On April the 5th the anime world lost a big name and a bright mind and imagination in Isao Takahata. While the name might not ring an immediate bell, the work and creations he helped bring to life certainly are. Not just for anime fans, but fans of film in general as well for generations.
Isao wrote, directed, produced, and even directed the art for several anime titles over the years. He was one of the first people Hiyao Miyazaki turned to when he wanted to form his own animation studio in 1985 called Studio Ghibli. There he had his hand in many of the studio’s biggest and most well-known releases over the years.
His work started with TV in the early 60’s with titles like Ken the Wolf Boy and a movie called The Littlest Warrior. But his most well-known work to people reading this is probably the Studio Ghibli movie works he directed or help write. Things like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, Pom Poko, and maybe his most famous project was bringing Grave of the Fireflies to a big screen and right into our minds and hearts. He ended his run as a writer and director with The Tale of Princess Kaguya in 2013 that also earned him an Oscar Nomination before his last work on The Red Turtle in 2016. After which his years started to catch up with him and he became sick and in the hospital.
Grave of the Fireflies, the story of the two young kids making it through the tail end of World War Two wasn’t just a creative stroke or an adaptation from a book, it was something Takahata had been through. When he was just nine years old in the last days of the war he and his family survived a bombing run by the United States while living in Okayama City in Japan. That is an experience someone takes with them for the rest of their life and an experience Isao gave to the audience as well.
He might not have been as well known as Hayao Miyazaki and his work, but Takahata left his own mark in anime and a lot of those same movies. He wrote for them, produced them, directed them, he did a lot to help bring some of these anime classics to an adoring audience.
So if you are an anime fan, or even if you aren’t. I recommend looking up the work of this great man. He gave us a lot to watch and enjoy over the years from his television work to his part in making some of the most well-loved movies in the world. Hayao Miyazaki may have been the face and the name everyone remembers from Studio Ghibli, but he wasn’t the only one. Isao Takahata also put his time effort, talent, and imagination into the Studio Ghibli creations as well as other work he did outside the studio. You will be just as entertained as the Japanese movie audiences were back when these films were first shown to the audiences.
So Mr. Takahata, for your work as a director, producer, writer, and the visions you helped bring to life, I salute you as does many others from around the world. Thank You.