The real reason American animation The Last Unicorn looks just like a Studio Ghibli film

MUSASHINO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 06: Director Hayao Miyazaki attends a press conference regarding his retirement from active work at Kichijoji on September 6, 2013 in Musashino, Japan. Hayao Miyazaki, the 72 year-old Japanese director behind animated films including the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, plans to retire after a career spanning five decades. (Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images)
MUSASHINO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 06: Director Hayao Miyazaki attends a press conference regarding his retirement from active work at Kichijoji on September 6, 2013 in Musashino, Japan. Hayao Miyazaki, the 72 year-old Japanese director behind animated films including the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, plans to retire after a career spanning five decades. (Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images) /
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The Last Unicorn is one of those films that so few remember but everyone has watched at least one in their lifetimes!

The film, which was adapted from Peter S. Beagle’s novel of the same name, tells the story of a unicorn’s fight to ensure her species don’t go extinct at the hands of the evil King Haggard. With help, she sets out the halt the plans of Haggard while also learning a lot about herself along the way.

Need a memory jog? Check out the official trailer for The Last Unicorn below.

You’re probably wondering why the animation in this film looks as if it was made by Hayao Miyazaki‘s Studio Ghibli. Well, you’re not too far off from the truth. Confused? No worries? Allow us to break it down for you!

Was The Last Unicorn made by Studio Ghibli?

As per Slash FilmThe Last Unicorn was made by Studio Ghibli —- well, sort of!

According to the media outlet, the same team that worked on the 1982 film is the same team that started the beloved animation studio that brought us Spirited AwayGrave of Fireflies, and so many more wonderful titles we adore. Here’s how.

Hayao Miyazaki, the creative director behind Studio Ghibli’s work, and his team saw the animation done on The Last Unicorn and were positively astounded by the level of quality. So much so that Miyazaki and his fellow animators saw it best to hire the creators behind the title and bring them on board to grow the start-up company that was Studio Ghibli at the time.

Conner Cochran, the agent of Peter S. Beagle, explained:

"Here’s how it is:  [The Last Unicorn was] Financed in England, produced by Rankin/Bass, American company…but all of the work was being done in Japan, which was a process of Rankin/Bass going to less expensive animators in another country. And they hired –most of the animation was done by a company called Topcraft. And the minute they finished The Last Unicorn, Miyazaki hired them…And in fact, he didn’t just hire them, the studio top rep was in financial difficulties, he came in and took them over and bought them up and turned it into Studio Ghibli. So most of the animators and designers who worked on The Last Unicorn, became the core team of Studio Ghibli. And all of those – ‘Nausicaa,’ ‘Kiki,‘ all of them, the great Miyazaki early movies, were done by many of the same people as who worked on The Last Unicorn."

In a way, The Last Unicorn was the seed that would eventually grow into Studio Ghibli. And though things were initially looking grim for everyone prior to the esteemed animation studio, eventually, fans got a very happy ending, as they received beautiful films that leave everyone speechless.

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The Last Unicorn is now streaming for free on Tubi, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video, and The Roku Channel.