National / Media | Japan Pulse

Social media in Japan fumes over Studio Ghibli's Netflix omission

by Siri Smith

Contributing Writer

Anime fans will now be able to enjoy a night in with Studio Ghibli after Netflix began streaming 21 films from the animation firm’s catalogue on Feb. 1. However, there’s a catch.

While Studio Ghibli enthusiasts in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region are celebrating the news, subscribers in Japan and North America are for the most part cursing the streaming service for being excluded from the deal.

Fans in Canada and the United States took to Twitter to show their disdain, despite the fact that the upcoming streaming platform HBO Max will have the films available in North America later this year.

Twitter user @wtfannet tweeted a quote from the Netflix statement accompanied by a video of a man whose smile morphs into tears. The post gained more than 70,000 likes.

“When I saw Studio Ghibli is going to be on Netflix next month but not in the U.S. … I hate it here,” wrote @cristina_vance with an accompanying GIF of Michael from the American adaptation of “The Office” saying, “No! No! Please God, no!”

Meanwhile, @GUN_Vanguard tweeted an image of a shocked Pokemon character looking at its computer screen in reaction to the news.

Other reactions were more simple.

“Got all excited and then y’all really gonna put exclusions on it. Screw you,” @QueenAshekat wrote.

Many fans were left confused as to why the films were not being released on Netflix in the country of their origin, Japan.

“So lemme get this straight. It’s available in Australia and New Zealand and globally. But not in Japan where the films originated, Canada and the U.S. That’s total BS,” said Twitter user @bunnyround785.

“Studio Ghibli starts playing on Netflix next month. I just read not in Japan!”  wrote @lilykhazali with an accompanying GIF of a man shouting, “Hey, what the heck?”

And, while a number of Twitter users were quietly raging through their keyboards, others were proposing a few questionable solutions.

“Me turning on my VPN to watch Ghibli movies,” wrote @doms, attaching an image of a man wearing a hoodie and a suspicious mask at a computer to the post.

Although social media users in Japan, Canada and the United States were up in arms over the news, people in the luckier regions of the world were gearing up for binge sessions.

Twitter user @maekankouya shared a Ghibli checklist so people can cross out the films they have watched one by one, writing: “after marking up my check list, it made me realize I gotta watch more LOL.”

“My love language is binge-watching Studio Ghibli films while you feed me halloumi fries,” @sophiekeen wrote.

Netflix boasts a list of 21 Ghibli films that will ultimately be available for streaming. These include childhood favorites “Spirited Away” (2001), “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989) and “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988).

The list also includes some lesser known titles, including “Pom Poko” (1994), “Ocean Waves” (1993) and “From Up on Poppy Hill” (2011).

However, it’s worth noting that one of the studio’s most emotional films, “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988), is not included in this list due to its rights being held by another publishing company, Tokuma Shoten.

The movies are set to be released in monthly installments, the first seven coming in February, and the rest dropping on March 1 and April 1.

And for people who aren’t sure where to start once they are all released, the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away” was ranked at No. 1. by The New York Times in its definitive ranking of the studio’s films.

Despite the exclusion of Japan and North America, Studio Ghibli’s reluctant history with streaming services can only mean this is a step up from what was previously available. Its former distribution deal with Disney restricted edits to the films and merchandising after the company’s work was cut to pieces for the 1984 release of “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.”

Although the films will not be available on Netflix for Japanese fans, they’re not entirely left out of the equation.

Nippon Television Network Corp. has a summer tradition of showing a different Ghibli film every Friday night for the month of August.

“In this day and age, there are various great ways a film can reach audiences,” Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki said in the Netflix press release.

“We’ve listened to our fans and have made the definitive decision to stream our film catalogue,” Suzuki said. “We hope people around the world will discover the world of Studio Ghibli through this experience.”

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