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Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata dies aged 82

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Still from Spirited Away

Oscar-nominated Japanese anime director Isao Takahata has died at the age of 82. Takahata, the co-founder of the celebrated Studio Ghibli, received international acclaim for his astonishing 1988 film Grave of the Fireflies, with his latest film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya earning him an Oscar nomination in 2015 for best animated feature.

Takahata was born in Mie, a prefecture of central Japan, in 1935 and began his film career in 1959 at Toei studios after passing the company’s entrance exam. It was during this time that Takahata met long-term collaborator and iconic director Hayao Miyazaki. The two founded Studio Ghibli together in 1985, a now world-renowned animation studio. Eight of Studio Ghibli’s films are among the 15 highest-grossing anime films in Japan, including the global hit Spirited Away.

Takahata and Miyazaki’s animations are known for their hand-drawn aesthetics, an increasingly rare style as digital filmmaking becomes more accesible. Their films cover a broad range of important topics, from environmentalism to war. Grave of the Fireflies, for example, tells the tale of two orphans during the second world war and was described by critic Roger Ebert in 2000 as “an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation.”