In an interview recently, Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, when asked about hiring female directors, said this:
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.
(Read the whole story by clicking here.)
I remember, a while ago, reading something like “Studio Ghibli realizes their movies won’t be profitable unless Hayao Miyazaki’s name is on them.”
(For further reading: New Studio Ghibli Film Underperforms at the Box Office.)
Ever since Miyazaki’s retirement, Studio Ghibli’s box office numbers have been down since the studio can no longer say “Miyazaki worked on this movie.”
So, when it comes to Studio Ghibli not hiring female directors, I think the reason why is motivated more by wanting to say “Hey! The director you like made this movie!” and less by any ignorant-at-best and sexist-at-worst attitude towards women: “Fantasy films need the idealistic approach that men provide.”
To go into more detail:
As far as I can tell: With the exception of When Marnie Was There (2015), The Secret World of Arrietty (2012), From Up on Poppy Hill (2011), Tales from Earthsea (2006), The Cat Returns (2002), and Whisper of the Heart (1995), Studio Ghibli’s movies have been directed by the founders — Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Which makes sense: The people who made the studio make the movies.
Tales From Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill were directed by Miyazaki’s son, Goro. To me, it’s obvious that Studio Ghibli wanted to say “Hey! The son of the director of all those movie you like is directing this movie. If you liked the father’s works, you’ll like the son’s.”
I read that the director of Whisper of the Heart — Yoshifumi Kondo — was going to be Miyazaki’s successor, before he died of a brain aneurysm three years after that movie was made.
When it comes to the directors Studio Ghibli is hiring, if Yoshifumi Kondo and Goro Miyazaki are anything to go by:
Studio Ghibli’s criteria is “Can you be Miyazaki’s successor?”
How do you determine if a director will be Miyazaki’s successor?
The, for lack of a better word, “easiest” way is, first, have them be the same gender as Miyazaki: Male.