Trained, as a youth, in a Christian seminary for the priesthood in Japan. However, while he was there, something happened (which he refuses to discuss publicly) that shattered his religious leanings. He remains fascinated by Christianity, however, and often alludes to the Bible in his films. There is some debate among his fans about whether Angel's Egg (1985) is an allegory for his loss of faith.
A big fan of guns.
One of the co-founders of Studio Ghibli along with Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata but left over creative differences. Today they remain respectfully critical of each other's work.