Isao Takahata, a film director who founded Japan’s premier animation studio, Studio Ghibli, with Hayao Miyazaki in 1985 and made sophisticated animated films like the elegiac World War II drama “Grave of the Fireflies,” died early Thursday in Tokyo. He was 82.
The cause was lung cancer, Studio Ghibli said in a statement.
Studio Ghibli has released some of the highest-grossing animé films ever, like “Ponyo,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Princess Mononoke”, and “Spirited Away,” which won an Academy Award for best animated feature in 2003 after an English version was released.
Born in Ujiyamada (now Ise), in Mie Prefecture, the youngest of seven siblings, Takahata moved with his family to Okayama in 1943. After graduating from Okayama prefectural high school,he enrolled at the University of Tokyo in 1954 to study French literature. It was at this time that he encountered the work of Jacques Prévert and, more crucially, a film that would change the course of his life, Paul Grimault’s animation Le Roi et l’Oiseau (1952; released in Japan in 1955), for which the French poet had written the screenplay. In 2006, Studio Ghibli would distribute Grimault’s extended director’s cut of the original film, while Takahata published a collection of his own translations of Prévert’s poetry into Japanese in 2006.