While it is well known that Mononoke franchise recently announced a new film which is set to release in 2023; many might have missed the string of tweets that former key staff member Takashi Hashimoto wrote, accusing the movie’s production committee of non-payment of dues and also claiming that the production hadn’t progressed much since he got off the team ten months ago.
The absence of Hashimoto, who had served as the character designer and the chief animation director in the original Mononoke anime, did not go unnoticed. And his tweets only fanned the flames of doubt, if any, surrounding the production of the new film.
It was at this crucial juncture that Mononoke‘s producer Koji Yamamoto decided to write a blog post rebuking the claims made by Hashimoto and reassuring fans that the production of movie was going well.
Yamamoto started off his blog by saying he was saddened by the absence of Hashimoto in the anime’s staff. But, the producer claimed that the former character designer had to step down from the team in late July 2021 owing to his physical and mental health issues.
According to Yamamoto, Hashimoto’s time in the production of the new Mononoke movie, though limited, was marred by a number of controversies.
As Hashimoto was not keeping well, the movie’s director and long-time associate Kenji Nakamura decided to adjust the character designer’s schedule to reduce his burden and also his scope of work.
However, this seemed to have irked Hashimoto, resulting in his relationship with Nakamura to turn sour. During this period, the character designer often sent “long, difficult-to-decipher messages” to the staff to make his dissatisfaction regarding the director and the production process known.
According to Yamamoto, Hashimoto even threated to publish all the work he had done on the Mononoke movie online and resign from the staff, if the director did not apologize to him. But the character designer would then go back on his statements claiming that he was ill and request the production committee to not fire him.
Such instances made it hard for the staff to continue working together with Hashimoto, which forced Yamamoto to step in and act as a mediator between them.
Even so, the situation would only deteriorate, as Hashimoto slandered the director openly on social media.
While the character designer did promptly apologize, alluding that he was in an inebriated state while he made his statements on social media, he also made remarks that implied suicide.
It was here that the producer realized he was dealing with a crisis.
“It became clear that while there were times during the day when he was mentally calm, the illness and medication caused him to lose his temper later in the evening. In fact, during an online meeting listening to Mr. Hashimoto’s explanation, I could hear him turning off the screen and vomiting, and I witnessed the suffering of his inability to control himself,” Yamamoto recounts.
As the working relationship between Hashimoto and the staff further broke down, the former’s hard to decipher messages to the staff and also on social media too increased. In one such message Hashimoto said that he was not able to control himself due to his mental illness.
Seeing his deteriorating health and inability to perform the duties assigned to him, Hashimoto’s family was asked to intervene, following which he decided to step down from the production process of the movie.
“When the frequency of statements from Mr. Hashimoto implying suicide increased, we asked Mr. Hashimoto’s family to join us, and in late July, we received an official announcement that he would be stepping down,” the producer wrote in his blog.
Yamamoto also posted a screenshot of a mail correspondence with Hashimoto, where the character designer himself asked not to be paid, unless his works were used or published by the production committee. The producer apologized for making such a personal conversation public and stated that he only did so to counter the claims of non-payment of dues and to clear the air of anxiety and confusion that seemed to be affecting the production of the movie.
“In giving this series of explanations, I do not intend to blame Mr. Hashimoto at all, but I would like to make a firm statement because this is a matter of trust for the company,” Yamamoto wrote in his blog.
“From my standpoint as a protector of the work and staff, I could not continue to be a party to Mr. Hashimoto’s contradictory statements, and I knew I had to stop his frequent broken promises and negative comments on social networking sites,” he added.
In the end, Yamamoto hoped for Hashimoto’s condition to improve and wished that they would work on a project together again in the future.
Source: Koji Yamamoto’s blog, Twitter