by Chris MaGee
When Studio Ghibli superstar Hayao Miyazaki makes noises about directing a new animated film the internet rumour mill immediately goes into overdrive, but Miyazaki's longtime Ghibli associate Isao Takahata... well he's another matter entirely. Takahata is the man who brought us such contemporary classics as "Grave of the Fireflies" and "Pom Poko" (okay, it may not be a classic, but it's a favorite of mine), but the 73-year-old animator hasn't made a film since 1999's "My Neighbours the Yamadas". That's a decade ago, folks!
So we've established that Takahata isn't prolific, but in the past year rumours started floating around online that Ghibli's elder statesman was working on a new project. One rumour stuck around longer than others, that the film would be based around Japanese lullabies, but now the folks at Ghibli World finally have word on what subject matter Takahata will be tackling for his return to feature film animation.
Shortly after receiving an honourary Leopard Award at this year's Locarno Film Festival it was revealed that Takahata was going to be adapting the centuries old Japanese folk tale "Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter)". The story, which dates all the way back to the 10th-century, revolves around the Kaguya-hime, a little girl who is discovered inside a stalk of bamboo by a farmer. He and his wife raise the girl and is soon gifted with the ability to find gold inside the very same bamboo stalks that his adoptive daughter. Came from. Once grown Kaguya-hime becomes the object of affection for many amorous suitors, but she sets impossible, nearly supernatural tasks for them to accomplish before she will agree to marry them.
Neither Takahata nor Studio Ghibli have elaborated further on the production of "Taketori Monogatari", but here's hoping more news comes along about Takahata's return to filmmaking soon.