Japan animation giant Takahata dies at 82: reports

Tokyo (AFP) –


Oscar-nominated Japanese anime director Isao Takahata, who co-founded the Studio Ghibli and was best known for his work "Grave of the Fireflies", has died aged 82, local media reported Friday.

Citing unnamed sources related to him, public broadcaster NHK said he had died at a Tokyo hospital after a recent bout of ill health. The information could not be immediately confirmed.

Takahata's latest film, "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" earned him an Academy nomination in 2014 for best animated feature.

It was also selected for a slot in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar to the main competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

However, most consider the 1988 film "Grave of the Fireflies", a moving tale of two orphans during World War II, to be his best work.

Born in Mie prefecture in central Japan, Takahata started his career in animation at the Toei studio in 1959, where he met long-term collaborator and rival Hayao Miyazaki.

With Miyazaki, he co-founded in 1985 the Japanese animation studio Ghibli, which went on to produce several blockbusters.

The pair are often described by media as friends and rivals at the same time.

Over a long and distinguished career, he produced around 20 films, including "Only Yesterday" (1991) and "Pom Poko" (1994).

He also produced the Miyazaki-directed 1984 film "Kaze no Tani no Naushika" ("The Valley of the Wind"), a science fantasy adventure that describes the relationship between nature and human beings.

He is also well-known for animation series "Alps no Shojo Heidi" ("Heidi, Girl of the Alps") and "Lupin Sansei" ("Lupin the Third").

Takahata also dabbled in politics, co-signing with around 250 other film celebrities, a petition against a controversial state secrets law in 2013.