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RIP: Isao Takahata – Co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Director ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’

Isao Takahata passed away April 5, 2018
Image: By BoungawaOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Isao Takahata, 82, passed away Thursday April 5, 2018 from health issues. Comicbook reported that, “the  director passed quietly at him home while being surrounded by his loved ones.” Takahata is best remembered for his films: Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, My Neighbors the Yamadas, and most recently, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Takahata’s career began after seeing the French animated film Le Roi et l’Oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird) and becoming intrigued while in university.  He joined Toei Animation as an assistant director. He got his chance to direct a film on his own with Hols: Prince of the Sun, but the film was a commercial failure, despite praise for the art. His career at Toei Animation ground to a halt, he moved on to a company called A Production, now known as Shin-Ei Animation. This lead to working on the Lupin III series. Takahata worked on the series with his friend Hayao Miyazaki under the name, “A production directors group.” From there, he, Miyazaki, and Daikichiro Kusube were invited to Zuiyo Enterprise to make an animated version of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi titled, Heidi, Girl of the Alps. Takahata moved from there to Nappon Animation to Telecom, making films along the way such as Chie The Brat and Little Nemo, a title produced to be distributed in the United States. 

It was after this that Takahata was invited by his friend Miyazaki to join his new production studio, Studio Ghibli. It was at Studio Ghibli that he directed his most famous films: Valley of the Wind, and Grave of Fireflies. Film critic Roger Ebert stated in his 4 star review of the Grave of Fireflies, that the film”belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made.” 

His musical direction of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.

You can find many of his films currently on Amazon Prime.

Our hearts go out to Takahata’s family and friends. He gave many of us our first taste of Anime here in the west, and for that we will forever be grateful.


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