World-renowned Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli will become a subsidiary of the major Japanese TV network, Nippon Television. The acquisition, announced by Nippon TV on September 21, led to shocked reactions, with some fearing for the studio’s future. However, Studio Ghibli in fact already has a long history of being a subsidiary, and their favorable relations with Nippon TV up until now may also serve to dispel some of the concerns.
In Nippon TV’s official announcement, it’s mentioned that the upcoming acquisition of Studio Ghibli is set to take place on October 6. As part of the merger, Nippon TV will acquire a 42.3% stake in Studio Ghibli’s voting rights, and the network’s board director, Hiroyuki Fukuda, will become the studio’s new CEO. Additionally, former president Toshio Suzuki will become the Chairman of the Board, with Hayao Miyazaki becoming an Honorary Chairman of the studio. However, this kind of form of management is not without precedent for Studio Ghibli.
Initially formed under the publishing company Tokuma Shoten in 1985, Studio Ghibli was originally created as a subsidiary, with the studio’s producer Toshio Suzuki being an editor for the publishing company at the time. The studio ran as a subsidiary for years before its independence in 2005, making its history as an independent studio significantly shorter. Additionally, most of the studio’s most iconic titles, such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, date from this “Tokuma Shoten era.”
Furthermore, Nippon TV, which is to acquire Studio Ghibli this time around, has had a positive, long-standing relationship with the studio throughout the years, with the TV network frequently broadcasting Ghibli films in their Kinyoubi Road Show segment, a long-running TV segment that airs full-length films every Friday. According to Ghibli’s official website, Nippon TV’s movie segment alone has aired the studio’s films over 200 times since its founding in 1985. The TV network has also provided support to the studio’s various initiatives such as the production of the hit animated film Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).
In Nippon TV’s official notice regarding the acquisition, they mention that their executives will support Studio Ghibli’s management and emphasize that they will respect its autonomy and that the studio will continue to focus on its anime film production and the operation of the Ghibli Museum and Ghibli Park. Nippon TV believes that the acquisition will allow the network to provide Studio Ghibli with further support by handling much of the studio’s management, while the studio focuses on its productions and related business ventures.
Although some Ghibli fans may have found the news of the subsidiary to be surprising, the studio, in reality, already has years of experience as a child company. With Studio Ghibli and Nippon TV’s decades-long history of partnership and the success of the studio’s films on Kinyoubi Road Show, it will be interesting to see what this new venture will lead to.