April 5, 2018, Isao Takahata left this mortal realm and died due to lung cancer at the age of 82. He died five years after directing the masterpiece, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and two years after producing The Red Turtle.
Takahata was one of the founders of Studio Ghibli, and the mention of his name would undoubtedly conjure with it a mention of his longtime collaborator and rival, Hayao Miyazaki. Yet, unlike with what would probably be the case of Miyazaki, the tributes to Takahata have rarely left the anime and movie scene (at least not out of Japan). This is not necessarily a bad thing.
It is exactly the reason that Takahata is not as well-known as Miyazaki that Studio Ghibli was such a complete production company. It allowed both its directors to pursue their own unique styles without need for immediate commercial benefit, and Miyazaki’s more mainstream input allowed Takahata the time to try more outrageous things.
Probably most well-known for the brilliant war time movie, The Grave of the Fireflies, Takahata was always interested in pushing the boundaries of animation. In 26 years, he made only 5 feature length films with studio Ghibli, each widely different than the others, three of them being absolute masterpieces.
Before that though, his influence extended all over anime, not only influencing the brilliance of Miyazaki, but actively elevating anime as a medium for all ages, not just as cartoons. This is seen in the many dubs of Takahata’s work all over the world. Many in the Middle East have watched and enjoyed Takahata’s work, very few of them knowing the man behind the scenes.
Back to his Studio Ghibli’s work, Takahata’s work never shared the same brush, different in both visuals and tone. Grave of the Fireflies, the tear jerking real story of two war time orphans living in Japan’s final days of World War II. Only Yesterday, the story of a women’s few vacation days juxtaposed against her childhood and possibly the childhood of a nation. Pom Poko, an environmentally conscious story about raccoons with giant testicles. My Neighbors the Yamadas, a comic strip brought to life with inherently spectacular visual effects. The Tale of Princess Kaguya, where traditional storytelling is fused with some innovative art where the brush seems to be an alive part of the story and a character in its own.
Each, an innovative and occasionally powerful film. While Takahata may well be known and defined by his first and last Ghibli films, Only Yesterday may actually be his true masterpiece.
A powerful story about Nostalgia, growth, and the bitter-sweet nature of life. This is a film that is relevant to people in all areas, and from all walks of life. And like with the man himself, watching this movie will only get better with age.
The Grave of the Fireflies is the powerful story of two children in war time Japan that advanced what Anime can be about
Only Yesterday is a wonderful film about the past, the present, and the future of personhood
Pom Poko is a lighthearted film with a powerful message about preservation
My Neighbours the Yamadas is a film about family and the lighthearteded bounds that bind us
F- It is a weird world where Rampage of all game franchises get a movie, and yet we all know that The Rock will make it money. Anyways, Monkey830 actually liked the movie, and he writes this intresting blog about watching movies and tempering expectations.
F- It is rare to get too movie defense blogs, but here we are with Greenhornet214's well formed blog defending The Incredible Hulk (the 2008 movie). I didn't know that movie needed defending. The one that probably needs such blog is 2003's Hulk.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a subversion of the fairytale genre
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Rest in Peace Takahata-san, a thousand or so fireflies will mourn you