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"We wanted to find someone like Goro Miyazaki, who directed 'Tales from Earthsea,' Takahata recalls. "I suggested Yonebayashi. Even though I hadn't talked it over with him, I knew he was right. Besides, he is one of the best animators at Studio Ghibli, and Miyazaki was very impressed with his work. I made the suggestion to Miyazaki, and he immediately responded with delight."


Yonebayashi was summoned to Miyazaki's office for a meeting. "Once Miyazaki makes up his mind about something, nothing can stop him," Suzuki says of the legendary filmmaker. "Yonebayashi came up, and Miyazaki came right to the point. 'This is the new project.' He handed the book to Yonebayashi. 'You are the director of the movie!'"

"Yonebayashi rarely shows emotion, but when he heard Miyazaki's words, he looked amazed," Takahata says.

Flabbergasted by the pronouncement, Yonebayashi said, "Directors need to have a vision for a project. I do not."

"All you need is written in the book," Miyazaki insisted. Yonebayashi was completely stunned but, of course, accepted the challenge.

For the first several days of production, Yonebayashi met with Miyazaki and listened to his thoughts and ideas about the story. But when it came time to produce the storyboard, he wanted to stand on his own two feet. He worked up his courage and went to Miyazaki and told him he was ready to work alone. Miyazaki was thrilled and said, "Way to go! You are the man for the job!"

Before director Yonebayashi started the project, Miyazaki assembled his in-house animators and told them, "When we first thought about making 'The Borrowers' into a movie years ago, Isao Takahata offered this advice: 'I believe the success of this project depends on how vividly you depict the borrowers' life and their ways of wisdom and inspiration. No matter what, they have to be practical. Generally, characters with inner thoughts of allure tend to be fantastical. This story, however, is all about survival. You've got to stick resolutely to the outer appearance.'"

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