Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Artwork of The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The film seems to be set in the Heian period of Japan. A quick glance at the emaki (scrolls with artwork on them) show the fashion and interior design of the period which is clearly transcribed in the film. The animators did not, however, put the main action off in the corner and split the scene diagonally with a birds-eye view over walls, as typical of of these illustrations.
 The governess in particular looked like she stepped right out of The Tale of Genji Scrolls, from her clothing, face shape, long black hair, and the shape of her skull when her head is bent.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The Tale of Genji

In one scene, Princess painted some animals that are reminiscent of the whimsical black and white animals of Choju Jinbutu Giga scrolls.

Then we've got this lovely brush work which is also reminiscent of traditional styles:
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The end of the film depicted a raigo of Amida Buddha and in particular it reminded me of one picture called Raigo of Amida and Twenty-Five Attendants. This picture depicts the cloud at an angle coming down to a house, just like some shots in the movie. Little beings fly on ahead, like the little "fairies" in the film, although the ones in the picture aren't wearing pink skirts. A raigo is a descent of Amida Buddha to receive people after they die.
The Raigo of Amida and Twenty-Five Attendants

Click here to view close-ups of the raigo painting: Kyoto National Museum: Raigo of Amida

This film released by Studio Ghibli in 2013 is a melancholy film and not a fun family film. The film does contain the nudity of small children and breasts of nursing mothers.

Facts are from the wikipedia, my memory from The Arts of Japan class I took at university, and also History of Japanese Art, by Penelope Mason.