A couple of months ago we wrote about beloved animation house Studio Ghibli and a number of its classic movies porting over to the HBO Max streaming service as exclusives in the new year.

Now it looks like many of those titles have been made available on other platforms, making it the first time that the animated movies can be purchased digitally.

According to The Verge, the platforms in the United States and Canada which have access are Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play Store, Sony, PlayStation Movies, Microsoft, and FandangoNow.

We’ve checked on local versions of the aforementioned platforms, such as Google Play Movies, but the films do not appear, which likely means availability is region-locked to Northern America for now.

As for the titles being made available, the list is as follows:

  • 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 (arriving in 2020).

All of the above are made available in both Japanese and English dubs, but there is curiously one classic missing – Grave of the Fireflies. This is because distribution rights to the film do not belong to Studio Ghibli.

If you want to watch this WWII drama that tells the story of two siblings in Japan, which we highly recommend for any anime fan, you’ll need to get a physical copy as HBO Max cannot stream the title either because of the aforementioned distribution issue.

While this is a significant hole in anyone’s Studio Ghibli viewing, the availability of digital purchases now and streaming in 2020 is good news for any fan of the company’s work. Now we need to find out when South Africans can access the content digitally and legally.