Although Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli is famous for its feature films, responsible for classics such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro, they are making a foray into the realm of television. Ronja the Robber’s Daughter consists of 26 episodes and is available outside of Japan for the first time this year. The series is directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao Miyazaki, and is based on Astrid Lindgren’s 1981 fantasy novel. It depicts the adventures of a small gang of thieves, led by a young girl named Ronja, as they explore the challenges of their woodland environment and encounter rival tribes.
The series continues several Ghibli conventions, including a young, female protagonist, a tendency towards the fantasy genre and of course the studio’s iconic art style. However, the series is not identical visually, as it also features CGI in addition to the traditional 2D animation, as it is co-produced by another studio, Polygon Pictures.
So far the series has won two awards, including an International Emmy for best children’s animation, however the critical reception has been mixed. Some have criticised the show for moving too slowly, and questioned whether a show whose plot develops so gradually and which opts for a meditative depiction of nature over cartoonish violence will manage to hold the attention of children who are used to the fast-paced action of Western cartoons. Nevertheless, the series’ departure from current children’s television clichés has made it a welcome change for others, and a Studio Ghibli project is always worth watching to anyone who has enjoyed their work previously.