Animation Industry & Fans Offer Heartfelt Send-Off to Ghibli's Isao Takahata
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
One of the anime's industry's brightest stars left us yesterday. Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, the director of the emotionally powerful films Grave of the Fireflies and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, died on Thursday due to lung cancer at the age of 82. His friends, family, colleagues, and fans continue to mourn the loss.
Studio Ponoc (Mary and The Witch's Flower) founder and Ghibli alumni Yoshiaki Nishimura spoke about Takahata's death on Friday. He said, "Mr. Takahata gave me some of my richest life experiences. Meeting him, passing time, talking, laughing, even getting angry together. I'll never forget how we delighted in the joy of making films together and his boundless passion for movies and peace. I'm really grateful to you. Mr. Takahata is the world's greatest animation director and forever my teacher."
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya star and actress Aki Asakura also recalled her fond memories for the director. She said, "I thought I would get to hear a lot more stories with his gentle voice. It's a shame. I'm overwhelmed with loneliness. You've been like a shining star in my heart ever since I met you. Even though I feel worried, I've always found courage when I think that someday, surely, I will definitely meet that light. I can't forget your quiet eyes peering at the monitor during The Tale of Princess Kaguya and I cry when I remember your soft smile during the preview screening. Please have a good rest and I'm praying for your soul from the bottom of my heart."
Asakura was chosen as the heroine of Takahata's final feature film from hundreds of auditions.
Director and writer Shunji Iwai (The Case of Hana & Alice, Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?) wrote his feelings on Twitter and credited Takahata for getting him started in the industry.
"I got the opportunity to listen to Isao Takahata speak in college, which also became my starting point. Even when he created challenging animation, it had a precious story. The last time we spoke, he talked about Kenji Miyazawa [Fairy Tales Park] in Hanamaki...The master of the anime world was a far bigger presence than me. I pray for your soul."
The Tale of Princess Kaguya theme song singer Kazumi Nikaidō wrote her feelings about the news via SNS. "I heard this morning from my husband who saw the news via a news program that Takahata has gone on to Nirvana. Although I had considered this day would come several times, I still thought this future would never come and yet this is how it happened. It's raining."
Artist Yoshitomo Nara, who had a close relationship with Takahata up to his passing said, "Mr. Takahata, thank you for the unforgettable work. It is a great treasure that I got to know you."
Western animators also shared their condolences. The Book of Life director Jorge R. Gutiérrez wrote on Twitter, "No animated movie [Grave of the Fireflies] has made me cry more than this tender, gorgeous, profound, soulful and landmark film. A giant of our art form has left us. RIP maestro Isao Takahata."
Pixar animator and Coco and Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich wrote, "Really sad to hear about the passing of Isao Takahata, co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Grave of the Fireflies is an amazing, emotional film. And My Neighbors the Yamadas is incredibly charming. It also had a big influence on Michael Arndt's script for Little Miss Sunshine.
Today we lost a giant in Isao Takahata; Among many things, catalyst in helping change the face of animation in Japan with his debut film, introducing us to a young talent who would later be a legend and the other half of founding Studio Ghibli. Rest easy Takahata-Sensei. pic.twitter.com/ts8u7cgxKz— LeSean Thomas (@LeSeanThomas) April 6, 2018
Grave of the Fireflies (directed by Isao Takahata) is tied with Make Way For Tomorrow for the saddest film ever made.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) April 6, 2018
On the passing of director Isao Takahata… With our condolences and sympathy to his family and friends... We were honored and humbled to know you and work with you, and are deeply grateful for all you so generously gave us and the world.— Studio Ponoc Int'l (@ponoc_intl) April 6, 2018
Thank you, Takahata-san.
We mourn the loss of Isao Takahata, a brilliant director whose vital contributions to animation will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/DuyW0yHHnQ— GKIDS Films (@GKIDSfilms) April 6, 2018
In memory of Isao Takahata, the director who gave us award-winning masterpieces such as Grave of the Fireflies. Thank you for all your legendary contributions to the anime community over the years! You will remain in our hearts forever. pic.twitter.com/sYqH9qQvV2— Sentai Filmworks (@SentaiFilmworks) April 6, 2018
Isao Takahata, co-founder of Studio Ghibli and beloved director, has passed away today. We'd like to thank him for all of the dreams he brought to life. Thank you.— Crunchyroll (@Crunchyroll) April 5, 2018
More: https://t.co/4wQ1qfFENG pic.twitter.com/g4vCa0U35E
We're very sad to hear about the passing of Isao Takahata. An animation legend who leaves behind a legacy of films that will move and inspire people for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/TgP50O3GLO— BFI (@BFI) April 6, 2018
RIP Isao Takahata - co-founder of Studio Ghibli, industry legend, masterful storyteller and incredible inspiration to all. pic.twitter.com/zqXkzkChgG— Manga Entertainment (@MangaUK) April 6, 2018
Japanese television station NTV/YTV decided to replace its planned airing of Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter on April 13 with Grave of the Fireflies. The Conan film will instead air on April 20.
Studio Ghibli will hold a grand farewell gathering in remembrance of Takahata on May 15. Takahata's family is holding a family-only wake and funeral service and are politely refusing all offers of messages or gifts of condolence.
Takahata was born on October 29, 1935. He joined Toei Douga (now Toei Animation) in 1959 after graduating from the University of Tokyo in French literature. His directorial debut was on an episode of the Ōkami Shōnen Ken television anime, and he directed his first feature film, Horus - Prince of the Sun, in 1968.
Takahata had a long career directing such classics as Little Norse Prince Valiant (Taiyō no Ōji - Hols no Daibōken), Alps no Shōjo Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, and Panda! Go, Panda! before he co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki. He went on to create the feature films Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, and My Neighbors the Yamadas. He also served as a producer on Miyazaki and Ghibli's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and was the artistic producer on Wild Bunch and Ghibli's The Red Turtle.
Among the honors he received were the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 1998, the Honorific Leopard award at the 62nd Locarno International Film Festival in 2009, the Anime Award of Merit in 2010, an honorary degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012, the Anime d'or prize at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival in 2014, the Honorary Award at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 2014, the Officier decoration in France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) in 2015, and the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement at the 43rd Annie Awards in 2016.
Takahata's final film as director was The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which debuted in 2013. Takahata told entertainment news website Variety in 2016, "I have several projects that I still have in mind that I am currently working on to get closer to realizing. Whether those will be finalized as films is something that no one, myself included, can know."
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