Going Down The List: Kaguya-hime no Monogatari


When I wrote about Grave of the Fireflies, I admitted that I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. I also forgot about it pretty quickly, which made it difficult to write about it. Well, I had the same issue with Kaguya-hime. If I have to be completely honest: As a movie, it bored me. I felt that it was way too long. Also, while in general it may be considered a good thing, I felt that the peaks and climaxes were too spread out. I think Fireflies did that part better, though that may just have been due to the nature of the story.

And because Kaguya-hime is very much a fantasy movie in terms of the individual plot elements(not just because of the fantastical nature of the eponymous princess), it didn’t have that real-world impact on me that Fireflies and The Wind Rises had. Worst of all, though, I don’t particularly like the actual story about Kaguya-hime. Though a classic, I just don’t find it interesting enough.

People who care about MAL ratings, however, may have noticed that I rated Kaguya-hime fairly highly, and there is a good reason for that. Kaguya-hime has something that Fireflies didn’t have(and I want to say none of Miyazaki’s films have it either): Its very own visual style. Whereas most other Ghibli films impress me with how good and consistent they look in motion versus still shots, the style of Kaguya-hime changes drastically with motion(especially in that one scene).

I’m going to go on a small tangent here, but bear with me. There’s a Youtube channel called Every Frame a Painting. In the context of the videos on the channel, the channel name refers to analysis of shot composition in general rather than of individual frames, but Kaguya-hime is a movie in regard to which “every frame a painting” is an almost literally true sentence. And I don’t just mean the fact that the art style makes the movie look literally like a series of paintings, it’s that the variation in styles between still scenes and scenes with motion manages to also capture the emotion behind every shot better than any other movie I’ve seen. There are many movies with memorable shots(outside of Studio Ghibli, Mamoru Oshii’s movies come to mind), but when it comes to the ability of the shots to say more than a thousand words, I think Kaguya-hime takes the cake. Sure, it could just be that I’m putting an unfair amount of weight on the visuals, but I really mean it when I say there’s something special about the art and animation in this movie.


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