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Ghibli President, Co-Founder Issue Statements on Isao Takahata's Passing

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Studio to hold farewell gathering on May 15

Studio Ghibli President Kiyofumi Nakajima and Studio Ghibli producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki both issued statements on Friday regarding director Isao Takahata's passing.

Nakajima offered more details on Takahata's passing, noting that Takahata died due to lung cancer at 1:19 a.m. on Thursday at the Teikyo University Hospital. Nakajima added that the wake and funeral service for Takahata will only be for close relatives. The family is politely refusing all offers of messages or gifts of condolence. However, Ghibli will hold a more public farewell gathering for Takahata on May 15, with exact details to be decided and announced later.

Suzuki's statement noted that Takahata had many things he had planned to do, so his death is undeniably regrettable. Suzuki added that he consulted with fellow Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, and decided that the studio would hold a grand farewell gathering in remembrance of Takahata.

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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