If you want to make an anime for the US market, then Studio Ghibli is your best bet in terms of creation studios. For some reason, the fairly unique animation style and slow, quiet pace of the studio’s productions often manage to push through the mainstream adult market in the US in a way that no other has been able to match. The average Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes for Ghibli’s animated feature films lies well above 80%, making it the most critically successful anime series internationally. While its films may not have the Spartan action that makes Pokémon and Sailor Moon a widespread financial success or the hard-hitting action and social commentary that garners Cowboy Bebop lifelong otaku adherents outside of Japan today, they do have a quiet charm to them. They also tend to take place in imaginative fantasy worlds with all manner of completely original or chimerically re-imagined creatures. These qualities, along with a tendency to use more expensive (if less stylistically interesting) animation techniques than most of the cheaply-made and hastily-produced video anima constantly coming on the market is what causes many critics to nod their head in knowing approval whenever a new production is screened at a film festival.
In 2014, the Japanese studio released Ronja the Robber’s Daughter in the land of the rising sun. The art style falls in line closely with other releases by the studio, with Ronja looking hardly distinguishable from Princess Mononoke or Satsuki from My Neighbor Totoro if one were to simply imagine her with a different costume and hair style. Anime has recently moved in the direction of using CGI to animate productions. This saps the beauty of hand-drawn artistry away from the works. Ronja’s show looks markedly different from Spirited Away, for example – lifeless and generic, as tends to happen with CGI animation. Yet in terms of direction and creative beauty, the high quality of the 26-episode series can’t be denied. Perhaps, in a way, the move to CGI was better for the evolution of the genre – the lowered cost may lead to longer and more substantive productions in the future.
RRD was already released in 2015 in Japan, but it doesn’t have much attention yet from the broader US audience before its forthcoming Amazon Prime release. IMBD is the only review website to have an entry for it, where it holds a 7.3 out of 10. While this may seem like a respectable grade for an animated children’s program, its pallor is apparent when compared to other popular Studio Ghibli productions, which netizen fanboys furiously rate up in a reflexive campaign to increase the profile on anime in the Anglosphere. The source of the rejection of this new entry into the Ghibli catalogue appears to be the CGI animation style. Other than the maligned animation, the work is still considered strong. It won an international Emmy award for children’s animation.
Old-time fans of anime will grumble about the noticeably different aesthetic of this and other recent anime series’. However, since the cost is much lower with such technological aids, it’s probable that the Japanese studios are all preparing to let computer-generated graphics seep into a lot more of their work in the future. As happened with cheap CGI, the current generation will probably get used to it and some point and the next will see these graphical changes as the new normal. The fantastical spirit of the work is still very much in tact, though, so the popularity is unlike to be much affected.
We are not likely to see a season 2 of #RRD simply due to the nature of anime series’. Much like telenovelas, studios tend to produce a story from beginning to end and then release it. At most, if the series proves popular enough, one or more movies might be made. None of this is certain, though, and strong popularity might spur Amazon to press Ghibli for more. We will have to wait and see.
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Are you anticipating the release of #RonjaRobberDaughter? Do you prefer your anime dubbed or subtitled? If you have seen the trailer for the Japanese version, what do you think of the new cel-shaded animation style? Give us your comments and opinions down below.