One of the failures of our streaming present has been how, regardless of how many streaming services and digital platforms there are, Studio Ghibli’s acclaimed animated films have long been withheld from them. Slowly, that’s been changing: 2019 was the first year that viewers could purchase Ghibli films digitally, and in 2020 current U.S. distributor GKids made the Ghibli library available to stream on HBO Max.
But given the scorched-earth direction HBO Max’s corporate stewards have taken towards animation both past and future, it’s natural to feel antsy about the digital availability of some of the best animated classics ever made. Fortunately, there’s one more option: Digital rental.
GKids is completing the digital viewing trifecta, making the Ghibli films available to rent on digital platforms for the first time ever, including Apple TV, Amazon VOD, Vudu, Google Play, and Microsoft at the price of $4.99/film.
While digital rental isn’t as appealing as digital — or physical — ownership, the uncertainty overtaking the streaming landscape means that lower-cost, easily accessible options for a lot of animated work is coming into question. Should the executives at Warner Bros. Discovery suddenly decide they are no longer interested in having Studio Ghibli’s films on their service, it will quickly be that much harder to see these films with the ease and convenience of digital viewing.
It’s worth emphasizing that nothing beats the level of permanence that comes with owning physical media, but fans who find themselves away from their blu-ray collection and without an HBO Max subscription have a slightly more affordable option to watch these great movies just about anywhere.