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Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata passes away at 82

Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli co-founder and the director of anime classics like Grave of the Fireflies, passed away last Thursday at 1:19 AM in a Tokyo hospital after a fight with lung cancer. He was 82 years old.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1959, Takahata joined the company now known as Toei Animation. There he directed films like Horus – Prince of the Sun and was instrumental in the foundation of the company’s labor union. In 1971, he left for Shin-Ei Animation and worked on productions like Lupin the Third. Four years later, he’d join Nippon Animation, where he directed beloved adaptations of western literature like Heidi, Girl of the Alps and Anne of Green Gables. After spending a short time with TMS Entertainment, he was approached by long time friend Hayao Miyazaki to set up Studio Ghibli alongside Toshio Suzuki and Yasuyoshi Tokuma.

At Ghibli, Takahata directed the award winning films Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, My Neighbors the Yamadas and The Tale of Princess Kaguya (pictured above). He most recently served as artistic producer on Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle. In an interview with Variety in 2016, he stated, “I have several projects that I still have in mind that I am currently working on to get closer to realizing. Whether those will be finalized as films is something that no one, myself included, can know.”

Isao Takahata, October 29, 1935 – April 5, 2018

According to a report from Sponichi Annex, Hayao Miyazaki is struggling with the passing of his friend. “I still am not used to this feeling,” the newspaper quotes.

Reaction from both the industry and those outside it have been pouring in the days since Takahata’s passing. Kaguya star and actress Aki Asakura was devastated at the news. “I thought I would get to hear a lot more stories with his gentle voice. It’s a shame. I’m overwhelmed with loneliness. You’ve been like a shining star in my heart ever since I met you. Even though I feel worried, I’ve always found courage when I think that someday, surely, I will definitely meet that light. I can’t forget your quiet eyes peering at the monitor during The Tale of Princess Kaguya and I cry when I remember your soft smile during the preview screening. Please have a good rest and I’m praying for your soul from the bottom of my heart.” This Friday, Japanese TV networks NTV/YTV will air Grave of the Fireflies instead of regularly scheduled programming to mark his death.

Takahata’s family have asked for privacy during the wake and funeral process. Studio Ghibli will host a farewell gathering on May 15th.

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