Film Review: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

The revered Studio Ghibli delivers another gorgeous film that entrances with pathos, and masterful animation techniques that effortlessly meander into each other.

The Low Down:

A bamboo cutter happens across a baby girl being born from a bamboo root, and decides to take her in as his own.

Running Time: 2:17 Minutes
Director:  Isao Takahata
Trailer   (Mild Spoilers)


Studio Ghibli are masters of animation. With international and Academy acclaim, their films have blurred the line between animation and art for decades. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) is no exception. If we consider Kaguya solely on its aesthetics, it’s pretty wonderful. A die-hard Ghibli fan will immediately notice the difference in animation style, but this is not to say that the style is wanting. It shifts with the mood of the film, from fantastical, impressionistic, to clean, and frantic. All of the shifts serve as a means to seduce the watcher, and weave them into a story that is at-once heartbreaking, hopeful, and relieving.

Gushing aside. The film does suffer from a lack of plot. For a two hour film, the plot anchors itself into the final third quite early on, but this doesn’t take away from the immersion created by the story itself. Its so easy to care and invest in the titular character. She’s magical and mystical. Lil Bamboo encapsulates everything that society deifies, and this is where the timelessness of this film is found. In the animation, sure. But the message of Kaguya is one that is starkly critical of the way we treat and define something we admire. Ghibli have created one of their best films in their filmography, and while some may have thought that the future of this studio was in jeopardy, I can see nothing but blue skies.


  1. I really loved this film. It reminded me of the Yamadas in terms of Ghibli looking for a visual style suitable for the story. Great stuff. Have you posted about this on any movie sites?

    1. I agree! There’s something awesome about a Studio with such an established style trying to find something new for the purpose of narrative. I haven’t posted about this on any other sites, no. Thanks a lot for the follow.

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