We bring you 20 facts about Studio Ghibli:
1. The name Ghibli is based on the Arabic sirocco (the Mediterranean wind), as the Studio wanted to “blow a new wind through the Japanese anime industry”.
2. The studio has a strict “no cuts” policy after 1984’s Nausicaä was butchered by an American studio to make it more audience friendly. Fourteen years later, Studio Ghibli sent Miramax a samurai sword with a simple message: “no cuts”, after Miramax left scenes from Princess Mononoke on the cuttings floor.
3. Hayao Miyazaki, one of the Studio’s founders and principal directors, never uses a script in his films. This is because he “usually doesn’t have the time”, so just relies on spur of the moment ideas.
4. Batman actors Michael Keaton and Christian Bale have both voiced the Western translation of Studio Ghibli films. Keaton, who played Batman in Tim Burton’s film, was the voice of Porco Rosso in the film of the same name, and Bale dubbed Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle.
5. 1994’s Pom Poko contains some of the Studio’s perhaps more questionable creative choices. In it, a band of racoons rescue a forest from being bulldozed using their magic testicles (which can expand to double the size of their body) as a mace-like weapon. The unusual weaponry is a tradition in Japanese tanuki folklore.
6. Hayao Miyazaki refused to attend the 2002 Oscars ceremony as a protest against the American invasion of Iraq.
7. Arrietty, or The Borrower Arietty, was based on the popular 1952 children’s novel The Borrowers, written by English author Mary Norton. The film was released in 2010, although Miyazaki and his co-founder Isao Takahata had been considering an adaption for 40 years.
8. Unexpectedly, Disney, Studio Ghibli’s frequent USA distributor, turned down From Up On Poppy Hill as they were worried about its profit potential. The film took a total of $61 million at the global box office.
9. From Up On Poppy Hill is the second film directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of the founder of Studio Ghibli, Hiyao. His first, Tales From Earthsea (2006), is considered the Studio’s weakest film.
10. Following the 2011 Japanese tsunami and earthquake, From Up on Poppy Hill’s production was severely hindered by rolling power outages from the aftermath. As such, a large amount of animation was done at night to avoid disruptions.
11. The protagonist of Spirited Away (2001) was inspired by the sullen 10-year-old daughter of one of Miyazaki’s friends.
12. Spirited Away won a Golden Bear and an Oscar in 2002 for Best Animated Feature; the only film not made in the English-speaking world to have done so.
13. Eight of Studio Ghibli’s films are among the 15 highest-grossing anime films made in Japan, with Spirited Away being the highest, grossing over $274 million worldwide.
14. Tales From Earthsea (2006) was the first Disney-distributed film to be given a PG-13 rating, for ‘some violent images’.
15. Japanese animation boomed after the international succses of Disney’s 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, as artists were given a new perspective from the American style.
16. Tales From Earthsea (2006) was the unfortunate (and controversial) winner of Japan’s Bunshun Raspberry Award for Worst Movie of 2006.
17. In its opening week of release, Tales From Earthsea (2006) overtook Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest to become number one at the Japanese box office for five weeks.
18. Anne Hathaway voiced the protagonist Haru Yoshioka in the English dubbed version of The Cat Returns (2002).
19. The Cat Returns (2002) came about after a Japanese theme park asked Studio Ghibli to create a short animation featuring cats.
20. Studio Ghibli’s logo features the title character from My Neighbour Totoro (1988), a large forest spirit.