The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
|The Tale of the Princess Kaguya|
Japanese theatrical release poster
|Hepburn||Kaguya-hime no Monogatari|
|Directed by||Isao Takahata|
|Produced by||Yoshiaki Nishimura|
|Based on||The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter|
|Music by||Joe Hisaishi|
|Edited by||Toshihiko Kojima|
|Budget||¥5 billion (US$49.3 million)|
|Box office||¥2.5 billion (US$24.2 million)|
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. 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.
|Character||Japanese cast||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|
- Yuji Miyake recorded additional dialogue for the bamboo cutter following Takeo Chii's death.
Studio Ghibli revealed that Isao Takahata was working on a feature-length film in 2008. 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. The release of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was finally confirmed by Studio Ghibli and distributor Toho on 13 December 2012.
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. The theme song "When I Remember This Life" was performed by Kazumi Nikaidō. The film's soundtrack was released on 20 November 2013.
All tracks written by Joe Hisaishi.
|3.||"The Little Princess"||1:15|
|4.||"The Joy of Living"||1:01|
|14.||"The Garden of Life"||0:25|
|17.||"The Coming of Spring"||1:03|
|18.||"Melody of the Beautiful Koto"||0:34|
|20.||"Memories of the Village"||1:36|
|21.||"The Nobles' Wild Ride"||1:29|
|24.||"Mystery of the Moon"||0:48|
|27.||"The City of the Moon"||0:28|
|30.||"The Procession of Celestial Beings I"||2:28|
|32.||"The Procession of Celestial Beings II"||0:57|
|34.||"When I Remember This Life" (performed by Kazumi Nikaido)||5:42|
|37.||"Song of the Heavenly Maiden"||1:34|
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, 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. 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. 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. 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. The film was selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Its North American premiere took place at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the festival's "Masters" program.
The film debuted at first place during its opening weekend in Japan, grossing ¥284 million (US$2.8 million). By 2 February 2014, the film had grossed ¥2,313,602,733 (US$22,613,153) at the Japanese box office. Total gross of the film worldwide is $24,186,232.
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."
In February 2014, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya placed 4th in both Kinema Junpo's Best Ten and their Reader's Choice Awards. 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." Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times praised the artwork calling it "exquisitely drawn with both watercolor delicacy and a brisk sense of line."
- The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, a 2013 documentary about the making of the film.
- List of films directed by Isao Takahata
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- List of films with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregator website
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- Official website
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya on IMDb
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya at The Big Cartoon DataBase
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya at Box Office Mojo
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya at Metacritic