The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Let’s be real here The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is perfect oscar bait. How so you may ask? Well the different categories have their own unique types bait. Animation though really doesn’t so much as critics liked it and it was it animated.  However The Tale of the Princess Kaguya tips into the foreign film bait as it was produced by Japanese animated powerhouse, Studio Ghibli in 2013.

First off it’s cultural story, the academy eats that shit up, it has a sad ending, oh they love that, tears replenish their electrolytes and it’s done in an interesting animation style. Now I’m being little insulting as I think the Academy Awards are pompous and self-congratulatory, just because something is nominated or wins it doesn’t make it good. So is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya a good movie? OMG, yes, it’s wondrous.

I watched this in Japanese with English subtitles. It was directed by Isao Takahata.

Kaguya with a caged bird The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image

Kaguya with a caged bird

The story of is based on a classical Japanese folk story called The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter from the 10th century, a.k.a The Heien period. I read it once ages ago but let’s just focus on the movie and not its merits as an adaptation.

One day a Bamboo cutter sees a glowing stalk of bamboo, when he goes to investigate it he sees a tiny girl. He thinks she is a Divine Princess and takes her home. He shows her to his wife and the girl transforms into baby. The girl grows up very quickly and she makes friends with the local boys and enjoys her rural life.

The Bamboo cutter finds gold and fine clothing and thinks that the heaven means for the girl to grow up in the capital as a proper princess. So the Bamboo cutter takes the girl and his wife away from their mountain home to the capital where the girl is groomed to be a proper Heien lady, which is contrary to her free-spited personality but she complies. When she comes of age she is given the name of Kaguya for the light she seems to radiate.

Rumors then circulate about Kaguya’s beauty and five suitors ask for her hand in marriage. They all liken her to legendary treasure. Having to interest in marriage Kaguya asks each of them to bring her the treasure. Two try and fake the treasure, one abandons the quest, one tries to woo her with lies and one dies. Having caused misery to them Kaguya goes in to a state of depression. The Empeors then tries to pursues Kaguya and asks her to be his and against her father’s wishes Kaguya refuses. The Emperor then visits and embraces her and she vanishes. ZShe reappears and the Empeor withdraws but still wished Kaguya to be his. But the die has been cast because when the Empeor embrace her Kaguya wished in her heart for the moon to take her away and that wished is too be answered.

Kaguya tells her parents that she is really from the moon. While on the moon she has committed a crime by wishing to go to Earth and having a mortal life after a Celestial lady had experience it. She then tells them that on the 15th the Moon Host will come for her because she has wished for it but she doesn’t want to leave.

Kaguya and her servant then go back to her hometown where she runs into one her friends, Sutemaru, with whom her had a strong bond. She tells him that she would have been happiest with him. He tells her that he will protect her and that they should run away. They fly into the sky but Kaguya is torn from him and he awakens in the feild and thinks it was a dream and returns to his wife and child while Kaguya return to the capital.

Her family tries to protect her but the Moon host comes for her and once a moon robe in placed on her she will forget everything of her life. Kaguya and her parents beg for a moment but the robe is put on her as she hugs her parents.

As Kaguya arrives on the moon she looks back at the Earth with tears in her eyes.

Kaguya as a baby and her parents The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image

Kaguya as a baby and her parents

This story is a universal story about the exception of parents and the happiness of children. Parents do their best but they always want their children to do better than them though sometimes that doesn’t bring the child happiness. It’s an ageless story that speaks to vast audience.

Kaguya is the bamboo grove The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image

Kaguya is the bamboo grove


If I had one complaint with the movie is towards the middle it gets a little boring. Japanese film have a history of being stylistically slow which can add to the mood but it is an acquired taste. I would say that the pacing is good though as weird as that might be to say that it slow but the pacing is good. Otherwise it a lovely movie and my crummy write up doesn’t do it justice.

Kaguya and Sutemaru The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image

Kaguya and Sutemaru

The characters are fairly simple but they have complexities. Kaguya’s father is well meaning but does place high expectations on Kaguya. The mother is a little more of the salt of the Earth and understands Kaguya’s longing for the rural life more. Kaguya’s governess, Lady Sagami, is strict but well-meaning. Kaguya’s main love interest, Sutemaru is not that interesting as a character but you do root for them. I really loved Kaguya’s servant, Menowarawa, she is adorable.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image


Kaguya is the most established character. It’s a coming of age tale so we see her grown-up from an active girl to a bright graceful lady. Though even when she is a proper lady she doesn’t lose that natural spark she has throughout the beginning of the movie. That being said this type of character is nothing new, it’s been done a billion times but Kaguya is likable so she doesn’t feel like a rehashed character.

Kaguya running away  The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image

Kaguya running away

The main selling point of this movie is its animation. It has muted tone which I very often sight has a negative but here it’s not. The animation has a very story-book like quality to it, almost like a scroll from the Heien period. Two scenes that really stick out to me is Kaguya running from her naming party where the animation takes on this sumi-e, brush stroke energy and the second is where Kaguya and Sutemaru fly. That scene was gorgeous. I don’t think the animation willl be to everyone’s liking but I appreciate it style, elegances and mood.

Menowarawa The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image


The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a very poetic movie that has all the right elements to be considered a masterwork. I think this might be one the best film from Studio Ghibli and that is saying a lot.

Princess Mononoke picture image

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke it was made by Studio Ghibli. It was released in Japan on July 12th, 1997 and was the highest grossing movie till Titanic. It was released in the United States on October 29th, 1999 by our old friends at Miramax. It didn’t do well at the American box-office but did well on DVD. Princess Mononoke pretty much introduced the west to Studio Ghibli.

Princess Mononoke has made my life slightly annoying as one of my favorite anime is called Mononoke and has nothing to do with with Princess Mononoke. Mononoke literally means Strange things. Mononoke can be used instead of the word youkai, which means ghosts or supernatural things like monsters and spirits. You can also get the OVA it was based off of, Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales, Vol. 3 – Goblin Cat, it’s so awesome.

Anyway, I watched this in Japanese with subtitles.

San and Ashitaka Princess Mononoke picture image

San and Ashitaka

Princess Mononoke follows Ashitaka, an Emishi Prince who travels west to the Forest of the Deer God to cure his curse that he got from a boar god who was corrupted by hate. The curse will eventually kill Ashitaka but does make him stronger, like he can take off people’s heads with single arrow.

Once he reaches the Forest he sees that there is the conflict between the Gods of the Forests and the people of the Ironworks, who are cutting down the tree in the Forest and the Mountain. On the side the god is San, the adoptive human daughter of the wolf God, Moro. San is Princess Mononoke.

On the ironwork side is Lady Eboshi, who employs women who once worked as prostitutes and leapers to work her guns.

Thing come to a head (pardon the pun) when a group of mercenarys try to take the Deer God’s head which supposedly grants immortality as the Deer-God is life itself.

Ashitaka rising of his Curse Princess Mononoke picture image

Ashitaka rising of his Curse

Much like Fergully, Princess Mononoke is an environmental movie about man vs nature. Unlike Ferngully, Princess Mononoke’s character are all shades of gray. Lady Eboshi is painted as the antagonist but she cares for women and leapers. The Gods are just as susceptible to anger and rage which when it consume them unleashes corruption which is what cursed Ashitaka in the first place and can kill people. Ashitaka is painted as the good guy but he sees both sides but he leans more on the God’s side than than with the humans. Ashitaka is also interesting in that his neutrality is that he is an outsider.

Ashitaka and Yakul  Princess Mononoke picture image

Ashitaka and Yakul

Princess Mononoke is a very sophisticated movie that is steeped in Japanese Culture, so much so that I can’t possible put in all in here. But it gives the environmental message a lot more weight than a made up mythos. The film never really explains thing like the political environment is bog down exposition but you get a sense of the turmoil. It also doesn’t really explain what the Gods are but you understand them on a basic level. This just lets the view be immersed in the world of the story. I had heard that the English version explains stuff and has more exposition.

San Princess Mononoke picture image


We discussed some of the major characters but let’s talk about San, our Princess. She is very different than every other Princess. She is was raise by wolves so she is unrefined and tough but by no means unkind. She really wants to kill Eboshi as she destroying her Forest and she will risk her life for to achieve that goal. She is the flip side of Eboshi. Where Eboshi is cool and tactical, San is wild and implosive.

San is a very adept fight as she is both vert fast and strong. She has no interest in human and she openly rejects it. She does like Ashitaka enough but no enough to go off with him at end.

The Deer God Princess Mononoke picture image

The Deer God Footstep

As is standard with Miyazaki’s movies, the animation is gorgeous. I really enjoy the animation on the Deer-God especially with his footsteps. The music is also lovely and during the slower point the film is very calming.

Lady Eboshi with the Deer God's Head Princess Mononoke picture image

Lady Eboshi with the Deer God’s Head

I would say the only issue I have with Princess Mononoke is the ending felt rushed and bit contrived. It’s like the need additional conflict in the narration since the Gods and Human were at a stalemate so that is why we have the Deer-God head and the mercenaries. Apparently the storyboard for the ending were only finished a few months before the film’s premiere, so it makes sense.

Kodama Princesss Mononoke picture image


Princess Mononoke is really a stunning movie with great visuals and great characters. The ending is a little forced but you are so caught up in the world that you don’t really notice. The Tree Spirits or the Kodama are so awesome with their clicking head!

Castle in the Sky picture image

Castle in the Sky

Of all the Studio Ghibli movies without a doubt, Castle in the Sky is my favorite. It was made in 1986.

Like with Nausicaa, I watched this in Japanese with subtitles.

Pazu seeing Sheeta floating down from the sky Castle in the Sky picture image

Pazu seeing Sheeta floating down from the sky

Castle in Sky tells the story of a girl named Sheeta who is being pursued by the army who is working with an ambitious government agent and Air-Pirates. They are all after her because her amulet which can lead them to a magical floating island, called Laputa, that hold not only great treasure by great power.

Sheeta meets and is aided by Pazu, a boy roughly Sheeta’s age who works for miners. Pazu also wants to find Laputa as his father saw it but was called a liar.

It is also reveled that Sheeta and the govenment agent, Muska, are descended from the Laputa’s royal family. Sheeta and Pazu have to stop Muska before he uses Laputa to take over the world.

Dola's Pirates with their booty Castle in the Sky picture image

Dola’s Pirates with their booty

This movie pretty much has something for every one; you have action, adventure, mysterious, humor, romance, pirates, airships, robots, yaks, you know everything you could ever want in a movie. It’s perfect!

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa Castle in the Sky picture image

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa

When it comes down it, very subjectively, I like the dynamic of the two main characters’ relationship, you know, the princess and the poor boy love story. Aladdin has it as well as my favorite video game, Final Fantasy IX, which also features a mysterious crystal that people are after, not lying Castle in Sky reminds me a lot of Final Fantasy IX which is one of the reasons I love it as much as I do.

And just for the record, I didn’t like The Notebook, which also has this type of romance. But even if you are not a fan of that type of romance, the movie just has a lot of great characters.

Dola, the leader of the Air-pirates Castle in the Sky picture image

Dola, the leader of the Air-pirates

Pazu is an honest, hardworking hero who is very genuine and resourceful. He is very devoted to Sheeta. The Pirates are a lot fun. Dola is awesome. Our villain, Muska is calm and elegant till he goes all power mad derstorying things because he just wants to take over the world as he think it’s befits his birthright. Clear motivations for the win.

Muska and Sheeta Castle in the Sky picture image

Muska and Sheeta

Though I will admit he is a be of a creeper toward Sheeta. It’s sort of implied that he means to use her to carry on the Laputa royal family. The pirates are also little infatuated with her too but more innocently. Still, she’s like 12.

Sheeta Castle in the Sky picture image


Speaking of Sheeta, our Princess in this semi-non-Disney Princess movie. Sheeta is sweet for the most part but she does knock out Muska out before she says anything, so she is active. She is also smart and resourceful.

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa Castle in the Sky picture image

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa

Even if you don’t like great characters in your movies, though I don’t why you wouldn’t, the animation is stunning. The flying scenes are great. And the glowing rocks in the cave were breathing-taking. And the scenes when Pazu and Sheeta first arrive on Laputa are too pretty.

The music is also lovely, I love the ending song. It’s wonderful!

Pazu and Sheeta escape from the pirates on a train Castle in the Sky picture image

Pazu and Sheeta escape from the pirates on a train

Castle in the Sky is a classic adventure tale with a lot great characters, charm and beautiful animation. I really do love this movie but it’s harder to gush about a movie than it is ripping it a new one. Then again, it’s way easier and a lot more fun to a watch good movies, I could get used to reviewing good movies! What’s the next movie I have to review?

Felix the Cat  picture image

Felix the Cat


Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Just for the record, any film that falls under the Studio Ghibli banner is released and dubbed by Dinsey but I do not consider them “Disney movies” and Nausicaa is certainly not your typical princess movie. I watched this in Japanese with subtitles.

Nausicaa using an insect charm Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Nausicaa using an insect charm

The movie tells the story of a Nausciaa, the Princess of the Valley of the Wind, a peaceful place that exists in the shadow of the Toxic Jungle, also called the Sea of Decay or Sea of Corruption. The Sea of Decay is lethal to humans but Nausicaa enjoy wandering inside with a mask on. She even loves the bugs that dwell and protect it.

Nausicaa and her people get mixed up in a confrontation when a Tolmekian airship crashes in the Valley, caring both the hostage Princess of Pejite and an ancient biological weapon. The Princess dies but she asks Nausicaa to burn the weapon which doesn’t burn. After that Tolmekia comes with their Princess Kushana. Kushana plans to use the biological weapon called a Giant Warrior to burn the Sea of Decay. She also plans to take over the valley and Nausicaa’s bed-ridden father is murdered which causes Nausicaa to go into a murderous rage.

As Nausicaa claims down, she submits to Kushana as she doesn’t want anymore deaths. Kushana makes Nausicaa and 5 hostages to go with her back Tolmekia. However as they are on route, they are attacked and Nausicaa, Kushana and the hostages crash land into the Sea of Decay and on an Ohmu nest. Ohmu are very large bugs that protect the Sea of Decay and attack when they are enraged. They do not attack Nausicaa instead they communicate with her via their gold tentacles that the one who attacked them is in danger. So she goes to help. She saves the him but they fall into quicksand.

Nausicaa wakes up under the Sea of Decay and meets Asbel of Pejite, brother of the princess who died in the crash. They learn that the Sea of Decay is actually purifying the polluted Earth. The two manage to make it out of the underground on Nausicaa glider and go to Pejite, which has been abandoned.

An airship that is carrying the survivors of Pejite comes down and Nausicaa learns that the Valley is in great danger as the Pejite plans to use the Ohmu to destroy the Tolmekians and the Valley will be  destroyed in the process. Nausicaa tries to get away but she is capture. Asbel’s mother has a girl switch places with Nausicaa so she can escape.

Nausicaa learns that Pejite are using a captured baby Ohmu to incite the large incets’ rage. Nausicaa stops the pilots and gets her dress stained in the blood of the little Ohmu as it tries to reach its kind across an acid lake.

As the Ohmu advance on the Tolmekia, Kushana uses the Gaint Warrior to attack but it not mature enough and rots away.

Nausicaa the faces the Ohmu herd with the baby Ohmu. But they are so blind by rage that she stains fatal injurgies. Her sacrifice sooth them. The Ohmu use their golden tentacles to give heal Nausicaa. As she stands on the golden tentacles in her deep blue dress that was dyed by the Ohmu’s blood she fulfills a prophesy. After that the Tolmekians and the Ohmu leave and the People of the Valley and Pejite rebuild. The film ends with a small tree growing under underground, showing the healing of the world.

Nausicaa not wearing a mask in the Sea of Decay Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Nausicaa not wearing a mask in the Sea of Decay

The first time I saw this movie it was after  I read the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Graphic novels. Now I loved the graphic novels, they are so rich and complex. Compared to the graphic novels, the movie version is simple. For instance, The Giant Warriors are a much bigger plot point and Kushana is way more fleshed out. But comics can do that and a single movie really can’t. So I will not discuss the movie against the comic but if you do like the movie but haven’t read graphic novel, I highly recommend them. They’re so good!


Old Giant Warrior Ruin   Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Old Giant Warrior Ruin

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a solid movie. It has a lot of great action moments, some beautiful shots and some lovely animation. One of its strenghts is the world building, you really come to understand this world however all the world building with the war, Prophesies, The Sea Decay, Bugs and an ancient doomsday weapons comes at a count.

Like I said, The Giant Warrior is established but didn’t really amount to much in the end aside from some neat animation and a looming threat. And because of  the focus on the world,  the only character that really gets developed is Nausicaa.

Nausicaa in the Sea of Decay Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Nausicaa in the Sea of Decay

As far as princesses, go Nausicaa is very different. Nausicaa is a pacifist, warrior, naturalist princess. She shows empathy for all things and is a take charge sort but she is never demanding or pushy. She is active and has agency.  She is unconcerned about love or her appearance. She is however concerned with her people and the Earth. This makes her very refreshing and an all-around interesting character.

Princess Kushana Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Princess Kushana

Nausicaa’s counterpart, Kushana is much like her but her methods are different. Kushana and Nausicaa are two sides the same coin. Kushana grew up in a milarty state so she is cold, hard and more demanding. However, like Nausicaa she cares for her people and thinks she is justified in her actions. She also doesn’t care about love or her appearance. She is also refreshing and had she is interesting even if her role is really just the antagonist.

Nausicaa on the golden field Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Nausicaa on the golden field a.k.a Ohmu tentacles

Another aspect that is refreshing is the prophesy. Tons of movies have prophesies and chosen ones. This movie establishes that the Valley has this prophesy of one clad in blue descending from a golden field. It never points to anyone but of course Nausicaa fulfills it but it not a big deal to her it just is allowed to happen and it’s allowed to be a beautiful moment.

Nausicaa encounters  an Ohmu Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Nausicaa encounters an Ohmu

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind adheres too much to one character and the world  which makes for an unsteady movie narrative. Is it a bad movie? No, not at all, it’s defiantly a solid, entertaining and lovely movie. Plus, the sitar sound when you see the Ohmu is so cool.