Says Hayao Miyazaki’s fabled anime studio has dismissed roughly 200 animators during its cool-down period.
When legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki recently announced that he would be coming out of retirement to make another theatrical film, anime enthusiasts around the world were ecstatic. More experienced fans, though, might not have been all too surprised.
Sure, Miyazaki had said that he was done making feature films after finishing The Wind Rises in 2013. He’d said the same thing after Princess Mononoke in 1997, though, and four years later he was back with Spirited Away, the first of four post-Mononoke theatrical anime he’s made so far. So perhaps more unusual than Miyazaki’s settling into the director’s chair again is the fact that Studio Ghibli, the production house Miyazaki co-founded, is starting a recruiting push to hire new animators and artists. While much work in the anime industry is on a per-project basis, Ghibli has long been famous for offering loner-term employment for its staff members, which seems like it should preclude the need for such a hiring push.
However, following the release of Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There in 2014, it was looking like the studio itself was done with feature-length animation. In the time since, Japan’s Livedoor News reports that Studio Ghibli has dismissed nearly 200 animators.
According to Livedoor’s source, an unnamed film industry writer well-informed on anime matters, many of these dismissed animators are now working for Studio Ponoc, which was founded by Yoshiaki Nishimura, a producer who worked on Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and When Marnie Was There. Ponoc’s current high-profile project is Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which is being directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who previously direxted Marnie and The Secret World of Arrietty for Ghibli.
▼ Trailer for Mary and the Witch’s Flower
The writer says that Ghibli may not be able to lure all of these animators back to work on Miyazaki’s new film, which could explain why Ghibli is essentially holding open auditions by specifically mentioning in its want ad that that no prior animation industry experience is required.
Still, this is Miyazaki we’re talking about here. Whether they’re people he’s worked with before or not, there’s no doubt that talented artists will be eager to be part of what’s being billed as the final film for anime’s most celebrated creator. Presently, Ghibli says its new animators will start in earnest in October and work for a period of three years. Livedoor’s source, though, predicts that assembling a crew with the sufficient talents to bring Miyazaki’s vision to the screen will take more time than the studio has estimated, and that we might have to wait longer than the projected three years until we finally get to see it.