A Damn Fine Cup of Culture Podcast #44: Isao Takahata – radical naturalism

When Isao Takahata died in 2018, the world lost one of the uncontested masters of animation. Takahata, long-time creative partner of Hayao Miyazaki and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, created some of the most striking, memorable anime there is. Together with guest Patrick Martignoni, Eric and Matt discuss Takahata and his thematic and aesthetic concerns, especially his idiosyncratic, experimental take on naturalism and how animation can be used to get to the essence of characters. In our discussion, we focus mainly on Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), Pom Poko (1994) and what is arguably Takahata’s magnum opus, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) – but we don’t forget to look in on his TV career, as all three of us were raised on Heidi, Girl of the Alps. Join us as we remember the great, idiosyncratic and surprising storytelling of Isao Takahata!

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The Rear-View Mirror: Isao Takahata (1935)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

There are no two ways about it: Hayao Miyazaki is a great filmmaker who has created many fantastic worlds that are both breathtakingly new and grounded in very human realities. His films are epic yet intimate, they deal with serious topics but Miyazaki never loses the whimsical twinkle in his eyes. It’s clear why Miyazaki would be seen by many as the face of Ghibli Studios.

Nonetheless, it is sad that Miyazaki’s fame tends to eclipse the other great creative mind at Ghibli: Isao Takahata (1935-2018).

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