Legendary anime director proves he still has no interest in mincing words.
Even though it’s not a 100-percent Studio Ghibli production, one of the big stories about animated film The Red Turtle is that the vaunted anime studio was a creative partner in the movie’s creation. So at an advance screening held in Tokyo on September 1, among those in attendance were Toshio Suzuki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli and one of the The Red Turtle’s producers, as well as director Michaal Dudok de Wit.
At the event, Suzuki relayed that a few days prior, on August 29, de Wit also met with anime luminary Hayao Miyazaki, who gave him his opinion of the finished film. In typical Miyazaki fashion, it also contains a thinly veiled condemnation of derivative or self-indulgent art, as he told the 63-year-old Dutch animator:
“It’s marvelous that the film is absolutely free of influences from Japanese animation.”
Even judging the film by its own merits, it sounds like Miyazaki was impressed by The Red Turtle. Suzuki says that, in speaking with de Wit, the ostensible retired Miyazaki even mused:
“I want the staff from this movie. If I had this staff, I think I could do it…”
Japanese being a vague language, Miyazaki didn’t explicitly state what “it” is. It’s pretty easy to infer, though, that he’s talking about making feature films, which would be keeping with other stories of how poorly retirement seems to be sitting with the creator of My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.
Sadly for fans of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s comment came in an informal conversation, so it’s not proof positive that he’s ready to get back in the director’s chair. Such a decision would likely require more than just the right animators to work with, given that Studio Ghibli itself already has access to plenty of artists conditioned to work in Miyazaki’s style. Still, given the high demands for quality that Miyazaki places on production teams, such unadulterated praise is surprising, and could be indicative of a deep stirring of his creative juices.
And how does Suzuki feel about all this? He concluded his recap of the meeting by saying “He’s already retired, so I’d rather he not think about such things,” with the same rueful smile the always-cagey industry veteran has shown so often in discussing the future of his working relationship with Miyazaki. If the “retired” director wants to get back in the game in a way that won’t be influenced by anime, though, working with a team of non-Japanese animators would definitely be one way to do it.