“Oh my. It’s beautiful!”
I recently read somewhere that the world of 2D animation was dying: Princess Kaguya proves that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In my screening of Studio Ghibli’s latest offering, I was surrounded by parents and children, and all were equally engrossed. Nobody gave the picture less than their full attention (for the majority), with only the occasional rustling of popcorn breaking the audience’s silence. The visual experience before us only needed two dimensions to entertain.
As one may well assume, Princess Kaguya is a visual experience like only Ghibli can produce. The pencil drawn animations are stunning against the gorgeous water-colour backdrops. Every scene is a new delight, with some set-pieces being among the most striking of all of Ghibli.
However, its story doesn’t fulfill the film’s potential. Princess Kaguya is classic Ghibli: a rich, vibrant and human story-line laced with elements of the extraordinary. Yet, the picture is a little slow and overlong in telling the story. The story is handled with delicate hands and while one does not expect significant action from Ghibli, Princess Kaguya still feels under-fulfilled. It is only when the film picks up its pace or incorporates its trademark oddness that the film becomes anything more than a ‘nice’ experience.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is no children’s film. Though the screening was dominated by children, all of whom enjoyed it thoroughly, Princess Kaguya has a somewhat sinister turn. Some of the children also lost interest toward the tail-end of the picture, which is understandable for a picture lasting well over two hours, making it Studio Ghibli’s longest ever film.
Despite its timing and pacing flaws, I really enjoyed The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Its story is moving, without drawing any physical emotion, and is generally a joy to watch. The uniquely-beautiful aesthetic of the picture ensured that it was a very worthwhile experience.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya reaches for the heavens, but falls just short of the moon.