As several sources have reported, Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli and the director of five Ghibli feature films films, passed away earlier today. Takahata’s output as a creator has always been second to Miyazaki’s. Nonetheless, his work, and in particular, Grave of the Fireflies, also received a significant amount of English-language scholarly attention. And, of course, Takahata’s work has been addressed extensively throughout the more general academic writing on the work of Hayao Miyazaki on on Studio Ghibli.

Isao Takahata (1935-2018): A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship


Michael Leader & Jake Cunningham
Ghibliotheque: The Unofficial Guide to the Movies of Studio Ghibli
London: Wellbeck

Alex Dudok de Wit
BFI Film Classics: Grave of the Fireflies

London: Bloomsbury Publishing

Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc
Studio Ghibli: The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
Harpenden, UK: Kamera Books (1st ed.: 2009; Revised & Updated Ed.: 2015; 3rd ed.: 2019)

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

Swale, Alistair. Memory and forgetting: Examining the treatment of traumatic historical memory in Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind Rises. Japan Forum, 29(4), 518-536.

“Within Japanese popular culture, manga and anime have played a significant role in mediating responses to the outcome of the Pacific War. Miyazaki Hayao’s (possibly) final feature-length film, The Wind Rises, has been an important addition to the preceding body of popular media ‘texts’ that raise such themes. This article aims to address the question of how far cinematic animation can reasonably be obliged to follow the kinds of historiographical concerns that inevitably arise when engaging with Japan’s militarist past. To answer this question, considerable space is devoted to examining the historical context of what others have done in the post-war period and integrate that commentary into an analysis of how the works of Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Hayao fit amongst a succession of creative works that have been co-opted in the reshaping of historical perceptions of the Japanese at war amongst the Japanese themselves. This will also require some incidental discussion of methodological issues that arise when dealing with such cases as vehicles for understanding transformations in historical consciousness. Ultimately it is argued that Miyazaki does indeed make an important contribution to the commentary on the Japanese war experience, although it must, perhaps unavoidably, be on highly personal terms so far as The Wind Rises is concerned.”

Borlik, Todd Andrew (2015). Carnivalesque ecoterrorism in Pom Poko. Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, 2(3), 127-133.

Hecht, Roger W. (2015). Only Yesterday: Ecological and psychological recovery. Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, 2(3), 166-171.

Akimoto, Daisuke (2014). Peace education through the animated film ‘Grave of the Fireflies’: Physical, psychological, and structural violence of war. Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, 33: 33-43.

Ortabasi, Melek Su (2013). (Re)animating folklore: Raccoon dogs, foxes, and other supernatural Japanese citizens in Takahata Isao’s Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko. Marvels & Tales, 27(2), 254-275.

“Takahata Isao’s animated film Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko (Tanuki Battle of the Heisei Era, 1994) is a unique demonstration of the affinity between the supernatural aspects of folklore and animation itself. Featuring anthropomorphized animals that possess the uncanny powers attributed to them by folklore, Pompoko mobilizes the medium to display the animals’ shape-shifting skills in their war against the humans who threaten their habitat. Pompoko’s visual extrapolation of folk belief allows these animals to become more than a nostalgic reification of stable Japanese identity. By forcing drastic encounters between the realistic and the fantastic, Takahata’s film questions whether the human anxieties embodied in fox and raccoon dog folklore are really a thing of the past. I argue that Pompoko, through the medium of anime, shows how folklore can become an effective ideological tool for questioning what it actually means to be a (post)modern Japanese.”

Cavallaro, Dani (2010). The nightmare of history: Belladonna of Sadness, Grave of the Fireflies and Like the Clouds, Like the Wind.
In Anime and the art of adaptation: Eight famous works from page to screen (pp. 19-37). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Shipman, Hal (2010). Grave of the child hero. In Joseph Steiff & Tristan Tamplin (Eds.). Anime and philosophy: Wide eyed wonder (pp. 193-202). Chicago: Open Court.

Stahl, David (2010). Victimization and “response-ability”: Remembering, representing, and working through trauma in Grave of the Fireflies.
In David Stahl & Mark Williams (Eds.). Imag(in)ing the War in Japan: Representing and responding to trauma in postwar literature and film (pp. 161-202). Leiden: Brill.

Goldberg, Wendy (2009). Transcending the victim’s history: Takahata Isao’s Grave of the Fireflies. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts, 4, 39-52.

Shapiro, Jerome (2006). Ninety minutes over Tokyo: Aesthetics, narrative, and ideology in three Japanese films about the air war.
In Wilfried Wilms & William Rasch (eds.). Bombs Away! Representing the Air War over Europe and Japan (pp. 375-394). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Freiberg, Freda (2001). Tombstone for Fireflies. Senses of Cinema, 14.

Mousoulis, Bill (2000). Physicality in Tombstone for Fireflies. Senses of Cinema, 5.

Yamamoto, Fumiko (1998). Heisei Tanuki-Gassen: Pon Poko. Post Script: Essays in Film and the Humanities, 18(1), 59-67

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