Toru Hara (原 徹 , born December 26, 1935, in Kitakyushu, Japan) is a Japanese animator and producer. He was once the head manager of Studio Ghibli. He was the producer of Hols: Prince of the Sun, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies and one of the founders of TopCraft.
Born in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture in 1935, Hara studied at Waseda University. Because of his interest in manga, he founded the Waseda University Manga Research Association on campus. (Several members would later become professional cartoonists and animators).
At that time, Hara was mainly engaged in creating four-panel comics, and he contributed several times to the weekly magazine "Manga Sunday" (Manga サンデー).
After graduating from Waseda University, Hara gave up becoming a professional cartoonist and switched to animation at Toei in 1959. He initially worked on general planning, and later began working on the production of television anime targeted at young girls.
In 1968, he found himself working with fellow Toei employees Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki on Hols: Prince of the Sun. Toru was tapped as the producer for the film. Unfortunately, the film was not a box office success and Hara was blamed by Toei's executives for the film going over budget. In 1972, Hara submitted his resignation and left Toei Animation.
In 1971, after leaving Toei, Hara set up TopCraft (トップクラフト), an animation production studio, and served as its president. The studio focused on working with foreign animation companies on series such as the 1970s French-American Barbapapa, and several Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment works such as the adaptation of JR Tolkien's The Hobbit (1977 film), The Return of the King and The Last Unicorn.
In 1984, Hara once again collaborated with Miyazaki and Takahata, who were still working at Toei Animation Company, on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
After Nausicaa was released, TopCraft went bankrupt and was dissolved on June 15, 1985, essentially splitting the studio in half. Miyazaki, producer Toshio Suzuki and Takahata bought the studio while laying off most of its animation staff, changing its name to Studio Ghibli. Hara went on to serve as producer for Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, and so on.
In 1989, after Ghibli's first box office success with Kiki's Delivery Service, the executives at the studio decided to significantly increase its production budget for future works. Yasuyoshi Tokuma of Tokuma Shoten, Ghibli's parent company, along with producer Toshio Suzuki approved of this plan, but Hara could not agree with the risks involved. Finally, in 1991, Hara left Ghibli, citing that he was at odds with the studio's business philosophy.
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
- Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)