Studio Ghibli Sparks Ire Over Response to Disturbing Theme Park Controversy

When you think of controversy, Studio Ghibli is hardly the first company that comes to mind, but it seems the brand is in hot water right now. While work continues behind the scenes on Hayao Miyazaki's next film, Studio Ghibli has kept the public's eye on its latest venture: a theme park. Over in Japan, Ghibli Park opened last fall to positive reviews, but a disturbing trend at the destination has sparked outrage online among fans.

The incident involves visitors at Ghibli Park as the massive expo houses the stuff of dreams for anime lovers. The massive park highlights many of Studio Ghibli's greatest films, and fans are encouraged to snap photos as they traverse the amusement park. However, netizens were shocked when photos appeared online of one visitor group inappropriately posing with character statues at the park.

The statues in question show Marnie and Therru from Studio Ghibli's library in their usual outfits, but the controversial photos in question are anything but ordinary. The images show the young (as in underage) characters being sexually assaulted by the guests. Some of the photos showcase the guests taking upskirt photos of the characters while others show them being groped. Obviously, this was done in public during Ghibli Park hours, and over in Japan, sites such as Livedoor sparked outrage after uncovering the images.

As you can imagine, there is no world where mock sexual assault is funny, and Studio Ghibli fans were horrified to see some of the company's underage heroines depicted like this. Calls for stricter policies at Ghibli Park were called for online, but that is where the latest issue has arisen. On March 6th, a Twitter user shared the official responses from Ghibli Park PR regarding the incident, and it seems the destination has no plans to prevent situations like this from happening again.

According to Livedoor, the park's spokesperson told the publication it had "no comment" on the topic, but that was not the end of the ordeal. Unseen Japan went on to summarize the latest information about the park's response, and it is fairly damning. Allegedly, the amusement park's representatives said "there would be no change in policy or stated rules regarding inappropriate actions with character models; the representative stated that the sexually threatening nature of the photographs was a matter of opinion, and that in the future staff "may perhaps speak to" visitors displaying similar behavior, but would not inform such visitors that mock sexual harassment was off limits."

As you can imagine, this response is hardly what fans expected of Studio Ghibli and its theme park venture. Amusement parks should be a safe space for guests of every background, but Ghibli Park can hardly claim that if patrons are able to sexually violent photos such as these on property. Other theme parks like Disneyland even Universal Studios have strict guidelines in place to prevent such behavior, but for now, that is not the case at Studio Ghibli's theme park. And given the depravity of these photos, you can see why anime fans are speaking out against one of the industry's biggest names. 

What do you make of this unsettling Studio Ghibli controversy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB.