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Why Won't Studio Ghibli Be On Netflix For Me, Specifically?

Studio Ghibli will be on Netflix everywhere EXCEPT the USA, Canada, and Japan — and at least for the USA, the explanation is pretty easy.

We won’t speculate on how many of y’all anime fans engaged in “Totoro And Chill” in the DVD days or watching free anime online, you sick heathens. However, it’ll be much easier soon to have a family-friendly Studio Ghibli Netflix marathon if you live in the UK, Mexico, France, South Korea, Australia, Italy, Zimbabwe, Portugal, Mozambique, Chile, Gaudeloupe, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, Greenland, Australian Antarctica, Tajikistan, Russia, Costa Rica… okay, basically, anywhere Netflix exists, except the USA, Canada, and Japan.

In simpler words, Studio Ghibli has signed with Netflix to distribute globally, again except in the USA, Canada, and Japan. For the rest of the world, that’s fantastic! But the exceptions seem odd, as the USA is a primary cinema target, Japan is… well, the films are Japanese, and Canada just seems like an odd one out. So why is this the case?

For those in the United States, the answer is actually pretty straightforward: Someone else already owns the rights to Studio Ghibli streaming in the USA. Specifically, HBO Max gained the rights back in October.

That’s not “plain old HBO” — this is HBO MAX! And I’ll be honest, I had to make sure HBO Max was what I thought it was, which is basically Warner Bros and HBO’s Peacock. And if you don’t know what Peacock is, then think of it like Disney+. And If you don’t know Disney+ either, that means you won’t know what HBO Max is.

So all of these are essentially libraries of content from a select group of studios and media companies. Basically, selfish Netflixes. For Peacock, that’s NBC; with Disney+, that’s Disney and 21st Century Fox; through HBO Max, it’s HBO and Warner Bros.  The last of which apparently includes Friends now, even though that’s NBC…?

Anyway, point is, now you have to subscribe to HBO Max if you want the full collection of Ghibli films. But that’s only a small part of the draw, because if you really like Friends for some reason like some kind of boomer, or if you’re the right kind of boomer and like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, you’ll probably want HBO Max anyway. And that’s the shtick! That’s how they get you! Come for Ghibli, stay for Will Smith.

Meanwhile, for those who live in Japan and Canada, the answer appears to be a little more contentious for the time being.

In Canada’s case, it looks like not a single streaming service will pick up the library. Technically, Canada licenses HBO and other premium “channels” through other licensing services. It’s confusing, but it makes sense, I swear. Doesn’t look like HBO Max is there yet, though. Sorry, Canada, y’all are stuck in Ghibli limbo until another streaming service announces they’ve worked it out for you.

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With Japan, however, I’m not actually sure. It doesn’t appear that the Ghibli library is on any streaming service there, but I don’t actually know Japanese! [EDIT: One reader confirms Ghibli isn’t on any Japanese streaming services at the moment!] Is there a “Netflix and __” streaming culture in Japan enough to justify licensing at all? Anyway, please hit me up at vrose@fanbyte.com if you have any clue what the Studio Ghibli streaming situation in Japan is.

Meanwhile, if you’re… everywhere else in the world, Studio Ghibli starts rolling out on Febuary 1st. Seven titles will drop on the first of each month, so that means you’ll have new movies to look forward to in February, March, and April.

Along the way, dedicated fans may notice one movie is missing: Grave of the Fireflies. Honestly, we don’t actually have a reason for that, but we suspect the heavy involvement of an outside studio may muddle rights talks.

About the Author

Victoria Rose

Victoria is a Brooklyn-based, chaotic-good former dungeon master and a Contributor-At-Large for Fanbyte. She's a self-proclaimed esports pundit, and used to do Dota 2 news and reporting as a full-time part-time gig. She's also four red pandas stacked in a hoodie. [she/her/hers or they/their/theirs]