Over the last few decades, award-winning animation house Studio Ghibli has created dozens of celebrated films, including Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, that have all been directed by men. In a recent interview with The Guardian, producer Yoshiaki Nishimura said that wasn't a coincidence.
When asked if Ghibli had the intention of ever bringing on a female director for a feature-length project, Nishimura said that women aren't as well suited for fantasy storytelling as men are.
"Unlike live action, with animation we have to simplify the real world," Nishimura said. "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 producer added that in the wake of legendary director Hayao Miyazaki leaving the company to retire, Ghibli was looking into finding the next big talent the struggling studio can use to bring attention back to hand-drawn animated stories. Considering Nishimura wants to continue to make work similar to what Ghibli has done in the past, it may be some time before a female director is ever brought on board.
The studio's most recent film, When Marnie Was There, is available on Blu-ray.
Update: Nishimura took to Twitter to express his apologies over his comments and clear up any confusion that people may have had over his sentiments. In the tweets, Nishimura said that he hasn't been a Studio Ghibli employee since 2014, specifically reiterating that what he said did not reflect Ghibli in any way. He also added that despite his previous statements in the Guardian, gender doesn't matter when it comes to directing and women should have the ability to work on whatever project they want to.