Studio Ghibli hires male directors because they tend to have a “more idealistic” approach to fantasy than women.
Producer Yoshiaki Nishimura attempted to explain the Japanese animation studio’s lack of women when asked whether it will ever shake up its gender balance during a Guardian interview.
“It depends on what kind of a film it would be,” he said. “Unlike live action, with animation we have to simplify the real world. Women tend to be more realistic and manage day-to-day lives very well. Men on the other hand tend to be more idealistic – and fantasy films need that idealistic approach. I don’t think it’s a coincidence men are picked.”
The studio’s legendary director Hayao Miyazaki retired in 2014 but made his attitude towards female characters clear in 2013. “Many of my movies have strong female leads – brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe in with all their heart,” he said. “They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a saviour. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.”
Perhaps it’s time that Miyazaki’s successors, including Nishimura and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, had similar faith in women working in film, although with Studio Ghibli struggling financially with the cost of making hand-drawn animation it sadly remains to be seen whether there will be any new directors at all.
“The slim-down process has begun,” Nishimura said. “There is no in-house production at the moment.”
When Marnie Was There arrives in UK cinemas on 10 June.