Ghibli co-founder explains how he’d feel if Makoto Shinkai’s film passed his studio’s Spirited Away.
Few people in the anime industry have had a career anywhere near as successful as Toshio Suzuki. Not only is he a founding member of vaunted Studio Ghibli, he’s served as producer for more than a dozen of the animation house’s acclaimed films, including Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises, and When Marnie Was There.
Perhaps the biggest feather in Suzuki’s cap is that he also was the producer for Ghibli’s Spirited Away, which 16 years after its release remains the highest-grossing film ever at the Japanese box office. But while Spirited Away still holds the top spot by a comfortable margin, there’s a pretty serious challenge being presented by Makoto Shinkai’s anime phenomenon Your Name.
On January 23, it was announced that Your Name, then in its 22nd week of release, had once again beaten all other films in Japan in the weekly ticket sales rankings. Aside from repeat movie-goers seeing the film multiple times in its original form, Your Name’s tally is growing thanks to IMAX and English-vocal-song versions, both of which began showing in January.
With Your Name already having passed every other Ghibli movie in Japanese box office earnings, is Suzuki nervous about it closing in on Spirited Away’s record?
Not at all. On the contrary, he thinks it’s great.
Suzuki recently sat down for an interview with Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun, which was published in the periodical’s edition which went on sale January 26. He reiterated much of his earlier praise of Shinkai’s film, lauding the characters, dialogue, and music. “The way the movie’s high autumn skies feel like they’re drawing you in left a deep impression,” the famed producer said, and also added that while watching Your Name he felt that Shinkai is also a fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s works.
The conversation eventually turned to the possibility of Your Name out-earning Spirited Away in Japan (it’s already surpassed the Ghibli classic in global earnings), something it needs a little more than seven billion yen (US$60 million) to do. Suzuki’s thoughts on the matter?
“If that day should come, I don’t think I’ll be sad…It feels nice to have the record, but I think it’ll be beaten at some point in the future, and really, isn’t it more interesting if something else does break the record?”
Magnanimous words, and perfectly appropriate for someone who’s legacy is already secure.