Anime from Japan are almost a dime a dozen, but if one is looking for quality Japanese animation with some classic or whimsy, then a fan would probably look first at the anime films from Studio Ghibli, a highly regarded and multi-awarded anime production company co-founded by iconic anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Many movies from Miyazaki and his collaborators in Ghibli have won major media accolades overseas for undeniable masterpieces like 2000’s “Spirited Away.” Watching their good-sized anime film library usually takes some searching, but streaming giant Netflix hopes to solve that. However the solution, rights-wise, has become rather complicated.
From the New York Post, it appears that Netflix has inked a deal with Studio Ghibli to make their classic and new anime films become available for streaming by next month. From their early-years blockbusters such as “Nausicaa” and “My Neighbor Totoro,” to more contemporary selections like “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” “Ponyo” and “The Wind Rises,” 21 Ghibli features will be carried by Netflix on their massive digital streaming library, in Japanese with multiple selectable dubs/subtitles. But there is a catch: the streams will be available on all Netflix-covered territories except for Canada, the US and its own native Japan.
Before stateside anime fans with Netflix subscriptions cry foul however, there are an explanation and an alternative for watching streaming Ghibli in the US. For one thing, American streaming rights are with HBO. The problem is that they will be available in HBO’s own exclusive streaming platform HBO Max, a pricier platform than the more reasonable HBO Go or HBO Now. And another thing, the Max service will not launch until May of this year. That means American aficionados of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli will have to wait longer.
Still, all this fuss for Ghibli anime stuff on digital streaming is only even possible now because of a drastic change in stance from the Tokyo-based anime studio. Having started out in the era of traditional hand-drawn animation, the Ghibli founders and crew are a conservative lot that, until very recently, was against releasing their masterpieces on digital format. This had led to an enforced rarity on hard-media copies of Studio Ghibli films.
But producer Toshio Suzuki has announced that the company has bowed to fan pressure, when he said in a statement, “In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences. We’ve listened to our fans and have made the definitive decision to stream our film catalogue. We hope people around the world will discover the world of Studio Ghibli through this experience.”
Image courtesy of The Verge