In 2020, more people will have access to Studio Ghibli’s beloved animated films than ever before. Founded by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, along with producers Toshio Suzuki and Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Ghibli has wowed critics around the world, and made box-office history in its native country. But in other pockets of the world — including the United States — Ghibli’s movies remain under the radar. (Or at least, in the shadow of Disney’s cultural monolith.)
That may be about to change. In early 2020, the Ghibli collection began rolling out on international Netflix platforms. And the launch of HBO Max will see the films debuting on a North American streaming platform for the first time. Movies like 1986’s Castle in the Sky, 1988’s My Neighbor Totoro, 1989’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1995’s Whisper of the Heart, 1997’s Princess Mononoke, 1999’s My Neighbors the Yamadas, 2001’s Spirited Away, 2013’s The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, and 2013’s The Wind Rises will finally be available to watch online, with a click of a button. This wasn’t what Miyazaki and his Ghibli co-founders necessarily intended, but it is the way of the future.
In honor of the seismic shift in the studio’s accessibility, Polygon is dedicating a week to covering the films, the creators, and the influence of the studio on generations of viewers. Why are we going to such lengths for one studio’s movies? The best answer may be Miyazaki’s own quote on the power of storytelling:
“I believe that stories have an important role to play in the formation of human beings, that they can stimulate, amaze and inspire their listeners.”