Director, screenwriter, producer, and co-founder of Studio Ghibli Isao Takahata passed away today at the age of 82. According to THR, his health began to fail last year, related to an unspecified heart condition.
Born in 1935 in the Mie prefecture of Japan, Takahata joined Toei Animation in 1959 as an assistant director, which is where he met longtime collaborator Hayao Miyazaki. Their first project together was Horus: Prince of the Sun, which Takahata directed and Miyazaki animated.
Takahata and Miyazaki joined with producer Toshio Suzuki to open Studio Ghibli in 1985. Miyazaki named the company Ghibli based on a Libyan-Arabic word meaning "hot desert wind." The idea was that Studio Ghibli would "blow a new wind through the anime industry." Eight Studio Ghibli films are among the 15 highest-grossing anime films made in Japan.
Takahata wrote and directed a number of well-known anime films at Studio Ghibli, including Grave of the Fireflies, set during World War II; Only Yesterday, a drama about an office worker who reminisces about her childhood while traveling the countryside; Pom Poko, about a group of shapeshifting raccoon dogs; and an anime version of Anne of Green Gables.
In 2015, Takahata was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Feature category for The Tale of Princess Kaguya. It turned out to be the final film he would direct.