The Tale of Princess Kaguya. 2014. Japan. Directed by Isao Takahata. 137 min.
Isao Takahata, a Japanese master of animated film, deserves to be as widely recognized as his fellow Studio Ghibli cofounder, Hayao Miyazaki. His Tale of Princess Kayuga, based on a timeless, oft-told folk classic of the 10th century, is a striking departure from his unflinching tale of World War II devastation and survival, Grave of the Fireflies; his environmental allegory Pom Poko; or his popular domestic comedy My Neighbors the Yamadas. The diaphanous beauty of Princess Kayuga—a radiant moon nymph who achieves an uneasy aristocratic stature on earth—is instead achieved through Takahata’s delicate watercolor aesthetic, through scroll painting and period architecture, and through his graceful hand-drawn line. This is arguably the most extraordinary achievement in animated film this year. Courtesy of GKids.