Studio Ghibli Shutting Down?

Rumours of their death have been...slightly exaggerated.

Everybody was thrown into a tizzy more traumatising even than Grave Of The Fireflies (well, maybe not quite) yesterday as the rumours of cinematic animation maestros Studio Ghibli's demise seemed to be all-but-confirmed during a documentary on Japanese television. The makers of such modern cartoon classics as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro looked to be closing down for the foreseeable future, going out on a high and continuing on solely as a small office that would handle all the merchandising and intellectual property business. Which, it turns out, was only half-true. Yes, rumours of Ghibli's demise have been greatly exaggerated. You can't blame people for being worried, mind; the studio's most celebrated director, Hayao Miyazaki, announced his retirement after last year's The Wind Also Rises, which already put people in doubt as to whether the company would continue. When a loosely-translated version of yesterday's news story hit the web last night people connected the dots and assumed the worst. It turns out, however, that Studio Ghibli aren't going to be shuttering for good - they're more just, we don't know, hibernating. No need to throw yourself in front of a catbus just yet.
A newer, more accurate translation of that aforementioned documentary has now appeared online. Turns out Toshio Suzuki, Ghibli's general manager, wasn't suggesting that the studio were going to be retiring from making films altogether. Just that they "will take a brief pause to consider where to go from here." Suzuki also said that it wasn't "impossible" to keep making films forever but, considering the falling profits of their last few films compared to the high production costs of the traditional, hand-drawn animation they're known for - last year's The Tale of Princess Kaguya was considered a flop, netting 5.1 billion yen at the box office - maybe it's just not financially viable for them to keep making movies. It would be really sad if Studio Ghibli stopped making films, but even more so if the people who had brought us such magical and heartwarming movies had to do so because of something as horribly trivial and decidedly un-magical as not making enough money. Ghibli's most recent film, When Marnie Was There, was released last month in Japan, but no foreign release has been announced yet. So far it's made about $36 million in their native country - impressive, but still not the blockbusters amounts they're used to. Or need to survive. Eek.
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Tom Baker is the Comics Editor at WhatCulture! He's heard all the Doctor Who jokes, but not many about Randall and Hopkirk. He also blogs at