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Mamoru Hosoda

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Mamoru Hosoda
細田 守
Hosoda in 2016
Born (1967-09-19) September 19, 1967 (age 56)
Other names
  • Hashimoto, Katsuyo (橋本 カツヨ)
  • Sodama, Moruho (遡玉 洩穂)
  • Shirai, Chiaki (白井 千秋)
Alma materKanazawa College of Art
  • Animator
  • film director
  • filmmaker
  • screenwriter
  • storyboard artist
  • novelist
Years active1991–present
Notable work

Mamoru Hosoda (細田 守, Hosoda Mamoru, born September 19, 1967) is a Japanese film director and animator.[1] He was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Animated Feature Film at the 91st Academy Awards for his seventh film Mirai.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Hosoda was born in Kamiichi, Nakaniikawa District, Toyama, Japan. His father worked as a railway engineer, and his mother was a tailor.[3]

Hosoda was strongly influenced by the animation works he saw in 1979, when he was in the sixth grade, and set his sights on a career related to anime.[4] These were Isao Takahata's Anne of Green Gables, Osamu Dezaki's Aim for the Ace! The Movie and Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam, Rintaro's Galaxy Express 999 The Movie and Hayao Miyazaki's Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro.[5] Hosoda described the concentration of works in that one year that would go down in Japanese animation history as like a Grand cross (the planets of the solar system lining up in a cross on the ecliptic).[4] Hosoda had already analyzed the directing methods and screen compositions of Hayao Miyazaki and Rintaro in a collection of essays written by elementary school graduates.[5] Hosoda cited Isao Takahata's Anne of Green Gables as the most influential anime of them all.[4] He says that Takahata, as a 'director who does not draw', taught him that drawing is not the only way to dominate a film.[6]

When Hosoda was in junior high school, he saw people his age making animation on NHK Educational TV's independent animation specials, and he started making paper animation using the anime magazine Animage as a reference.[6] Hosoda applied as a first-year high school student for the open call for animators for the Toei Dōga-produced film Shōnen Kenya (1984) and was shortlisted, but withdrew because of mid-term exams.[7]

He majored in oil painting at the Kanazawa College of Art in Ishikawa Prefecture.[8] He then joined the film club at that college and produced live-action films, somewhat distancing himself from animation.[7] Hosoda produced nearly 50 video works: two fiction films were submitted to the Pia Film Festival and the Image Forum Festival, among others, and he also produced other video art works.[9]

In 1989, Hosoda saw an article in Animage recruiting trainees for the production of Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday (1991 film) and took a recruitment test.[7][10] Although he did not pass the exam, he received a letter from Hayao Miyazaki saying that he had decided not to hire someone like you because he thought it would diminish your talent.[11]

After graduating from university, Hosoda continued to look for work in the animation industry and contacted a producer with whom he had formed a connection during an open call for animators for Shōnen Kenya, and joined Toei Dōga (recently Toei Animation) in 1991. He had initially wanted to pursue a directing course, but following that producer's recommendation, he ended up working as an animator for the time being.

Toei Era[edit]

Hosoda studied under Takaaki Yamashita, with whom he would later create films, and worked as an animator for six years on various TV series and films, including the film Tōi Umi kara Kita Coo (1993) as assistant animation director.[9]

Hosoda first worked as a director[a] on GeGeGe no Kitarō 1996 series (series director was Daisuke Nishio).[9] And his skills as a director in two Digimon Adventure short films, Digimon Adventure (1999) and Digimon Adventure: Our War Game! (2000), were well received.[11] Despite having directed only a few episodes and having no experience as a series director at this point in his career, he was suddenly chosen as the film director for a big project, a theatre film that was to be made simultaneously with a new TV series. Hosoda responded to the wise decision of producer Hiromi Seki, who saw through his talent, with the high quality of his work, and built an unshakeable reputation.[9]

Studio Ghibli[edit]

Studio Ghibli announced that Hosoda was to direct the film Howl's Moving Castle in September 2001. This was scheduled for a summer 2003 release.[12] The film was originally to be directed by Hosoda, who would be seconded from Toei.[13] The film production started once in 2000, but Hosoda stepped down from it in 2002 and Hayao Miyazaki took over.[14]

At the time, Studio Ghibli was looking for a new talent, as momentum was building to appoint someone other than Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata as director. In this context, Nozomu Takahashi, then a producer at Ghibli, was recommended Hosoda by animation researchers and writers.[11] Toshio Suzuki, then president of Ghibli, showed Hosoda the proposal for Howl's Moving Castle, conceived by Hayao Miyazaki, when Hosoda visited Ghibli, and he readily agreed, so Ghibli seconded him from Toei.[11] Suzuki himself was involved in the film as producer for the first year, but when the project ran into difficulties, Takahashi took over and the team went on location scouting in the UK, but production was cancelled in the spring of 2002.[15]

It has not been officially disclosed what kind of trouble there was.[14] Suzuki says that this may be due to the difference in production styles between Toei Animation and Studio Ghibli, or the pressure caused by the presence of Hayao Miyazaki. Regarding the latter in particular, Suzuki says that Miyazaki often made suggestions about the story and pictures, and that Hosoda may have become exhausted by being told different things on different days, or that Hosoda, who admired Miyazaki, may have listened too seriously to Miyazaki's opinions.[15] According to Hosoda, he "was told to make [the movie] similar to how Miyazaki would have made it, but [he] wanted to make [his] own film the way [he] wanted to make it".[16] On the other hand, it is also said that Studio Ghibli was producing Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, in parallel at the time, which caused Howl's Moving Castle team led by Hosoda to be understaffed.[14] Hosoda said the same thing, stating that because of this he had to gather the staff for Howl himself. Hosoda says that it was hard having to ask them to work without any guarantees because he had no authority as a producer, but what was even harder was that the production was subsequently cancelled and he was unable to fulfil his promises to those staff, which destroyed the trust he had built with them.[15] There are also rumors that Hosoda was unable to ask the veteran Ghibli staff to help him, and as a result, he became isolated.[17] In a programme on NHK General TV that closely followed him, Hosoda talks about how he did not consult anyone around him, including Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, about his worries about what direction to take with his work at the time. He said his 'cheap pride' got in the way and he became more and more isolated at Ghibli.[18] Yuichiro Saito, who would later work with Hosoda, speculates that Hosoda has many regrets in his mind, such as 'Was I just supposed to stick to my own direction and production methods?' Or, "Shouldn't I have asked for guidance from Miyazaki and Takahata if necessary in order to create a work with many staff members in one mind?" Or, "Why did I was on loan to Ghibli instead of resigning from Toei?"[19]

In April 2002, Hosoda's storyboarding finally reached impasse and the project was stopped by producer Takahashi.[18] Thus, Mamoru Hosoda's first film for Studio Ghibli, Howl's Moving Castle, ended in a mirage.[15]

Return to Toei[edit]

Hosoda returned to Toei and continued to submit film projects, but none were accepted. There were whispers in the animation industry that Hosoda's career was over.[18] Furthermore, his mother, Hiroko, fell ill, and he wondered whether he should return to his hometown and find another job while caring for her, but in the end he chose to stay on at Toei.[18]

Hosoda has taken on the work assigned to him, including directing TV series and videos, and in 2003 he also directed Superflat Monogram, a PR short film for Louis Vuitton in collaboration with artist Takashi Murakami.[9][20] In that time, the 40th episode of Ojamajo Doremi Dokkān! he directed in 2002, which was inspired by his experience at Ghibli, marked a turning point for him. The series director of that was his ally Takuya Igarashi, and the producer was Hiromi Seki, who once gave him a chance.[9] After watching episode 40, Masao Maruyama, then president of Madhouse, thought this was The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and since he had just acquired the film rights to the original novel, he offered Hosoda the chance to direct it.[21] Hosoda accepted the offer and pondered the plot of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time while working for Toei.[22]

In 2005, after directing a One Piece feature film, One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island, Hosoda left Toei.[23]

Freelance Era[edit]

In 2006, Hosoda directed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, his first film since going freelance.[14] Madhouse produced the film and the busy Maruyama left the actual production to his subordinate Yuichiro Saito and Takashi Watanabe, an employee of Kadokawa, which had published the original novel.[21] This was Saito's first producing job, but since then he has been involved in all of Hosoda's films as a producer.[21] When the film was first released, it was planned to be shown in only 21 theaters across Japan, but it gained popularity through word of mouth among audiences and eventually became a hit, with a long run of 40 weeks, over 100 theaters in total, more than 180,000 people in attendance and box-office revenues of approximately 264 million yen. The film was also highly acclaimed for its quality and was invited to participate in numerous film festivals and awards, both in Japan and abroad. The film won Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year in 2007.[24]

Hosoda married his long-time girlfriend in August 2006 at the age of 38.[25]

In 2009, Hosoda's first original film Summer Wars was released.[14] It was produced by Madhouse, the same company as the previous film, with Nippon TV as one of the investors and in charge of publicity. Nozomu Takahashi, producer of Howl's Moving Castle, had moved to Nippon TV and Saito approached the company through him.[26] The film was a further hit with 127 screens, an audience of 1.26 million and box-office revenue of 1.65 billion yen.[27] The film again won the Japan Academy Award for Animation of the Year in 2010.[28]

Studio Chizu[edit]

In 2011, Hosoda founded his own animation studio, Studio Chizu, with Saito to produce the film Wolf Children.[14][21] The film was released in 2012. Hosoda not only directed the film but also wrote the screenplay, which grossed approximately 4.2 billion yen at the box office, significantly more than its predecessor.[14]

The 2015 film The Boy and the Beast was a further success, grossing just over 5.8 billion yen at the box office.[14]

Mirai was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 91st Oscars in 2019.[29] It was the first time a Japanese animated film other than Studio Ghibli had been nominated for the award.[7]

In 2021, the film Belle was released.[30][31] The film grossed 6.6 billion yen at the box office and became Hosoda's biggest hit.[32]



No. Title Animation studio Distributor Release date Note Ref(s)
Feature films
1 Digimon: The Movie Toei Animation 20th Century Studios October 6, 2000 Written by Jeff Nimoy & Bob Buchholz
2 One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island Toei Company March 5, 2005 Written by Masahiro Ito.
3 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Madhouse Kadokawa Herald Pictures July 15, 2006 Written by Satoko Okudera.
4 Summer Wars Warner Bros. Japan August 1, 2009
5 Wolf Children Studio Chizu Toho July 21, 2012
6 The Boy and the Beast July 11, 2015 Written by Mamoru Hosoda.
7 Mirai July 20, 2018 [33][34][35]
8 Belle July 16, 2021 [36][37]
Short films
1 Digimon Adventure Toei Animation Toei Company March 6, 1999 Released as part of the Spring 1999 Toei Animation Fair, alongside Yu-Gi-Oh! and Doctor Slump: Arale's Surprise Burn. Written by Reiko Yoshida.
2 GeGeGe no Kitarō: Kitarō's Ghost Train March 20, 1999 A short 3D film released at various events including at Hanayashiki, and re-released as part of the Toei 3D Animation Fair in October 2009. [38]
3 Digimon Adventure: Our War Game! March 4, 2000 Released as part of the Toei Animation Fair (being screened alongside One Piece: The Movie). Written by Reiko Yoshida.
4 Digimon Adventure 3D: Digimon Grand Prix! July 20, 2000 Originally screened at the Time Machine of Dreams theme park attraction at Sanrio Puroland, and re-released as part of the Toei 3D Animation Fair in October 2009. Written by Atsushi Maekawa.
5 Superflat Monogram N/A 2003 Short film with Takashi Murakami.


As key animator[edit]


  1. ^ The term 'director' (episode director) in Toei means not only the position in charge of storyboarding and directing each episode, but also the director who treats each episode as a single work, and the director in other animation studios is called 'series director' in Toei. The series director therefore has as little say as possible in the direction of each episode.


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  38. ^ www.toei-anim.co.jp, Retrieved on October 26th, 2021
  39. ^ Mamoru HOSODA - Anime News Network

External links[edit]