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Movie Monday: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Directed by: Isao Takahata
Genre: Animated Fantasy Drama
Running time: 137 minutes
Released: 2013
Produced by Studio Ghibli

A tiny nymph found inside a bamboo stalk grows into a beautiful and desirable young woman, who orders her suitors to prove their love by completing a series of near-impossible tasks.


Based on the old Japanese folktale "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter," The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is yet another amazing Studio Ghibli film directed by Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki’s less well-known partner. While it lacks the bravado of some of the more iconic Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away, the film has a haunting beauty and evokes a melancholy mood in the viewer. Given some patience, it gives a heartfelt message on the meaning of love and finding happiness.

Princess Kaguya is based on the old folktale in which a poor and elderly bamboo cutter discovers a magical princess in a bamboo stem that he cuts. He further discovers piles of gold and beautiful dresses in other bamboo stems as he raises the magical child, and he decides that these gifts are a message from God that the child is destined to become a princess. Consequently, he raises her to become the perfect princess. As she grows up, princes and ministers across the land begin to seek her hand in marriage. However, Princess Kaguya harbors a longing for a simple life in the countryside.

Princess Kaguya is not a children’s film, nor is it your traditional fairy-tale story. At first glance, the film does not seem as impressive as some household titles from Studio Ghibli, like Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Its plot moves pretty slowly. It is not as action packed, and it does not include magical creatures or majestic fantasy backgrounds. The film has a deeply melancholic undertone to it, its plot progress slowly and focuses heavily around Princess Kaguya’s emotions, and it carries undertones of social satire and feminism. In addition, its art style is less visually appealing. The art style is rough and is heavily reminiscent of old Japanese paintings, which was a nice touch in my opinion.

I would recommend this film heavily to anyone looking for a unique animated film with a heavier focus on the emotions.

2 comments on "Movie Monday: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya"
  1. I just watched this film last week! I watched it and SONG OF THE SEA. I think I preferred the selkies, but I enjoyed both!

    1. Haven't gotten around to watching Song of the Sea yet, guess I'll watch it next.


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