War of the Words: The Oscar for Best Animated Feature goes to…

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Princess Kaguya the next ‘Spirited Away’

By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist

It has been 12 years since Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. It was Studio Ghibli’s biggest success and is still the highest grossing film in Japan. It amazed a lot of people with its animation and it inspired many to make films that are similar. Recently, one of the founders of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, announced that he will retire after he made his last film The Wind Rises—which makes Studio Ghibli’s recent film The Tale of Princess Kaguya, nominated in the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film this year, one to see.

The film is made by the lesser known founder of Studio Ghibli, Isao Takahata, which is his first film in 14 years. It might be the last film that is made by Studio Ghibli that will be nominated by the Academy. Studio Ghibli’s next films will be made by Goro Miyazaki and Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who might be the next Miyazaki and Takahata respectively.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is based on the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Takahata referenced it in his previous film My Neighbors the Yamadas. The film talks about a girl who does not want to be a princess. So she goes through various obstacles to get back to the countryside.

The story involves a bamboo cutter named Okina (James Caan) who finds a little—literally little—princess in a bamboo tree. Okina and his wife, Ona (Mary Steenburgen) name her Princess (Chloë Grace Moretz). They raise her in a country lifestyle and she grows bigger every day. Next, Okina decides that Princess should go to the capital to be a princess. There she’s named, Kaguya. But she believes that her lifestyle is fake in the capital.

The film is presented in the same style as My Neighbors the Yamadas. The watercolour images are used in a way that does not look like a cartoon. It has a lot of colours, showing the beauty of the Japanese countryside.

There are various aspects of the film that reference Takahata’s earlier works and Spirited Away. Lucy Liu’s narration in the film is like someone reading a children’s book.

However, the ending of the film was sudden and disappointing. While all of the films that are nominated this year have great animation in them, some of them have disadvantages.

The reason why The Tale of Princess Kaguya should win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film this year is because of the beautiful watercolour images and the great story.