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Studio Ghibli in your corner of the world

Classifying Studio Ghibli's work doesn't just take account of the content of their films, but also how they are watched and by whom. Hear our examples
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Studio Ghibli’s dedicated fans range across age groups – see the Ghibli merchandise collections photographed by their owners on the website for this session. Anime is familiar to Japanese audiences as something made for and consumed by both children and adults, though particular animes target and attract particular age ranges. You could also check out fan art (including a lot of edible works) using a search engine, Pinterest boards and Tumblrs. We can use this evidence of Ghibli’s actual audience, their fan base, to problematise the labelling of their works as ‘children’s films’, to show how thorny a term that is. Other factors that we can consider, in questioning how well Studio Ghibli’s films fit
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into categories of ‘children’s films’, are: ● What sections of shops and websites are their films sold under? ● What times are their films are screened at in cinemas? ● If they are part of a season, what else is being screened alongside Ghibli? ● What does the marketing for the event on posters, print brochures or online look like? ● And what does all of this tell us about the target audience? In York recently, several films were screened as part of a Ghibli season on family-friendly Sunday lunchtimes; whereas Somerset House screened Totoro in the evening.
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Its season also included the thriller Deliverance, Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Sequel, and the black comedy In Bruges… films unlikely to fall into even the loosest definitions of ‘children’s films’. To wrap up this session, we’ve considered some ways in which we can define, delimit and problematise the category of ‘children’s films’. In particular, we have explored some ways in which Studio Ghibli’s films meet, fall short of, transgress or transcend those definitions. Next time, we travel from the silver screen of Japan to the small screen in the UK, to see how pictures of youth are constructed around children’s education on reality television.

Classifying Studio Ghibli’s work doesn’t just take account of the content of their films, but also how they are watched and by whom. Listen as we explain more and offer some examples from our locality.

In the video above, we explained that there are a range of socio-cultural factors that we can consider in questioning how well Studio Ghibli’s films fit into categories of ‘children’s films’.

These factors concern things like how people watch Ghibli’s works, consume their merchandise, as well as who is watching and consuming them.

That is to say, what counts as ‘children’s film’ – and what is excluded from the category – is socially and culturally determined. It can also vary historically and culturally.

In the video, we gave an example of some socio-cultural factors that we can use to problematise any attempt to classify Studio Ghibli’s works as ‘children’s film’ based on our experiences of Ghibli screenings in York and London (UK) in 2017-18.

But such phenomena vary from one place to another. It would be wrong to assume that what is happening with Ghibli in two cities in the UK is the same as what is happening with it in your corner of the world.

So, for this discussion, we’d like you to think about and/or do some research on Ghibli events happening or products available near to you.

Then, in your contributions to the discussion, you might:

  • Remind us roughly where in the world you are (perhaps tell us the name of your city, region or country)

Next, give us some information on a couple of the following questions:

  • What sections of shops and websites are Ghibli films sold under?

  • What times are their films are screened at in cinemas?

  • If they are part of a season, what else is being screened alongside Ghibli?

  • What does the marketing for the event on posters, print brochures or online look like?

  • And what does all of this tell us about the target and actual audiences for Ghibli?

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Pictures of Youth: An Introduction to Children’s Visual Culture

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