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Studio Ghibli's First Ever TV Series Is Getting An English-Language Release

If their movies can spirit your imagination away, just think what 26 episodes of a TV show can do.
By Sarah Ward
October 16, 2016
By Sarah Ward
October 16, 2016

Since Studio Ghibli was formed back in 1985, the team behind the Japanese animation powerhouse have been more than a little busy. They've crafted twenty films that have captured the hearts and minds of cinema-going audiences. They've also made 1993 TV movie Ocean Waves, this year's co-production The Red Turtle, and a whole heap of shorts and television commercials. Plus, they worked on a handful of video games, as well as a British stage production of Princess Mononoke.

What's missing from that hefty list of enchanting entertainment? An ongoing small screen series, which is something that Studio Ghibli only turned its attention to recently, in fact. Based on the Swedish children's fantasy book of the same name, Ronja the Robber's Daughter (or Sanzoku no Musume Rōnya) is a 26-episode effort co-produced by the studio and directed by Gorō Miyazaki, who also helmed Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill. As his name suggests, yes, he's the son of legendary My Neighbour TotoroSpirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

The show tells the tale of the titular young daughter of a professional thief who grows up exploring a forest filled with mythical creatures. Then Ronja meets Birk, a child from a rival tribe, who forces her to think about her dad's line of work, as well as family, friendship, love and understanding in general. We know what you're thinking: it sounds like classic Ghibli.

Ronja the Robber's Daughter actually aired on Japanese TV in late 2014 and early 2015, so the fact that the animation studio has made a television show is kind of old news. But, the Asian Television Award and International Emmy Award-winning series has just been picked up by Amazon, and is finally making its way to broader audiences in an English-language dubbed version released on its Amazon Prime service.

On the one hand, even with Gillian Anderson headlining the American voice cast as the show's narrator, dubbed versions of Ghibli films aren't quite the same as the originals. On the other hand, getting to see a Ghibli television series in any form is a reason to rejoice. If their movies can spirit your imagination away, just think what 26 instalments of a TV program can do.

There's no word yet as to whether Aussie viewers will get the opportunity to watch Ronja the Robber's Daughter — and if so, how and where — though hopefully this is a step in the right direction. And with Ghibli scaling back their film efforts (and Hayao Miyazaki announcing his retirement, while also working on a computer-animated short and a magical forest park), it's definitely something to look forward to.

Published on October 16, 2016 by Sarah Ward

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