The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (film)

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The Tale of The Princess Kaguya
TheTaleofThePrincessKaguya US poster.jpg
North American Theatrical Poster
Directed by Isao Takahata[1]
Produced by Yoshiaki Nishimura
Toshio Suzuki
Seiichiro Ujiie
Written by Isao Takahata
Riko Sakaguchi
Based on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
Starring Aki Asakura
Kengo Kora
Takeo Chii
Nobuko Miyamoto
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • November 23, 2013 (2013-11-23) (Japan)
  • October 17, 2014 (2014-10-17) (United States)
Running time 137 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget ¥5 billion (US$49,300,000)[2]
Box office ¥2.5 billion (US$24,563,871)

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語 Kaguya-hime no Monogatari?) is a 2013 Japanese animated film produced by Studio Ghibli, and directed and co-written by Isao Takahata, based on the folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.[3][4] This is Takahata's fifth film for Studio Ghibli, and his first in 14 years since his 1999 feature, My Neighbors the Yamadas.


The film follows the protagonist, Princess Kaguya, from her infant years to adulthood in the human world. It also explores the "crime" she committed prior to the events of the film.[5]

The story begins with Okina, a bamboo cutter and gatherer, discovering Kaguya in a glowing bamboo shoot in a bamboo grove. Believing her to be a divine gift, he bears her home; Okina and his wife Ona then decide to take Kaguya (simply naming her "Princess") as their child. Kaguya transforms from a miniature girl into a full-size infant, and Ona suddenly finds herself able to breast-feed. The couple remark on their new daughter's remarkable growth.

Kaguya's growth continues perceptibly, earning herself the nickname "bamboo" among the children of the village. Sutemaru, the oldest among Kaguya's friends, develops a particularly close relationship with her.

Okina later comes upon large amounts of gold and fine cloth in the bamboo grove much in the same way as he found Kaguya. He takes these as confirmation of Kaguya's divine royalty and begins planning to make Kaguya a proper princess, believing it to be her destiny. Kaguya returns home one day to find Okina and Ona packed to leave; abruptly, her life in the mountain is ended as she relocates to the capital. Kaguya finds herself in a spacious home replete with servants and fine clothes. She also finds herself saddled with a coach in femininity named Sagami, who is tasked with taming Kaguya into a prim and proper woman.

Okina holds a celebration in commemoration of Kaguya's name-day, at which an unkind overheard conversation sends Kaguya into despair; she flees the capital and runs all the way to the mountains, looking beggarly and ragged on her arrival. She inquires after Sutemaru and her other friends, but finds that they have all moved away. Kaguya passes out in the snow, only to awaken suddenly back at the party, not missed at all.

Kaguya continues to grow the whole time; her beauty ensnares suitors by the dozen, who besiege the house in hopes of being granted an audience with the Princess. Okina is delighted by the mass of prospective husbands, but Ona is less enthusiastic and Kaguya entirely uninterested. The suitor situation escalates through five men of high standing in the government; Kaguya turns them away one by one by requesting impossible things of them, rebuffing their fraudulent attempts in turn. When one of the would-be suitors is killed in his quest, Kaguya falls into depression and begins spending long periods of time tearfully playing music to the moon.

Eventually, the Emperor himself takes notice of Kaguya. When Kaguya refuses to visit him at his palace, the Emperor decides to visit her instead. Taken with her beauty, he comes up behind Kaguya and embraces her, invoking her revulsion. Kaguya then demonstrates an uncanny ability to disappear at will, surprising the Emperor somewhat. Understanding that Kaguya is not easily moved, the Emperor graciously takes his leave, determined to return and make Kaguya his.

Kaguya's melancholy worsens, worrying Okina and Ona. When pressed, she finally reveals that she comes from the Moon, which she begged for help when the Emperor made his advances. She is faced with returning to the Moon on the fifteenth night of the lunar month, during the full moon. Kaguya, realizing her attachment to the Earth, sadly confesses her reluctance to leave. Okina swears to devise protection against any celestial force and sets out to begin construction immediately. Ona returns with Kaguya to her hometown in the mountains once more. Kaguya meets again with Sutemaru and declares him to be better than all her other potential suitors; Sutemaru vows to protect her, come what may, and they run together through the mountains until they take to the air.

Their joyous flight is cut short when Kaguya sees the Moon and panics, begging Sutemaru to hold her tightly. Despite Sutemaru's best efforts, Kaguya is torn from his grasp out of the sky and down into the ocean. Sutemaru awakens alone in the meadow. Convincing himself that it had been a dream, he returns to his wife and child. Kaguya returns home to the capital with Ona.

On the fateful night of the full moon, a celestial delegation descends from the moon. Despite Okina's men's best efforts, the divine force is unstoppable as it sweeps in unperturbed, putting most in the house to sleep. A Buddha-like figure directs some sprites to ferry Kaguya to them; they enter into Kaguya's chamber through the windows and charm her. Kaguya, in a trance, glides away and out of the room, much to Ona's horror. She rises to the Moon-bound group, from which an attendant offers her a robe of forgetfulness and a crown. Kaguya puts on the crown, but is stayed from the robe by her parents' cries. She begs the attendant to grant her a last moment with Okina and Ona.

Kaguya delivers one final ode to the Earth and all its wonder, embracing her parents for the last time. The attendant then drapes the robe of forgetfulness around her, and Kaguya's expression goes blank. She resumes her seat in the entourage and they ascend to the Moon, leaving Okina and Ona distraught.

Despite her apparent detachment from the Earth, Kaguya looks back one last time, with tears in her eyes, before the group disappears into the light of the Moon.



Studio Ghibli first revealed that Isao Takahata was working on a feature-length film in 2008.[7] Takahata subsequently announced at the 62nd Locarno International Film Festival that he intended to direct a film based on the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.[8]

The release of The Tale of The Princess Kaguya was finally confirmed by Studio Ghibli and distributor Toho on 13 December 2012.[9] That same month, it was announced that Shin'ichirō Ikebe was to compose the film's score.

On February 4, 2013, it was also announced that Joe Hisaishi would write the film's score, effectively replacing Ikebe as the film's composer. This is the first time that Hisaishi will score a film by Isao Takahata; as well as compose for two Studio Ghibli films in the same year, the other being Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises.[10]

In May 2013, it was announced Kazumi Nikaidō (二階堂和美 Nikaidō Kazumi?) would perform the film's theme song, "Inochi no Kioku" (いのちの記憶?, Memory of Life).[11]


The Tale of The Princess Kaguya was initially announced to be released simultaneously with The Wind Rises, another Studio Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki in Japan in the summer of 2013,[12] which would have marked the first time that the works of the two directors were released together since the release of the films My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies in 1988.[12] However, in February 2013, distributor Toho announced that the release of Kaguya-Hime no Monogatari would be delayed to Fall 2013, citing concerns that the storyboards were not yet complete.[13][14] On March 12, 2014, independent distributor GKIDS announced that it had acquired the US rights for the film and that it would release an English dub version produced by Studio Ghibli and Frank Marshall.[15] Chloë Grace Moretz is the voice of the title character in the English dub. Besides Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Darren Criss, Lucy Liu, Beau Bridges, Daniel Dae Kim, James Marsden, Oliver Platt, John Cho, George Segal, Hynden Walch, and Dean Cain also have supporting roles in the English dub. It was released in North America on October 17, 2014 and will be also released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan on December 3, 2014.[16][17]

The film was selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[18] Its North American premiere took place at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the festival's "Masters" program.[19]


By January 5, 2014, the film had grossed ¥2,014,535,721 (US$19,345,586) at the Japanese box office.[20] By January 19, it had grossed ¥2.21 billion (US$21.19 million).[21] By February 2, the film had grossed ¥2,313,602,733 (US$22,613,153) at the Japanese box office.[22]

It was nominated for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year at the 37th Japan Academy Prize.[23] It won the Animation Film Award at the 68th Mainichi Film Awards.[24] In February 2014 it placed 4th in both Kinema Junpo's Best Ten and their Reader's Choice Awards.[25]

In September of 2014, the film won the Audience Award at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.[26]

Reviews timed with the North American release have been positive. David Ehrlich of The A.V. Club gave the film an A, deeming it "the best animated movie of the year," adding that it is "destined to be remembered as one of the revered Studio Ghibli’s finest achievements."[27] The New York Times praised the artwork calling it "Exquisitely drawn with both watercolor delicacy and a brisk sense of line".[28]

It currently has a fresh 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "かぐや姫の物語 クレジット" (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Kevin Ma (23 July 2014). "Pokemon defeats Ghibli at Japan box office". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Ghibli Lists Jobs for Isao Takahata's Summer 2013 Film". Anime News Network. 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  4. ^ Russ Fischer (2012-11-21). "Studio Ghibli Titles New Films From Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata; ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ Picked Up For US Re-Release". Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  5. ^ "かぐや姫の物語 はじめに" (in Japanese). Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d "かぐや姫の物語 登場人物" (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Ghibli's Takahata, Goro Miyazaki Developing New Works". Anime News Network. 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  8. ^ "Isao Takahata to Base Next Film on Taketori Monogatari". Anime News Network. 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  9. ^ "ジブリ新作、2作一挙公開!宮崎駿&高畑勲作品でジブリ史上初!". Cinema Today (in Japanese). 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  10. ^ "Takahata, Ghibli's Kaguya-Hime Now Lists Composer Hisaishi". Anime News Network. February 7, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ "ジブリ新作『かぐや姫の物語』主題歌決定!現役僧侶の二階堂和美が大抜てき!". Cinema Today (in Japanese). 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  12. ^ a b "Ghibli Announces Miyazaki's Kaze Tachinu, Takahata's Kaguya-hime no Monogatari". Anime News Network. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  13. ^ "高畑勲監督「かぐや姫」公開延期 「絵コンテ完成まだ」". Asahi Shimbun. February 5, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  14. ^ "高畑勲監督「かぐや姫の物語」公開が秋に延期!" (in Japanese). February 4, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2013. 
  15. ^ Amidi, Amid (2014-03-12). "GKIDS Acquires Takahata’s ‘The Tale of The Princess Kaguya’ for U.S. Distribution". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  16. ^ Amidi, Amid (2014-07-15). "‘Tale Of The Princess Kaguya’ Sets English-Language Voice Cast, October Release Date". Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2014 lineup unveiled". Screendaily. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "Isao Takahata's 'Princess Kaguya' to make North American premiere at Toronto film fest". The Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "Japanese Box Office, January 4-5". Anime News Network. 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  21. ^ "Japan Box Office Report – 01/18~01/19". tokyohive. 6Theory Media, LLC. January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Japanese Box Office, February 1-2". Anime News Network. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  23. ^ "Wind Rises, Madoka, Lupin vs. Conan, Harlock, Kaguya Earn Japan Academy Prize Nods". Anime News Network. 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  24. ^ Kevin Ma (January 21, 2014). "Great Passage, Pecoross top Mainichi Award". Film Business Asia. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  25. ^ キネマ旬報2下旬決算特別号, pp. 80, 102.
  26. ^ "Isao Takahata's 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya' Takes Top Prize at Fantastic Fest". IndieWire. 2014-09-23. Retrieved 2014-10-02. 
  27. ^ "Studio Ghibli delivers a new masterpiece with The Tale Of Princess Kaguya". The A.V. Club. 2014-10-16. Retrieved 2014-10-16. 
  28. ^

External links[edit]