Just in time for the holidays—they’re coming up, all right? Give me a break—a new, longer trailer for the upcoming Ghibli movie The Tale of Princess Kaguya (輝夜姬物語) finally hit YouTube. To be completely honest, I think I’m more excited for this to get subtitled than The Wind Rises.
Yes, yes, I have respect for Miyazaki’s last work, but there’s just something special about the movies directed by Takahata–a difference that you may have picked up on if you’ve been keeping up with our Ghibli reviews. What it boils down to is that while Miyazaki goes after the fantastical settings and epic-quality plots, Takahata explores the more low-key aspects of life. Even Pom Poko, which was admittedly not realistic in the slightest, explores a general issue from a more narrowed lens. There are no countries at war, no devastation plaguing the earth. Instead there’s an issue or a story that affects a small portion of the world—a town, or even a family—which can be related to on a wider scale. In this way the two Ghibli directors complement each other perfectly, and will continue to complement each other until the very end: The Wind Rises deals with cross-continental relationships, both personal and professional, during World War II, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya deals with how a singular, momentary event changes the life of one family forever in ancient Japan.
As I said in my Ghibli preview post, there’s not much unknown about the plot of this newest Takahata film: we know it’s a re-telling of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. This newest trailer has done nothing to disprove that; we see a summary of the story, even. The elderly bamboo cutter finds Kaguya, he and his wife raise her, and her suitors come. It is pretty much pictorially the fable word for word. I’m not expecting a new take on it, and I think I’m fine with that. Takahata’s work always is focused on a certain aspect of what it means to be Japanese, whether his films are looking back on a past that helped shape them into the people they are today, or how some aspects should be looked at from a different perspective. If he were to take one of the pinnacle pieces of Japanese mythos and alter it, it would feel like he was going against his own directorial ethos and the film would feel much less genuine due to that.
However, what has me the most excited is the art style. Have you seen it? The answer to this should, of course, be yes. If not, scroll back up and watch the trailer because seriously, the film is gorgeous. It seems to be a mix of traditional Japanese ink wash painting (sumi-e) and the light, fluid animation from one of Takahata’s earlier films, My Neighbors the Yamadas. Not only is this visually interesting to look at, it also is thematically appropriate and contributes to the whole fable aspect of the movie. It’s as though someone is painting the picture right before our eyes, which in a way I guess they are.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya will be released to Japanese audiences on the twenty-third of this month. I hope that the reviews for it are positive because after all the effort put into it, I would hate to see it fall short. And if it’s popular, then I’m sure it’ll get subbed faster. Until then, I shall sit here consumed with anticipation and envy.