Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata has passed away at 82 after battling lung cancer, Yahoo Japan reports. The animé innovator wrote and directed over ten films for the beloved Japanese animation company, and created some of the most memorable characters and stories in its vast history.
After a successful, two-decade-long career in animation in which Takahata worked alongside his better-known partner Hayao Miyazaki, he co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985. His first work was producing Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and the somewhat-recently remastered by Disney Castle in the Sky alongside Miyazaki, who he respected so greatly he wouldn’t even discuss his work out of fear of being critical.
His directorial debut for the studio was also his most everlasting work — 1988’s Grave of the Fireflies, which Robert Ebert called “one of the greatest war films ever made.” Isao wrote and directed the excruciatingly heartbreaking tale of two Japanese children surviving a bombing during World War II, and it’s still praised by critics and is considered one of Ghibli’s best three decades later. Despite it being tonally different than the usual family-focused fantasies the studio delivers.
He was most recently the art director on the stunning The Red Turtle, but his last film proper was The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, which was nominated in 2015 for the Oscar for best animated feature.