Former Ghibli producer Hirokatsu Kihara gave an interview with Dazed magazine, and some of his insights paint the famous studio in a negative light.

Studio Ghibli is a beloved institution in Japan and abroad and is widely considered the “Disney of Japan. ” It seems that comparison refers not only to the studio’s whimsical creations, but also to a somewhat dysfunctional working environment. That’s according to producer Hirokatsu Kihara – who worked on many of Ghibli’s early classics such as My Neighbor Totoro and Castle in the Skywho sat down with British pop culture magazine Dazed Digital a few weeks ago to talk about Ghibli and its creations.

While Kihara’s interview was mostly vanilla chit-chat, there were a few nuggets that seem to have caught the attention of Japanese Netizens.

In between talking about his work on The Grudge and more abstract topics like the west’s historical connection to hunting, Kihara landed on a few points that paint a picture of Ghibli Studios as an enterprise that maybe doesn’t value its employees as much as it should:

“Personally, I think that after Kiki’s Delivery Service all the later works have only been the works of Miyazaki and (Isao) Takahata – so they’ve lacked ideas. Each film becomes less and less surprising,” Kihara said, referring to the studio’s famous director and his right hand man. He went on to explain that Ghibli is not as creative a working environment as it ought to be, as there’s very little creative collaboration outside of Miyazaki and Takahata.


It’s worth noting that Kihara doesn’t seem to be attacking Miyazaki personally here, as he mentions, “Miyazaki likes to put everything of himself and everything that he had into one film,” and seems to lay blame for the less-than-ideal working environment on people even higher up than Miyazaki himself, telling Dazed, “People aren’t necessarily looked after or cherished. There’s a sense that everyone is replaceable – even Miyazaki… the people that have worked at Ghibli leave quite fast – and never come back.”

Kihara also made a cryptic statement that may be the most damning one against the company and will surely have Ghibli super fans scouring the company’s roster of executives: “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. However, it should be recognised that he is the one who made the company rich and survive this long. Do you not find it strange that there are no interviews with Ghibli or hardly any articles written on it?”

There’s a lot to unpack here, and it should be pointed out that Kihara’s language throughout the interview isn’t necessarily accusatory or mean-spirited. The whole thing is worth a read and you can check it out here. Neither Ghibli nor Disney are strangers to controversy – in fact, there’s an entire, incredibly long Wikipedia article dedicated to Disney’s foul-ups.

Ghibli, for its part, recently courted controversy when another producer gave some overtly sexist comments to The Guardian, although he later apologized and walked back some of his rhetoric.

Source: Yurukuyaru.com
Feature Image: Flickr/Cliffano Subagio
Images: Flickr/Sébastien Bertrand