At a talk show event earlier this week, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, director of Studio Ghibli films The Secret World Of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There, told the press that he left the Studio at the end of last year and is no longer affiliated with it. He also said that he still wants to make films and may try making a film that is the complete opposite of Marnie.
Yonebayashi’s When Marnie Was There opened in third place at the Japanese box office in July last year, being beaten by another anime film, Pokemon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction. At the end of its theatrical run, it had made a disappointing total of ¥3.53 billion, which was about a third of that for Arrietty, the highest grossing local film of 2010.
While I am happy that Yonebayashi will get the freedom and opportunities to make films that he wants to make, I am also sad that the most promising ‘second generation’ director at Studio Ghibli won’t get to take up the baton. I actually wonder what lies in the future for Studio Ghibli, the company that has brought so much joy to so many people in the world for the past nearly 30 years.