Oscar-nominated Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata has died at the age of 82.
The animation legend, best known for directing 1988’s Grave of The Fireflies, reportedly passed away in Tokyo after a bout of ill health.
“[His death] is true, but we can’t comment further as we are trying to confirm some facts around it”, a spokeswoman for Studio Ghibli told The Guardian.
Born in Tokyo in 1935, Takahata began his career at the Toei studio in 1959 – where he first met Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.
After decades as creative rivals, the pair joined forces to found Studio Ghibli in 1985, which went on to become one of the most acclaimed animation houses in the world.
From his own work, Takahata was best known for Grave Of The Fireflies, which told the two stories of two siblings and their struggle to survive at the end of the Second World War.
His most recent effort behind came in the form of 2013’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which received a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards.
Paying tribute on Twitter, Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich wrote: “Really sad to hear about the passing of Isao Takahata, co-founder of Studio Ghibli. “Grave of the Fireflies” is an amazing, emotional film.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson added: Grave of the Fireflies (directed by Isao Takahata) is tied with Make Way For Tomorrow for the saddest film ever made.”