So there’s a rumor going around that Studio Ghibli is shutting down their animation wing. Let’s clear a few things up. With the recent retirement of Hayao Miyazaki, there is a lot of doubt as to the future of the studio. The cost of making their critically lauded films continues to increase, so much so that The Wind Rises for all its praise and success has yet to turn a profit (it has grossed nearly $90 million).
A post on a Ghibli fan Tumblr has exacerbated matters following a feature on Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki in which he allegedly says that the studio is shutting down its animation wing. Something is clearly getting lost in translation here.
If you’ve been a frequent visitor to my Tumblr, then you know that I dabble in the occasional Japanese to English interview translations. Here is a run-down of what is going on in the show and I’ve bolded the part about Ghibli. Watch it here:
0:28-1:10 – Toshio talks about being a neat freak. One of his hobbies is cleaning. On the couch, he says that “Work is about cleaning things. If your work gets messy, you won’t know what’s going on. That’s why work and cleaning are actually alike.” *munches on chocolate bar*
1:12-1:45 We get a look at some classic Ghibli titles and the narrator says that Miyazaki and Suzuki were always side by side. “Miyazaki would make the films and Suzuki would exhibit them around the world. But in September of last year, Miyazaki announced his retirement.”
1:46-2:18 – Breaking the radio portion up, Suzuki is asked to compare Miyazaki and Takahata (he directed The Tale of Princess Kaguya). Suzuki says that Miyazaki is “an entertainer,” while Takahata is “definitely an artist.” The remainder of the radio segment is spent with Suzuki and the hosts joking about Miyazaki and making movies together.
2:19-2:25 – Paraphrasing here: Everyone is wondering what the future holds for Ghibli. Everyone is looking to Suzuki for direction.
2:26-2:32 – Suzuki: “You know what, hit movies don’t happen by accident. You understand?”
2:42-3:06 – Suzuki states a few philosophical sentences. “If you start apologizing about pointless things to people, you won’t apologize for important things.” “If you don’t understand something, it’s fine to set it aside as something you don’t understand.” “If you’re explaining something to a child, there’s no need to explain things completely,” etc. etc.
We then transition to the Studio Ghibli office in Tokyo where Suzuki’s assistant greets him with the schedule for the day. He then goes about cleaning up the office. “Wherever I come here, it’s like I’m always cleaning. *laughs* I’m a cleaning genius.”
4:30-6:38 – “Studio Ghibli is an animation company which employs 300 people.” We then get a look at the process of making a Ghibli movie. Ghibli takes about 2 years and $50 million to create each of their movies.
6:39-7:14 – A cake has arrived to celebrate Miyazaki’s final film. He’s notified that The Wind Rises has earned a nomination at the Japanese Movie Awards (their version of the Oscars). The narrator also says that since retiring, Miyazaki occasionally pops by to visit Suzuki. Miyazaki considers Suzuki “his best friend.”
7:15-7:47 – Suzuki: “Japanese anime artists have really disappeared, huh?” Miyazaki: “I had a difficult time too during Conan, I almost quit because it was so bad. I had to fix the backgrounds myself.” Suzuki: “TV anime is so expensive, they don’t make it anymore. There may be fewer animators, but artistry… Ghibli was having a difficult time as well…” Miyazaki: “We didn’t know what to draw.”
7:48-8:45 – Narrator: “Right now, Suzuki is beginning to separate himself from the role of a producer. At the once-a-year all-staff meeting, Suzuki made a stunning announcement.” Suzuki: “I’m sure many of you have heard the rumors but there are about to be big changes to come to every aspect of Studio Ghibli. If you’re wondering what those changes are, well… the film production portion is, well, this is a bit severe, but we’re thinking of dismantling it once over. It’s some major cleaning up. We’ve been thinking of restructuring or should I say reconstruction for a while now.”
8:46-9:05 – An employee asks what the plans are for the next Ghibli production to which Suzuki responds, “Miyazaki’s retirement was definitely a big deal for us. What do we do with Ghibli after that? It certainly wasn’t out of the question that we continue to make movies. Temporarily, we should take a break and think about where we go from here.”
9:06-9:43 Miyazaki then takes a moment from his doodling to say, “This was inevitable. When these types of things happen, they just descend upon you.” *laughs* “Movies and project planning are a matter of feeling within yourself the necessity to show your work to people. When you’re reading a book, sometimes the project doesn’t present itself. What should we show kids? As long as adults are watching then that’s fine.”
9:44-9:52 Narrator: “Up to now, Miyazaki movies have grossed more than 1,000 million yen (about $975 million) but Miyazaki will no longer make any more films.
9:53-11:41 While driving, Suzuki talks about why he’s remained a producer for so long. Then, at his “secret room” in Ebisu, Tokyo he meets with staff for the DVD release of a Ghibli movie. An ad featuring John Lasseter catches his eye and he says, “Right now, selling things is very difficult. Even though [films are] definitely “things” and you have to showcase the entire product, people are definitely becoming fed up with it. These times require you to try to sell your [film] while keeping it hidden as well.”
11:42-12:24 Suzuki talks about the difficulties in getting some of the now classic Ghibli movies made. “People say I’ve never had to bow my head and beg, but that’s not true. I’ve had to beg so many times to get projects made.” He adds that Princess Mononoke was “a fluke. We thought we were definitely doomed this time.”
12:25-13:38 Suzuki meets with the producer and directors for Ghibli’s new film Omoi de no Marnie (When Marnie Was There). The narrator says that the project had begun two years ago, but Suzuki made sure not to say anything about it until now. We then see a clip from the film.
13:39-14:20 At the farewell party for Marnie, Suzuki asks staff what they thought of the movie. Narrator: “Bitter opinions [are expressed].”
14:21-15:35 Suzuki: “The entire time I’ve been with Ghibli, when we’re making a movie, I never risked anything. We only did things that we knew worked for certain. We did everything with a ‘frontal attack’. We don’t show off the unconventional. You only become unconventional when you’re in trouble. When you’re in trouble, you start challenging things. This time, with Marnie, we had some difficulties. Compared to the Ghibli movies we’ve made up to know, the foundation is different. It’s definitely different from the films that Miyazaki made. Whether it’s a good meaning or a bad meaning, there is a youthfulness to it. Following Miyazaki’s retirement, everything that is Ghibli is being replaced with youth.” He goes on to talk more about the film while the staff sit around awkwardly listening.
15:36-16:17 The next day, Marnie producer Nishimoto meets with Suzuki. He shows Suzuki’s catch phrase which reads, “It’s a secret between the two of us, forever.” Suzuki says that the word “secret” was also in his head, but the impact is weak and doesn’t have any pretense.
17:31-20:22 Suzuki laughs about a newspaper article that says he is retiring. Back in the office, he’s restless as he tries to figure out a slogan for Marnie. He asks a couple of female staff members as he’s trying to “capture a woman’s empathy.” After much brainstorming, one of the assistants comes up with, “I always want to be your friend. I love you.” Suzuki likes it and begins writing. One of the staffers talks about how one time when she was dumped, she was feeling sad and called her friend on the phone. Her friend told her that she loved her.
20:23-22:47 Things that he wasn’t able to throw away are stored in his “secret kitchen.” He shows off a massive collection of CDs and movies which he says number at about 10,000. His favorite type of films are one about humanity and empathy. His mother taught him about the joy of movies. Every Sunday, he strolls around the park with his 91-year-old mother. The video then transitions to the premiere for the film where Suzuki does not appear. Why? Because he’s more concerned with the outcome of the Chunichi Dragons baseball game. “I’m not worried about anything. Everything is fine.”
22:48-24:05 Back at Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki stops by for a visit. Ghibli was created by Suzuki as a place for Miyazaki to make great films. If they made one great film, they could make another. If it failed, they were done. They’ve continued with that policy up to now.
24:06 “I don’t have any interest. I don’t have interest in things I make. It’s the day to day production… everyone is doing their best. It’s that process that I love.” The new Ghibli process, after this, we’ll find out. *Suzuki nods, noms mochi*
So there you have it from the man himself. He’s not retiring and Ghibli will continue to make films once they’ve recovered from the retirement of Miyazaki. There are so many movie sites out there that didn’t even bother to research this viral “news” but honestly folks, if it’s coming off a Tumblr fan page, your red flag should be going up right away. Kudos though to the few sites that held off on reporting this rumor.