Animator Isao Takahata, Co-Founder of Studio Ghibli, Dies at 82

Takahata was best known for “Grave of the Fireflies” and the Oscar-nominated “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

Isao Takahata and Grave of the Fireflies

Isao Takahata, a highly influential Japanese animator and filmmaker, and a co-founder of Studio Ghibli alongside longtime collaborator Hayao Miyazaki, died Thursday after a brief hospitalization. He was 82.

Takahata died following a battle with lung cancer, according to a statement Studio Ghibli provided to TheWrap.

Takahata directed the animated wartime drama “Grave of the Fireflies,” “Pom Poko,” “My Neighbors the Yamadas” and was nominated for an Oscar for his film “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”

Born October 29, 1935, Takahata grew up during World War II and the allied occupation that followed. As a child, he endured privation and scarcity, and survived an air raid on his hometown, and as an adult his films often reflected a bleak worldview inspired by those wartime experiences. He also drew inspiration from Italian neorealism and the French New Wave.

Takahata directed his first film “Horus: Prince of the Sun” in 1968. He worked in TV and on several other short films along with Miyazaki. And in 1985, he and Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli.

He produced Miyazaki’s “Castle in the Sky” in 1986, then directed “Grave of the Fireflies,” an anti-war story of two young siblings struggling to survive near the end of World War II, in 1988.

In 1991, Takahata directed the romantic coming-of-age drama “Only Yesterday.” It was the highest grossing film in Japan that year, but was not released in English or to American audiences until 2016. He also served as a producer and artistic director on a number of other Studio Ghibli films, including as a musical director on “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and most recently the Oscar nominated “The Red Turtle.”

Details about his funeral are being kept private, but Studio Ghibli is planning what it calls a “Farewell Party” for Takahata on May 15, with details to be disclosed at a later date.