Miyazaki’s son Goro also pens a new illustration for fans of the Ghibli Museum.

At the start of every year, people in Japan send out New Year’s greeting cards called nengajo, much like people in Western countries send out Christmas cards for Christmas Day.

It’s not just friends and relatives that send cards wishing for health and happiness in the New Year, but businesses too, and this year Studio Ghibli sent out well wishes to their fans over the Internet, with some very eye-catching illustrations.

Studio Ghibli’s official New Year’s greeting to fans came direct from the studio’s legendary director himself, Hayao Miyazaki. The director drew this striking image of an ox, in honour of 2021 being the Year of the Ox, with one of its hooves pinning down a spiky-looking masked purple character which appears to be Miyazaki’s rendering of the coronavirus.

If those are broken clock hands in its grip, then the demon appears to be responsible for taking time away from us. But the strength of the ox and its knowing smile suggests that 2021 is set to crush the virus and defiantly take that time back so all of us can enjoy doing all those things we used to love doing again.

It’s been an out-of-the-ordinary year for Studio Ghibli as well, with this message accompanying the New Year’s illustration:

“We would like to extend our sincere greetings to all of you, and thank you for always supporting Studio Ghibli.

The global coronavirus pandemic, which has been ongoing since last year, is yet to show signs of ending. There will be many people celebrating the New Year differently from usual years. Above all, medical professionals will be devoted to treating infected patients, regardless of it being the end-of-year holiday period. To them, we would like to express our deepest respect and profound gratitude.

Last year, for Studio Ghibli, we had more opportunities than usual to interact with everyone, through the TV broadcast of Goro Miyazaki’s latest work, ‘Earwig and the Witch’, the re-screening of four works including ‘Spirited Away’, the free distribution of still images, and full-scale digital distribution worldwide. In a world where we continue to practice self-restraint due to coronavirus, we hope we were able to make you all smile, even if only a little bit.

In 2021, Studio Ghibli will begin work on Tuesday, 5 January. In fact, on this day, Hayao Miyazaki will celebrate his 80th birthday. Director Miyazaki is still fine and is working on production of the new movie ‘How Do You Live?’ every day.

Thank you for your continued support of Studio Ghibli and Studio Ghibli works this year.”

Over on the official Studio Ghibli Museum site, there was a very different New Year’s illustration, drawn by Hayao’s son Goro.

The image above shows the main characters from Goro’s latest work, Earwig and the Witch, which made its long-awaited debut on Japanese television on 30 December. The characters in the illustration are actually puppets, as a nod to the upcoming puppet show at the museum, which Goro is currently working on with museum staff.

While the message from the official Studio Ghibli site was long, the Ghibli Museum took a more short-but-sweet approach:

“Thank you for supporting the Ghibli Museum throughout last year.
We sincerely hope that 2021 will be a happy year for all of you.”

Those two illustrations, from Ghibli’s famous director and the son that’s now following in his footsteps, are a beautiful way to start the new year with hope for better times ahead. Not long after the greetings were sent, the studio reminded us all that they were in the same boat as us too, as they started back at work after the short winter holidays.

▼ Totoro appears beside some auspicious New Year motifs.

With the Ghibli Museum being closed for much of last year, Studio Ghibli will no doubt be wanting 2021 to be a much brighter year for all of us. Here’s hoping we’re on the road to better times that leads to the successful reopening of the museum, and the debut of the Earwig and the Witch puppet show Goro has been teasing us with, because his puppets look truly amazing!

Source: Studio Ghibli, Ghibli Museum
Featured image: Twitter/@JP_GHIBLI
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