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Studio Ghibli movies are finally available to purchase digitally — but missing a major title

Fans have long bemoaned the inability to purchase digital versions of films from legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli. But starting today, that’s changed.

Nearly the entire collection of Studio Ghibli movies are now available to purchase on all major platforms, including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play Store, Sony PlayStation Movies, Microsoft, and FandangoNow in both the United States and Canada. Both Japanese and English versions are available. All Studio Ghibli movies were previously only available to purchase as physical products. This is the first time the studio’s titles are available to purchase digitally anywhere in the world. The list of movies includes:

Castle in the Sky, The Cat Returns, From Up on Poppy Hill, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Ocean Waves, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, Ponyo, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, The Secret World of Arrietty, Spirited Away, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, Tales From Earthsea, When Marnie Was There, Whisper of the Heart, The Wind Rises (in 2020).

Each film can be purchased for $20, although the studio is also creating a six-movie bundle that will retail for $100. The collection bundles together six of Studio Ghibli’s most popular films — Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away. The bundle is only available on some platforms, but GKids, the distributor who handles Studio Ghibli films in North America, did not say what those platforms are. The Verge has reached out for more clarity on that front.

One movie is noticeably absent from the lineup: Grave of the Fireflies. Directed by Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata in 1988, Grave of the Fireflies tells a tragic story about two siblings trying to survive during the second World War.

Unlike other Studio Ghibli films, distribution rights to Grave of the Fireflies don’t belong to the studio. Instead, the rights belong to publisher Shinchosha (which published the short story the film is based on) instead of Studio Ghibli’s parent company, Tokuma Shoten. A brief Google search brings up a strange hold page for Grave of the Fireflies on Netflix, but it’s unclear if the film is heading to the streaming service. The film is also available to purchase on Amazon.

This also explains why Grave of the Fireflies is the only Studio Ghibli movie not heading to HBO Max when the streaming service launches next year. AT&T secured the exclusive streaming rights to the films earlier this year, marking the first time that Studio Ghibli movies will be available on a streaming platform. HBO Max is set to launch in May 2020 for $15 a month.

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