The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Critics Consensus

Boasting narrative depth, frank honesty, and exquisite visual beauty, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a modern animated treasure with timeless appeal.



Reviews Counted: 86

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Average Rating: 4.3/5

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Movie Info

Legendary Studio Ghibli cofounder Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko) revisits Japan's most famous folktale in this gorgeous, hand-drawn masterwork, decades in the making. Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter (James Caan) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen), a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady (Chloë Grace Moretz). The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her - but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime. From the studio that brought you Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and The Wind Rises comes a powerful and sweeping epic that redefines the limits of animated storytelling and marks a triumphant highpoint within an extraordinary career in filmmaking for director Isao Takahata. (C) GKIDS


Chloë Grace Moretz
as Princess Kaguya
Mary Steenburgen
as The Bamboo Cutter's Wife/Narrator (English Version)
James Caan
as The Bamboo Cutter (English Version)
James Marsden
as Prince Ishitsukuri
George Segal
as Inbe No Akita
Beau Bridges
as Kuramochi
Aki Asakura (II)
as Princess Kaguya (Japanese Version)
Emily Bridges
as Kitanokata
Caitlyn Leone
as Princess Kaguya - Young (English Version)
Darren Criss
as Sutemaru (English Version)
Daniel Dae Kim
as Great Counselor Otomo
Lucy Liu
as Lady Sagami
Kengo Kora
as Sutemaru (Japanese Version)
Dean Cain
as Mikado (English Version)
John Cho
as Middle Counselor Isonokami
Shichinosuke Nakamura
as Mikado (Japanese Version)
Oliver Platt
as Lord Minister of the Right Abe
Hynden Walch
as Menowarawa (English Version)
Michael Leone
as Villager
Brian Leone
as Villager
Tomoko Tabata
as Menowarawa (Japanese Version)
Takaya Kamikawa
as Ishitsukuri no Miko (Japanese Version)
Tatekawa Shinosuke
as Inbe no Akita (Japanese Version)
Yukiji Asaoka
as Kitanokata (Japanese Version)
Ryudo Uzaki
as Great Counselor Otomo (Japanese Version)
Atsuko Takahata
as Lady Sagami (Japanese Version)
Hikaru Ijûin
as Abe no Udaijn (Japanese Version)
Nobuko Miyamoto
as Ouna (Japanese Version)
Takeo Chii
as Okina (Japanese version)
Tatsuya Nakadai
as Sumiyaki no Roujin (Japanese version)
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Critic Reviews for The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

All Critics (86) | Top Critics (27)

  • Lush, hand-painted images offer plentiful consolation, but its beauty forms a gilded cage: until the undeniably moving final movements, it just feels several shades too constrained to fully honour its heroine's restless, questing spirit.

    Mar 19, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Mike McCahill

    Top Critic
  • Plays out as a wistful, slow-burning romance, underscored with a streak of social satire and animated in exquisitely subtle pastels and watercolours.

    Mar 17, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • It's the beautiful and breathtaking animation that gives The Tale of the Princess Kaguya a luster that is both simple and sophisticated.

    Dec 4, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • One can only hope Ghibli maintains a creative standard as high as his.

    Dec 4, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • What makes "Princess Kaguya" stick in emotional terms? Its depiction of an extraordinary girl, learning for herself that a life without real joy and spontaneity is only a shadow of a life.

    Dec 4, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • This delicate, hand-drawn marvel is lyrical and heartbreaking in ways that most live-action movies never approach.

    Nov 24, 2014 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Tale of the Princess Kaguya


The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is an absolute stunning piece of art. Let's just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this film is, it is without a doubt a work of art. Every paint stroke, every detail and every frame by frame animation is perfection. I've never seen such exquisite visionary qualities in a film before. Every frame is colourful, bright and absolutely delightful to admire. Not to mention several scenes have multiple layers of animation embedded within them, masterful. I'm awe of how amazing the animation was, I really am. Trust it to be Studio Ghibli, they really are masters of the animation genre. This film is a re-telling of the famous Japanese folk tale "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" where said bamboo cutter comes across a glowing stalk which is revealed to contain a princess. They raise her as she grows rapidly and, with the help of a divine presence, believe she should be living in the lifestyle of nobility. There is so much to analyse, so much to take in that I just don't have enough words to detail every theme that is explored. The story is one of happiness. The contrasting lifestyles of rural village people to rich noblemen. But is anyone actually truly happy? Princess Kaguya wishes to live back in the mountains whereas her old friends are jealous of her new luxurious residence. Within this personal conflict is the never ending battle of seeking true happiness which conclusively she does not find (much like everyone else in life). The bamboo cutter gave the princess a life in his own image, a life that he wished he desired all along. While he may have been happy, his daughter was not. He was blinded by the materialistic aspirations that he yearned for. The representation of the traditional Japanese culture was wonderful and really captured the authenticity of the folk tale. I do have to warn you though, don't let the cutesy animation fool you. I do not recommend this for children. It's a long runtime, there are heavy themes and I don't think they will fully appreciate it.

Luke Andrews
Luke Andrews

Super Reviewer

"The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" is a lovely story about a found princess that grows quickly, deals with life's hardships, downfalls, and the realistically drawn imagery really makes you buy into this story. Well-written, brilliantly-animated (as always by Studio Ghibli), it is definitely worth it's Academy Awards recognition. It may not be the best film to come from this studio, but ever since the mastermind of the studio passed, it will be a challenge to live up to. I really enjoyed watching this film, and by the end I was actually tearing up, because the maturity level of the characters and symbolism that was being shown, really stood out. "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" is the definition of an achievement in my opinion and deserves to be seen by many around the world. This is a very original film, however, it is a tad overlong and slowly paced out, making for a less pleasant experience. It felt like it was trying to take it's beautiful story and stretch it to become a Blockbuster film, which felt very out of left field for the studio. In the end, this is a really good film.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

That the title of the original folktale places its importance on the bamboo cutter is symptomatic of those ungrateful times for women like our tragic heroine, and this is a gorgeous-looking, sad story whose only flaw is a frustrating suggestion that its most beautiful scene could be a dream.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The chronicle is a legend full of fanciful flourishes that myths are known to have. Princess Kaguya is a mysterious protagonist compete with a secret back-story like the heroine of any good yarn. However she isn't a particularly warm person. When her childhood friend Sutemaru is beaten in front of her, she does nothing to help him. She gives would-be suitors false hope by demanding they fetch items to court her favor. The kicker is she has no interest in any of these men to begin with, so she requests items that are impossible to get. One even dies in the process. At least Kaguya gets depressed about it. At first she seems to praise the simple value of her previous country life over her more exalted existence in the big city, but then the celestial ending kind of throws that idea out the window. Fairy tales always have a moral and I'm sure this one is no exception. I just have no idea what that is given the bizarre finale. I still enjoyed The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. It's different and that's saying something in today's cookie cutter world.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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