Smooth-faced Studio Ghibli director has mini interview with producer Toshio Suzuki.

The Academy Awards presentation is scheduled to take place this coming Sunday in Hollywood. In the runup to the ceremony, the organizers have been releasing compilation videos highlighting the nominees, and the introductions for the Animated Feature Film category should be of special interest to anime fans due to the inclusion of Studio Ghibli’s The Boy and the Heron.

For each animated movie in the video, there’s a brief segment in which key members of its production say a few words about it. It’s no surprise that for The Boy and the Heron one of the people present is producer Toshio Suzuki, who’s been with Studio Ghibli since the studio’s founding and is often the company’s public face in interviews and other media appearances. However, even longtime Ghibli fans might need a moment to recognize the smoothly shaven man sitting next to Suzuki…

…who is, in fact, none other than Hayao Miyazaki.

The apron, glasses, and taciturn demeanor all align with how Miyazaki ordinarily appears. He’s sported a neatly trimmed beard for the last three decades-plus, though, becoming an integral part of people’s mental image of him pretty much for the entire time Studio Ghibli has had its lofty level of mainstream and international acclaim, so it’s startling to see him without it.

Miyazaki also briefly appeared without his beard last fall, and the new video shows that he’s not growing it back, at least as this time. He does still have a healthy-looking head of silvery hair, though, and in chatting with Suzuki he doesn’t seem to be suffering from pain or discomfort, so his beardless status doesn’t appear to be the result of any physical malady. Sure, he’s reticent as Suzuki performs a mini interview, but that’s always been part of Miyazaki’s personality. When asked “Having made [The Boy and the Heron], what were you happy about with it?” Miyazaki takes a long pause as he searches for an answer before finally settling on “I’m glad that I made it all the way to the end,” having spent seven years working on the movie.

“But it did finish,” Suzuki says of the protracted production, to which Miyazaki snappily adds “Yes. Because the money kept coming,” as he gestures towards Suzuki and the two share a laugh.

It’s a lighthearted moment, but it highlights just how much of Studio Ghibli’s success is owed to the way the two divided their collective workload. Miyazaki has repeatedly professed a disdain for art being influenced by financial aspirations, but the time and talent required to bring his lavish visions to the screen can’t be secured without funding. Meanwhile, Suzuki, as one of the most skilled producers in the anime industry, is willing to do the press events, business meetings, and other away-from-the-animating table hustle and bustle that Miyazaki has no taste for, but with the added advantage of being able to promise potential partners that their investments will pay off thanks to the incredible string of critical and commercial success that Miyazaki’s movies have achieved.

Source: YouTube/Oscars via Josei Jishin via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin
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