If Studio Ghibli is getting out of the feature animation game, it’s going out with a bang. The beloved animation studio completed work on The Tale of Princess Kaguya and released it in Japanese theaters last year, and this fall, it’s coming statewide via distributors GKIDS – it looks like nothing else from the house that Miyazaki built.
The deviation from the signature look is because this film isn’t from the kind of, sort of, mostly retired Miyazaki – instead, it’s from animator Isao Takahata. If Miyazaki was the studio’s unfettered fantasy-maker, Takahata was the “grounded” one, responsible for the wrenching WWII drama Grave of the Fireflies in 1987 (one of the great films about the impact of war on children and basically two-hour, concentrated depressant).
Adapted from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter – a piece of Japanese folklore and a proto-science fiction story – Princess Kaguya (or Kaguya-hime no Monogatari) tells the story of Okina, a bamboo cutter who discovers the titular princess growing inside of a bamboo shoot. While Okina hopes to raise Kaguya as a princess and wed her to a wealthy noble, the supernatural girl – who discovers she has a host of strange abilities – doesn’t want any part of it, and falls into despair as she’s forced to turn away suitor after suitor.
Stripped of the bright palette of the typical Ghibli film, and employing an inky, hand-drawn style, this one looks entirely unlike anything out of the studio over the last 20 years.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is out in theaters October 17.