How the Tale of the Princess Kaguya reflects Humanities’ sins explained

Princess Kaguya


The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) is a Japanese animated film directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli. It is based on a very well-known 10th-century Japanese folktale “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. The film also has a unique and distinctive art style which is inspired by traditional Japanese sumi-e watercolor paintings. The backgrounds are hand-painted, overall, giving the film a dreamlike quality. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is one of the top 5 anime based on Japanese mythology.

Main Plotline

Image Courtesy of Studio Ghibli

In the story, Kaguya is a princess from the Moon who is sent to Earth as a punishment for a crime she committed. She is raised by a bamboo cutter and his wife and soon grows into a beautiful young woman. Her beauty attracts many suitors but she is reluctant to marry. Five noblemen attempt to court her, comparing her to mythical treasures. Kaguya tells them she will only marry whoever can bring her the mythical treasure mentioned. 

However, she never truly belongs on Earth and is constantly reminded of her true home and her eventual departure.

Princess Kaguya Story’s Portrayal of Human Sins

The tale of Princess Kaguya reveals some of humanity’s darker sides, delving into the concepts of excessive desires, such as greed and lust. Kaguya is punished for a crime she committed, even though she is not truly evil.

She is also victimised by the greed and lust of others, she becomes the object of desire for her suitors. The Emperor of Japan, in particular, is willing to do anything to win Kaguya’s hand in marriage, even if it means using force. Unfortunately, none of them valued her for her inner beauty and personality; their interest was only in her physical beauty and possessions.

How the characters reflect humanity’s sins

In the story, the suitors are driven by greed and lust, only attracted by Princess Kaguya’s physical beauty and her possessions. They do not love her for who she is. We also see deception used as a common tool by Kaguya’s suitors, two of them even attempt to pass off counterfeits as the real treasure, hoping to win her over.

The Emperor of Japan stands out as the most ruthless in his pursuit of Kaguya. He is willing to use violence to make her his own, ultimately, dispatching soldiers to attack the village of the bamboo cutter.

Emperor and Kaguya | Image Courtesy of Studio Ghibli

What further darkens this narrative is the betrayal of Kaguya’s adoptive parents. They betray her trust by revealing her whereabouts to the Emperor of Japan, making the way for his assault on the bamboo cutter’s village.

However, it is important to note that the characters in “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” are more than just symbols of humanity’s sins. They are also complex and well-developed characters with their own motivations and desires. For instance, the Emperor of Japan is a complex figure, he is driven by his ambition and his desire for power, but he is also deeply lonely and insecure.


The Celestial Beings and Kaguya | Image Courtesy of Studio Ghibli

In the end, the time comes for Kaguya to return to the moon, leaving behind her loved ones on Earth. An attendant offers Kaguya the robe that will wipe away her memories of Earth. She embraces her family one last time before the robe embraces her.

They leave, and the bamboo cutter and his wife are left with sorrow. As Kaguya gazes back at Earth, tears brimming her eyes. This is a sad ending but it is also a reminder that nothing lasts forever. It tells us to cherish the times we have with our loved ones and make the most of every moment. It is also a story about the negative consequences of greed, lust and violence.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a beautiful and moving story that has resonated with audiences for centuries. It is a story that teaches us important lessons about life, love, and loss.

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