Isao Takahata, the legendary anime director who co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki, died. He was 82 years old. Yahoo Japan reports that it suffered from a heart condition and was hospitalized last summer; Studio Ghibli has confirmed the news of his death.
Although not as internationally known as Miyazaki, Takahata directed some of the most beautiful and original films of Studio Ghibli, from the Only Yesterday movement to the heartbreaking war drama Grave of the Fireflies. He also served as producer of the early works of Miyazaki Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in Heaven, and his last credit as a director was for the elephant, visually stunning Tale of Princess Kaguya.
Takahata never drew himself, which led to his films often serving as an outlet for the more experimental and brilliant animation of Ghibli. Their respectful though sometimes antagonistic relationship with Miyazaki is explored in the fascinating documentary In The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, which also details Takahata's unorthodox and frustrating work approach.
But no one doubts 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 would ever direct another film, his loss will be deeply felt.