Studio Ghibli: Need I Say More? – Presented at Anime Banzai 2015
Panelists: John Fragglepuss Evans, Breanne Evans, Lindsay Starke, and Brittany Evans
This is a summary of our panel on Studio Ghibli for Anime Banzai 2015. We presented this panel at Anime Banzai 2014 and the organizers asked us to present it again this year. We changed a lot of the information to keep it fresh and new. We discussed the history of Studio Ghibli, the filmography, the directors, and the original stories that inspired Studio Ghibli films. We appreciate everybody that joined us for the panel. We would also like to thank Anime Banzai for combining two of the panel rooms so that we were able to fit everybody in the panel.
Studio Ghibli: A History
- Studio Ghibli was founded in June 1985 after the success of the 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
- The first real box-office success in Studio Ghibli’s history (just over $18 million) was Kiki’s Delivery Service in 1989.
- In April of 1995, Ghibli started the “East Koganei Village School of Animation” in an effort to educate and develop new animation directors.
- The first ever Studio Ghibli film to use computer graphics was Pom Poko in 1992.
- In August 1996, Disney and Tokuma Shoten Publishing agreed that Disney would distribute internationally Studio Ghibli animated films.
- The first Miyazaki film featuring computer graphics, and the first Studio Ghibli film featuring digital coloring was Princess Mononoke in 1997. Roger Ebert placed the movie sixth on his top ten movies of 1999 and it was also the highest grossing movie in Japan with $134 million in box office revenue.
- In October 2001, the Ghibli Museum opened in Mitaka, Tokyo. It contains exhibits based on Studio Ghibli films and shows animations, including a number of short Studio Ghibli films not available elsewhere.
- In 2002, Spirited Away was the first film to gross $200 million worldwide before opening in North America (eventually making about $275 million in total), and it was the only anime film ever to win an Academy award for Best Animated Feature, and it took over Titanic ($135 million) at the Japanese box office, becoming the top grossing film ever in Japanese cinema.
- On February 1, 2008, Toshio Suzuki stepped down from the position of Studio Ghibli president, which he had held since 2005, and Koji Hoshino (former president of Walt Disney Japan) took over. Suzuki still serves on the company’s board of directors.
- Sunday, September 1, 2013, Hayao Miyazaki held a press conference in Venice, confirming his retirement saying: “I know I’ve said I would retire many times in the past. Many of you must think, ‘Once again.’ But this time I am quite serious.”
- On August 3, 2014, Toshio Suzuki announced that Studio Ghibli would take a “brief pause” to re-evaluate and restructure in the wake of Miyazaki’s retirement. He stated some concerns about where the company would go in the future.
Studio Ghibli Filmography
1984: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – Pre-Ghibli
1986: Laputa: Castle in the Sky
1988: Grave of the Fireflies
1988: My Neighbor Totoro
1989: Kiki’s Delivery Service
1991: Only Yesterday
1992: Porco Rosso
1993: Oceans Waves
1994: Pom Poko
1995: Whisper of the Heart
1997: Princess Mononoke
1999: My Neighbors the Yamadas
2001: Spirited Away
2002: The Cat Returns
2004: Howl’s Moving Castle
2006: Tales From Earthsea
2008: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
2010: The Borrower Arrietty
2011: From Up on Poppy Hill
2013: The Wind Rises
2013: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
2014: When Marnie Was There
The Directors of Studio Ghibli
While Hayao Miyazaki is perhaps the most well-known Studio Ghibli director, there have been five other directors of Ghibli films. Here is a list of all six directors, along with the Ghibli films they directed and an interesting fact about them.
Hayao Miyazaki: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises
Common themes in Miyazaki films include: Feminism, pacifism, childhood transition, environmentalism, flight, and an absence of villains
Isao Takahata: Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Only Yesterday, The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Takahata does not draw and never worked as an animator before becoming a full-fledged director.
Yoshifumi Kondo: Whisper of the Heart
Kondo was expected to become one of the top directors at Studio Ghibli, alongside Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and to become their eventual successor. He died in 1998 of an aneurysm at the age of 47.
Hiroyuki Morita: The Cat Returns
Morita worked as an animator on Akira before joining Studio Ghibli.
Goro Miyazaki: Tales From Earthsea, From Up on Poppy Hill
Reluctant to follow in his father’s footsteps, Goro Miyazaki graduated college in Agriculture, working in landscape agriculture before becoming a director.
Hiromasa Yonebayashi: The Secret World of Arrietty, When Marnie Was There
Yonebayashi has worked on 9 Ghibli films, dating back to 1997 in Princess Mononoke doing in-between and clean-up animation.
The Stories that Inspired Studio Ghibli
A lot of people assume Ghibli films are all original stories, but that is not the case. Even Hayao Miyazaki was inspired to adapt a few of his films from other works. Original stories include: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neigherbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, and Spirited Away. Films that were adapted from other sources include: Grave of the Fireflies (adapted from a biography), Kiki’s Delivery Service (novel), Howl’s Moving Castle (novel), Ponyo (legend of The Little Mermaid), Tales From Earthsea (book series), When Marnie was There (novel), Arrietty (book series), and Tale of Princess Kaguya (folktale).
To finish off the panel we discussed a few of our favorite things about the Studio Ghibli films. This included our favorite relationships (romantic or otherwise), favorite animal characters, favorite music, and favorite quotes. It was wonderful to hear the wide variety of experiences that people have with Studio Ghibli films. It seems these films hold a special place in the hearts of many, including all of us panelists. Studio Ghibli films are often an individual’s introduction to anime and they give a lot of people the spark of love for anime. My first Studio Ghibli film was Princess Mononoke. It is not only my favorite Ghibli film, but one of my favorite anime to this day. However, Nausicaä is a close second.