A few nights ago I watched The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, an animated film from the incredible minds at Studio Ghibli. While it was quite a sad story, it was also just simply beautiful, and really made an impression on me. Most people have at least heard of Spirited Away, and My Neighbour Totoro is another worldwide favourite, but some of these other titles are often overlooked and underrated, and I find that saddening.
This film, based on Japanese folklore, tells the story of a young princess born from a bamboo stalk. She is found and raised by a couple of bamboo cutters, and befriends the local boys. However, she is soon whisked away to be a noble princess – a title she does not wish to hold. She hates her new life and just wants to be free and back living with her friends again, but instead she has to suffer through the countless eligible bachelors vying for her attention, hoping to make her their ultimate prized possession.
It brings to light a lot of important lessons about life and happiness. Everyone in the story assumes that entering into this life will make Princess Kaguya the happiest in the world, when in reality she longs for the simplicity of the old days, to find her way back to her best friend in the village. Money doesn’t necessarily mean happiness, and that sentiment is demonstrated beautifully here. To add to the charm, the actual art style and animation is stunningly simplistic and yet stunningly gorgeous at the same time – a true treasure of an animated picture.
It’s safe to say I enjoyed the film, and it made me feel things, which I see as an important aspect of storytelling. There are tons of Anime films out there from all sorts of producers and directors, but there’s just something about this particular studio that has me under its spell. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is just one of a whole list of Ghibli films that have touched me. From Up On Poppy Hill completely changed my life, and Laputa: Castle in the Sky was the perfect example of true friendship. The Cat Returns brings us fantastical comedy, and Whisper of the Heart takes us on a journey of self-discovery and dream-chasing.
And sometimes, it’s just nice to put your real life behind you and escape into another kind of reality.