Lasseter-san, Arigato (FAQ)

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What is this film?

Lasseter-San, Arigato! depicts the 2002 trip by several employees of Studio Ghibli to promote the movie Spirited Away in North America. It was originally made as a private thank-you gift from Ghibli to John Lasseter, the Lasseter-San of the title. The show appears similar to a home movie, or private documentary.

Who is John Lasseter?

A former animator with Walt Disney Studios and the founder of Pixar Studios which Disney helped establish to produce computer-generated 3D animation. Lasseter originally met Hayao Miyazaki when the latter traveled to the USA on another project. Later, Lasseter visited Miyazaki in Japan and the two developed a personal friendship.

Why was he involved in the release of a movie by Studio Ghibli?

Lasseter's longstanding friendship with Miyazaki led to his heavy promotion of the English-language release of Spirited Away. No doubt having a powerful contact in the biggest movie industry in the world was a happy coincidence for Studio Ghibli.

Why was this DVD made?

The show was made as a gift to Lasseter by Ghibli, to thank him for his enormous contribution to their film's success. It is a compilation of video footage shot during the tour, with certain historical footage edited in. The staff at Ghibli saw the "thank-you note" and suggested that it be released to the public. Lasseter gave his assent, and so it was born.

Should I buy this DVD?

Only if you have a deep curiosity about Studio Ghibli, and particularly Miyazaki's non-professional activities. As Toshio Suzuki says in his introduction, the disc plays out like a video diary. Much of the disc may not make sense to those outside the group who are depicted therein. Also, little of either studio's works are shown; rather, the focus is on the two directors. Prior familiarity with the people depicted is assumed.

Who is Toshio Suzuki?

A producer at Studio Ghibli, and part of the Ghibli group that made the trip. The disc is narrated from his point of view. At certain points in the show, Lasseter and Miyazaki can be seen making fun of Suzuki, who obviously has a producer's focus on the business side of movie-making, rather than the creative side.