Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) and From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から) at Row House Cinema from tomorrow through December 18.

Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will present the GKIDS Animation Festival from December 12 through 18, including two animated films from Japan and Studio Ghibli: 2013's The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) in its Pittsburgh debut and 2011's From Up On Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から). The movies will be shown in Japanese with English subtitles.

A.V. Club provides a summary of The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語):
A humble bamboo cutter named Okina (translation: “old man”) happens upon a glowing stalk in the grove near his house. When he investigates, the shimmering tree blossoms reveal a baby nested inside. Believing this discovery to be a gift from the heavens, Okina brings her home to his wife Ouna (“old woman”), with whom he begins to raise the child as their own. Dubbing her “Princess” Kaguya, Ouna and Okina marvel at how rapidly the girl begins to grow, racing from infancy to pre-adolescence in a matter of days.

While Kaguya busies herself with a normal childhood, making friends with the local kids and bonding with an older boy named Sutemaru, her adopted father becomes distracted by Kaguya’s value to him—the bamboo shoot from which she was born begins producing gold. As Kaguya transforms into a teenager, Okina relocates their family to the capital city, where the girl receives lessons on how to be a proper woman, and is celebrated as a rare beauty. When five aggressive suitors come calling—followed by the emperor himself—Kaguya begins to feel trapped, things falling apart as she imagines a different life for herself.
It goes on to say the film has "some of the most beautifully expressive animation that Ghibli (or anyone else) has ever produced".

Wikipedia provides a brief summary of the latter:
Set in 1963 Yokohama, Japan, the film tells the story of Umi Matsuzaki, a high school girl living in a boarding house, Coquelicot Manor. When Umi meets Shun Kazama, a member of the school's newspaper club, they decide to clean up the school's clubhouse, Quartier Latin. However, Tokumaru, the chairman of the local high school and a businessman, intends to demolish the building for redevelopment and Umi and Shun, along with Shirō Mizunuma, must persuade him to reconsider.
And the Pittsburgh City-Paper adds, in a review of the film when it was last here in 2013:
The film's small story is set against a larger cultural one, as Japan transitions from the sorrows and hardships of the last generation's wars to being a modern world power. Nearly every scene contains visual cues that show Japan's mish-mash of old and new, while the story illustrates this new generation, caught between the nostalgic pull of the past and the responsibility of leading this new Japan.
Showtimes are available at the theater's website. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).