3 stars (out of 4)
Released 2013 in Japan, 2014 in North America
I have to confess that I’m not particularly a fan of Studio Ghibli works in general, however I was looking for an opportunity to see Tale of The Princess Kaguya after watching the trailer some months ago and hearing good word of mouth about the film.
The most remarkable thing about this movie is its gorgeous, fluid animation. In some ways, it looks somewhat unpolished, but surprisingly, it gives a masterful impression of ink drawings come to life.
As for the story itself, it’s about a little girl who is magically found in a bamboo stalk. The bamboo cutter, who discovered her, and his wife become her doting parents. He believes she is destined to be a princess and they do what they can to create a new home and lifestyle befitting of her. But will that bring her happiness?
There are a number of complex themes presented, including familial duty, love, gender roles, social hierarchy, and the meaning of life and death. Some parts are quite effectively emotional. This is the type of film that makes you think and feel but refrains from providing any answers.
Even though I personally find this kind of open, existentialist narrative a little bit unsatisfying, I still have to say I’m glad I experienced the film. I absolutely recommend Princess Kaguya for its incredibly beautiful and unique animation style. It’s an undeniably wonderful showcase for the possibilities of traditional 2-D animation.