As many of you know, Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata died last month at the age of 82. But despite being the co-founder of arguably one of the largest animation companies in the world, I didn’t know anything about him. Hell, I had only seen one of Takahata’s movies, “Grave of the Fireflies”.
I’ll go out on a limb and say many people can share those sentiments. Ghibli and Miyazaki are synonymous—for an embarrassingly long time, I thought all Ghibli movies were Miyazaki movies. So more than anything else, I want to right this wrong, and help people see more of Takahata’s work and know more about the man himself.
Takahata started his animation career in 1963 with Toei Animation on a TV Series called Ōkami Shōnen Ken (Ken the Wolf Boy). His first full-length movie was Hols: Prince of the Sun (Little Norse Prince Valiant) in 1972. That movie bombed for being too dark and cost some people their jobs.
I won’t lie, it looks pretty freaking amazing. You can rent it on Amazon for $4.99.
It wasn’t too long afterward that Takahata made his first everlasting impact on anime with Lupin the III. Takahata loved the manga and helped bring the first series to TV. He directed 15 episodes of Lupin the III Part 1, and it was while working on Lupin that Takahata and Miyazaki met and started their lifelong friendship.
(You can see the whole first series on Crunchyroll.)
Takahata continued having success directing literary-adapted TV Series like Heidi: Girl of the Alps and Anne of Green Gables. Then in 1984, Takahata reunited with Miyazaki to make the masterpiece Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. A short year later, the two would form Studio Ghibli. From then on, Takahata would only make five more movies: Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), Pom Poko (1994), My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), and The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013).