Isao Takahata (October 29, 1935 - April 5, 2018) was a Japanese animation director and producer.
Along with fellow Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, he is regarded as one of the greatest anime directors of all time. More infamously, he's also regarded as one of the strictest, to the point where it's rumored that his perfectionist attitudes towards his staff was a factor in both Ghibli's lack of new blood and Yoshifumi Kondo's death of a brain aneurysm in 1998, something Takahata himself was willing to believe. Nonetheless, his films are regarded as some of the best to ever come out of Japan, and no one will argue that his legacy and acclaim is undeserved. In that sense, one could consider Takahata the anime industry's equivalent of Stanley Kubrick.
His directorial work included:
- Hols: Prince of the Sun, also released as Little Norse Prince Valiant (1968)
- Lupin III (Green Jacket) (1971, episode 8-23; co-directed with Hayao Miyazaki)
- Panda! Go Panda! (1972)
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974)
- 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (1976)
- Anne of Green Gables (1979)
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
- Only Yesterday (1991)
- Pom Poko (1994)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)
Isao Takahata and his works provide examples of:
- Acclaimed Flop: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya earned a very positive reception, but it was a Box Office Bomb, even in Japan.
- Grand Finale: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was created with the intention of being this for Takahata's career; he had already resigned from directing after My Neighbors the Yamadas, but decided to return for one last project to end things off on a high note.
- What Could Have Been: Takahata was planning to work on an animated short for Modest Heroes, but his death nixed that.