August 19, 1948
While the name Toshio Suzuki isn't one most people know, he is one of the most successful Japanese film producers of all time. He started off in comics after he graduated from Keio University in 1972. He worked on a Japanese entertainment magazine in which he covered manga and eventually went on to work on a monthly magazine called Animage, owned by publishing company Tokuma Shoten, that focused on publishing serialized manga. It was there that he met and eventually worked with Hayao Miyazaki for the first time. The pair's first collaboration was Miyazaki's "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" (1984), though Suzuki's role was limited. However, a year after the film's release, Suzuki helped create Studio Ghibli alongside Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Suzuki started producing more films, including his first producer credit in "Angel's Egg" (1985) for Tokuma Shoten. He helped Studio Ghibli again with their first few releases, credited as a member of the production committee as he also ascended to the title of Editor-in-Chief at Animage. He was instrumental in getting two Ghibli films, "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988) and "Grave of the Fireflies" (1988), financed and made as he proposed them to be released as a double feature. The fourth Ghibli film, "Kiki's Delivery Service" (1989) was his first bigger credit as Associate Producer. Shortly after the release of "Kiki's Delivery Service," Suzuki stepped down from his role at Animage and took up the position of director of the business side of Studio Ghibli. From there, he was a producer on everything the company put out, beginning with "Only Yesterday" (1991). That began the impressive four-year streak where a Ghibli film was the highest-grossing film in all of Japan each year. While Suzuki worked largely in the background, he helped Studio Ghibli thrive from a business perspective. He helped "Princess Mononoke" (1997) hit a wider international release and led the company to merge with his previous employer Tokuma Shoten. Ghibli won an Oscar under his watch with "Spirited Away" (2003) taking the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (however, only Miyazaki received credit for the award). In 2004, Suzuki was appointed president of Studio Ghibli following the company's split from Tokuma Shoten. He only lasted four years in the role before stepping down from the role and focusing on producing more. In 2014, alongside Miyazaki's own retirement, Suzuki retired from producing, though he's still involved with Studio Ghibli as the company tries to figure out what to do in a post-Miyazaki world.