On Cartoon Brew's recent Miyazaki-themed posts, I've read a surprising number of commenters cast doubt on the friendship between Miyazaki and John Lasseter. I don't know how many people believe this (the internet is notorious for exaggerating crank ideas), but I'm reading occasional opinions like this:
"I still don’t understand why Lasseter and Miyazaki get along. Miyazaki’s position seems particularly cynical."
Am I missing something here? Why is there such skepticism about the friendship between John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki? Where exactly is this coming from? When they first met around 1980, Miyazaki was in the States working on the Nemo movie project (before withdrawing), and he was at the low point in his career. Castle of Cagliostro, his first directoral film, was a box office failure. Sherlock Hound (Meitantai Holmes) was scuttled by Telecom after six episodes were created but never aired. His great television series, Future Boy Conan, had finished its run in 1978. In fact, Miyazaki’s great triumph was Heidi in 1974 and 3000 Leauges in Search of Mother in 1976.
Clearly, in 1980 there was no master plan to take over the film world. Miyazaki would be absent from anime entirely for the next four years, before his film version of Nausicaa signalled his triumphant comeback.
John Lasseter, likewise, would see the darkest days of his career. He would lose his job as a Disney animator, then find work with George Lucas’ obscure computer graphics company. Said company was bought by Steve Jobs, and nobody at the time could have dreamed that Pixar would become the Great American Movie Studio.
The idea that Lasseter and Miyazaki’s friendship is cynical business politics is absurd. It’s beyond absurd. What is it with Americans and stupid conspiracy theories, anyway? Are we going to ask John Lasseter for his birth certificate next?