New Studio Ghibli Book Recounts Isao Takahata’s Unsettling Reputation

Earlier this year, anime fans gathered to mourn the loss of one of Studio Ghibli’s finest [...]

Earlier this year, anime fans gathered to mourn the loss of one of Studio Ghibli's finest talents. Isao Takahata passed away, leaving behind a long legacy of cherished classics. However, in a new book, fans have learned Takahata had a very different side to himself which few saw.

Recently, long-time Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki released a new book titled The Ghibli Textbook #19: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. The project recounts the work put into Takahata's final film, and Suzuki did an interview for the film himself. It was there the producer revealed Takahata was notoriously hard to work with and perhaps led to the death of a beloved colleague.

According to Anime News Network, Suzuki stressed that Takahata's word demands were extraordinarily tough as the director valued work above all else. Even if production may destroy "so many people", it would be worth it to Takahata if the end result came out as expected.

Suzuki says one such person destroyed by Takahata's high expectations was Yoshifumi Kondo, a character designer and animation director under Studio Ghibli. After the man finished work on Whisper of the Heart, Suzuki visited him and was told by Kondo that Takahata "tried to kill him" with his latest project. In fact, Kondo said the thought of Takahata made him tremble, but he continued working with the director on Princess Mononoke. Sadly, Kondo grew ill shortly after he finished working on the movie before passing at 47-years-old.

As Suzuki recounts, he went to Kondo's cremation alongside Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, and another animation known only as S-san. The producer said the men came together at the memorial, and it was S-san who said, "It was Paku-san [Takahata] that killed Kon-chan, wasn't it?" As the book details, the men quieted at the thought before Takahata nodded in agreement.

As the interview wrapped, Suzuki admitted Studio Ghibli lost out on talent because of Takahata's reputation. The producer also said a character in Miyazaki's next feature may have been inspired by the man, but Takahata's death has since upset the movie's production schedule.

If you are not familiar with Takahata, then you will know his work. The man co-founded Studio Ghibli with his friend and longtime creative partner Hayao Miyazaki. Born in October 1935, Takahata began his career after seeing a French cartoon, and he found himself working at Toei Animation while he was in university. As he grew older, Takahata eventually met Miyazaki, and the pair founded Studio Ghibli where he directed the critically acclaimed Grave of the Fireflies.

Over the years, Takahata worked on many Studio Ghibli projects as he did music direction for Kiki's Delivery Service, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and The Red Turtle. The creator also has a lengthy resume in TV as he worked on shows such as Kitaro of GeGeGe, Lupin III, and more.

Does this new tell-all make you view Studio Ghibli any differently? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!