films seen
12/12
average score
3.54*
nationality
Japan - 82 years old
status
R.I.P. (1935 - 2018)
more info

Mentor of Miyazaki and Ghibli's most talented director. His films are smart, tender, down-to-earth, deeply humane and magnificently animated. The fact that he kept challenging himself until the very end makes his oeuvre a joy to explore.

Beyond exceptional

My Neighbors the Yamadas

by Isao Takahata
Hohokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun
1999 / 104m - Japan
Comedy, Animation
My Neighbors the Yamadas poster

A simple screenshot cannot capture the amount of love and detail this film houses. The animation is exceptional, the music a blast and the film consists of one big succession of memorable moments.

Grave of the Fireflies

by Isao Takahata
Hotaru no Haka
1988 / 89m - Japan
Drama, War, Animation
Grave of the Fireflies poster

Not the ideal film for a fun evening on the couch, but it reaches well beyond the boundaries of traditional animation films and delivers an experience you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else

Rare treats

Only Yesterday

by Isao Takahata
Omohide Poro Poro
1991 / 118m - Japan
Drama, Animation
Only Yesterday poster

There aren't any big dramatic swoops, nor any major events or surprising plot twists. The setup in simple, the setting is simple, but the execution is absolute perfection.

The good stuff

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

by Isao Takahata
Kaguyahime no Monogatari
2013 / 137m - Japan
Drama, Fantasy, Animation
The Tale of Princess Kaguya poster

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is still a marvel to behold and definitely worth your time, but it's also a film that feels like a natural end to Takahata's career.

Pom Poko

by Isao Takahata
Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko
1994 / 119m - Japan
Comedy, Adventure, Animation
Pom Poko poster

Isao Takahata's Pom Poko is a delight. It's been way too long since I last watched the film, I'd forgotten most things about it (apart that one thing everyone remembers), but it hasn't lost any of its original appeal. The film offers a familiar story (animals battling humans as their homes are being destroyed), Takahata takes a more down-to-earth approach compared to his Western peers. At least, if you look at how the battle plays out. Don't expect a very depressing or dark film, there's quite a bit of wonky Japanese folklore and the characters are fun and charming. Add a touch of Ghibli magic, and you have another winner.

Solid pieces

Gauche the Cellist

by Isao Takahata
Sero Hiki no Gôshu
1982 / 60m - Japan
Fantasy, Music, Animation
3.5*/5.0*
Gauche the Cellist poster

The inoffensive

Winter Days

by Isao Takahata, Mark Baker, Jacques Drouin, Taku Furukawa, Co Hoederman, Kihachiro Kawamoto, Yôichi Kotabe, Yuri Norstein, Bretislav Pojar, Raoul Servais, Shinichi Suzuki, Koji Yamamura, Fumio Oi, Tatsutoshi Nomura, Haru Fukushima, Tatsuya Ishida, Noriko Morita, Tatsuo Shimamura, Reiko Okuyama, Aleksandr Petrov, Maya Yonesho, Yoji Kuri, Uruma Delvi, Seiichi Hayashi, Azuru Isshiki, Katsushi Boda, Masahiro Katayama, Yuichi Ito, Keita Kurosaka, Reiko Yokosuka, Yuko Asano, IKIF, Bairong Wang, Nori Hikone, Masaaki Mori, Taku Furukawa, Fusako Yusaki
Fuyu no Hi
2003 / 39m - Japan
Animation
3.0*/5.0*
Winter Days poster

A very peculiar anthology. It's not like many other anthologies, where the link between each short film is frail and negligible, and yet many of the shorts couldn't have been more different from each other. A wealth of directors were given a chance to add their entry, with quite a few international names on the roster too.

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The film is set up around the renku poetry of Basho. There's a little documentary that comes with the film that gives some insights into the how, why and what of this film, but basically each director was assigned a short poem, which then served as inspiration of the animation piece. Most of them are under 1 minute.

There's a huge range of styles on display and the overarching concept is pretty interesting, but too many shorts fell flat, and the impressive ones are few and far between. Someone like Isao Takahata stands out among the rest, but with only one minute on the clock, he too struggles to impress. Certainly worth a watch, but there's some untapped potential here.

Panda! Go Panda!

by Isao Takahata
Panda Kopanda
1972 / 34m - Japan
Comedy, Animation
3.0*/5.0*
Panda! Go Panda! poster

Prince of the Sun: The Great Adventure of Horus

by Isao Takahata
Taiyou no Ouji Horusu no Daibouken
1968 / 82m - Japan
Fantasy, Adventure, Animation
3.0*/5.0*
Prince of the Sun: The Great Adventure of Horus poster

Worthy but flawed

Anne of Green Gables: Road to Green Gables

by Isao Takahata
Akage no An: Gurîn Gêburuzu E no Michi
2010 / 100m - Japan
Drama, Animation
2.5*/5.0*
Anne of Green Gables: Road to Green Gables poster

Not really a 2010 film, instead it's a compilation/rework of the first 6 episodes of the original TV series (1979), which lists Takahata as series director. Just to say that you shouldn't expect a modern Ghibli-like Takahata, but an early 80s TV anime with strong Western influences, recut to resemble a feature film.

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I'm not familiar with the original Montgomery novel, nor with the original anime adaptation, but I've seen plenty of similar series on Dutch TV when I was younger. The style is very typical, charming but rather basic, with a clear love for rural environments and traditional values.

The animation is basic, but there are some dream-like sequences that rise well above expected TV quality. Anne is also a fun character. Quite chatty and a little exhausting, but her inquisitive outlook on life is refreshing. The film is a too slow though, with hardly anything happening within these 100 minutes. It's not bad, but it's clear the pacing is better suited for a TV series than a feature film.

The Story of Yanagawa's Canals

by Isao Takahata
Yanagawa Horiwari Monogatari
1987 / 167m - Japan
Documentary
2.5*/5.0*
The Story of Yanagawa's Canals poster

Chie the Brat

by Isao Takahata
Jarinko Chie
1981 / 105m - Japan
Comedy, Animation
2.5*/5.0*
Chie the Brat poster