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INTEREST: In New Book, Ghibli's Suzuki Reveals Isao Takahata as Notoriously Difficult Director


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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:56 pm Reply with quote
[/quote]"It was Paku-san that killed Kon-chan, wasn't it?"
Quote:


I am assuming this is a veiled reference to Takahata, but I do not know the source or details.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:16 pm Reply with quote
Well, never meet your heroes as they say.
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andyos
ANN Associate Editor


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:35 pm Reply with quote
Re TarsTarkas' post, 'Paku-san' was Takahata's nickname used by his colleagues - IIRC, because of his habit of munching food while working.
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configspace



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:35 pm Reply with quote
@TarsTarkas
Paku was Takahata's nickname. Miyazaki mentioned it and sort of how he got the nickname in his translated tribute on YouTube
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Top Gun



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:59 pm Reply with quote
This isn't really surprising to hear. Miyazaki has always had a reputation as a grumpy taskmaster, but given his penchant for running vastly over time and budget, Takahata always came across as something of a perfectionist. Geniuses usually aren't very personable.
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doomydoomdoom



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:12 pm Reply with quote
Well, if any of this is true (and it's gotta be since it's coming from Suzuki)...

That's sad that I have to lose all respect for him so soon after his death, and given that he was my favorite Ghibli director, but so be it. As somebody who's worked for supervisors who present a warm, smiling, charitable (and popular) face to the outside world and treat their employees like festering dogs--t behind closed doors, I know the perils of workplace bullying too well. I guess it's not surprising to hear Takahata was the Steve Jobs of the anime world, but very difficult to hear that it was his treatment of Kondo that led to Kondo's exhaustion and death. Kondo was an incredible talent and the world is worse for not having him. I hope it deeply affected Takahata as much as it seems. Maybe that's a reason why Takahata only made two more films after Kondo's death, 14 years apart.
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GeorgeC



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:54 pm Reply with quote
Top Gun wrote:
This isn't really surprising to hear. Miyazaki has always had a reputation as a grumpy taskmaster, but given his penchant for running vastly over time and budget, Takahata always came across as something of a perfectionist. Geniuses usually aren't very personable.


It was that over-budget business that helped doom Ghibli's production model and ultimately led to the shutdown of regular feature production at Ghibli.
The model just didn't work when one guy was continually overspending and they seemed less interested in grooming and retaining the next generation of directors than fluffing up the reputations of the founding directors.
I'm sorry if this sounds nasty but it's also true that there's a reason why Walt Disney's name was on the letterhead of his company AND his name was ALWAYS in the credits well before they began crediting the majority of animation staff that worked on Disney feature films!
It's always egos, folks, and there will always be people who want to be at the head of the line with their names the largest in block lettering regardless of what politics they espouse. Ego is common in this (show) business. Humility behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera is divine (and extremely rare) but it's usually the people with the biggest egos and thickest skins who last the longest and climb to the top. There's a bit of sociopathy involved there -- don't kid yourselves!

Note that Kaguya lost money -- a LOT of it. It grossed (from what I remember, I could be wrong) something like $20million LESS than it cost to produce. It was among Ghibli's most expensive productions, around $65million if I'm not mistaken?
Personally, I liked the film but did it really look like $65million to me, that much better than When Marnie Was There or From Up on Poppy Hill? No, not really.

NONE of the junior Ghibli directors' features cost over $30million to my knowledge -- usually less -- and they DID make at least marginal profits but not Miyazaki level ($80million or more in profits). And that was for Japan. You can find the budget stats for these films on their Wiki entries and I presume those figures are accurate unless there's a reason people want to make Takahata look bad because it seems like he did that on his own without anybody else's help.
They like to make money in Japan FIRST (with any feature film or TV series) before they worry about licensing in the rest of the world because they know they're not going to make the majority of their money worldwide. I haven't heard any of these features making over $5million in the US and that's with a major corporation backing them and exhibiting them in theaters. Disney gave these films an honest chance and at least 3 of them (When the Wind Rises, Secret of Arriety, Ponyo) were exhibited in major theater chains before the Tokuma-Disney licensing deal expired. The rest were shown in art houses and film festivals so they were seen by people who sought them out and this was well before GKids started the annual and seasonal Ghibli fests.
Casual fans were never going to make these films legendary cult classics.
There's a stigma against animation in the "adult world" and this is a worldwide phenomenon. It's supposed to be something you grow out of by your teens but I think a significant minority (well over 10%) of us NEVER do. A lot of us who got into anime were/are fans of classic American animation but we got dissatisfied because the same restricted tropes (princesses, buddy movies) kept getting repeated over and over again and the culture at large doesn't seem to want to support anything but feature films in those two story archetypes. Prime-time animation (in the West) is still restricted to comedy!
And now, in the last 20 years, it's been decided by the big studio producers that the only types films that should be produced and could possibly be profitable are CG films that cost the same to produce as the last few hand-drawn features!!! A lot of people prefer the organic, hand-drawn look but it's been decreed by corporations that hand-drawn animation is "dead." Is it any wonder there are those of us who've looked outside of Hollywood for entertainment with that kind of production mentality?!?
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louis6578



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:49 pm Reply with quote
May I just say that a studio that makes such consistently high quality work as often as Ghibli does having a dictator of a director behind it surprises no one? I mean, a results-oriented guy like might be the reason they were as successful as they were. It isn't as though the working conditions were much better or worse than most professionals in Japan had it.
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TheAnimeRevolutionizer



Joined: 03 Nov 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:12 pm Reply with quote
GeorgeC wrote:
Is it any wonder there are those of us who've looked outside of Hollywood for entertainment with that kind of production mentality?!?


You and so many others here are not wrong. As someone who still aims to start his own series and to partake in the style, it would be absolutely ignorant to overlook and give a light tap on the wrist to some of the major pitfalls and flaws of the world one wishes to go to. Considering myself, I couldn't ignore them unlike most other people. It's not ever intentional but for as something as squeaky clean as Ghibli, even I had a feeling there were skeletons in their closet that weren't coming out into the open. And unfortunately, today was that day.

I'm not going to lie either. As one song put it: "The quest for power is down a dark road- Depends how far you're willin' to go!" There is as much darkness to a person as much light and good they will put out into the world. Even then, good is always an optional factor. In the face of that, karma always has its ways of coming back to you. I'm not going to deny it; I tend to get jealous and envious when others have better work than me. I have issues of self esteem when it comes to accomplishments and goals in general because what I'm working on is not something I want to rush, and that's kind of the cost to being on such a path of dedication: That temptation is there and there is much to sacrifice as life goes on. Even I have quirks about me that plenty of people find negative and toxic and keeps them away from me. But on the other hand, this is why I stress that to be an artist, it cannot be a path of pure egotism and overt indulgence. Heaven's net is wide and coarse, but it always catches everything that comes along its way. Humans are flawed and we make mistakes. But there's a reason why Keanu Reeves is held in a better light than Mel Gibson, or for a better example, why Paul Verhoben is better received than George Lucas, or better yet, Ed Wood VS Uwe Boll.

Concerning industry, this is why I would rather go underground on places like Medibang for my work than to ever go straight to a manga publisher right in Japan or dare even Tokyopop. It isn't just because the world is changing, but all things come and go, and all things come to stagnate and decline, especially for a place like Modern Day Japan. As I've bought and read the book on the manga industry by Shuho Sato, Isao's dark secrets are unsettlingly parallel: there are a lot of talented people who give up at the first mile because there is a lot of gatekeeping by seniority entitlement, in company budgets, and an obstacle course with little wiggle room to climb up the ladder into the industry these days, and even then, you'll be likely forced into a dead set position with a chance of getting out that's just as capable of you winning the lottery. It's true that it is all an act of balance, but when the day comes that creativity takes a backseat to profits, that's when you fear the day when breads and circuses fail to entertain people from stress and overthinking, or at least from knowing the joys that go beyond what money and the physical world can't give you. Learning that Isao was the man who practically did nearly bite off Ghibli's hand that fed them leaves not just a near bitter taste in my mouth, but also knowing that Miyazaki is just as culpable for allowing him to get away with this. I also couldn't believe this happened during my high school years when I was even more unaware that this was what was actually happening in Japan, and that the mainstream manga industry was in a lot more trouble than what was given. I feel even more grateful for having learned about these things not too recently and for not aiming to go gung ho straight into Japan when I was younger: I would have likely been torn to shreds because I would have been less mature, wizened, and knowledged to even handle it. There's some straight evidence of what killed off a majority of my then peers and their mangaka dreams right there. It's just as bad as what of a mess the US animation industry is, but its reasons are totally in a different direction than what the US has to face if it ever wants to have animation be a legit medium again.

I'll still aim for the top, but yeah, I'd rather be business smart and consider things carefully than sell my soul (and series) for instant fame. As much as getting your foot into the door and eking your way up is possible, it's a lot more weathered and a lot more filthier to navigate through in this tired economy. As said before, "The Future Belongs To the Mad." Go wild, people.
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Jayhosh



Joined: 24 May 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:45 pm Reply with quote
I mean this isn’t really new information, we already knew both him and Miyazaki were difficult directors and perfectionists. And that the intense workmanlike culture of not just Ghibli but Japan’s industry as a whole contributed to Kondo’s unfortunate passing. Really, there’s no one person to blame but rather the state of the industry in general. And Suzuki has always been the blunt straight man of the three.

Also, yeah, Kaguya absolutely looks like one of the most expensive Ghibli films (production cost was more around 50 million). It’s visuals are very experimental and unorthodox, so yeah, it’s high cost makes sense. Marnie, as lovely as it is to look at, is a fairly traditional and low-key affair.

I just hope Ponoc is avoiding falling into these internal-management problems.
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Jayhosh



Joined: 24 May 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:50 pm Reply with quote
doomydoomdoom wrote:
Maybe that's a reason why Takahata only made two more films after Kondo's death, 14 years apart.


Doubtful. He was always a notoriously slow director, and the main reason for the long gap between Yamada’s and Kaguya is because Yamada’s was such a financial flop that Miyazaki didn’t have faith in Takahata to make a profitable film again. And he was proven right I suppose. But that’s the cost of being a brilliant visionary mind sometimes. Not everybody will flock to your creations. Shame, since Kaguya was nothing short of a masterpiece and really deserved better. It probably didn’t help that it premiered only months after Miyazaki’s own film and got subsequently overshadowed by it even at the Japan academy awards.
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Cutiebunny



Joined: 18 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:45 am Reply with quote
TheAnimeRevolutionizer wrote:
I tend to get jealous and envious when others have better work than me.


Suggesting this to you as a friend, but, you will find a lot more happiness in life if you focus on what you have and what you have accomplished, and less on what others have or have done with themselves.

Pushing for things to be done at the expense of other's health might have solidified Takahata's place as a brilliant director, but it also solidified his place as a nightmare to work with and someone who may have lead to the deaths of not just Kondo, but other animators as well.
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johnnysasaki



Joined: 01 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:06 am Reply with quote
let's not forget that Mamoru Hosoda was set to direct Howl's Moving Castle and left early in the production.He never worked with Ghibli again to this day.Probably because of this.
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petran79



Joined: 10 Jun 2006
Posts: 118
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:43 am Reply with quote
GeorgeC wrote:

There's a stigma against animation in the "adult world" and this is a worldwide phenomenon. It's supposed to be something you grow out of by your teens but I think a significant minority (well over 10%) of us NEVER do. A lot of us who got into anime were/are fans of classic American animation but we got dissatisfied because the same restricted tropes (princesses, buddy movies) kept getting repeated over and over again and the culture at large doesn't seem to want to support anything but feature films in those two story archetypes. Prime-time animation (in the West) is still restricted to comedy!
And now, in the last 20 years, it's been decided by the big studio producers that the only types films that should be produced and could possibly be profitable are CG films that cost the same to produce as the last few hand-drawn features!!! A lot of people prefer the organic, hand-drawn look but it's been decreed by corporations that hand-drawn animation is "dead." Is it any wonder there are those of us who've looked outside of Hollywood for entertainment with that kind of production mentality?!?


I find the production story behind the Hungarian movie The Tragedy of Man to be another example. A 163 minute movie, made by one of the most notable animation directors world wide, Marcel Jankovic, the Hungarian Walt Disney. Yet movie took over 20 years to make. 6 were spent in production and the rest seeking funds. He even went to the BBC who rejected him because movie was too Hungarian, despite never taking place in Hungary. It cost over 2 million USD.
This movie is perhaps the most sophisticated adult movie I've watched in recent years.
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forexjammer



Joined: 01 Dec 2017
Posts: 127
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:03 am Reply with quote
doomydoomdoom wrote:
Well, if any of this is true (and it's gotta be since it's coming from Suzuki)...

That's sad that I have to lose all respect for him so soon after his death, and given that he was my favorite Ghibli director, but so be it. As somebody who's worked for supervisors who present a warm, smiling, charitable (and popular) face to the outside world and treat their employees like festering dogs--t behind closed doors, I know the perils of workplace bullying too well. I guess it's not surprising to hear Takahata was the Steve Jobs of the anime world, but very difficult to hear that it was his treatment of Kondo that led to Kondo's exhaustion and death. Kondo was an incredible talent and the world is worse for not having him. I hope it deeply affected Takahata as much as it seems. Maybe that's a reason why Takahata only made two more films after Kondo's death, 14 years apart.


It's a very normal occurance here in Japan. People lives are made for jobs or society, unpaid worktime, wageslave, every job's in Tokyo (some cities literally almost lost all their youths as everyone goes to Tokyo). Unless Japan does a radical change for their mentality this won't stop.
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