For the first time ever, you can watch My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away without physical media, but one important movie is being left out.

It wasn’t all that long ago that most people would have said the two most compelling reasons to shell out for HBO were boobs and F-bombs. That image began to erode as the company developed a reputation for producing lavish, award-winning series like Deadwood and Game of Thrones, though again, both of those came with plenty of profanity, nudity, and/or violence in just about every episode.

But now there’s a softer reason to watch HBO: the anime masterpiece films of Studio Ghibli, which are coming to the HBO Max video streaming service.

Between all the loving depictions of high technology in anime as a whole and the medium’s constantly young fanbase, Japanese animation and online streaming have long been a consumer-pleasing combination. Studio Ghibli, though, has been a major holdout, as you’d expect from a fiercely independent company that’s largely led by luddite luminary director Hayao Miyazaki. But in a surprising move, HBO Max has announced that it has become the first streaming service ever that Studio Ghibli has agreed to work with. Ghibli chairman Koji Hoshino expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership, saying:

“As a premium content brand, HBO Max is an ideal home for our films. Upon launch of the service this spring, existing Ghibli fans will be able enjoy their favorites and delve deeper into the library, while whole new audiences will be able to discover our films for the first time.”

▼ And thus whole new audiences will be able to discover how Castle in the Sky Laputa’s Pazu might just be anime’s greatest player.

So come this spring fans can fire up their devices and watch Ghibli movies whenever they want…well, actually some fans, and almost all Ghibli movies.

The deal with HBO covers 21 Studio Ghibli anime, but leaves out one important work: 1988’s Isao Takahata-directed Grave of the Fireflies, a tragedy about two orphans trying to survive in the closing days of World War II. Grave of the Fireflies is the only film from the period when Ghibli was owned by prior parent company Tokuma Shoten that was produced for an outside company, and it’s possible this status excluded it from the collective deal HBO made for the rest of the Ghibli catalog. On the plus side, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which was actually released shortly before Studio Ghibli was formally founded, is part of the streaming deal, as is the made-for-TV Ocean Waves.

Meanwhile, HBO Max’s Ghibli-streaming privileges seem to be only for the U.S., so for fans elsewhere, including Ghibli’s home country of Japan, their only options remain watching the anime off physical media or waiting for a TV broadcast.

Sources: Otakomu, Variety, Deadline
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