The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (poster).jpg
Japanese theatrical release poster
Japanese かぐや姫の物語
Hepburn Kaguya-hime no Monogatari
Directed by Isao Takahata[1]
Produced by Yoshiaki Nishimura
Screenplay by
Based on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Cinematography Keisuke Nakamura
Edited by Toshihiko Kojima
Distributed by Toho
Release date
  • 23 November 2013 (2013-11-23)
Running time
137 minutes[2]
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget ¥5 billion (US$49.3 million)[3]
Box office ¥2.5 billion (US$24.2 million)[4]

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Japanese: かぐや姫の物語, Hepburn: Kaguya-hime no Monogatari) is a 2013 Japanese animated fantasy drama film co-written and directed by Isao Takahata, animated by Studio Ghibli for the Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Walt Disney Japan, Mitsubishi, Toho and KDDI, and distributed by Toho. The film features an ensemble cast that includes 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, and is based on the folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.[5][6][7] The film features the final film performance by Chii, who died in June 2012, and was the final film directed by Takahata, who died in April 2018. It was released on 23 November 2013. At the budget of US$49.3 million, it is the most expensive Japanese movie to date. The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards.


A bamboo cutter named Sanuki no Miyatsuko discovers a miniature girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot. Believing her to be a divine presence, he and his wife decide to raise her as their own, calling her "Princess". The girl grows rapidly and conspicuously, causing her parents to marvel and earning her the nickname "Takenoko" (Little Bamboo) from the other village children. Sutemaru, the oldest among Kaguya's friends, develops a close relationship with her.

Miyatsuko comes upon gold and fine cloth in the bamboo grove in the same way he found his daughter. He takes these as proof of her divine royalty and begins planning to make her a proper princess. He relocates the family to the capital, forcing her to leave her friends behind. She finds herself in a mansion, replete with servants. She is also saddled with a governess who is tasked with taming her into a noblewoman. She struggles with the restraints of nobility, arguing that life should be full of laughter and struggle.

When the girl comes of age, she is granted the formal name of "Princess Kaguya" for the light and life that radiates from her. Miyatsuko holds a celebration in commemoration of her naming. At the celebration, Kaguya overhears partygoers ridiculing her father's attempts to turn a peasant girl into a noble through money. Kaguya flees the capital in despair and runs back to the mountains, seeking Sutemaru and her other friends, but discovers that they have all moved away. Kaguya passes out in the snow and awakens back at the party.

Kaguya grows in beauty, attracting scores of suitors. Five men of noble standing court her, comparing her to mythical treasures. Kaguya tells them she will only marry whoever can bring her the mythical treasure mentioned. Two suitors attempt to persuade her with counterfeits. The third abandons his conquest out of cowardice, and the fourth attempts to woo her with flattering lies. When one of the men is killed in his quest, Kaguya falls into depression. Eventually, the Emperor takes notice of her. Taken with her beauty, he makes advances toward her, revolting her. Kaguya then demonstrates the ability to disappear at will, surprising the Emperor. Understanding that he has been too forward, the Emperor takes his leave.

Kaguya reveals to her parents that she originally came from the Moon after it spoke to her. Once a resident of the Moon, she broke its laws, hoping to be exiled to Earth so that she could experience mortal life. When the Emperor made his advances, she silently begged the Moon to help her. Having heard her prayer, the Moon will reclaim her during the next full moon. Kaguya confesses her attachment to Earth and her reluctance to leave.

Miyatsuko swears to protect Kaguya and begins assembling defensive forces. Kaguya returns to her hometown in the mountains once more. She finds Sutemaru and tells him she would have been happiest with him; Sutemaru vows to protect her. The two run around the grass field and Kaguya demonstrates the ability to fly. However, she loses it when they fly by the Moon, and the two drop into the water. Sutemaru wakes up on the grass field, thinking it was a dream, while Kaguya is seen in a carriage going back to the palace.

On the night of the full moon, a procession of celestial beings led by the Buddha descends from the Moon, and Miyatsuko is unable to stop it. An attendant offers Kaguya a robe that will erase her memories of Earth. Kaguya begs the attendant to grant her a last moment with her parents.

The attendant assures her that upon returning to the Moon, she will be free of Earth's impurities. Kaguya rebuffs her, saying that Earth is full of wonder and life. The attendant then drapes the robe around Kaguya, and she appears to forget about her life on Earth. The procession ascends to the Moon, leaving Miyatsuko and his wife distraught. Kaguya looks back one last time, and tears run down her eyes as she recognizes the love from her parents. The film ends with an overlay of baby Kaguya over the moon, hinting the possibility of her memory remaining with her.

Voice cast[edit]

Character Japanese cast[8] English dub cast
Princess Kaguya Aki Asakura[ja] Chloë Grace Moretz
Caitlyn Leone (young)
Sutemaru Kengo Kora Darren Criss
The Bamboo Cutter Takeo Chii[a] James Caan
The Bamboo Cutter's Wife Nobuko Miyamoto Mary Steenburgen
Lady Sagami Atsuko Takahata Lucy Liu
Me no Warawa Tomoko Tabata Hynden Walch
Inbe no Akita Tatekawa Shinosuke George Segal
Prince Ishitsukuri Takaya Kamikawa James Marsden
Lord Minister of the Right Abe Hikaru Ijūin Oliver Platt
Great Counselor Otomo Ryudo Uzaki Daniel Dae Kim
The Mikado Nakamura Shichinosuke II Dean Cain
Prince Kuramochi Isao Hashizume Beau Bridges
Middle Counselor Isonokami Tamaki Kojo John Cho
  1. ^ Yuji Miyake recorded additional dialogue for the bamboo cutter following Takeo Chii's death.[9]


Studio Ghibli revealed that Isao Takahata was working on a feature-length film in 2008.[10] Takahata announced at the 62nd Locarno International Film Festival in 2009 that he intended to direct a film based on the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.[11] The release of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was finally confirmed by Studio Ghibli and distributor Toho on 13 December 2012.[12]


In 2012, Shinichiro Ikebe was announced to write the film's score. However, in 2013, Joe Hisaishi replaced Ikebe as the composer. This is the first and only time that Hisaishi has scored a film directed by Isao Takahata.[13] The theme song "When I Remember This Life" was performed by Kazumi Nikaidō.[14] The film's soundtrack was released on 20 November 2013.[15]

All tracks written by Joe Hisaishi.


The Tale of The Princess Kaguya was initially announced to be released simultaneously with The Wind Rises, another Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki in Japan in the summer of 2013,[16] 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.[16] 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.[17][18] On 12 March 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.[19] Chloë Grace Moretz is the voice of the title character in the English dub. It was released in select theatres in North America on 17 October 2014 and was also released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan on 3 December 2014.[20][21] The film was selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[22] Its North American premiere took place at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the festival's "Masters" program.[23]


Box office[edit]

The film debuted at first place during its opening weekend in Japan, grossing ¥284 million (US$2.8 million).[24] By 2 February 2014, the film had grossed ¥2,313,602,733 (US$22,613,153) at the Japanese box office.[25] Total gross of the film worldwide is $24,186,232.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes assigned the film a score of 100% "Certified Fresh" with an average rating of 8.3/10 based on 80 reviews. The critics' consensus says, "Boasting narrative depth, frank honesty, and exquisite visual beauty, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a modern animated treasure with timeless appeal."[26]

In February 2014, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya placed 4th in both Kinema Junpo's Best Ten and their Reader's Choice Awards.[27] 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."[28] Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times praised the artwork calling it "exquisitely drawn with both watercolor delicacy and a brisk sense of line."[29]


Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Results
2013 64th Blue Ribbon Award[30] Best Film Nominated
Best Director Isao Takahata Nominated
68th Mainichi Film Awards[31] Animation Film Award Won
2014 8th Asia Pacific Screen Award[32] Best Animated Feature Film Yoshiaki Nishimura Won
37th Japan Academy Prize[33] Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music Joe Hisaishi Nominated
Kinema Junpo Awards[34] Best Film Nominated
67th Cannes Film Festival[35] Art Cinema Award (Directors' Fortnight) Isao Takahata Nominated
Prix SACD (Directors' Fortnight) Isao Takahata Nominated
Fantastic Fest[36] Audience Award Won
62nd San Sebastián International Film Festival Audience Award Nominated
39th Toronto International Film Festival[23] People's Choice Award for Best Drama Feature Film Nominated
47th Sitges Film Festival[37] Best Animated Feature Nominated
36th Mill Valley Film Festival[38] Audience Award for Best Animated Film Won
18th Oslo Films from the South Festival[39] Best Feature Nominated
35th Boston Society of Film Critics Awards[40] Best Animated Film Isao Takahata Won
40th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards[41] Best Animated Film Isao Takahata Won
Chicago Film Critics Association[42] Best Animated Feature Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle[43] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association[44] Best Animated Feature Won
18th Online Film Critics Society Awards[45] Best Animated Film Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
2015 42nd Annual Annie Awards[46] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Isao Takahata Nominated
Music in a Feature Production Joe Hisaishi Nominated
87th Academy Awards[47] Best Animated Feature Film Isao Takahata, Yoshiaki Nishimura Nominated
2016 21st Empire Awards[48][49] Best Animated Film Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Credit" かぐや姫の物語 クレジット. Kaguya-hime Monogatari (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "PRINCESS KAGUYA (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Ma, Kevin (23 July 2014). "Pokemon defeats Ghibli at Japan box office". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "かぐや姫の物語(2013)". (in Japanese). Stingray. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Ghibli Lists Jobs for Isao Takahata's Summer 2013 Film". Anime News Network. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Fischer, Russ (21 November 2012). "Studio Ghibli Titles New Films From Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata; 'Grave of the Fireflies' Picked Up For US Re-Release". Slash film. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Character" かぐや姫の物語 登場人物. Kaguya-hime Monogatari (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "三宅裕司、亡き地井武男さんへ恩返し 「かぐや姫の物語」に代役出演していた : 映画ニュース" (in Japanese). 映画.com. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Ghibli's Takahata, Goro Miyazaki Developing New Works". Anime News Network. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Isao Takahata to Base Next Film on Taketori Monogatari". Anime News Network. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  12. ^ 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). 13 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Takahata, Ghibli's Kaguya-Hime Now Lists Composer Hisaishi". Anime News Network. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  14. ^ 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). 23 May 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "かぐや姫の物語 サウンドトラック". Oricon. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "Ghibli Announces Miyazaki's Kaze Tachinu, Takahata's Kaguya-hime no Monogatari". Anime News Network. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "高畑勲監督「かぐや姫」公開延期 「絵コンテ完成まだ」". Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). 5 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  18. ^ 高畑勲監督「かぐや姫の物語」公開が秋に延期! (in Japanese). Eiga. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  19. ^ Amidi, Amid (12 March 2014). "GKIDS Acquires Takahata's 'The Tale of The Princess Kaguya' for US Distribution". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  20. ^ Amidi, Amid (15 July 2014). "'Tale of The Princess Kaguya' Sets English-Language Voice Cast, October Release Date". Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "'The Tale of Princess Kaguya' Sets English-Language Voice Cast - /Film". Slashfilm. 
  22. ^ "Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2014 lineup unveiled". Screendaily. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "Isao Takahata's 'Princess Kaguya' to make North American premiere at Toronto film fest". The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  24. ^ Blair, Galvin (25 November 2013). "Studio Ghibli's 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya' Tops Japanese Box Office". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  25. ^ "Japanese Box Office, February 1-2". Anime News Network. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  27. ^ キネマ旬報2下旬決算特別号, pp. 80, 102.
  28. ^ "Studio Ghibli delivers a new masterpiece with The Tale Of Princess Kaguya". The A.V. Club. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  29. ^ Rapold, Nicolas (16 October 2014). "'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,' From Isao Takahata". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  30. ^ "Blue Ribbon Nominees 2013". IMDb. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  31. ^ Ma, Kevin (21 January 2014). "Great Passage, Pecoross top Mainichi Award". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "APSA Nominees 2014". IMDb. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  33. ^ "Wind Rises, Madoka, Lupin vs. Conan, Harlock, Kaguya Earn Japan Academy Prize Nods". Anime News Network. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  34. ^ "Kinema Junpo Nominees 2014". IMDb. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  35. ^ "Palmarès et nominations du Festival de Cannes". Allo Ciné (in French). Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  36. ^ "Isao Takahata's 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya' Takes Top Prize at Fantastic Fest". IndieWire. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  37. ^ "Anima't". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  38. ^ "Mill Valley Fest nominees 2014". IMDb. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  39. ^ "Oslo Film Festival nominees 2014". IMDb. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  40. ^ Davis, Clayton (7 December 2014). "Boston Society of Film Critics Winners – Boyhood Wins Big". Awards Circuit. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  41. ^ Davis, Clayton (7 December 2014). "Los Angeles Film Critics Association Winners – Boyhood Pulls a Sunday Sweep". Awards Circuit. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  42. ^ "And The Winners Are..." Chicago Film Critics Association. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  43. ^ "2014 San Francisco Film Critics Nominations". San Francisco Film Critics Circle. 14 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  44. ^ "And The Winners Are..." Toronto Film Critics Association. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  45. ^ "Online Film Critics Society Awards nominations". OFCS. 7 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  46. ^ "42nd Annual Nominees". Annie Award. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  47. ^ "The 87th Academy Awards: Winners & Nominees". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  48. ^ Nugent, John. "Jameson Empire Awards 2016: Star Wars and Mad Max lead the nominations". Empire. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  49. ^, Rebecca Lewis for. "Mad Max: Fury Road leads the pack at the 2016 Jameson Empire Awards". Metro. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 

External links[edit]