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Staff & contributors

Based on a classic Japanese folktale, Isao Takahata’s last film will break your heart. This adaptation, of course, follows Princess Kaguya from her being discovered in a glowing bamboo stalk to her departure to the moon. However, while faithful to the original tale, Takahata’s direction turns this historical fantasy into a heart-wrenching coming-of-age film as ethereal as the titular character. The film doesn’t focus on the crazy pursuit of her suitors; instead, we’re drawn to the simple experiences Kaguya herself is drawn to and wants more of, as she tries to balance her life with the societal expectations places on women. All of which is rendered through the film's lush watercolored scenes of the blowing wind or the opening of plum blossoms.

Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy

Actor: Aki Asakura, Atsuko Takahata, Hikaru Ijūin, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Isao Hashizume, Kengo Kora, Mirai Uchida, Nobuko Miyamoto, Ryudo Uzaki, Shichinosuke Nakamura, Shinosuke Tatekawa, Takaya Kamikawa, Takeo Chii, Tatsuya Nakadai, Tomoko Tabata, Yuji Miyake, Yukiji Asaoka

Director: Isao Takahata

Rating: PG

Remember Bing Bong from Inside Out? This time, there’s a whole world of imaginary friends that don't fade into the recesses of a child’s mind– instead, they transfer to another place, ready to take on the imaginations of children around the world. That’s the basic premise of The Imaginary. Of course, Studio Ponoc’s third film has been at least partially inspired by Studio Ghibli, with some of its staff having their start there, and with the film’s dreamlike portals and strange cats, but the film takes a more straightforward approach to its story and analogies. As Rudger fights against Mr. Bunting, the film examines, well, imagination, but in all its forms– fodder for corporations to feed on, propaganda to calm the masses, but also as the innately human response to grief, as a mature solution to life’s troubles. The Imaginary may not be a stand-out, but we can’t help but applaud Studio Ponoc’s sincerity in celebrating human creativity.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Drama, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Akira Terao, Atsuko Takahata, Hana Sugisaki, Ikue Otani, Issey Ogata, Kokoro Hirasawa, Kokoro Terada, Mitsuaki Kanuka, Riisa Naka, Rio Suzuki, Sakura Andô, Takayuki Yamada

Director: Yoshiyuki Momose

Rating: PG