Studio Ghibli is an institution in the world of anime, but it is far from invulnerable. They are not swimming in money, and they are not oblivious to the fact that they exist in a capitalist society. Therefore, while their films are genuine works of art and undoubtedly enjoy resounding success, including a movie released this year, it doesn’t mean that as the years pass, the studio’s future is becoming increasingly uncertain. Its founders are not getting any younger, and there are no apparent successors in sight. That’s why it’s not surprising that they have had to reach agreements that may sound more concerning than they actually are.
We say this because Nippon TV has announced its intention to acquire 42.3% of Studio Ghibli’s shares. Once the transaction is completed, NTV will become the majority shareholder of Studio Ghibli. This will make the studio a subsidiary of Japan’s first commercial television network.
If this is less concerning than it may seem, it’s because this has actually happened with the consent of both parties. The acquisition was announced by Yoshikuni Sugiyama, Representative Director of Nippon TV, and Toshio Suzuki, founding member and president of Studio Ghibli. Suzuki emphasized during the press conference that the absence of a “successor” is what has led to this acquisition. He pointed out that Miyazaki is 82 years old, and Suzuki himself is 75, highlighting how they currently have no one who can fill the positions they occupy. Therefore, unless something changes, this should not alter the way Ghibli operates creatively, and it will continue to be an independent company.
He has also emphasized something that we already suspected but confirms that the relationship between the Miyazaki family members is, at the very least, strained. Ghibli has offered on several occasions for Goro Miyazaki to lead the studio when they step down, but he has refused each time. His own father, Hayao Miyazaki, has also declined this role.
Nippon TV has been discussing this potential acquisition with Ghibli since last year. While it may seem sudden, they have a long history of mutual cooperation. They were the first to broadcast Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on television in 1985, and since then, they have aired all of Ghibli’s films with very good viewership. This explains why they want to continue this close relationship now that the studio is starting to consider its future when Miyazaki and Suzuki can no longer lead Ghibli.