By: Staff Writer Andrew Chen
Studio Ghibli’s new film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, spread to theaters across North America, starting October 18 after a grand opening in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Based on Japan’s most famous folktale, Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), the film features a unique art style that embodies a watercolor sketchbook that comes to life.
In the film, an old bamboo cutter finds an exquisite baby girl inside a shining stalk of bamboo. Subsequently, each stalk he cuts yields gold inside, and the bamboo cutter takes it upon himself to raise the girl as a princess, since surely the gods have sent him a message. The girl, Kaguya, grows abnormally quickly and enchants all who meet her, making it clear that she is not an earthly being. As she matures, she becomes uncommonly beautiful, bringing many suitors. But the tale is not one of love and marriage; instead, an abrupt plot twist brings Kaguya to face her fate, the punishment for her crime.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is Studio Ghibli’s first film after the retirement of animation legend and principal director Hayao Miyazaki. Co-founder Isao Takahata, who had the film idea on his mind for over 50 years, directed The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which marks Takahata’s first directorial release in 14 years. However, make no mistake in downplaying the film – it won the Animation Film Award at the 68th Mainichi Film Awards.
Shown only in a handful of theaters, the film is shown in two versions, one with an English dub and one with English subtitles and Japanese voiceovers. On October 24, The Tale of Princess Kaguya can be seen at the AMC Metreon and Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco and the Century 25 Union City Theatres in Union City.