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Fans of anime house Studio Ghibli have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster for the past few weeks. First came the dizzying high that always accompanies a new Ghibli release, in this case director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s When Marnie Was There. Then came the vague yet nevertheless alarming comments from long-time producer Toshio Suzuki, who reflected on the merits of Ghibli “dismantling,” “restructuring,” or “reconstructing” its anime production department.

This was followed almost immediately by reports that Japanese online media company Dwango was set to purchase and absorb Studio Ghibli into its corporate body. Those rumors have now been quashed, though, and by what seems to be a fairly reliable source: Dwango’s chairman himself.

Speaking to reporters from IT Media News, the 45-year-old media mogul responded to questions about the rumored acquisition in no uncertain terms.

“That’s utter nonsense.”

▼ Besides, everyone knows you can’t run Studio Ghibli without glasses and grey hair, and Kawakami doesn’t have either.

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It’s easy to see why many people were so quick to believe the scenario. Dwango is the parent company of Niconico Douga, a video-sharing website that’s so popular in Japan that when it came for the debut of the new Sailor Moon Crystal anime, producers of the hotly anticipated show chose to bypass a TV broadcast altogether and instead stream the series on Niconico Douga instead.

Dwango has also shown a desire to diversify its operations, as it owns Spike Chunsoft, the video game developer behind such high-concept titles as Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Danganronpa. Speaking of games, one of Dwango’s shareholders (albeit a minor one), is Nintendo, whose value of tradition, individuality, and near universal respect among both hardcore and casual fans put it in a position not unlike Studio Ghibli in the anime industry.

▼ Sure, that Mercedes-Benz DLC is cool and all but wouldn’t you rather be driving the Kitten Bus in Mario Kart 9?

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And come this October, Dwango will find itself in the anime publishing business, courtesy of its merger with Kadokawa Corporation, which has been a major anime player for decades. There’s also the fact that Kawakami has previously spent time with Studio Ghibli studying how its producers operate, and that he served as producer on the 2013 Ghibli documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Add all of it up, and the idea of Dwango stepping in to acquire Ghibli during the studio current identity crisis was pretty plausible.

Still, plausible and true are two very different things, as Kawakami’s denial proves. “I can hardly believe someone would write that,” he fumed. “I really want news outlets to stop with this kind of irresponsible reporting just to get page views.”

We can understand his frustration, and you know what always calms us down? A viewing of the 1988 classic My Neighbor Totoro.

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If Kawakami doesn’t already own a copy, we recommend he pick one up, as long as he’s not worried about adding fuel to the rumor fires by possibly causing the headline “Dwango (Chairman) Completes Purchase of Ghibli (DVD for Himself).”

Source: IT Media News
Top image: Colony Drop
Insert images: Wikipedia/Danny Choo, Game Memo, Hatena, Liz Tells Frank