Hayao Miyazaki’s son creates a new anime character on behalf of Studio Ghibli despite programme’s embezzlement scandal.

Every summer, Nippon TV holds a telethon called 24-Hour Television, which raises funds to support charities related to welfare, environmental causes and disaster relief. Held annually since 1978, this year marks the programme’s 25th anniversary, and to help aid charity efforts, Studio Ghibli director Goro Miyazaki has leant his hand to the proceedings, creating an original character for the show.

The charity event is generally based on the theme “Love Saves the Earth”, and this year’s theme takes things one step further by asking the question: “Will Love Save the Earth?” It’s a powerful thought befitting the environmentally conscious ethos of Studio Ghibli and Goro, who directed Tales From Earthsea, and it bears all the well-known trademarks of the artist’s whimsical style.

▼ “Will Love Save the Earth? I have no idea. What do you think?”

The canine character might look similar to Heen from Studio Ghibli’s 2004 movie Howl’s Moving Castle, but it’s actually a newly drawn character created especially for the television event. As well as acting as the face for this year’s telethon, the cute, disillusioned pup will be gracing a series of T-shirts for people to purchase, with proceeds going towards charity.

The T-shirts are available in three colours — white, yellow and grey — and can be purchased for 2,000 yen (US$12.58) at Aeon stores around Japan from 4 July. The shirts will then be available at the 24-Hour Television online store, as well as the Nippon TV stores at Shiodome and Tokyo Station, and the TV station’s official shop, Tree Village, in Tokyo, Osaka and Hakata from 12 July.

Eagle-eyed fans will know that Studio Ghibli was recently acquired by Nippon TV, the station that holds the 24-Hour Television telethon, so the tie-up keeps everything within the company. It has to be mentioned, though, that the programme and the station that runs it recently came under fire when it was revealed in 2023 that an affiliated TV executive was found to have embezzled over 2.6 million yen from 24-Hour Television donations over a nine-year period from 2014.

Many people have been calling for the show to be cancelled in light of the scandal, but the network has decided to proceed with the telethon, pointing out the positive aspects of the funds raised. Critics, however, say the scandal adds an extra layer of meaning to Miyazaki’s artwork, which can be seen to address the question mark hanging over the future of the show.

This is the third time for Studio Ghibli to provide a charity T-shirt design for the telethon, though, after producing designs in 2006 and 2010, and it’s Goro’s first, so it’s unclear whether the Ghibli pooch is making a profound statement over the future of the programme or the world in general.

Either way, the show will be televised over two days, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on 31 August-1 September.

Source, images: 24-Hour Television
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