Studio Ghibli might not be as well-known for the general audience as it’s Western counterparts, like Dreamworks or Pixar, but the Japanese company received critical acclaim and garnered cult following all around the globe with their charming, wholesome, animated tales. Now they decided to follow Disney and make their fantasies a reality!
Known for their feature length, meticulously drawn cartoons, Studio Ghibli announced a few years ago their plans of opening the Ghibli Park in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture. The $323 million project was expected to be completed this year, but due to the pandemic they will open in late 2022, at the earliest.
The site will feature five themed areas inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s visionary works, including a full sized recreation of the titular building from “Howl’s Moving Castle”, which will be 16 meter (52 feet) tall, with a detailed interior, available to be explored by the visitors. Other attractions pay homage to their other works, like “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Princess Mononoke” or “Kiki’s Delivery Service”.
The site formerly gave home to Japan’s World Expo in 2005, which already included a Ghibli related attraction, namely the main characters’ (Satsuki and Mei’s) home from the 1998 movie “My Neighbor Totoro”. The renovated building will continue to be present in the new site.
The park is designed and constructed in a rather unusual way, but quite in line with the sentiments presented in a lot of their works; by trying to be in complete harmony with nature. For example, no trees were cut down in the almost 500-acre location at Miyazaki’s request. Also, the Ghibli Park will lack any conventional amusement park rides, focusing on breathtaking scenery rather than rollercoasters.
Further developments on the Park can be followed on the Twitter page of Aichi Prefecture’s Governor, Hideaki Omura (@ohmura_hideaki), sadly without English translation, in Japanese only.
Founded in 1985, the animation studio brought some of the most memorable and critically acclaimed anime movies to small and big screens all around the world, including the late Isao Takahata’s shocking anti-war movie “Grave of the Fireflies”, Miyazaki’s light hearted tribute to aviation, “Porco Rosso” and his Academy Award and Golden Bear winning “Spirited Away”.
Studio Ghibli’s track record is more than impressive with most of its film scoring over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, some even reaching 100%. Their last one though, the computer generated “Earwig and the Witch”, directed by the now retired elder Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki, turned out to be both a commercial and critical failure, similarly to his first movie, “Tales from Earthsea” and preceding the moderately successful “From Up on Poppy Hill”. Hopefully the company will manage to recover their former glory under the new leadership.
The movies can be watched through HBO Max in the United States, and for the rest of the world, on Netflix.