September 25, 2009

Arīte Hime (Princess Arete) (2001)

Princess Arete starts off as a pretty standard princess-in-a-tower-waiting-for-suitors-type story, but promptly delves into a non-classical plot, involving the economics and political balance of keeping her in the tower, the psychological effects this has on her and her ways of dealing with it and ultimately, the feminist aspects of her captivity as she is being released from the tower only to be put in a dungeon. Overall the film is imbued with meaning, and while it might not be the most entertaining work (on the surface it seems like a lesser Miyazaki immitation), it certainly is successful in making some well aimed comments about society's treatment and perception of women. The 'princess-in-a-tower' framework gives it a familiar feel that can appeal to young and adult audiences, and the ultimately optimistic outcome without a traditional 'defeat of evil' ending (but rather a 'compassion with evil and understanding of their situation') serves to make it a work that makes us think about the stereotypical boilerplate stories that we've grown with. As always, the Studio 4°C animation fits well with the subject matter, and nicely integrates aesthetic with idea to create one cohesive whole.