The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Japanese: かぐや姫の物語 Hepburn: Kaguya-hime no Monogatari) is a 2013 Japanese animated fantasy drama film produced by Studio Ghibli and directed and co-written by Isao Takahata, based on the folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. It is Takahata's fifth film for Studio Ghibli, and his first since My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999). It was also his last film before he died in 2018. It was released on November 23, 2013.
A bamboo cutter named Sanuki no Miyatsuko discovers a miniature girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot. Believing her to be a divine presence, Miyatsuko and his wife decide to raise her as their own, calling her "Princess". The girl grows rapidly and conspicuously, marveling her parents and earning her the nickname "Takenoko" (Little Bamboo) from the other children in the village. Sutemaru, the oldest among Kaguya's friends, develops a particularly close relationship with her.
Miyatsuko comes upon gold and fine cloth in the bamboo grove in the same way he found his daughter. He takes these as proof of her divine royalty and begins planning to make her a proper princess. He soon relocates the family to the capital, forcing her to leave her friends behind. She finds herself in a mansion, replete with servants and fine clothes. She is also saddled with a governess who is tasked with taming her into a proper noblewoman. She struggles with the restraints of nobility, arguing that life should be full of laughter and struggle.
When the girl comes of age, she is granted the formal name of "Princess Kaguya" for the light and life that radiates from her. Miyatsuko holds a celebration in commemoration of Kaguya's naming. At the celebration, Kaguya overhears party-goers ridiculing her father's attempts to turn a peasant girl into a noble through money. Kaguya flees the capital in despair and runs back to the mountains, seeking Sutemaru and her other friends, but discovers that they have all moved away. Kaguya passes out in the snow and awakens back at the party.
Kaguya grows in beauty, attracting scores of would-be suitors. Five men of noble standing court her, comparing her to mythical treasures. Not wanting to marry any of them, Kaguya tells them she will only marry whoever can bring her the mythical treasure mentioned. Two suitors unsuccessfully attempt to persuade her with counterfeits. The third abandons his conquest out of cowardice, and the fourth attempts to woo her with flattering lies and a promise of life in the countryside. When one of the men is killed in his quest, Kaguya falls into depression. Eventually, the Emperor himself takes notice of her. Taken with her beauty, he makes advances toward her, revolting her. Kaguya then demonstrates the ability to disappear at will, surprising the Emperor. Understanding that he has been too forward, the Emperor takes his leave, determined to still make Kaguya his.
Kaguya reveals to her parents that she originally came from the Moon. When the Emperor made his advances, she silently begged the Moon to help her and learned the truth: Once a resident of the Moon, she broke its laws, hoping to be exiled to Earth so that she could experience mortal life. Now having heard her prayer, the Moon will reclaim her during the next full Moon. Kaguya confesses her attachment to Earth and her reluctance to leave.
Miyatsuko swears to protect Kaguya and begins assembling defensive forces. Kaguya returns to her hometown in the mountains once more. She finds Sutemaru and tells him she would have been happiest with him; Sutemaru vows to protect her, and they fly through the air together. When the Moon shines upon Kaguya, she begs Sutemaru to hold her tightly. Despite Sutemaru's best efforts, Kaguya is torn from his grasp out of the sky. He awakens alone in a field and, convinced that it had been a dream, returns to his wife and child.
On the night of the Full Moon, a procession of celestial beings descends from the Moon, and Miyatsuko cannot stop it. An attendant offers Kaguya a robe that will erase her memories of Earth. Kaguya begs the attendant to grant her a last moment with her parents.
The attendant assures her that upon returning to the Moon, she will be free of Earth's impurities. Kaguya rebuffs her, saying that Earth is full of wonder and life. The attendant then drapes the robe around Kaguya, and she appears to forget about her life on Earth. The procession ascends to the Moon, leaving Miyatsuko and his wife distraught, as Kaguya looks back one last time with tears in her eyes.
|Character||Japanese cast||English dub cast|
|Princess Kaguya||Aki Asakura||Chloë Grace Moretz|
Caitlyn Leone (young)
|Sutemaru||Kengo Kora||Darren Criss|
|The Bamboo Cutter||Takeo Chii||James Caan|
|The Bamboo Cutter's Wife||Nobuko Miyamoto||Mary Steenburgen|
|Lady Sagami||Atsuko Takahata||Lucy Liu|
|Menowarawa||Tomoko Tabata||Hynden Walch|
|Inbe no Akita||Tatekawa Shinosuke||George Segal|
|Prince Ishitsukuri||Takaya Kamikawa||James Marsden|
|Lord Minister of the Right Abe||Hikaru Ijūin||Oliver Platt|
|Great Counselor Otomo||Ryudo Uzaki||Daniel Dae Kim|
|The Mikado||Nakamura Shichinosuke II||Dean Cain|
|Prince Kuramochi||Isao Hashizume||Beau Bridges|
|Middle Counselor Isonokami||Tamaki Kojo||John Cho|