2013 "Summer of Ghibli" - Takahata and Miyazaki's Final Bow?

Recently on his radio show, Toshio Suzuki hinted at an "incredible plan" for Studio Ghibli in the summer of 2013.  This "Summer of Ghibli" remains a mystery of yet, but Isao Takahata's long-awaited feature film ("The Story of the Bamboo Cutter") currently scheduled for release next summer.  In addition, Hayao Miyazaki's next feature (almost certainly based on his 2009 Kaze Tachinu comic) is also planned for a summer release.  Does this mean 2013 will see a double-feature release by Ghibli's founders?

Perhaps, perhaps not.  It's best not to speculate on these things, as Westerners are notoriously terrible at guessing Ghibli's intentions.  Every Ghibli movie of the last 15 years is heralded as "Miyazaki's retirement," for example.  But next summer will be a critical milestone for the studio, as it completes its "Five Year Plan."  This plan introduced the next generation of feature film directors, while Miyazaki prepares to move to a more background role.  Can Studio Ghibli survive in a post-Miyazaki era?  Would the public accept the new directors?  Fortunately, The Borrower Arrietty and From Up on Poppy Hill became hits, and Goro Miyazaki is already in the planning stages of his next film (a samurai period piece).

Although no official word has been made, it's entirely reasonable to me that "Bamboo Cutter" and "Kaze Tachinu" will be the final directorial feature films by Takahata (75) and Miyazaki (71).  Advancing age and the long production times necessary for feature animation almost requires it.  The time may be coming for Studio Ghibli's legendary founders to take the stage one final time.

Mind you, this is only my speculation at this point, so don't quote anything as the Written Gospel.  But I think this is where Ghibli is headed, and I wouldn't at all be surprised if Toshio Suzuki's plans involve this in some fashion.

Here is the translation from Suzuki-san's radio show, provided by T. Ishikawa and posted on GhibliWiki:

One of the guests asked Suzuki a question near the end of the radio show.

Guest: When is Takahata-san's film released?

Suzuki: Well, Miyazaki... (narration is inserted on top of Suzuki's voice)

Narration: Sorry, we cannot yet broadcast this talk, but, actually Suzuki-san seems to have an incredible plan which is not swept irresistibly by the current of the times.

Guests: Wooooow! (Guests are astonished by Suzuki's plan)

Suzuki: I'm so sorry, but we make all of next summer into Studio Ghibli.

(Laughter and the applause by guests)

Narration: Probably, Calcifer's flame begins to blaze like a brick from now on.


Anonymous said...

On the one hand it will be sad if it will be the last 2 movies of Takahata and Miyazaki. On the other hand they more than deserve retirement from the active directing job etc and take a less time consuming role in the business.
I am sure they will be involved in the movies still anyway.
Can't wait to see Poppy Hill to see for myself how well Goro has done it. And yeah, Yonebayashi did a great work with Arrietty too. So I am not afraid of the future of Ghibli.
Also what's with Kondo (Whisper of the Heart), Morita (The Cat Returns) and Mochizuki (Ocean Waves)? Does any of those three still work with Ghibli? If so surely they could direct future movies too?

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Yoshifumi Kondo died suddenly of a brain aneurism in 1998. Mochizuki-san and Morita-san only worked on their single Ghibli production before moving on.

Studio Ghibli has long been in a state of crisis, especially since Kondo's death, as they search for new directors to bring to the studio. Many candidates have been courted over the years, but they were all chased away by Miyazaki. Heh heh.

Yonebayashi-san is the first feature film director since Kondo to win Miyazaki's full respect and support, and of course Goro Miyazaki is earning his father's throne, slow and steady.

I certainly agree with Yonebayashi's direction on Arrietty. He did a great job, and he had far more freedom over the production than I expected. Miyazaki-san was there to start the process rolling and offer crucial advice, but it appears that he gave the young director his freedom.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information, very sad about Kondo, he sure would have brought some more great movies.

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