In a recent discussion about the future of the Studio Ghibli’s production division, veteran producer Toshio Suzuki recently shocked and confused anime fans worldwide. But hey, what do you expect when you’re talking about the most respected studio in the history of anime, and you bandy about talk of “dismantling,” “restructuring,” and “taking a temporary hiatus,” despite the very different implications each of those entails.
With so many people looking for clarification, Suzuki recently appeared on Japanese television to talk a little more about where Studio Ghibli is going from here, plus to tease and entice the audience with talk of legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s potential next anime project.
On August 7, Suzuki was a guest on NHK’s morning program Asaichi. In light of his recent remarks, host Yumiko Udo asked the 65-year-old producer if there was a part of him that wanted a rest, or perhaps even to get out of the anime business entirely.
“Honestly, yeah, I want to take a break. But it’s not like I can,” he said with a laugh.
Suzuki’s comments should also help to alleviate fears about Ghibli shutting down for good. “Some reports have speculated that Ghibli will cease to exist if we dismantle the production division, but, more accurately, it will mark a change in how Studio Ghibli makes anime,” he stated.
That may be a satisfactory explanation in Suzuki’s mind, but to many his continued use of the specific word “dismantle” seems to be at least somewhat at odds with continuing to produce animation. Perhaps realizing this, he tried to clarify his stance on anime production at Ghibli in general, while still avoiding laying out its future course in any concrete terms.
“You know, it’s been [almost] 30 years since Studio Ghibli was formed. We wanted to make the company of our dreams, where if we felt like making something, we would, and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t. To an extent, we’ve been able to accomplish that, and that’s something I’ve been very happy about. Right now, though, I’m not sure how we should proceed. Companies aren’t so simple to run, after all…”
As the conversation turned towards fellow Ghibli co-founder Miyazaki, though, Suzuki had some more encouraging news. “Actually, I don’t know if I should say this or not,” he smiled, “but Miyazaki has said he’d like to make an anime.”
As the studio audience gasped in excitement, Suzuki went on. “This is just my prediction, but I think, first of all, he’d like to do a short film. We’ve talked about it a little….”
▼ Keep talking.
Realizing he may have said too much, and that Asaichi’s live broadcast format meant there would be no way to edit his comments out, Suzuki gave a troubled chuckle. “For the Ghibli Museum, we produce short films, so he said if it was something like that, he’d like to give it a try.”
Considering that Miyazaki has previously directed shorts which are shown exclusively at the Tokyo museum, such as Mei and the Kittenbus, the 2002 follow-up to My Neighbor Totoro, the idea doesn’t seem so farfetched. Still, it’s not like Miyazaki has already started working in earnest on the possible short. “What will make children happy, and how should it be produced? We’d have to sort out those issues,” Suzuki added.
So to recap:
1. Studio Ghibli may dismantle its production division.
2. But the company will still exist.
3. It’ll make anime in an unspecified new way.
4. Hayao Miyazaki might be making a new anime.
5. Or maybe not!
Suzuki’s interview may have been short on definite answers for just about anything, but it’s sure got everyone talking about Studio Ghibli. In other words, the crafty veteran did exactly what a producer is supposed to do.