Studio Ghibli sells stake to NTV

For years, Studio Ghibli co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki have been trying to develop a succession strategy for the company. Now it appears they have finally put their plan into action.

On Thursday, studio executives and major Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television Network Corporation announced an agreement under which the broadcaster will acquire a 42.3% stake in the legendary animation production company. When the deal is finalized in October, Ghibli will become a subsidiary of NTV, and NTV executives will take the helm of the studio.

What will change at Ghibli - According to the Japan Times, NTV senior executive officer and director Hiroyuki Fukuda will now lead Ghibli, but NTV will maintain full creative independence for the studio's animation and artistic operations. Suzuki, who returned to the position of studio president earlier this year, will become chairman, and Miyazaki will become chairman emeritus.

Why Ghibli is doing this - The future of Studio Ghibli has long been an important question. According to a release issued by the company on Thursday, "The question of succession has long been an issue at Studio Ghibli, with director Hayao Miyazaki now 82 and producer Toshio Suzuki 75." He said. In Miyazaki's case, the problem goes beyond age. Junichi Nishioka, the studio's vice president, recently said that Miyazaki has no intention of retiring anytime soon and still shows up at the studio every day, but the director has been hinting at retirement for more than 20 years. In any case, Suzuki and Miyazaki would not be able to run the studio forever, and the deal would ensure that Ghibli would continue to operate after their deaths. [In 1985, NTV aired Miyazaki's "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and has broadcast Ghibli films as part of its weekly movie program "Friday Road Show" ever since. It has also financed numerous Ghibli films and the construction of the Mitakanomori Ghibli Museum, which opened in 2001.

What has NTV gained from the deal - first of all, it is one of the most important animation studios in modern history. The Ghibli brand is global and far larger than any of NTV's holdings. According to the broadcaster, making Ghibli a subsidiary "will contribute significantly to the corporate value of the entire NTV group."

Wasn't Miyazaki's son supposed to take over - that was the plan at one point, according to Ghibli's release. However, Goro Miyazaki decided against taking over, "believing that it would be difficult for him to carry Ghibli on his shoulders alone and that it would be better to leave the future of the company to someone else." According to the studio, once Goro Miyazaki was eliminated as a candidate, a search began for the right person or organization to take over the studio after Miyazaki and Suzuki decided to retire.