This anime movie by Isao Takahata is by far the most beautifully drawn of all the recent Studio Ghibli offerings. The ability to portray so many complex emotions with what appear to be simple brush strokes is quite miraculous. This traditional style matches the traditional folk tale of the Bamboo Cutter, and like all good folk tales this is more than something to divert the children. All the fundamental themes of human existence are here: love and loss, social constraint versus freedom, status, ambition, familial love and loyalty and rites of passage. In the process we learn much about the history which has formed the Japanese psyche - their social mores and conventions.
It seems an odd thing to say about an animated feature, but if this movie has one major fault it is that, at 137 minutes, it is far too long. Perhaps it is because of the sheer slog of producing every minute of action that Takahata has not been as ruthless with the scissors as he might have been. The children sitting near me were completely rapt from the first few frames, but were getting distinctly restless towards the end.