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Death of a Giant

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Yasuyoshi Tokuma, president and CEO of Tokuma Shoten, died on Wednesday September 20th, 2000 at 78 years of age.

Yasuyoshi Tokuma may not be a name that many Anime fans know, however his contributions to the Anime community have been enormous. It is not possible to talk of the history of Studio Ghibli without talking about Tokuma. Hayao Miyazaki has said that without Tokuma, Ghibli would never have existed, and without his continued support it would not have lasted this long.

Up until 1983 Tokuma Shoten produced and distributed only printed material, however in 1983 Tokuma decided to produce an Anime based on Miyazaki's hit Manga, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Despite dismal box office preformance of Miyazaki's first Anime, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, Tokuma allowed Miyazaki to direct the film and has since funded every Miyazaki Anime, in fact he has funded ever Ghibli film except for Grave of the Fireflies.

"Yasuyoshi Tokuma is a [willing] person like that. He's a man who says 'Make something good, " Says Hayao Miyazaki, "but after it's a hit doesn't say 'Make something just like it.' ". One anecdote involves Miyazaki going to Tokuma, full of apologies for MONONOKE HIME, which was about to go over budget, and Tokuma offering on the spot to double the budget. Miyazaki had to talk him down! "Um... we don't need THAT much money..."). My Neighbor Totoro and Hotaru no Haka would never had been produced if Tokuma himself had not harrassed distributors into agreing to carry them. That same year Totoro won the majority of Japanese cinema awards, including best photography.

According to Kenji Mizoguchi, Tokuma was rarely at the studio, the reason being that he allowed his artists total control over their productions. However when the artists were in need of support he would be the first one there.

Yasuyoshi Tokuma will be dearly missed by the Japanese film Industry as well as true fans of Anime around the world. We owe him our gratitude.

Christopher Macdonald
Editor in Chief
Anime News Network

Tokuma's other credits as a producer are available at the Internet Movie Database.

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