Former Ghibli Production Staffer Criticizes All Films Since Kiki's Delivery Service

posted on by Karen Ressler
"They dump all responsibility on the director's shoulders"

Hirokatsu Kihara was a member of the production staff at Studio Ghibli, working on Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service in the 1980's. More than two decades later, the producer gave an interview to British style magazine Dazed at London's Hyper Japan festival last weekend, and confessed he thinks all the films since Kiki's Delivery Service are boring.

Kihara admitted his bias toward the films he has worked on, but based his criticism of the films in his experience working at Ghibli. "During the three films that I worked on, I was [Hayao] Miyazaki's confidant in terms of ideas and concepts," he said. "I noticed the problem was that Miyazaki likes to put everything of himself and everything that he had into one film. But, when you've done that work, what's left?"

Kihara explained that he believes each film to be the sole work of director Hayao Miyazaki or director Isao Takahata, and so have lacked ideas. He compared this approach to filmmaking at Disney and Pixar, where "they get everyone to throw in ideas." The directors, he said, have too much on their shoulders. "They're overworked – they don't have enough time to come up with new ideas or mature the ones they have."

Kihara also noted the high turnaround of employees at Studio Ghibli. He attributed this to practice of hiring people because they "please the producers," not because of their creative ideas. "They want followers, not leaders – that's why the work is reducing in quality," he said.

When asked for the reason for this workplace culture, he answered, "There's one person there who I won't name. I find it very scary. He speaks like a yakuza and rules it like a politician."

Kihara was a production coordinator on My Neighbor Totoro and production desk on Kiki's Delivery Service. He has been credited as a production staff member in several anime productions since leaving Ghibli, but now focuses on writing ghost stories.

Sources: Dazed Digital (David Whelan), Hirokatsu KIHARA Website, Image via Japan Expo

Thanks to princess passa passa for the news tip.

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