Deep in the countryside, a man named Okina works as a bamboo cutter in a forest, chopping away at the hollow plants day after day. One day, he discovers a small baby inside a glowing shoot. He immediately takes her home, convinced that she is a princess sent to Earth as a divine blessing from heaven. Okina and his wife Ouna take it upon themselves to raise the infant as their own, watching over her as she quickly grows into an energetic young girl. Given the name Kaguya, she fits right in with the village she has come to call home, going on adventures with the other children and enjoying what youth has to offer.
But when Okina finds a large fortune of gold and treasure in the forest, Kaguya's life is completely changed. Believing this to be yet another gift from heaven, he takes it upon himself to turn his daughter into a real princess using the wealth he has just obtained, relocating the family to a mansion in the capital. As she leaves her friends behind to enter into an unwanted life of royalty, Kaguya's origins and purpose slowly come to light.
Synopsis of Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya)
Released in 2013, Kaguya-hime no Monogatari or The Tale of The Princess Kaguya is an anime masterpiece by Isao Takahata, co-founder of the iconic Studio Ghibli. The film is based on a 10th-century Japanese folktale, “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. This 138-minute feature takes you through an emotionally riveting journey, capturing the nuances of love, life, and human desire.
The story takes off when a bamboo cutter discovers a miniature baby girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot. Believing her to be a divine presence, he and his wife decide to raise her as their own. As the baby girl grows up as Kaguya, she transforms into an exceptionally beautiful woman attracting attention from various suitors. As the narrative unfolds, Kaguya struggles to fit into societal norms against her yearning for freedom and her humble origins.
In-depth Review of Kaguya-hime no Monogatari
Artwork and Animation
One of the striking features of Kaguya-hime no Monogatari is its unique, hand-drawn art style that sets the film apart from the contemporary CGI anime world. Studio Ghibli’s artistic finesse shines through each frame, capturing the beauty of its rural setting and the rich emotions of its characters, evoking almost a nostalgic connection to the viewers.
In-depth character development is another key feature of this anime, which humanizes these legendary characters by affording them depth and complexity. Kaguya’s character is initially portrayed as carefree, sometimes arrogant, and challenges her preordained destiny, and the transformation she goes through is intense and poignant.
Plot and Themes
The plot may seem simple and slow-paced, but it subtly explores big themes such as the tenets of happiness, societal expectations, and the costs of freedom, inciting introspection among viewers. The story’s tragic elegance makes for a more matured viewing experience.
Score and Soundtrack
The music in this film is carefully constructed to accompany the narrative. Composer Joe Hisaishi delivers a strong, almost melancholic soundtrack that perfectly underscores the sombre reflections and deep emotions carried by Kaguya and her story.
The Bottom Line
After taking all aspects into consideration, Kaguya-hime no Monogatari is a must-watch. It perfectly embodies the spirit of Studio Ghibli, presenting viewers a compelling story with a strong emotional payoff. Whether you plan to rent, buy, or stream this film, there is certain charm in its subtlety that is sure to captivate your senses. With its deep narrative, beautifully drawn visuals, and masterful storytelling, it’s a movie well worth your time that might even leave you reflecting long after its end credits roll. Be ready to embark on this mesmerizing journey of ups and downs and harsh realities with Princess Kaguya, a journey you definitely don’t want to miss!
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