Often regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time, Hayao Miyazaki has become a legend for his work at Ghibli. From Nausica: Valley of the Wind to his most recently directorial success The Wind Rises, the man has created a plethora of exciting and fantastical adventures within anime. Many of his films have also achieved great financial success, with his 2003 hit Spirited Away being the second highest grossing film ever in Japan. But another man who worked at Ghibli, not so often recognized for his work, has also left his mark on the world with a tremendous discography.
Grave of the Fireflies is arguably Isao Takahata’s most famous Endeavor, and that makes sense. It is a heartbreaking tales about a Japan that was torn apart by war and a brother and sister that were only trying to survive. As I watched this movie, my eyes could not hold back the tears. Everything, from the cold, eerie music to the darker, gray color palette of the animation added to the sense of dread and helplessness. Sure, the English dub was not the best, but it was enough to make me cry for a while.
Only Yesterday also checks the box for a great movie. As I talk about in a different blog post, I had few expectations for the film and came out amazed. Taeko was a character that I not only related to but understood on a personal level. Her desire to escape to the past because of her confusion about the present is something that I, and many other young people go through at least once and sometimes a lot more often. Its animation is both expressive and reserved, letting loose when it needs to but also remaining static during quieter moments. It was a reminder that not every story is a Broadway musical, with big theatrical endings. Sometimes the quiet resolution is even more satisfying.
Even his recent work, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, is incredibly well done. Kaguya as a character is someone who is constantly trying to please others and live up to expectations. Even though all her father is trying to do is make her happy, the burden of Kaguya having to fulfill that happiness inevitably catches up to her, making her feel sad and longing for home. In a lot of ways, that same dynamic can be felt with Takahata himself. This was his first directorial debut in a while and was probably anxious about whether or not people would really like it.
With everything that has been happening in the world as of late, it is easy to forget that Isao Takahata left the world just over half a year ago now. In fact, if I had decided not to watch a few of the Ghibli movies sitting on my shelf, I probably would have forgotten too. Since, however, I did not properly pay my respects at the time, this tribute is to him, a man whose work I can say has given me a lot to think about, and whose works I will probably spend a lot more time analyzing.
Thank you, Takahata, for everything.
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Arthifis here! This is was the first post of the Blog Guesting project. One, that I hope that will precede many of them! 🙂 For now, I want to thank Jack for participating! For everyone who read the post and liked it, you can find all Jack’s work here! Don’t forget to give him a follow 😉 He more than deserves it!!