Entertainment News

Studio Ghibli co-founder and animation legend Isao Takahata dies at 82

His films include the masterpieces ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ and ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’.

Acclaimed Japanese animation director Isao Takahata, who co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki, died in Tokyo on Thursday at the age of 82. Takahata was reportedly suffering from lung cancer.

Takahata’s credits include Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), and Pom Poko (1994). His last production, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film at the 87th Academy Awards.

Play
Pom Poko (1994).

Born in Mie prefecture in central Japan, Takahata survived a major air raid on Okayama when he was nine years old. He was first intrigued by animation when he saw the French animated cartoon feature Le Roi et l’Oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird). Takahata graduated from University of Tokyo in French literature in 1959 and joined Toei Animation on the recommendation of a friend.

Takahata made his debut as a director of anime in 1968 with Toei Animation’s Horus: Prince of the Sun. When he was demoted due to the commercial failure of his first feature, he left the studio with Yoichi Kotabe and Miyazaki to join an animation studio called A Production, which is now known as Shin-Ei Animation.

Takahata went on to work with Miyazaki on many projects, including the television series Lupin III (1971) and Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974). A huge success the world over, Heidi was dubbed into approximately 20 languages, including Telugu and Tamil.

Play
Isao Takahata in conversation.

In 1985, Takahata co-founded Studio Ghibli with Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki, and went on to direct several films for the studio, beginning with the wrenching World War II drama Grave of the Fireflies (1988). Inspired by the director’s own experiences, the film’s emotional heft lies in its unblinking assessment of the ravages of war.

Play
Grave of the Fireflies (1988).

Miyazaki also served as a producer on early Miyazaki works such as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and Castle in the Sky (1986). His cordial but conflicted relationship with Miyazaki is detailed the documentary In The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, which also describes Takahata’s unusual, and often frustrating, approach to work.

Takahata took a long break from animation after the commercial failure of My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999). He returned with his fifth and final film for Studio Ghibli in 2013 with the visually gorgeous and thematically rich The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Based on the classic folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and made on a budget of $ 49.3 million, it is reportedly the most expensive Japanese film till date.

Play
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013).

Takahata was last associated as an artistic producer with Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit’s dialogue-less feature The Red Turtle (2016).

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

Play


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.