Hayao Miyazaki’s celebrated Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli said Thursday it will be acquired by private broadcaster Nippon TV, citing his old age.
Miyazaki, widely considered one of the world’s greatest animators, founded Studio Ghibli in 1985, and it went on to produce the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away” and the fan-favourite “My Neighbour Totoro”.
Miyazaki is now 82 years old, and the studio’s top producer is 75.
“We have long struggled with the question: who will be the successor,” Studio Ghibli said in a joint statement with NTV.
Miyazaki’s son and anime director Goro was repeatedly suggested as a possible successor.
But he has “firmly rejected” the idea because “it’s difficult to shoulder Ghibli all by myself”, according to the statement.
This left the studio looking for other candidates to handle business management.
“It is against this backdrop that the negotiation started between Studio Ghibli and Nippon TV,” they said.
NTV described Ghibli as a studio that “we can be proud of before the world”, and said its autonomy would be respected following the acquisition.
The broadcaster said it will get 42.3 percent of the voting rights in the studio, which will become its subsidiary.
Ghibli and NTV did not disclose the financial details of the deal, under which Miyazaki will become the honorary chairman of the studio. A top NTV executive will helm Ghibli.
Miyazaki has built a cult following worldwide with his fantastical depictions of nature and machinery, and beloved characters such as the cuddly forest spirit creature Totoro.
In 2013, Miyazaki said he would no longer make feature-length films as he could not maintain the hectic intensity of his perfectionist approach to work.
However, in an about-turn four years later, his production company said he was coming out of retirement to make what would be “his final film, considering his age”.
“The Boy and the Heron”, his first feature in a decade, hit theatres in July. — Agence France-Presse