Title: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Directed by: Isao Takahata
Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy, Family, Coming of age
Starring:Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii, Nobuko Miyamoto, Atsuko Takahata, Tomoko Tabata, Tatekawa Shinosuke, Takaya Kamikawa, Hikaru Ijūin, Ryudo Uzaki, Nakamura Shichinosuke II, Isao Hashizume and Tamaki Kojo
Runtime: 137 min
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya” is a coming of age story of a nymph (Aki Asakura) who was discovered by a bamboo cutter (Takeo Chii) and decided to take care of her. Believing that she is a princess, the bamboo cutter and his wife treated her like so, called her “Princess” even. The kids in the nearby village however, call her “Little Bamboo (Takenoko)” because she grows unbelievably fast. The magical princess cared for her parents, befriended the local kids, and loved the simplicity of living in those parts of the mountains. But she had to let go of all these so that she could go live the life she was meant to live.
I will just say this right off the bat that I have never seen a Studio Ghibli film (yes, I have never seen “My Neighbour Totoro,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and “The Wind Rises”) prior to my viewing of this film, and I now I know why that film studio is well-loved.
This film has everything I want – good themes, screenplay, great soundtrack, and amazing visuals. I love those films that manage to entertain audience but it does not stop there. Great films are the ones that entertain and touch people’s heart and soul in just a couple of hours and this is exactly what this film did to me (and to my fellow audience as well, if I may add).
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya” has it all – stories about friendship, love, family, and the sense of individuality. This is one of the reasons why I loved this film. It did not jus tackle a single theme but it managed to insert themes along the way. The relationship of the Princess and her parents are so beautiful and was beautifully executed. The changes they went together was beautifully shown and it may be simple, but still very touching and emotional. Even though the woodcutter’s wife never carried the child in her own womb for nine months, they still cared and treated her like their own blood, and that is just wonderful. And yes, I wept during the last part when The Thing (no spoilers!) happened.
This film also proved that friendship and love do last. This was evident in Kaguya and Sutemaru’s (Kengo Kora) relationship. They have not seen each other for a lot of years and have cut their connections with one another but the fire is still there. Princess Kaguya has been set up with a lot of men who could never cherish her like the way she wanted to be cherished and the only man who she has ever felt this connection was with Sutemaru. This is very beautiful and emotional, yes but I was bothered by the Princess’ choice of words which were “I could’ve been happy with you.” Yes, I know that she is pertaining to the husband/wife relationship but I just felt like this implies that she needed a man to be happy. I know this could be taken in another different angle but this little thing really did bother me.
As for the sense of individuality, this film did a very good job in showing how important it is for a person to be happy with their decisions and most importantly, how necessary it is for someone to make their own decisions. Princess Kaguya was broken when the film was coming to an end to the point that she had to result to supernatural ways. I guess this element of the film is just a glimpse to their culture and it really helped in educating the audience on how some people live their lives.
Moving on, the animation blew me away. It’s just simple animation but the execution was astounding. The colors, lighting, shading are great, to say the least. This film is visually stunning and this work of art honestly moved me.