'Extremely malicious': Men post photos of them pretending to sexually assault female characters at Studio Ghibli theme park

'Extremely malicious': Men post photos of them pretending to sexually assault female characters at Studio Ghibli theme park
Ghibli Park in the city of Nagakute was built by the Aichi prefectural government and opened in November 2022.
PHOTO: Ghibli Park

Visitors to Ghibli Park in Japan’s Aichi prefecture will be prevented from taking inappropriate photos with statues of characters from beloved animated films.

This comes after photos were posted on Twitter in February showing men pretending to sexually assault young female characters in the Studio Ghibli theme park.

The acclaimed animation studio is the creator of Japanese titles like My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away (2001).

In a press conference on Thursday, Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said he plans to ask Ghibli Park’s operating company to immediately stop any improper behaviour by visitors, Japan daily Mainichi Shimbun reported.

Speaking to Japanese media, he said: “It is extremely regrettable. We will take firm action because it (Ghibli Park) is located within the prefectural park.”

Ghibli Park, in the city of Nagakute, was built by the Aichi prefectural government at a cost of about 34 billion yen (S$337.6 million) and opened in November 2022.

It is publicly owned and privately operated by a Tokyo-based company jointly owned by newspaper Chunichi Shimbun and Studio Ghibli, according to Nikkei Asia.

When asked about the photos, Mr Omura said: “Ghibli Park is a place for adults and children to have fun while experiencing Ghibli films. I don’t want people who do things that many find offensive to come to the park.”

The photos feature a park visitor taking upskirt photos of Marnie, the titular character of the 2014 film When Marnie Was There, and another fondling the breasts of Teru, the heroine from the film Tales From Earthsea (2006).

Mr Omura added: “It is extremely malicious, just like the inappropriate behaviour at conveyor belt sushi restaurants.”

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His remarks come hot on the heels of another controversy on social media involving people sabotaging sushi in conveyor belt restaurants in Japan, an act that has been dubbed “sushi terrorism”.

Mr Omura said that if the person who took the inappropriate photos at the theme park is identified, the prefecture will take severe measures such as legal action.

Meanwhile, a Ghibli Park spokesman told Mainichi Shimbun that it will refrain from commenting on the issue.

Since the photos came to light in late February, people on social media have slammed the men and Ghibli Park’s position on the matter.

“Don’t let this slide,” said one Twitter user.


This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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