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It’s almost an urban legend in the anime world: Neil Gaiman was actually the writer behind the English dub of Studio Ghibli’s animated epic Princess Mononoke, but the legend himself was erased from the credits. Now he’s finally spilled the truth to the Twitterverse.
Gaiman tweeted his “biggest secret” in response to a fan question yesterday. He really did write that script. The controversy behind his name vanishing was nearly forgotten for years, but has still been whispered about by the most diehard anime fans. Whisper no more. The legendary author revealed that when Studio Ghibli was trying to figure out whose names should stay on the Princess Mononoke poster right before the film’s U.S. premiere, they decided his writer credit wasn’t necessary.
While this sounds like blasphemy, it’s all Hollywood. Who would ever even think of erasing the imagination that brought us American Gods and The Sandman? Miramax, which was in charge of distributing the film in the U.S., first asked Quentin Tarantino to write the script, and it was Tarantino himself who recommended Gaiman — behold the proof below. The thing is, Studio Ghibli (whose demands for multinational releases are infamously strict) only wanted its own executives featured in Princess Mononoke advertising.
Miramax gave in. This is why, as Gaiman wrote in his tweet, he was thought of as “contractually expendable” and his name was left out to leave only the names of the Miramax executive board on that poster.
That still doesn’t discount Gaiman’s fantastic work on the translation of Princess Mononoke, which wasn’t initially received after its 2000 debut but has since become one of the most beloved Ghibli films ever. The script has come to be considered one of the best English adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s work —never mind what Ghibi execs were thinking back then.
Bet Ghibli regrets this almost two decades later.