STUDIO Ghibli is often described as ‘the Disney of Japan’ with its beautifully crafted animated films charming audiences around the world.

Many of the studio’s features, especially by the widely acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki, have become classics and Spirited Away scooped an Academy Award.

But the studio has not made a TV series – until now.

Western audiences have had a long wait for Ronja: The Robber’s Daughter due to the process of translating it into English and getting a cast, including narrator X Files’ Gillian Anderson, for the dub.

But it has been worth the wait. The show has been directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro Miyazaki who made the underrated Tales From Earthsea. And he has come into his own with this gentle coming-of-age tale, which is aimed more at children than some of Studio Ghibli’s other output.

Ronja is based on Astrid Lindgren’s novel and is about a 10-year-old girl who lives with a band of thieves in a mountain fort.

She is born in rather foreboding circumstances on a stormy night that causes her clan’s home to split in two. A fantasy world where harpies fly above and gnomes live under the ground is the backdrop for a set of tales that explore the universal lessons of growing up.

Ronja also finds friendship with a boy from the rival gang which makes her question her clan’s more pigheaded traditions and customs.

And in turn she begins to question the morality of taking without asking with her father.

The 26 episodes also explore the values of sharing and family so if you like what your children watch to have an educational side to it then this comes recommended.

But Ronja’s mum, who comes across as strong but a bit matronly, could have done with more of a substantial role in this male dominated show. Older Ghibli fans may also find less to enjoy and it is certainly does not immerse the senses in the same way Miyazaki films like My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle do. But as a first foray into a new way of telling stories Ronja is a hit.

RATING: 7/10