to watch a Ghibli film in North America aside from Totoro was impossible.
  • Production Posse: A lot of Ghibli's staff members are long-time employees, including Toshio Suzuki, Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Yoshifumi Kondo, Masashi Ando, Yoshiaki Nishimura, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: The reason GKIDS has yet to license The Wind Rises. Even after the purchase of the Ghibli catalog, Disney and Touchstone technically owns the rights to the film.
  • Screwed by the Network: After GKIDS acquired the license to the whole Ghibli film catalog, they confirmed that they would not release digital copies of their films. This is a result of Studio Ghibli's own Executive Meddling, since even Disney couldn't do it back when they had most of those licenses.
  • Start My Own: Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki organized Studio Ghibli after Miyazaki and Takahata finished work on the film adaptation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.