Studio Ghibli, the famed Japanese animation studio of Hayao Miyazaki, will become a subsidiary of Nippon Television Network Corp, both sides said on Thursday.
Succession worries had been a priority at Ghibli, as Miyazaki has turned 82 and producer Toshio Suzuki is 75, the companies said in a joint statement.
The boards of both companies agreed at meetings on Thursday that the major commercial broadcast network will become Studio Ghibli's top shareholder, with a 42.3 per cent stake. Financial details were not given.
Nippon TV said it will send executives to support Ghibli’s management, while honouring its creative independence so it can focus on animation and other artistic projects.
The deal was first discussed last year at an “onsen” hot springs, the companies said, when Suzuki asked Nippon TV executive Yoshikuni Sugiyama for help in managing Ghibli. Sugiyama promised to give support.
Miyazaki’s son Goro is also an animation director and has been mentioned as a possible successor. But he had expressed doubts, saying the responsibility was too great.
Ghibli and Nippon TV have collaborated in the past, since Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind aired on TV in 1985. Nippon TV has also helped produce various Ghibli works, starting with Miyazaki’s 1989 Kiki’s Delivery Service. It also helped set up the museum devoted to Ghibli works in Tokyo.
Earlier this year, Miyazaki finished The Boy and the Heron, completed after seven years. It is based on a book but is also loosely based on Miyazaki’s wartime childhood. The Japanese title, which better expresses its theme, translates to: “How Will You Live?”
Miyazaki won an Oscar for his 2001 Spirited Away. He has occasionally declared he was retiring but has always returned to his craft.
He has produced an extensive range of animation works enjoyed by adults as well as children, including My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo.