Tuesday evening I attended a preview screening of Studio Ghibli’s new release The Tale of Princess Kaguya, held at 71a Gallery in Shoreditch (where I previously attended a Sin City 2 event) courtesy of Studio Canal and Little White Lies. Before I review the film I would like to say a big thanks to all those involved in hosting the screening, not only was it free but we were given complimentary Japanese beer and fresh sushi to tuck into to. As well as free Princess Kaguya stickers and postcards – super kawaii!
Before the screening, a lovely gent from Sesame ran an hour long origami workshop. Somehow I managed to make a pig inspired by Spirited Away and a lotus flower (which is now on Etsy for £2 – just kidding) which I think shows what a good teacher he is as usually I am rubbish at anything fiddly, so again a big thanks! Please see film review below.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya has taken Isao Takahata eight years to complete, based on the Japanese folk tale Takemori Monogatari (you may want to familiarise yourself with this before watching) which tells the story of a girl found in a bamboo trunk by a bamboo cutter. She is quickly Nicknamed ‘Little Bamboo’ by the local boys and ‘Princess’ by the bamboo cutter and his wife.
What will first strike you about the film is the artwork, all hand-drawn rather than produced using CGI, visually it remind me of a water colour painting, it has a very different vibe to previous Ghibli movies. Admittedly, this style took me a while to get used to, but it creates some beautiful scenes and embodies the period the film is set. In particular the striking scene where Princess Kaguya flees from her naming ceremony the colours and lines blurring, bouncing off the page, it is simply stunning.
As the film continues viewers will notice Princess Kaguya is often drawn differently to the other characters, she is far more detailed, whether this is to symbolise her difference and beauty amongst the country bumpkins and greedy nobleman, I am unsure.
The plot itself follows Little Bamboo from rags to riches as despite her happiness in the countryside, the bamboo cutter is adamant she must live the Princess lifestyle he believes she is destined, his ideals are reinforced when he finds gold in the bamboo she appeared from. The bamboo cutter forces her to relocate to the capital and train with Lady Saguri (Lucy Lui) to learn the style and mannerisms of a Princess. Accepted in society, our protagonist soon faces wealthy suitors which she sets impossible tasks in order to avoid their hand in marriage.
Although visually stunning, the plot is a mixed tale and does have some flow issues, not only with speed but explanations to events. For instance, the focus is on Princess being connected to nature, even having random growth spurts like bamboo shoots. Her love of nature made apparent throughout and persistent singing of trees and bugs. Then quicker than you can say Moon Prism Power, she suddenly remembers that she is fact a Moon Princess.
Sadly I was disappointed with the ending, it felt out of place and I wish it had stopped after Kaguya’s final encounter with Sutemaru. This is still an intriguing and beautiful film, so recommend watching it.
Top scene: Princess Kaguya fleeing into the night during her naming ceremony
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is available in cinemas from 20 March 2015. P.S. Film 4 Studio Ghibli Season kicks off 28 March!