Sanuki, a bamboo cutter is doing his work in the forest and he comes across a shoot that is brightly glowing. He cuts it down, only to find a tiny girl inside of it that’s alive. Sank decides that she is incredibly special and raises her as his own child, refereeing to her as princess. The Princess grows at a fast rate, much like bamboo, and she makes quite the name for herself. Certain powerful men hear about her and try to obtain her like a treasure.
Isao Takahata is the writer and director of THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA. He is an incredible story teller and has weaved together some of the best anime films ever. A few weeks ago, I reviewed POM POKO on Blu-ray, another of his films from Studio Ghibli, but this one has a plot that’s easier to follow.
This film is phenomenal. Like I said, the story is easy to follow, but a lot of it is in the way that the story is told. I wish that I could convey how amazing this approach to animation can be. It looks like chalk or moving sketches that are then watercolored. It also reminds me of the still art that I was able to view while in Asia. There is a lot of beauty to be seen in the minimalist style of art from that region of the world.
Studio Ghibli has released some different-looking animation aside from the classic style of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO or SPIRITED AWAY, but nothing like this. There is a scene where the princess leaves the kingdom, running at top speed and bursting through doors, all the while the animation really makes you feel her desperation. The scene that I’m talking about can be seen at 1:14 in the trailer provided.
Chloë Grace Moretz as Princess Kaguya
Caitlyn Leone as Young Princess Kaguya
Darren Criss as Sutemaru
James Caan as The Bamboo Cutter
Mary Steenburgen as The Bamboo Cutter’s Wife, Narrator
Lucy Liu as Lady Sagami
Hynden Walch as Menowarawa
James Marsden as Prince Ishitsukuri
Beau Bridges as Prince Kuramochi
Dean Cain as The Mikado
Oliver Platt as Lord Minister of the Right Abe
Daniel Dae Kim as Great Couselor Otomo
George Segal as Inbe no Akita
John Cho as Middle Counselor Isonokami
Emily Bridges as Kita no Kata
Liam O’Brien as Ayabe no Uchimaro
The picture on this release is nothing short of phenomenal. It is arguably the best looking film out of Studio Ghibli with a 1080p AVC transfer. The details in the chalk/sketch lines in the animation maintains the technique that matches the feel of the film. When the animation has action, the images go from a smooth to a high frame rate motion. The bright white background makes the colors bold, but not too much. As I said, the colors resemble water colors so they look excellent in HD. The transfer is perfect and deserves the high score it is receiving.
The audio on the release is what is expected from Universal on their Blu-ray releases. It’s a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix with a very strong presence. First off, the sound effects are realistic and timed with precision. They’re also in the proper spot within the home theater sound field and sweep when they’re needed. The voices are clearly reproduced and separated from the effects that they share sound with. The highs are clean and the bass is deep, weaving a smooth mix that bring the film to life.
The extras on the release are pretty good and worth checking out, especially the Isao Takahata featurette.
-Isao Takahata and His Tale of the Princess Kaguya: This featurette is with the highly talented Isao Takahata on the separate bonus disc included with the release.
-Announcement of the Completion of the Film: This extra is more of a panel or press conference with the creators and actors from the film.
-Japanese Trailers and TV Spots
3-disc set including 1 BD and 2 DVDs
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French DTS 5.1
THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, let alone doing a review. The images are stunning and moving. That, combined with a splendid story and well done sound effects, made this film stand out. It’s a movie that both children and adults will enjoy, so be sure to add this one to your collection.