Studio Ghibli is going through some changes. The studio co-founded by legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki is being bought by Japanese broadcast station Nippon Television, the companies announced on Thursday. While this may sound like bad news, it’s a very complicated time at Ghibli, and it seems that the studio thinks Nippon can make things a little smoother.
The studio is currently run by Miyazaki himself, who is 82 years old, along with co-founder and producer Suzuki Toshio, who is 75. While both animation legends are getting up there in years, the real problem is that there’s no clear successor who could step up to run the studio when the current pair decide they want to retire — actually retire, that is, not the fake retiring that Miyazaki has done several times.
One seemingly obvious choice would be Goro Miyazaki, Hayao’s son, however the younger director has made it clear in the past that he has no interest in running Ghibli, particularly on his own. This leaves the legendary studio without any clear path forward, which is where Nippon comes into play.
In a deal that started with Toshio meeting Nippon’s executive officer and chairman Sugiyama Mikuni at a hot spring, the two companies agreed to a deal that would give Nippon controlling stake in the animation studio. With its new investment, the Japanese broadcast TV studio became Studio Ghibli’s largest shareholder with 42.3% voting rights. According to the two companies, this will allow Nippon’s management to step in and manage Ghibli and guide its future without getting in the way of the studio’s creative process and brand value. The change in leadership is set to take effect in October.
Nippon and Ghibli have collaborated on several projects in the past, including broadcasting Miyazaki’s Naussicaä of the Valley of the Wind and invested in both Kiki’s Delivery Service and the Ghibli museum.
As for director Miyazaki, his latest film The Boy and the Heron is set to be released in the United States on Dec. 8. The movie was set to be Miyazaki’s last, but apparently the director has started coming into the office lately with even more new ideas for movies, which could mean that he may once again come of out of retirement for a new movie. For now, however, The Boy and the Heron is the only movie on the calendar for Studio Ghibli in the near future.