We were all hugely saddened by the announcement that Studio Ghibli was taking a temporary break from making movies back in 2014, but it seems there’s hope on the horizon for its revival in one form or another: the new anime studio, Studio Ponoc.
What happened to Studio Ghibli?
As one of the world’s most love and most acclaimed film studios, it seemed as if Studio Ghibli could go on forever. However, in 2014, director Hayao Miyazaki and the studio announced they were taking a temporary break from production.
Since then, it has been announced that Miyazaki will return to direct a new film for Studio Ghibli in the near future, but given his and his fellow directors’ ages, the return of Ghibli may not be for all that long.
What’s Studio Ponoc, then?
Although we’re likely to get a few more films from the original Ghibli team over the next decade or so, Studio Ponoc looks very much like the candidate to carry on its legacy into the far future.
Founded in 2015 by Yoshiaki Nishimura, a former producer from Ghibli aged 39, along with a team of previous Ghibli animators, Studio Ponoc has all the expertise on board to bring the world more and more Ghibli-style films over the coming decades, potentially as the eventual replacement for Studio Ghibli.
Will Ponoc be just like Ghibli?
That remains to be seen, but from the look of the trailer at the top of this page, Ponoc’s first film: Mary And The Witch’s Flower has all the hallmarks of a classic Studio Ghibli film.
With very similar animation style, and a premise that stays strong with the very intimate fantasy storybook vibe that made Ghibli so great, it looks like Ghibli fans will be fully satisfied when it comes to watching Studio Ponoc’s first outing.
Inevitably, Ponoc won’t be exactly the same as Ghibli, and will branch out and try all sorts of new ideas over the years. It seems that they’re playing it safe with Mary And The Witch’s Flower, noted by many as heavily reminiscent of Kiki’s Delivery Service, but the studio will undoubtedly try to forge its own identity too, which can only be a good thing given the expertise on board.
When can I watch the first Studio Ponoc movie?
The great news is that it’s not all that long a wait before Studio Ponoc arrive on the scene. Mary And The Witch’s Flower (which you can watch the trailer for above), is released in Japan on July 8, 2017.
As Studio Ponoc doesn’t yet have an international distributor like Disney is for Ghibli, there aren’t any confirmed foreign release dates for the film. If the reception in Japan is strong, distributors will leap on the opportunity to sign a deal with Ponoc, and the film could even be out by early 2018.
What if I can’t wait that long???
Here, you have two choices. Number one: learn Japanese by this summer and go and see the film in its native Japan.
Your second choice is much simpler. While waiting for Ponoc’s Mary And The Witch’s Flower, as well as Miyazaki and Ghibli’s eventual return, you can check out the incredible progress motion picture anime has been making away from Ghibli.
Director Makoto Shinkai’s smash hit Your Name., which became Japan’s highest-grossing film of all time (above Spirited Away) is a great place to start. Shinkai has often been lauded as the next Hayao Miyazaki, and his whole filmography is full of absolute gems to sample.
There’s also Mamoru Hosoda, the director of Wolf Children, The Boy And The Beast and Summer Wars, and a heap of other directors doing all they can to make sure that the anime genre is as strong as ever both in Japan and internationally in Ghibli’s absence.