With the eternally looming spectre of Miyazaki Hayao’s retirement, the death of Takahata Isao and the failure to establish a viable new artistic figurehead to follow in their footsteps, Studio Ghibli has been at a crucial crossroads for some time. Over the past few decades, the acclaimed Japanese animation studio has adopted three main strategies to cope with these changes: apprenticeship to foster new talent, co-productions both domestically and abroad, and shutting down their production facilities. Each approach has affected Ghibli’s evolving brand identity – and the meaning of the ‘Ghibli film’ – causing confusion in the international critical reception of the resulting movies. Academic approaches too have shown difficulties dealing with recent shifts. While conceptualizing the ‘Ghibli film’ as the product of a studio brand or as the work of auteurs Miyazaki and Takahata has proven useful, such frameworks have become inadequate for accommodating these changes. This article therefore proposes a new approach for understanding recent ‘Ghibli films’, arguing that, rather than being treated as a brand or genre, they have increasingly been fashioned along modular lines.
anime and Japanese animation
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- Animation, Branding and Authorship in the Construction of the ‘Anti-Disney’ Ethos: Hayao Miyazaki’s Works and Persona through Disney Film Criticism
- A Modular Genre? Problems in the Reception of the Post-Miyazaki ‘Ghibli Film’