Princess Arete

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Princess Arete Movie Poster Image
Slow-paced anime has some peril, profanity.
  • PG
  • 2001
  • 104 minutes

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Empathy. Character is more important than rank, title, or wealth. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Princess Arete cares more for the goodness of a person rather than their appearances. She shows empathy and concern for everyone she observes from afar in her kingdom and wants nothing to do with the thieving and lying knights who pretend to be in love with her to win the throne and the riches that come with it. 


Rats attack a henchman. Mild peril as the lead character attempts to escape from a castle. 


"S--t," "damn." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Princess Arete is a 2001 anime about a princess kept locked up in a tower who longingly observes the goings-on of the common people below as she avoids the overtures of marriage from unscrupulous knights and a wicked wizard. While the slow pace might pose the biggest challenge to younger viewers, there is also a scene in which rats attack a wizard's lackey and two instances of profanity ("s--t" and "damn"). While it isn't the best anime in terms of the quality of the animation and the story itself, tween fans of the genre -- as well as their parents -- will respond to the movie's themes of seeking the reality underneath the appearances, empathy for others, and yearning for travel to faraway lands. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byTheFeminist6912 February 11, 2017

I loved this but I can see why others wouldn't.

The reason it's a 12 is because yes, it is quite slow and yes, it is subtitled but if your child is mature and appreciates less mainstream, arty stuff then... Continue reading

What's the story?

Princess Arete (Houko Kiwoshima) lives a lonely life, made to live in a tower at the behest of her strict father. To win Arete's hand in marriage, suitors compete to win treasure for the king. While this is happening, Arete yearns to experience the outside world, to live as an ordinary person, and to travel the world. After getting caught trying to escape the kingdom, the king matches Arete with the wizard Boax (Tsuyoshi Koyama), who enchants her and takes her to his faraway castle, where his only companion is a frog-turned-lackey named Grovel (Minami Takayama). As Arete now lives a lonely life locked in the wizard's basement, her only friend is Ample, who hails from a nearby village and cooks food for Boax in exchange for the water he hordes. Arete must find a way to break Boax's spell, get all the water out of the castle and toward the village, and follow through on her desires to travel the world. 

Is it any good?

While not without merit, PRINCESS ARETE is slow-paced and feels about 20 minutes longer than it needs to be to tell the story. Because of this, its themes of empathy and looking beyond outward appearances may get lost for younger kids. Children who aren't anime fans already may feel bored.

Overall, it's the titular character who manages to keep this movie interesting and somewhat engaging. Her desire to see and experience the world, to live and work as those she observes while locked away in her tower, makes her a princess much different from the archetypal princesses seen in so many kids' movies. For kids beginning to come of age and starting to see and imagine a larger world outside their usual surroundings, these qualities alone make Arete a relatable character, one the viewer can't help but root for as she struggles against characters less interesting than she. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies based on books. What would be the challenges of adapting a book into a movie? 

  • How is Princess Arete empathetic?

  • How is Princess Arete similar to and different from princesses in other movies? How is this movie similar to and different from other stories centered on wizards, knights, and peasants? 

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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