Princess Kaguya is beautiful, and that presents a problem: our protagonist has her life planned, wrapped and presented to everyone else, her restless energy and passion gradually receding into the darker pastels of a gilded cage.
Such onscreen beauty means that, against its fair share of ponderous sequences, once Kaguya’s accelerated childhood comes to an abrupt end, the rest can pale.
The watercolour/charcoal visuals and gorgeous musical ambience are thankfully ever-present, but where their sparsity needs no further embellishment, perhaps the story – an adaptation of a 10th-century folktale – could have done with more.
An assured (potential) farewell from Studio Ghibli’s co-founder will no doubt draw legions of fans, but The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is occasionally guilty of resting on its beauty in a way its protagonist never does.
CAST: Chloë Grace Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Lucy Liu (English version, watched for review)
DIRECTOR: Isao Takahata
WRITERS: Isao Takahata & Riko Sakaguchi (original screenplay), Mike Jones (English translation)
SYNOPSIS: After a bamboo cutter finds a tiny girl in the woods, his life changes forever as he and his wife seek to fulfill what they deem heavenly wishes to raise the girl as a princess.