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Studio Ghibli drives Toyota project

'Spirited' animator teams for training studio

TOKYO — Studio Ghibli, the toon house responsible for the Hayao Miyazaki smashes “Spirited Away” and “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea,” is collaborating with automaker Toyota to open a new training studio.

Informally called Ghibli West, the studio will be situated in Toyota’s R&D center in Aichi Prefecture in western Japan.

Beginning in April, Ghibli will dispatch 20 new hires to the studio for a two-year course to learn animation techniques while being exposed to robotics and other Toyota technologies. Studio supremo Miyazaki and other veteran Ghibli animators will give lectures.

The newcomers will make short toons to screen at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka City, Tokyo.

Ghibli producer and former prexy Toshio Suzuki came up with the idea for the unusual collaboration after visiting Toyota’s headquarters in 2006.

The intent is to give students an appreciation for the traditional handcrafting skills still found at the automaker. 

This training, Suzuki believes, will make them a better fit with the Studio Ghibli aesthetic, which blends handmade animation with the latest digital technology.

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