Isao Takahata, the legendary anime director that co-founded Studio Ghibli alongside Hayao Miyazaki, has died. He was 82. Yahoo Japan reports that he had been suffering from a heart condition and was hospitalized last summer; Studio Ghibli has since confirmed the news of his death.
Although not as internationally well-known as Miyazaki, Takahata directed some of Studio Ghibli's most beautiful and original films, from the moving Only Yesterday to the heart-wrenching war drama Grave of the Fireflies. He also served as producer on early Miyazaki works Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky, and his last directorial credit was for the elegaic, visually stunning Tale of the Princess Kaguya.
Takahata never drew himself, which led to his movies often serving as an outlet for Ghibli's most experimental and brilliant animation. His respectful yet sometimes adversarial relationship with Miyazaki is explored in the fascinating documentary In The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, which also details Takahata's unorthodox, frustrating approach to work.
But no-one is in any doubt that Takahata was an essential figure for Studio Ghibli, and one of the most uniquely talented directors in the history of animation. Although it was perhaps unlikely that he'd ever direct another movie, his loss will be keenly felt.