Takahata started Ghibli with Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki in 1985, hoping to create Japan's Disney, and helped shape the style and voice of what became one of the world's most respected animation studios as well as this nation's prized cultural export.
Isao Takahata died Thursday of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital, according to a studio statement Friday. Graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1959, a friend convinced the 24-year old Takahata to apply to Toei Animation, where he was accepted and made his directorial debut with The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968).
Takahata had been suffering from heart problems for some time, and his condition had worsened last summer.
Takahata's animated films also include Only Yesterday, Pom Poko and My Neighbors the Yamadas.
Though they had their differences over the years, both Takahata and Miyazaki had a penchant for telling stories about strong-willed girls and women.
In 2009 he received a honorary Leopard as a Lifetime Achievement award at the festival of Locarno. "Grave of the Fireflies" is an wonderful, emotional film". In the end, Princess Kaguya wound up missing its release window by several months, as Takahata and his team wrestled with production.
You may not recognize his name (he has constantly been in the shadow of Hayao Miyazaki - at least in the eyes of mainstream audiences), but he is responsible for producing and directing many animation classics.
During his career, Takahata directed 28 anime movies and even earned himself an Oscar nomination for his work on The Tale of Princess Kaguya in 2013.
"This earth is a good place, not because there is eternity".