The most recent film from Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, The Tale Of Princess Kaguya was released to UK audiences in two versions, both in its original language of Japanese with subtitles, and an American dubbed version starring the voices of Chloë Grace Moretz as Princess Kaguya and James Caan as her bamboo cutting father.

The Tale Of Princess Kaguya Review

Nominated for an Oscar in the category of ‘Best Animated Feature’ at this February’s Academy Awards, the story follows that of a beautiful nymph-like princess found in the bamboo tree of a Japanese mountainside forest, where the film’s bamboo cutter works. Upon finding this tiny treasure, the bamboo cutter takes her home to his wife where, once in the arms of her new mother, magically develops into a real baby girl. Through the unconditional love of her new adoptive parents, the princess soon begins to develop at a remarkable rate.

The princess’s time spent living freely in the Japanese mountains is a happy one where she finds joy and harmony playing amongst the nature with her new friends. However, as the princess continues to grow out of childhood, her father soon begins to receive wealthy presents from his bamboo grove. This newfound fortune means great change for the princess and the story takes a slightly more serious, yet still enjoyable, tone when it begins to engage with the traditional life of a young Japanese woman, her family dynamics, and the tasks she faces in order to conform to her new prosperous society.

The Tale Of Princess Kaguya Review

With its fantastical yet educational depiction of a traditional Japanese culture, this film, in true Studio Ghibli style, creates a delightfully aesthetic narrative that incorporates a vast amount of wonderfully strange allegories, which although may be slightly lost on a Western audience, including myself, are personally still immensely entertaining to try and decipher. However, this magical and mythological film is nevertheless still very appealing and relatable.

Finally, although most UK audiences might be more familiar with the cartoon animations of Studio Ghibli, such as the internationally acclaimed Spirited Away (2001) and My Neighbour Totoro (1988), the Princess Kaguya animations take a more sketch-work composition yet nevertheless are still an instantly recognisable piece of art from this Japanese production house, that will leave you in awe of the highly respectable work of Studio Ghibli’s animators.