Former Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura has apologized for comments he made to The Guardian about the suitability of women as directors of fantasy movies, acknowledging they were sexist. The controversy started when The Guardian published an article last week that featured an interview with the producer. In it, he was asked whether Studio Ghibli would ever hire a female director. He said it would depend on the style of film, and that men were better suited to direct fantasy films than women because they have an "idealistic" view of the world.
As noted by Forbes, Nishimura responded to the resulting outcry on Twitter, using the account of Studio Ponoc, the company he joined after leaving his post at Studio Ghibli. "I apologize for comments made in an article published on June 6 in the British newspaper The Guardian," he wrote, according to Forbes' translation. "The article was based on an interview conducted in Britain on September 28th, 2015. I actually made those statements at the time. First, I left Ghibli at the end of 2014, and I am no longer a Ghibli employee. I deeply apologize for causing the mistaken impression that my opinions represent Ghibli's and displeasing all who love Ghibli. Next, I definitely had the sexist belief that men had a strong tendency to be idealistic and that women were better at living reality. I am reflecting and learning. Gender has nothing to do with making movies. My deepest apologies."
Feels like damage control... but it's a start
With such a focus on Studio Ghibli's reputation, the statement feels more like a piece of damage control than anything else — particularly since it makes no mention of what actually made Nishimura change his stance on filmmakers, other than a public outcry. (Perhaps he simply considered the vast number of women that have been creating groundbreaking anime for decades.) In any case, owning his original comments and calling them what they are — misguided, ignorant, and sexist — is certainly a positive step forward. But the real test is in action, and whether Nishimura and his team at Studio Ponoc actively embrace female filmmakers moving forward, no matter what genre of film they're creating.