To borrow a line from another great character of a fantastic fictional world: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror…”
Yesterday on the documentary news show Jounetsu Tairiku, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki announced that the famed home of anime creator Hayao Miyazaki would be making a big change. In Suzuki’s words, the films section of the production company that gave birth to My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso, and Howl’s Moving Castle, among many others, will be “temporarily dissolved.” As a piece on Kotaku rightly points out, there are levels of nuance to what the retired Studio Ghibli producer actually said. He doesn’t say that the films section of Studio Ghibli will be closing its doors and calling it quits; rather, it would be taking a “breather.” However, “temporarily dissolve” does sound a bit worrisome, particularly to ardent fans.
It didn’t take long for the news to filter into the Ghibli fan community, where it was misinterpreted, and the news spread quickly after that. Ensuing reactions on the Twittersphere went as expected, ranging from…
This trepidation doesn’t appear from thin air, though. Since Miyazaki‘s announcement of his retirement last year, and well before it, Ghibli fans have speculated nervously about the future of the anime studio. One of the phrases that Suzuki returns to again and again in his statement are the phrases “major cleanup” and “restructure,” which might sound ominous, but certainly sound better than “it’s all over” and “it was fun while it lasted.” The studio has tried to develop talent who could follow in the footsteps of the director, and in those of Isao Takahata, Ghibli co-founder, but it has had difficulty in finding another creative force that could inspire the next generation. So it may need to take this time as a plan out the best way to move forward.
So step away from the tattoo parlor and hope for the best, because nobody wants to count the “House of Totoro” out just yet.