Isao Takahata, co-founder of the prestigious Japanese animator Studio Ghibli, which stuck to a hand-drawn "manga" look in the face of digital filmmaking, has died. He was 82. Takahata, who directed Grave of the Fireflies, a tragic tale about wartime childhood, died Thursday of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital, according to a studio statement. Takahata started Ghibli with Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki in 1985, hoping to create Japan's Disney. Takahata and Miyazaki, whose studio created several blockbusters, are often described as having been friends and rivals at the same time, AFP reports.
Takahata produced around 20 movies over his long career. His last film, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, based on a Japanese folktale, was nominated for a 2015 Oscar for best animation feature, although it did not win. He is also known for the 1970s Japanese TV series Heidi, Girl of the Alps, based on the book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. Takahata, who studied Japanese animation's roots in traditional literature and art, was an "innovator, constantly seeking out fresh storytelling methods and artistic approaches, while constantly aiming for realism of emotion and setting," writes Mark Schilling at Variety.