Former Walt Disney Japan president Koji Hoshino has taken over as president of Studio Ghibli with Friday’s departure of Toshio Suzuki, according to Variety Japan. Co-founded by famed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, Ghibli is the production studio behind such modern animated classics as Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, as well as the works of other directors including Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) and Hiroyuki Morita (The Cat Returns). Suzuki will stay on as a producer and board member.
A former editor-in-chief of Animage magazine, Suzuki joined Ghibli in 1989 after working with Miyazaki on the comic version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and serving on the production committee for the 1984 feature film. Suzuki and has since served as producer on all of the studio’s films and took over as preident in 2005.
Hoshino has been president of Walt Disney Japan since 2000 and last year become chairman of the board of directors. His working relationship with Suzuki and Ghibli stems from a 1996 partnership deal between Walt Disney Co. and Ghibli’s former parent company, Tokuma Shoten. He served as exec producer on Spirited Away and The Cat Returns, and helped promote Ghibli films on home video in Japan. In his new role at Ghibli, he will be taxed with invigorating the company’s merchandising efforts, as well as fostering new talent as Miyazaki, whose feature Ponyo on a Cliff opens in Japan this summer, hints at retiring. His son, Goro Miyazaki, is stepping into his father’s shoes with his 2006 directorial debut, Tales From Earthsea.