Thursday, February 2, 2023

Review: The Tale of Princess Kaguya: Picture Book, by Isao Takahata


The Tale of Princess Kaguya: Picture Book, by Isao Takahata, published 2022 by VIZ Media.

A lovely picture-book adaptation of the 2013 Studio Ghibli film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, this volume brings the movie to the palm of your hand and allows you to experience or share this moving and complex story in a simplified version appropriate for young children.

Princess Kaguya is a being who comes to Earth from the Moon to experience the joys and sorrows of human life. She is raised by a bamboo cutter and his wife; the bamboo cutter has his own ideas about what her life will be like and she struggles to make sense of it all.

It features beautiful artwork from the film and enough story to get by on;  I actually couldn't think of much that the book left out from the 2-hour-plus movie and yet I was able to easily finish the book in one sitting. 

The story comes from a 10th century Japanese story called The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. I like how Takahata's retelling places the emphasis on the princess and touches on contemporary themes like a woman's place in society and the cost of social stratification alongside the traditional touches.  It's all very low key compared to the movie and the sexual themes are also downplayed in picture book version somewhat.

This would make a lovely gift for a child or for yourself if you are a fan of the movie. You should play the soundtrack in the background as you read for something like a fuller experience.

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