It was unavoidable and diverted for years by the resurgence of founder Hayao Miyazaki, but the legendary animation company Studio Ghibli appears to have produced their last feature film for the time being. Reports of the studio's demise has spread like wildfire online following General Manager and co-founder Toshio Suzuki's public television announcement on Japanese airwaves Sunday night.
There is a big change coming to the structure of Studio Ghibli. Obviously Miyazaki's retirement is an enormous change and we are considering how to proceed from such an event but... we don't believe we can just continue with the same approach as we had before. We are taking a small break to think on how best to proceed from here.
The initial thought was that Studio Ghibli would be disbanded to keep only a small handful of employees for trademarking and museum purposes.
Miyazaki himself had tried to brace fans for the inevitable closing of the iconic brand in a 2010 interview:
Ghibli should be able to continue with about five staff members as a copyright management company even if we smash the studio. So, Ghibli can say ‘We stop film production. Goodbye.' I do not have to be there
With both Miyazaki and Isao Takahata recently retired, the longtime pillars of the studio are no more. Even if the studio does decide to continue their craft, a new generation of leadership needs to be molded.
In the 1990's, Studio Ghibli had set up a successor for Miyazaki and Takahata. The animator who was to carry the brand once the two founders had left was named Yoshifumi Kondo. He directed the first Studio Ghibli film not to be directed by Miyazaki or Takahata. "Whipser of the Heart" debuted in 1995 and Kondo died a few years after due to excessive work. His death led Miyazaki to reconsider his mortality and to lessen his workload. Since Kondo's death, the company has mainly been carried by the feature film efforts of Miyazaki and on occasion his son Goro Miyazaki.
Studio Ghibli has produced dozens of critically acclaimed animated feature films that has reached international audiences and expanded the fan base of anime to otherwise unknown territories. When Disney folded from traditional animation in favor of 3D animated films, the world was deprived of quality 2D animated films. With countless iconic movies such as "Princess Mononoke," "Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle," "Castle in the Sky," "Porco Rosso," "Kiki's Delivery Service" and "My Neighbor Totoro," Studio Ghibli was king of the 2D animated art form.
The golden age of Studio Ghibli has apparently passed with Miyazaki and Takahata joining their fellow co-founder Suzuki in retirement. With 2D animation costs astronomically high compared to the 3D industry, the studio was unable to make box office profits on the recent film "The Tale of Princess Kaguya."
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