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NHK, Ghibli toon heads for Lunch

Spirited Away producer Studio Ghibli has appointed UK-based distributor Serious Lunch to manage the international roll-out of its recent series for Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is a 26-part animated show based on the eponymous 1981 novel by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, writer of Pippi Longstocking.

Directed by Goro Miyazaki, Ronja began airing on NHK in autumn last year and tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who befriends the son of her father’s rival, testing her friendship and family loyalties.

Serious Lunch will be seeking key broadcast partners for an English-language version worldwide, excluding Japan and Scandinavia, beginning at Mifa 2015 in Annecy later this month.

The series was produced by NHK, NHK Enterprises and Dwango in Japan in collaboration with Studio Ghibli and the company that manages Lindgren’s works, with animation from Polygon Pictures.

Lindgren’s books have been translated from Swedish into almost 100 languages, and a total of around 160 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. She died in 2002.

Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by animated film directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki and has produced 21 feature-length films, including Oscar-winner Spirited Away, the all-time highest-grossing film in Japan.

“Serious Lunch has been supported by UK Trade & Investment with two recent visits to Japan to seek out more trade between the UK and Japan in the animation sector, and we hope that this will be the beginning of a great collaboration,” said Genevieve Dexter, CEO of Serious Lunch.

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