Isao Takahata is a long-time colleague of Miyazaki and another leading head of Studio Ghibli. Unlike Miyazaki, Takahata started his career as a director from the beginning. Born in 1935, he graduated from the most prestigious university in Japan, Tokyo University, and joined the newly founded animation studio Toei Doga in 1959 (an interesting career move, to say the least).
He and Miyazaki became friends through the animators' union at Toei Doga, which he vice-chaired and Miyazaki chaired. His first movie, Horus: The Prince of the Sun (1968) is still considered one of the greatest examples of Japanese animation. Miyazaki worked as an animator for this movie, providing numerous ideas. Takahata and Miyazaki continued working as a director-animator team for many great animated masterpieces, including Lupin III, Heidi, 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, and Anne of Green Gables.
When Tokuma approached Miyazaki about making the Nausicaä manga into a movie, the only condition Miyazaki requested was to have Takahata as the producer. This was the first time Takahata worked as a producer but he did a great job. He also produced the next Miyazaki movie, Laputa in 1986, then directed his first Ghibli movie, Grave of the Fireflies in 1988. Since then, he has directed Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, and My Neighbors the Yamadas. Takahata also worked as the music director of Kiki and as the producer of I Can Hear the Sea.
You can learn more about him by visiting the following links: