Isao Takahata was one of the most seminal voices in the history of Japanese Animation. After co-founding the world-renowned Studio Ghibli with Hao Miyazaki in 1985, his work went onto include the devastating masterpiece Grave of the Fireflies (1988), the beautifully melancholic Only Yesterday (1991), the oft overlooked Pom Poko (1994) and the divisive yet utterly unique My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999).
Each of these stories was utterly different from the last; each showcased Takahata’s keen understanding of human nature. He possessed an innate ability to connect audiences with his characters, to meld aspects of reality with fantasy, supposed fact with supposed fiction. Takahata always appeared, at least to me, to be the creator of more filmic, more pointed, more mature companions to the rest of Ghibli’s vibrant canon. A man who sought to craft experiences beyond animation.