The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

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.


3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2015

Cinderella 2015 is the live-action remake of Disney’s animated film from 1950. However, it was because the images in the trailer reminded me of another movie, Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998), that I was intrigued to go out and watch this new film.

First of all, I do have some criticisms. Ella had a mantra that was taught to her by her mother, and it was plain overused. Even though I could agree with the sentiment, it lost its significance from the excessive repetition.

Cate Blanchett was grand as the stepmother. I was somewhat less convinced at the portrayal of Ella’s stepsisters, though. If they had acted like entitled selfish bitches, I could’ve bought that; but I found it hard to believe that they would be as uncultured and gaudy as they were, given their seemingly high-class upbringing.

And nitpicking, but I was a bit disappointed that they decided to keep the name Lucifer for the cat. It’s a real stretch that these women would give such a moniker to a beloved pet. But then, who knows? Maybe it was the girls’ late father who came up with the name.

In spite of my complaints, this Cinderella represented a vast improvement over what I remember of the original animated feature. The scenery and costumes were gorgeous; and the stunning ballroom dance scene alone was worthwhile to be seen in theatre.

I also thought it was a nice touch to include 2 of the songs from the original movie in the closing credits, performed by the new Cinderella and Fairy Godmother.

All that being said, I can’t help but feel it paled in comparison to Ever After in, well, just about every way. Which is no different from what I was expecting, since few movies can hold a candle to Ever After, in my estimation, Cinderella story or no.