Goodbye, Isao Takahata

Goodbye, Isao Takahata.

You were every bit the dreamer Hayao Miyazaki is, every bit the master. You won’t be memorialized here in the west as you should, but those who know your brilliance, who were deeply affected by your work, will remember.

We’ll remember how you taught us that family can be sloppy, imperfect, and ugly, and still love with a ferocity and authenticity that shows, this is what family is.

We’ll remember how you taught us that our journeys from youth into adulthood don’t always match what we want for ourselves and what society expects from us, and that that’s okay.


We’ll remember how you taught us that what we do as leaders, laborers, and consumers impacts the lives around us, and that sometimes inaction makes us perpetrators, too.

We’ll remember how you taught us that life is beautiful and life is tragic, and still, we go on.

We’ll remember how you taught us to face the discomforts of the world around us, that when we forget to love, that when we choose not to, some who are not strong enough to care for themselves become nameless victims—but they do have names, they do have souls, they do have hearts, perhaps far bigger than our own.

And your heart, your heart, was big. We saw it in the beauty you created, which we were privileged to share in. We’ll miss you, but we’re thankful that you left something behind, a trace, a memory, of what the world once was, of what it can be, of what it should be.

You left us your heart—and we will always treasure it.

Thank you, Isao Takahata. Thank you and goodbye.

Featured illustration by 采采 | reprinted w/permission


4 thoughts on “Goodbye, Isao Takahata

  1. ….:O :(((

    My god. I…I didn’t realize he’d died. I’m not sure why this suddenly hits me like a pile of bricks, because…I mean, I’ve never seen any of his work all the way through. I think it’s because I know of that work’s quality, and because what little I did see was so powerful that for a couple of minutes, it swept me away. Grave of the Fireflies’ opening is so potent and heavy with mortality and death that it moved me into tears.

    Rest in peace, sir. You contributed something to the world that we will not see the like of again.

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