Isao Takahata, the Oscar-nominated anime visionary who co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki and wrote, directed and/or produced many acclaimed films, died today in Japan. He was 82. Local media reports cite sources saying he died in a Tokyo hospital after a long illness.
Takahata began his animation career in 1959 at the Toei Animation Company, where he met eventual Oscar-winner Miyazaki. Described by many as both friends and rivals, they founded production company Studio Ghibli in 1985. Among its early classics was Grave of the Fireflies (1988, right), which Takahata also wrote and directed. He would go on to produce such acclaimed anime films as Only Yesterday (1991) and Pom Poko (1994), and his final film as writer-director — 2013’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya — earned him an Oscar nom for Best Animated Feature. It also screened in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
Takahata also produced the popular anime TV series Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974) and Lupin the Third (1971).
Studio Ghibli produced a number of writer-director Miyazaki’s films, including The Valley of the Wind (1984) and the Best Animated Feature Oscar nominees Princess Mononoke (1997) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Miyazaki’s 2001 Ghibli feature Spirited Away was a surprise winner of the 2003 toon Oscar, beating out such titles as Disney’s Lilo & Stitch and Fox’s Ice Age.
Born on October 29, 1935 in Ise, Mie, Japan, Takahata would go on to graduate from the University of Tokyo. He later joined Toei, where he directed his first feature, The Little Norse Prince Valiant. From there he would go on to international acclaim, including such honors the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achivement at the 2015 Annie Awards, the 2014 Anime d’Or from the Tokyo Anime Awardsand the 2009 Leopard of Honor from the Locarno International Film Festival (right).