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The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Blu-ray)
Blu-ray/DVD Reviews

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Blu-ray)

Studio Ghibli’s latest captures both the magic of hand drawn animation and Japanese folklore.

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Anyone who has read my reviews on here knows that I’m a huge animation buff. So when one of the greatest animation studios in the world, Studio Ghibli, releases something, I’m usually all over it. One of their latest films is The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which may be a little on the slow side, but those who stick with it will experience a magical tale they won’t soon forget.

Running at a little over two hours, director Isao Takahata brings us a Japanese story based off ‘The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter‘ from the 10th century that follows a middle aged husband that is a bamboo cutter, and his wife who both live in the mountains. While cutting some bamboo one day, the man discovers a tiny, glowing being in a bamboo shoot that he takes back home to his wife. Soon it begins to change and grow into a baby girl they name Kaguya, and the husband and wife decide the girl must be a princess sent from the heavens and take it upon themselves to treat her as such. This means showering her with expensive clothes, gold and more, while also hiring people to train her in the ways of a proper princess, though Kaguya would rather sing, laugh and play outside.

As she grows older and adjusts to her new life, it isn’t long before five of the richest and most influential men from all over the land decide to take her hand in marriage. She decides to test them and see if they really care about her or just want her as a trophy. She does this by sending all of them on near impossible tasks while her true love is with a young man she’s known since they were children. The movie juggles all of these things at a slow pace that may push away some who watch, but things do pick up as it heads to a stunning and magical conclusion.

I enjoyed watching the movie, as the hand drawn animation brings a special kind of charm in showing Kaguya growing up and coming into her own, along with the characters being acted out very well from both the original Japanese actors and the English dub ones. Speaking of which, Chloe Moretz, Dean Cain, James Caan, Lucy Liu, and Mary Steenburgen are among some of this great cast that had me watching this dubbed even though I usually prefer subtitles with the original Japanese audio. Enhancing this experience is watching this in high-definition, which really brings out the beauty of the animation as well as the details to color. Of course this also makes sure the stunning audio comes in nice and clear as well.

There’s a couple of extras after the film, which start off with “Isao Takahata and his Tale of The Princess Kaguya” that has the director/writer Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) and some of the cast and crew talking about the movie, and “Announcement of the Completion of the Film” that features the Japanese cast and crew talking with the press about their work on the film.

It’s a bit on the long and slow side, but those who stick with The Tale of Princess Kaguya will find themselves enjoying a wildly bizarre, magical and fun story that is enhanced by it’s beautiful animation and wonderful cast. If you’re looking for something different to watch for either yourself or the whole family, this animated treat should fit the bill nicely.

About the Author: Chris Mitchell