Studio Ghibli celebrated its 30th anniversary few days ago, celebrating the founding by anime maestro Hayao Miyazaki and his rival/good friend Isao Takahata with producer Toshio Suzuki. The name is synonymous with some of the most beloved anime movies ever created such as Totoro, Graveyard of Fireflies and Spirited Away.
However, after When Marnie Was There released in 2014, the studio did not announce any new future projects and the development is even more worrisome when news broke out about the director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s (When Marnie Was There) resignation in late 2014.
Studio Ghibli fans might have more to worry about since the producer Yoshiaki Nishimura formed his own outfit, Studio Ponoc. The said producer is the replacement of Toshio Suzuki at Studio Ghibli and he had worked on movies like Kaguya Hime (2013) and When Marnie Was There (2014).
First project of the new studio will be called Summer Train!, an advertising campaign to promote Japan Railways West. The studio went live right on the anniversary of Studio Ghibli with its social media and official site. When Studio Ghibli was asked about it, they insist Nishimura is still an employee and declined to comment further.
So what could this mean? It could be that Studio Ponoc is focusing on different things so it did not represent a clash of interest. Or, with the disturbing pattern of young talents like Yonebayashi and Nishimura decided not to work with Ghibli, it could be the beginning of an end of Japan’s most beloved animation studio.
Only time will tell.
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