On September 11, director Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame questioned Toshio Suzuki, general manager and long-time producer of Studio Ghibli films, in regards to the future of the beloved animation studio. Mr. Suzuki’s comments over the last month or so have been ambiguously vague, to the frustration of anxious fans everywhere. However, this latest exchange seems to have at least produced a new detail in the future of company, as Mr. Suzuki all but confirmed that the studio will be undergoing some restructuring, regardless of the future of its production division.

Mr. Oshii has most recently been serving as the general manager for The Next Generation -Patlabor- series of live-action sci-fi films based on the popular anime franchise, which are currently being released every couple of months in Japan.

After the recent release of the fourth installment in the series, Mr. Oshii invited Mr. Suzuki to attend a special talk event as part of a commemorative screening for the film. The two animation giants were in the midst of catching up when Mr. Oshii rather bluntly asked, “What do you intend to do [with Studio Ghibli]? Are you doing this because you want to downsize?”   

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Mr. Oshii has grilled Mr. Suzuki–you may remember reading this amusing transcript between the two from a radio chat in 2008 after the release of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (which was produced by Mr. Suzuki). Mr. Oshii certainly had some strong opinions about the way in which the legendary Mr. Miyazaki had directed the film, even going so far as to say that “the film wasn’t put together like a proper movie.” But enough about that; let’s get back to the current meeting.

In response to the above questions, Mr. Suzuki answered, “The real reason is because deciding what to make and who will make it is difficult…it’s these kinds of questions. If the right opportunity should present itself, I’d like to try making a new work.” He also touched on the fact that maintaining the studio’s current schedule of producing roughly one new film per year is extremely taxing, and hinted about labor-related problems: “It’s become difficult to create something entirely in Japan; it’s the same for anime nowadays. There are lots of excellent people in Thailand.”         

Director Oshii kept badgering him though, this time asking, “Do you really intend to close [the production division of] Studio Ghibli? It’s a pain for the industry. Are you going to fire your animators and entire staff?” to which Mr. Suzuki replied, “Not all of them.” “So will you halve them?” Mr. Oshii continued. “I don’t know,” was Mr. Suzuki’s final answer.

We imagine that an internationally acclaimed director such as Mr. Oshii is one of the few people who could get away with directly grilling Mr. Suzuki like that in the first place. But even if Mr. Suzuki felt a bit put on the spot, he seems to have confirmed the fact that Studio Ghibli will be downsizing to an unknown extent in the near future. Guess we’ll all have to hang tight again for further details…

Sources: Gahalog News
Top image: Affenheimtheater