In a move which surprised many in the anime community, Studio Ghibli announced on September 18th that it was making images from its films available for free:

"From this month, we have decided to begin providing scene images from all Studio Ghibli works. This month, we are mainly focusing on recent works, providing a total of 400 images from 8 films.

Please use them freely within the limits of common sense."

In this initial round, the eight films from which images are available are as follows:

  • When Marnie Was There
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya
  • Spirited Away
  • The Wind Rises
  • From Up On Poppy Hill
  • The Secret World of Arrietty
  • Ponyo
  • Tales from Earthsea

On Twitter, many users began posting the images to express their joy and gratitude to the studio for the decision, and, naturally, as an opportunity to talk about the films themselves.

For example, animation producer Renato Rivera Rusca Tweeted:

As did the Japan Foundation, Toronto:

It also turned out to be an opportunity for animators to open up about their work.

Hiromasa Yonebayashi, former animator and director at Studio Ghibli who became the youngest director in the studio's history with The Secret World of Arrietty posted images from Spirited Away for which he was in charge of key animation:

"Since Ghibli says I'm free to use it, here are key frames I was responsible for. With Spirited Away, it was my first time doing key frames so I was nervous, and I did all kinds of research in order to draw them. For the scene when Chihiro gives Haku part of the herbal cake, we all interacted with a big dog and observed its behavior."

"For the gelatinous food that Chihiro's father is eating, it was written 'coelacanth stomach' on the storyboard. Haku moves around quickly and stops suddenly so doing the key frames was easy, but Chihiro twitches around a lot, so there were many frames which made it hard."

(Editor's note: After we published the article, he Tweeted that it was in fact not written in the storyboard but in director Hayao Miyazaki's layouts.)

Perhaps there will be more discoveries in the days to come. In any case, this generous move by Studio Ghibli will surely have the benefit of drawing more attention to these masterpieces of animation.

You can find the images on Studio Ghibli's website here. And remember, use them freely but "within the limits of common sense."

By - Ben K.