A Studio Ghibli Theme Park Opened and Men Are Filming Themselves Groping the Characters

The beloved studio, co-founded by Hayao Miyazaki, is known for films such as When Marnie Was There and Oscar-winning Spirited Away.
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The photos, posted on Twitter in late February, are captioned “Next is a small collection of taboos I did that I’ve been interested in.”

A Japanese official has expressed horror at a stream of photos on social media showing men groping and upskirting anime statues in a theme park featuring characters from Studio Ghibli, known for films such as Princess Mononoke and Oscar-winning Spirited Away.

The now-deleted photos, which were shared widely by Japanese Twitter users in late February, show men touching figurines suggestively in Ghibli Park, an attraction that opened in November in the central Japanese prefecture of Aichi. The images have garnered strong backlash from the public, as well as Aichi prefecture’s governor. 


“Ghibli Park is a place for adults and children alike to enter and enjoy the works, and it is extremely unpleasant to see such photos uploaded on social networking sites,” Governor Hideaki Ōmura said at a press conference on Thursday. 

“If that’s what they’re going to do [at the park], then I don’t want them to come anymore,” Ōmura added, comparing the behavior to destruction of property.

In the photos, masked men are seen groping Marnie, who stars in the 2014 film When Marnie Was There, and Teru, the heroine from Tales From Earthsea released in 2006. Others took upskirting photos of her under her white dress. Accounts that first posted those photos have since been deleted from Twitter, although the pictures have been shared by other users.

Emiko Ogawa, a Studio Ghibli fan for more than 20 years who lives in Tokyo, said she was horrified when she saw the photos. 

“It’s an insult to these family-friendly films. These characters are also very young, they look like minors,” she told VICE World News. Marnie is a 12-year-old, and though it’s never made clear how old Teru is, she’s believed to be around 15 to 17 years old. 

In response to VICE World News’ request for comment, Ghibli Park said it would not comment on the guests’ specific behavior, but would ensure that visitors can enjoy the park with “peace of mind.”


Ghibli Park, the construction plans for which were first announced in 2017, was built by the local government of Aichi prefecture and is jointly operated by Studio Ghibli and Chunichi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper. Though it doesn’t boast any big attractions or rides, the park features quaint scenes from several hit films and asks visitors to “Take a stroll, feel the wind, and discover the wonders” of the whimsical worlds drawn in its animations. 

Ghibli Park, which opened in November after years of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was highly anticipated by fans all across the world. It’s the first theme park dedicated to the works of Studio Ghibli. Tickets must be booked weeks in advance—currently, only reservations for June are available on the park’s website. 

Though the park hasn’t indicated what it’d do to the gropers, Aichi governor Ōmura has warned of taking “firm and strict” action against people who misbehave, without specifying what such action might be.

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