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Ghibli Apologizes over Satsuki & Mei Tickets

posted on 2005-04-22 17:01 EDT
Scalped Tickets sold for over $1500

Studio Ghibli and Aichi Expo 2005 have decided to abandon the ticket reservation system that has been used for "Satsuki and Mei's Home," and will instead use a postcard based lotto system to award tickets. Interested visitors must send in a request via postcard, which must include their Expo ticket number, and vouchers to visit Satsuki and Mei's home will be awarded randomly.

Stating that "the fault lies truly with Ghibli," Ghibli's Toshio Suzuki has issued a long and detailed apology for the mess that has occurred surrounding tickets to the Satsuki and Mei's Home Exhibit at the Aichi World Expo 2005.

Based on the house inhabited by the cast of My Neighbor Totoro, one of the most loved movies in Japanese history, Satsuki and Mei's Home is a full size replica of the Showa era household that visitors can enter and walk through. Not only is it an architectural replica, but details such as clothes, kitchen utensils, and books have been included.

Due to the small size and fine detail of the house, it is only able to accommodate 800 visitors per day. The visitors are allowed into the house in small groups on a tight schedule. Most other pavilions at Aichi can accommodate 3000 or more visitors, however few have been in as much demand.

In order to control the flow of visitors to the house, Ghibli decided to distribute the tickets via LAWSON convenience stores, the same method that tickets to Ghibli's museum are reserved. There was no charge to reserve tickets, visitors only needed to pay the regular Expo admittance fee.

Unfortunately, due to the limited duration of the pavilion (it is open to the public for the duration of the Aichi Expo, 6 months from March to September 2005), there has been significantly more demand for the tickets than there has been availability and ticket scalpers have turned to online auction sites such as Yahoo! Auctions to sell the tickets at significantly inflated prices.

In the apology, Suzuki states, "The main cause for this situation was Studio Ghibli's naive assumption that it would be alright to handle reservations for "Satsuki and Mei's home" the same way reservations for the "Ghibli Museum, Mitaka" have been handled. In this regard, the fault lies truly with Ghibli, and we hereby want to express our heartfelt apology to the trouble this has caused to our fans, the world fair committee, the people from LAWSON and everyone else involved."

When tickets went on sale on March 1st, the tickets were sold out within 5 hours. Approximately 240,000 people attempted to make reservations for the 30,000 tickets available, and approximately 500 of those tickets appeared on Yahoo! Despite requests from Ghibli, Yahoo! refused to remove the auctions stating that they were not against the law. Matters took a turn for the worse on April 1st when over 600,000 requests for tickets were made and the reservation system froze at 10am. When the system came back online it was found that all tickets had already been sold.

Analysis of the reservation system logs found that some people made many calls to the automated phone system to make multiple reservations. These reservations were then sold on Yahoo Auctions for an average price of 3000 yen, and as high as 168.000 yen.

Suzuki states that is was very unfortunate to see the efforts of Ghibli and the Expo committee "trampled upon by the acts of some inconsiderate people," and requests that people not buy any more tickets at online auctions.

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