One of the biggest selling points of the first Ni No Kuni was the involvement of Studio Ghibli. For the sequel, however, the famed anime studio’s name is nowhere to be found.
Level-5 and Akihiro Hino are back as is composer Joe Hisaishi, who did the sequel’s score. Yoshiyuki Momose, who did key animation on Porco Rosso and Spirited Away, also returns, doing Ni No Kuni II’s character design. He, however, does not work for Studio Ghibli and established his own studio in 2005.
While at a roundtable in Tokyo at Namco Bandai, I asked producer Shin Noda why Studio Ghibli’s name was not on this project. It’s noticeable because Level-5 head Akihiro Hino seemed keen to make more Studio Ghibli games.
“Studio Ghibli has changed its business model,” he explained, “so we can’t say it’s Studio Ghibli.”
I asked if he was referring to how the studio had left staff go and announced it was getting out of feature production. (I also clarified that they are now back in feature production for Hayao Miyazaki’s new film.) He indicated that, yes, this was what he was talking about. So from the sound of it, all of this was happening while the game was in production, which is why the game doesn’t say Studio Ghibli.
“There are staffers with Studio Ghibli credits who worked on this game,” he assured.
So while Ni No Kuni II doesn’t have the Studio Ghibli name, the sequel still carries the anime studio’s influence and heritage.