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Studio Ghibli Boards the Cat Bus
August 3, 2014 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Toshio Suzuki, a Studio Ghibli producer and general manager, has announced on Japanese television that Studio Ghibli will be closing its animation studio. The announcement comes not long after the retirement of legendary Studio Ghibli director and animator, Hayao Miyazaki. The studio is well known for its masterpieces such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, and many, many others.
posted by Atreides (66 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, shit.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:27 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


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Truly the end of an era.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:30 PM on August 3, 2014


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posted by radwolf76 at 5:32 PM on August 3, 2014


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posted by Xere at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2014


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posted by annekate at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2014


In some ways it's not really a surprise. For one thing, Ghibli uses old-fashioned hand-painted cels for all its animation. Which can give a beautiful result, but which is absurdly slow and expensive compared to the modern computerized animation technology that everyone else in the industry has long since adopted.

Which is not to say that digital animation is bad. Digital animation opens up a bunch of new capabilities which were difficult or impossible to achieve with the old technology, and there have been some truly gorgeous projects (e.g. Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Summer Wars) done digitally.

Digital is not only faster and cheaper, it's also more forgiving. As we all know, you can edit a digital drawing if there's a mistake. With cels all you could do is redraw and repaint.

Ghibli has been the sole holdout in the industry for about eight years now, and it was only a matter of time before they either updated their process (and start producing films that didn't look like Studio Ghibli) or quit.

Having said all that, I wonder if they're going to finish this film?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


basically saying they would be closing the animation feature film department, maintaining a small staff to focus on trademarked material.
Where would we be without the lure of Intellectual Property to motivate creativity?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, not too surprising, given that 'The Wind Rises' was officially Miyazaki's last film. I think I prefer this to the Disney model, in any case, of the studio going on to become a singular corporate force hell-bent on the acquisition and defense of massive troves of intellectual property. Go not gently into that undeath...
posted by kaibutsu at 5:38 PM on August 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


So much for Goro following in dad's footsteps, I guess.
posted by ormondsacker at 5:38 PM on August 3, 2014


Chocolate Pickle, they released When Marnie Was There in July.
posted by Small Dollar at 5:39 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do we have anything official, like an announcement from Studio Ghibli on this, as opposed to the one producer saying this? Because none of the reports I've seen actually have confirmation from Ghibli and some of them are several days old (cf this from the Telegraph dated July 30). It'll be sad if it's true, but accepting that it's true without confirmation from the studio seems premature.

I may have missed a statement from the studio, but I'd like to see one before I go into mourning.
posted by immlass at 5:40 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


No! This is terrible. In a better world, Studio Ghibli would go on to produce acclaimed, hand-drawn animated films made by a variety of different artists. It could be their thing, continuing the legacy of the founder.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:40 PM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


OK, I finished reading the announcement, and they are going to finish that film before shutting down.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:42 PM on August 3, 2014


Small Dollar, thank you. Now I feel foolish.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:44 PM on August 3, 2014


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posted by CrystalDave at 5:45 PM on August 3, 2014


It seems like comingsoon.net is mostly basing its report on oh-totoro.com's article, which has framegrabs from the Suzuki Toshio interview. Does anyone have a link to the video of the interview? The program is Jounetsu Tairiku (情熱大陸).

My Japanese is rusting away each day, but reading his words, if the door has shut, it was shut quite gently. Might be that they will indeed shut down the full-time studio but take on the model where they gather staff on a per-project basis. So for example if Miyazaki has an idea and the drive, we could still see very "Ghibli"-style films in the future. Maybe. I'll be catching Marnie in the theater in a few weeks in Tokyo & it will be a bittersweet experience.

The Suzuki Toshio interview quotes, from the above linked framegrabs, roughly translated. (Please feel free to correct, native Japanese speakers.)

1.言葉は ちょっときついんですけれど
This is a harsh way of putting it, but...
製作部分解体しようかと
[We're thinking of] closing down the production dept.
2.スタジオジブリの全容に大きな変更が加える
And making/causing a big change to the whole makeup of Studio Ghibli.
3.リストラクチャ-ていうのか
Something like a "restructuring".
4.やっぱり宮崎監督の引退というのはすごく大きかったんですよ。
No doubt the retirement of director Miyazaki had a very huge impact.
5.その後のジブリをどうするか
What to do / where to go with Ghibli after that...
6.そういうことでいうとそのまま延々作り続けることは
So on that point, to continue to endlessly produce films...
7.決して不可能ではなかったんですけど
Would not have been impossible, but...
8.一旦ここらへんで小休止してこれからのことを考えてみる。
For now [we plan to] pause here and think about what happens / what to do next.

posted by shortfuse at 5:51 PM on August 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


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I'm sorry, but this feels like a death in the family.
posted by SPrintF at 5:53 PM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


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posted by Spatch at 5:56 PM on August 3, 2014


Everything ends. Everybody dies. It's a hard thing, but it's reality. Life is precious because life ends.

They have made a mark that humanity will remember. I cannot utter higher praise.
posted by eriko at 5:58 PM on August 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


Miyazaki's recent comments from the Ghibli documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness seem appropriate to post here.
posted by teraflop at 5:59 PM on August 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


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posted by Dr-Baa at 5:59 PM on August 3, 2014


One of my fondest memories of all time is of house-sitting with a friend and spending a whole weekend going through her recently-acquired bootleg Ghibli DVD set. This was ca. 2002-03 or so, well before anything outside of Totoro and Mononoke had gotten Region 1 DVD releases, and I remember just being completely sucked in for the duration. When we got to Pom Poko, it was one of the most deliriously happy WTF moments I've ever had watching a movie.

Ghibli and Miyazaki had one hell of a run. It's sad that it had to end with his retirement, but I'm looking forward to seeing who might take up the mantle. Whether it's 2D cel animation or computer animation wasn't important to me, but it was the core humanity of their characters that set Ghibli apart.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:01 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]




They could always have started offshoring stuff or doing whatever else was necessary to cut costs, and made some crappy movies. That'd be the larger tragedy. There's lots of great stuff happening in anime. Ghibli set a high bar; let the next bunch of folks measure up.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:09 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


I just hope there is a next bunch of folks.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:11 PM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


There isn't really anyone else in the industry trying to do the kinds of things that Miyazaki is known for.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:12 PM on August 3, 2014


How about Hosoda? Summer Wars felt like someone who understood certain aspects of Ghibli/Miyazaki internally very well but also had his own things going.
posted by shortfuse at 6:14 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


This news makes me tear up. Really.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:38 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, surprised and sad to hear this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:41 PM on August 3, 2014


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posted by oceanjesse at 6:53 PM on August 3, 2014


∵ ∴
posted by moonmilk at 6:57 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


NO. :( :( :(
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:04 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a great way to wake up on a Monday morning. It's things like this that convince me my worldview, that everything good either goes away or eventually turns to shit is pretty spot on.

Most people have seen Totoro and Spirited Away. If you haven't seen the Heisei Tanuki War(Pompoko) or Tonari no Yamada Kun (My Neighbors the Yamadas), neither of which are actually Miyazaki movies, I highly recommend them. I can't even talk about Heisei Tanuki War without getting teary.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:10 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can't we go leave some corn on the windowsill and make everything okay?
posted by johnofjack at 7:17 PM on August 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


My favorite is Only Yesterday. I love Miyazaki but Takahata makes better movies.
posted by sineater at 7:17 PM on August 3, 2014


I can see why they'd want to do this. Goro's films have been okay, but not so much Ghibli-worthy in my mind. On the other hand, Hiromasa Yonebayashi seems very promising (Arietty seemed very Ghibli to me, and Marnie looks like it may be another great one). Miyazaki may have felt like he faced a Sophie's choice: which child to put first, Goro or Ghibli? I'm sure Yonebayashi will find work elsewhere (and I'll be watching).

Hosoda could be another one. I thought Summer Wars was great in the real-world, confusing and loud in the virtual world. But Wolf Children was quite good, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was very close to Miyazaki-level work.

Seems like Ghibli tried and tried to find directors to take up the mantle and continue the legacy, but they couldn't find enough. Whisper of the Heart was great, but the director died. Maybe Hosoda and Yonebayashi could put their own studio together and start fresh. Maybe Ghibli is trying to free the next generation from having to carry the weight of such a legacy.
posted by rikschell at 7:18 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


not dead yet
posted by sineater at 7:20 PM on August 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


Well, god damn. That sucks. We're fortunate for the trove of masterpieces they've given us. I'll always have that, and the wonder that watching these films instils in me after countless viewings. But I'm really going to miss the excitement of a new Ghibli release.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:20 PM on August 3, 2014


I would rather this than Return to Laputa, or Calcifer's Revenge, or Spirited Away II: Back to the Sento.

Or that Mononoke-hime should become a Disney princess.



Actually, I am hopeful that some of the incredible artists working for Ghibli will spread out and start their own projects.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:32 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


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posted by Sticherbeast at 7:32 PM on August 3, 2014


NO SERIOUSLY... STOP MOURNING AND READ SINEATER'S LINK...

not dead yet
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:35 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, since there's nothing to worry about, here's a cockatiel singing the Totoro theme
posted by malphigian at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


The not dead yet link has provided me with new desktop wallpaper and a glimmer of hope.
posted by maudlin at 8:13 PM on August 3, 2014


Friend in Japan says he's seen no closure coverage in press. He adds that Suzuki is quite adept at manipulating the press, and this might be a way of drawing attention to boost the box office of Marnie.
posted by shortfuse at 8:40 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just saw The Tale of Princess Kaguya at a film festival this weekend. It was wonderful - they are still doing amazing work. I'm heartened to hear the studio closure rumours are hopefully premature.
posted by jzed at 8:46 PM on August 3, 2014


If you have toddlers and do not yet own the Disney version of Totoro, go get the Disney version of Totoro because IT IS TODDLER CRACK. It was my kids' first, and favorite, animated movie.

My older son became convinced that a neighbor's very large tree was the "CAMFOR TREE!" (camphor tree) in Totoro, so we ordered a plush Totoro at VAST EXPENSE from Japan and hid it under our neighbor's tree before an evening walk. While on the walk, we said, "Oh my gosh, what is that? Do you see that?" and he discovered the Totoro under the tree. He was so overwhelmed that he collapsed to the ground clutching plush Totoro to his chest and refused to walk any further. We had to carry him -- and Totoro -- home. His legs had simply stopped working from the excitement of finding a Real Totoro.

It's been three years and he still places it carefully on the bookshelf at bedtime and is reluctant to sleep with it in his bed, because Totoro is REAL and those other stuffed toys are just TOYS. But when he is stressed or upset, he wants Totoro.

Also we bought a bunch of 1" black pompons and we play SOOT SPRITES! which basically means we all throw pompons at each other. Best game ever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:54 PM on August 3, 2014 [77 favorites]


Ghibli Studios is Hayao Miyazaki. Hayao Miyazaki is Ghibli Studios. He's been slowly, agonizingly retiring for the past decade or so, and the replacement directors--including Goro, Hayao's son--have made movies that, while none are actual bombs, they end up as mediocre, forgettable films. Ponyo was probably the last "real" Ghibli movie, a fun fantasy that has wide appeal for kids and adults, much like the Ghibli hits of the 80s and 90s. The kind of movie that made Ghibli and Miyazaki big in the first place.

Since then there have been a handful of movies that have elicited a collective shrug, including Miyazaki's final film The Wind Rises, which I haven't seen, but is of another type of Ghibli film--the adult (or maybe teen) drama, set in the nostalgic past. And a film that anyone under 12 would have zero interest in seeing. Not that these are bad films; they're just not big crowd-pleasers, and they're not going to have an international market.

This sucks, but Ghibli needed at least a reboot anyway, if not a full format. Now it's up to others to fill Miyazaki's shoes.
posted by zardoz at 9:09 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I had a brief Twitter conversation with another MeFite this morning about this... my take on this rumor is the same as shortfuse's friend above. Suzuki is notorious for dropping offhand remarks like this when there's a Ghibli movie in theaters. It's a publicity stunt. So although it's true that Ghibli isn't what it used to be and will most likely be scaling down in the future, nothing official has been announced yet.
posted by misozaki at 9:22 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I loved The Wind Rises. Not sure why other people look down on it. It wasn't as fantastical as some it it was very well done, and I found myself enraptured by it.

I don't think this is the end of Ghibli.I think this is the end of the Miyazaki Ghibli and the birth of the child studios.
posted by mephron at 9:32 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I will miss Miyazaki, and I'm sad that he's retiring. However, there are still fine animation directors working today such as Makoto Shinkai. There will still be great animation and perhaps some will even come from Ghibli.
posted by evilDoug at 9:48 PM on August 3, 2014


Life is precious because life ends.

This isn't really the forum for this argument, but that's garbage.


Tell it to the Frozen Head of Walt Disney.
posted by hap_hazard at 9:50 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Miyazaki's great, but the studio's other main director, Isao Takahata, did Grave of the Fireflies and my favorite animated film, Only Yesterday. I like realistic animated stuff, and Only Yesterday is the most real animated film I've ever watched. It's such a shame it's hard to get a legitimate copy in the USA.
posted by Small Dollar at 10:10 PM on August 3, 2014


>> Life is precious because life ends.
> This isn't really the forum for this argument [...]

It is a theme in several of Miyazaki's films...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:36 PM on August 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


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posted by fatehunter at 12:10 AM on August 4, 2014


Isao Takahata was born in 1935. He's 78; and I doubt he's still working at the studio.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:50 AM on August 4, 2014


Miyazaki is retiring again or something?

I look forward to the next two or three retirements too.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:51 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Takahata's most recent Ghibli film, came out last year.
posted by sineater at 2:32 AM on August 4, 2014


And he's working on Anne of Green Gables currently
posted by sineater at 2:41 AM on August 4, 2014


Given Miyazaki's record with claiming retirement, I'll believe he's retired when he's dead, and then I'll still be a little suspicious.
posted by Bugbread at 4:07 AM on August 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sad news. I'm happy, though, that my life has overlapped with a portion of Miyazaki's career to the extent that I was able to see some of his films in the theater.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:33 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ghibli Studios is Hayao Miyazaki. Hayao Miyazaki is Ghibli Studios. He's been slowly, agonizingly retiring for the past decade or so, and the replacement directors--including Goro, Hayao's son--have made movies that, while none are actual bombs, they end up as mediocre, forgettable films. Ponyo was probably the last "real" Ghibli movie

I would have to respectfully disagree. From Up on Poppy Hill is a really good film that definitely has the spirit of Ghibli, and while it's no Spirited Away, if it's what the start of Goro's career looks like, then I'd say there's a lot to look forward to.
posted by jbickers at 6:35 AM on August 4, 2014


I'm sad that this might (might) be the end, but also annoyed that this would be the go-to option for Ghibli. In anime circles there has long been a lot of discussion about those non-Miyazaki animators at Ghibli who are never given or have been given extremely brief and narrow opportunities to do their own work - work that would be in their own vision and that might (kami forfend) take the Ghibli brand in a different direction. There is talent rusting on the vine at Ghibli; likewise there are young animators that would probably kill for a chance to even do a short film as part of the company, and as far as anyone knows there isn't any new talent being nurtured there (I don't know if giving Goro two features and declaring them failures is "nurturing").
posted by koucha at 6:41 AM on August 4, 2014


Dang it!
posted by Mister_A at 7:43 AM on August 4, 2014


Once again, maybe not believe everything you read on the internet...?

Studio Ghibli to take a break from production
Studio Ghibli, Japan’s most famous animation studio, responsible for hits such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, has announced plans to put film production on hold, though it is not closing its doors—despite reports to the contrary.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:15 AM on August 4, 2014


People, stop freaking out. For now.

Some better English translations of the interview with Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki sounded more like "restructuring" than "shutting down". Still, if a False Alarm turns into a Call To Action for fans of quality animation, it will have served a purpose.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:02 AM on August 4, 2014


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posted by litleozy at 4:30 AM on August 9, 2014


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