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The Tale of Princess Kaguya Wows with Stunning Animation

Elizabeth Harper | 21 Sep 2014 10:00
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When Kaguya comes of age and suitors start arriving to ask for her hand in marriage, she sends them off with impossible tasks -- much to the disappointment of both her father and tutor. However, her refusal to marry only draws further attention, finally resulting in the emperor himself coming to court her.

As Kaguya tries to escape from this life, the story becomes more dream-like: she imagines herself fleeing from her new home and running back to the mountain on which she used to live only to wake up still in her room. She finds a childhood friend and they run and fly over the fields together, but then, again, she is back home. Sequences like this are presented as truth without fitting into a coherent narrative.

These dreamy sequences is in contrast to the film's otherwise grounded nature, which focuses on many of the simple aspects of Kaguya's life: sharing a melon with a friend, chasing a kitten, or spinning beneath falling cherry blossoms. Even though Kaguya is clearly something not of this world, the story is avoids leaning on magic until the final act... and because of this, the final act doesn't quite seem to fit with the rest.

Still, these scenes pack an emotional punch and offer insight into Kaguya's thoughts that we would have otherwise missed, so it's hard to begrudge their presence -- especially when they're so beautifully animated.

Bottom Line: Though the stylized animation won't be a hit with everyone, The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a gorgeous piece of animation that has as much emotional punch as anything Studio Ghibli has ever produced.

Recommendation: Ghibli fans should be on the lookout for the American theatrical release in October, because the animation is definitely worth watching on the big screen.

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