'Princess Kaguya' from Studio Ghibli

Animation is second Studio Ghibli pic of the year; Miyazaki still scribbling

TOKYO — “The Story of Princess Kaguya,” Anime maestro Isao Takahata’s first feature in 14 years, topped the Japanese B.O. on its opening Nov. 23-24 weekend.

Bowing on 456 screens, “Princess Kaguya” earned $2.8 million on 222,822 admissions. Based an ancient Japanese folktale about a princess from the moon who comes to earth, the pic attracted everyone from oldsters to kids with their parents. Studio Ghibli and its production partners spent nearly eight years and $50 million making what may well be the 78-year-old Takahata’s last film.

Originally scheduled to bow on July 20 together with “The Wind Rises,” a WW2-themed animation by another Ghibli master, Hayao Miyazaki, “Princess Kaguya” had its release pushed back by production delays.

The pic may not hit the B.O. heights of “The Wind Rises,” which has earned nearly $120 million while being tipped for an animation Oscar nod, but it may well finish as the year’s number two Japanese BO hit.

The last time pics by Takahata and Miyazaki bowed the same year was 1988, when the former’s “Graveyard of the Fireflies” and the latter’s “My Neighbor Totoro” were on the same double bill. Surprisingly, given Ghilbi’s total domination of the domestic B.O. in subsequent years, neither finished in the year’s top ten.

Takahata has not said he would follow Miyazaki into retirement. Instead, at a promo event for “Princess Kaguya” on Nov. 7 he hinted that Miyazaki’s retirement announcement on Sept. 6 may not be permanent.

In a Nov. 18 broadcast of the NHK docu series “Professional,” Miyazaki revealed that he is working on a new comic set in Japan’s Warring States Period (1467-1567) though details about publication have yet to be announced. 

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