Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, has died aged 82. Alongside colleagues including Hayao Miyazaki, he was a key figure in the development of Japanese animation.
While Studio Ghibli began in 1985, Takahata worked on television and movies from the early 1960s and made his name directing 1968’s The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun. Unlike the norm at the time, Takahata was open to significant input from the animators regarding the story. This allowed Miyazaki to make his mark and begin a partnership that would last five decades.
It’s arguable the movie did more than any other to establish the idea that animation didn’t have to be restricted to children’s’ entertainment and instead could include complex adult storylines, complex detailed imagery and violent scenes that weren’t merely slapstick.
Takahata would eventually direct 12 movies while producing another three. Critics noted his willingness to experiment with new approaches and styles rather than fall back on a proven formula.
His final film as director was 2013’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, released when he was 78 and earning his first Oscar nomination (for best animated feature.) His final work came as an artistic producer on 2016’s The Red Turtle.