So march has been a pretty lucky month for me, I had the pleasure of winning tickets to the preview of Tale of Princess Kaguya on the 16th March at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square and then invited to another preview at 71a gallery but both held unique qualities to each showing.
AT the PCC I didn’t know what to expect I got an email whilst at LSCC and was enthralled to have won tickets to the double bill screening of princess Kaguya and Graveyard of the Fireflies, armed with my Totoro hat I went in high spirits. upon entering I was given a free drink and sushi box from Feng Sishi (one of my favourites!). I was then ushered in to the plush seats. We had a brief introduction from Studio Canal and then prizes were award to best Studio Ghibli Character, a fantastic Kamaji won and so did a pair of casual Princess Mononoke and Ashitaka. There was also prize for person who brought a special Studio Ghibli possession that to my surprise I won. Before I entered the screening room someone asked to taker a photo of me unknown to me it was a member of Studio Canal, they were impressed with my Totoro love as I brought my soot ball and matching bunny sprite from the movie.
The movie itself was amazing at the PCC it was shown in Japanese audio and English dubbing and I was mesmerized by the water colour style of animation. Studio Ghibli really went back to their roots with the animation.
The movie follows a Bamboo cutter and his discovery of a tiny princess in one of the bamboo branches. He brings the doll like princess home to his wife who believes she was sent to them to look after and bring up to be a princess. Upon touching her clothes disappear and she takes the form of a newborn baby.
The baby then miraculously begins to get bigger and bigger within minutes, the couple make haste to a wet nurse but all of a sudden the wife produces milk. It was extraordinary seeing how the baby was animated with great realism on the movement.
Enter curious children watching from afar and it seems news has spread of the weird child who grows very fast. They nickname her ‘Little Bamboo’ because of this though Miyatsuko (Bamboo cutter) carries on calling her Princess (Hime in Japanese.) As Hime grows older she picks up things quickly from learning to cook to weaving baskets. She even knows a forest song that has the other kids confused as she was so small at the time to know it. The sad faint song haunts her for the rest of the film.
Miyatsuko finds gold and fabric for fine robes in his bamboo grove and is convinced the forest spirits are telling him to bring her up as the fine princess she is meant to be. So he often travels to the city to build her mansion fit for her stature. When all is ready they prick up and leave just like that leaving poor Princess pining for Sutemaru the forest villiager’s handsome boy.
Her new life begins with ‘how to be a lady’ lessons from Lady Sagami who teaches her the koto, calligraphy and etiquette which princess does not take seriously at all but in front of her father she demonstrates perfectly. Upon becoming of age, they hold a banquet in her honour and do the naming ritual. When a pervy old guy checks her out and her etiquette and decides she is as slender as a supple bamboo shoot and radiant so her name should be Kaguya.
Apart from this fellow all the other nobles don’t see anything special inn Kaguya and reprimand her family and she feels helpless and escapes. back tot he forest, her home. But everyone is gone, the land is desolate and the mountain dead…a man explains after 10 years the mountain will regain it’s power and the foresters will return, Sutemaru will come back.
She awakes, was it all a dream? Her hand maid Me no Warawa is still asleep – she is my favourite character in the film. She has the face of a cat, poise of a lady barely speaks but has all the loyalty of the world for her princess. Also a great source of comedy when it comes to talking about the princess’s suitors, sadly she cannot alleviate Kaguya’s mental anguish.
Now she is named and prim and poper with her eyebrows removed and teeth blackened it’s time to get married ! This isn’t want Kaguya wants but her father believes will make her happy. Somehow good intentions are led astray and the forest song comes to haunt Kaguya many times after. She is faced with five of the wealthiest suitors trying to win her hand in marriage but love letters won’t cut it she sets them the task of bringing to her the famed items she has been compared to and this indeed shows their true colours.
One princes brings a fake jeweled branch which is exposed when the artisans arrive with their bill unpaid. Another with a fake fire rat fur again this is test by throwing in fire to see if it burns or glistens. The next a real philanderer comes without the item but tries to fool her with sentiment but one of his past wives turns up. The two more decent nobles actually go on search for the items, one leaves his wife and sets to sea for the jewel on the dragons neck but I presume dies at sea and the last and youngest falls whilst trying to secure a shell and breaks his neck. This films files by the tragedies like it’s nothing. Lady Sakami leaves in utter disgust, this is what all princesses want a rich suitor but Kaguya has turned away five of the ‘best’.
The hardest task is to come the Emperor has now got wind of Kaguya’s tasks and presumptuously assumes it is because she is saving her self for him. He comes at random to the mansion and forces herself upon her which is the last straw. She dissapears like magic and by doing so has alerted her true family. They are now coming to take her home back to the moon as the folklore states.
My heart went out to the mother who really did everything to make Kaguya at home from having a garden reminiscent of their old home and shack to do their weaving in away from snobbery. She fulfills her daughters last wish and returns her to their old home where she basks in the glory of nature and then sure enough Sutemaru appears, she had seen him in the city 3 years before stealing a hen and her interference causing her a severe beating but her heart ached for him so. He had moved on married had a child, but something inside him heard ‘Little Bamboo’ singing and they were together alone for for what felt like forever. Till the moon came out the moment ended and was it a dream once again?
On the 15th August they came, everyone was at the ready to protect the Princess but it was all in futile, when arrows were fired they turned into flowers and all were sent to sleep. She was taken but before she wore the robe that erased her memory she was able to say goodbye to the parents who loved her so dearly. Then Buddah descended to the moon with her and the procession
Basically Buddah was the villain in this story or was it men? Either way she did ‘end up ‘belonging’ to someone and I sat there feeling depressed. She grew up too fast and didn’t get to experience life fully and Buddah is a douche.
I ended up watching this again the next day at 71a who set up a great spread of sushi buffet for the attendees before doing an origami workshop with sesames.co.uk
where we learnt to make a pig, lotus flower, shirt and classic crane. After the great demos and laughs we watched the movie this time in English. I have to say I love the dubbs by Ghbli but this was a little lack lustre, not enough emotion apart from Chloë Grace Moretz as Kaguya and Lucy Liu as Lady Sagami. However you focused a little more on the art whilst listening. I know some friends who would enjoy it but hardcore anime fans stick to Japanese audio!
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