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Multiple Memoirs Go Behind-the-Scenes of Studio Ghibli

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

Last year former Studio Ghibli animator, Hitomi Tateno, published her memoir Enpitsu Senki: Dare mo Shiranakatta Studio Ghibli (The Pencil Wars: The Studio Ghibli that Nobody Knew). The book offered insight on Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, and Isao Takahata and Tateno's own experiences working as an image motion checker.

Since her memoir was published, several more staff members from the acclaimed studio have come forward with their own stories. Production assistant Hirokatsu Kihara, producer Tomohiko Ishii, and overseas operations head Steven Alpert have all put memory to paper about their time working for Ghibli.

Kihara's book Mō Hitotsu no ‘Balse’ recounts Miyazaki's challenges while working on Castle in the Sky in the late 1980s. The film was the first official production by Studio Ghibli and would make or break the studio's reputation. Kihara credits the intense pressure of the film for turning Miyazaki's, who at the time was 45-years-old, hair white. He also found, while looking through production materials, that the staff considered having the film's two protagonists hand over the magic stone to the story's villain.

Ishii recounts his training with producer Toshio Suzuki in the memoir Jibun o Suteru Shigoto-jutsu (Professionalism That Requires You to Discard Yourself). Released in August, the book's title is taken from advice given to Ishii by Suzuki. The producer told Ishii to "Discard yourself and imitate what I do for the next three years." At first glance, the advice sounds extreme but Ishii states that the true meaning is to let go of one's ego.

Wagahai wa Gaijin dearu: Ghibli o Sekaini Utta Otoko (I Am a Foreigner: A Man Who Sold Ghibli to the World) would be of interest to anyone wanting the lowdown on Princess Mononoke's North American theater run. Alpert found himself in a battle with the film's U.S. distributor over dialogue and sound effect changes in the English dub.

The memoirs are currently only available in Japanese, but here's hoping English-speaking fans can have a chance to read them someday.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun


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