Let me start by saying that I am not a Miyazaki-disciple. I do not view him as the "grandmaster of everything anime." When I say "yeah...Miyazaki is ok" I say it not out of ignorance (I've almost every one of his films) but because I personally find him to be incredibly overrated. However I find that when he has all of his stuff together, Miyazaki can destroy practically any other director out there, the man is incredibly talented, but his problem is consistency.
When I say that Princess Mononoke is his masterpiece, I mean it. It was the first film where
he finally got everything together and made a perfect anime film. Some will say that Spirited Away is better, but Mononoke is so much more powerful than that.
Story: Miyazaki does not like civilization. He stated once that he would prefer it if we went back to living in the fields, he wants to get rid of all technology. In Mononoke we see the evils of industralization and how humans are killing the earth. Humans can coexist. But many purposefully try to make themselves better and stronger. Miyazaki does an absolutely amazing job of showing that industralization, if handled the wrong way, is an incredible evil, but that it is in the hands of humans..of real people. I didn't really care all too much for the story, but I found his use of spirits to be incredible. I wasn't a huge fan of the story itself, it was a country boy goes to the city vibe...but I was a huge fan of all the political jabbings that Miyazaki was throwing. I will admit that I didn't notice it the first time around, I was told this as I watched it the second or third time, by my friend who is a Miyazaki acolyte. The beauty of the story really comes after you watch it the second or third time, as the whole movie experience is very overwhelming.
Art: I give it a 7. I am not a fan at all of Ghibli. I absolutely cannot stand their use of recycling their characters. I hate how all the women look exactly the same, and the men have the same annoying mustaches and beard combos that obscure almost their entire face. I find it lazy and incredibly detracting. I found that Ashitaka was.....boring, his design was so lacklustre that I have now just googled him to figure out exactly what he looked like. Where the art shines in this is in the spirits (gods), the creatures, and San. The designs of those characters alone redeemed the art for me. Also worth noting that in the beginning all those "snakes" were done digitally, which was, for me, impressive.
Sound: Eh....what can I say. Miyazaki films ALWAYS have great music and soundtracks. I have never found an instance in watching any of his films where I've gone "hey, the music doesn't really feel right." The music in his films are absolutely superb.
Character: I felt that the characters weren't really people so much as symbols. I felt that Ashitaka, in a certain way, was innocence. When his arm is cursed he is given a power that he cannot wield and he struggles to find a way to cure it, to get rid of the curse that now stains his arm and will kill him. Eboshi was industralization, but she was also compassion. I felt that she was the most human of all the characters, even though many people view her as an antagonist or slap her with the label of "oh..she's the evil lady." The thing I appreciate about this film is that there are only a handful of truly bad people. Everyone else is human. San is humans living with nature, but at the same time she is a beast herself. She lives in harmony with nature and has absolutely no qualms about killing to defend her land. Every character is multifaced, however if you only view the movie once you might not see the different characteristics of each character.
Enjoyment: The perfect Miyazaki film. It is deep for people who are looking at it closely, but it is also just a fun film for people who are only looking for something fun to watch. The first time I watched this (the first Miyazaki film I'd ever seen) I wasn't impressed at all. Mind you, I was probably 10 at the time, this was the first exposure to REAL anime I'd ever had. But as I watched it again recently I realized just how great of a film it really is.
However it really is accessible. You talk to almost anyone about anime and they'll probably (99% likely) know about Princess Mononoke. I know that this turns a lot of people off. Personally when someone comes up to me and says "hey, I saw Samurai Champloo and it was great, can you recommend me anything else kind of like it?" It makes my skin crawl a little bit. However, Mononoke is a staple, and is really something that you should watch, if you haven't watched it, I would definitely put it at the top of your to-watch list.
First of all I'd like to say this is my favorite Miyazaki Film. Why you might ask? Its the most powerful and thought provoking of all his films. It also communicates a message very differently since it has much darker overtones than his other lighthearted films. While they may be enjoyable and powerful in their own way they can never be compared to the stature of this film. I hold this one higher than the quality of Spirited Away. Which in my opinion is then most overrated Miyazaki/anime film. This is the one film that Miyazaki completed perfectly because it gave you that feeling that
it couldn't get any better. The film has themes that even an adult could enjoy immensely.
The story is basically can be summed up as Man's conflict against the natural world. While this may be a good summarization it also could be misleading because with Mononoke we don't get a classic good vs evil plot. The fascination I have with this film stems from the many groups that are at conflict with one another and how no one is truly the evildoer. We have nature battling with human civilization while within itself there are humans trying to topple each other. The story revolves around how self-destructive we are as human beings and how we haven't realized we are innate in nature. The movie gives us parallels of the battles that the humans face with each other while still all congregating together for that one perceived enemy in the film, nature. All in all the film tries to communicate a deep message through the story and it leaves the viewer with a lasting impression.
The characters in this film are fascinating. Particularly Ashitaka and Princess Mononoke. We follow the story through Ashitaka's experiences with the different warring groups in the story. He always is the rational character in the movie and he openly tries to correct the irrationalities the other characters have. he serves as the medium which communicates the overall story and how meaningless the conflict can be found to be. He is extremely brave and he usually gets himself in dangerous situations in order to show the others their incorrect ways. Princess Mononoke is another intricately created character which is full of mystery. She seems to detest fellow humans for their selfish egotism and hostility towards earth and its inhabitants. Lady Eboshi is the a character some may mistakenly confuse for the villain of the movie. I think this would be more prevalent with western viewers like myself. The reason for this is they might seem to mistake her as another modern day oil baron except she is much more than that. Her main goal is to protect her people, particularly the other women who live in the city. She feels in order to do this She has to pursue the industrialization of her city in order to protect her people from the samurais and beasts of nature.
In the animation department this is a Studio Ghibli film so you obviously will get an amazing experience visually at least. With this film though I feel the animation captures the essence of nature. It does this with the various beasts and mystical characters Miyazaki created. There are even gods in this movie which helps bring about the feeling that nature is alive. You will enjoy the action sequences in this movie. Especially the battles between Lady Eboshi and Princess Mononoke. I also think the use of CGI in this film was done well and this is coming from someone who despises CGI.
The music in this movie is beautiful. Its the kind that can put you in a trance that you wouldn't want to ever wake up from. Especially the main theme song. A lot of the music puts you in the right mood for the film. Especially the more darker music which is used during scenes with the beasts of nature. The battle scenes also have plesant sounds and the sword fights don't contain the same sword clashing sound *cough Nausicaa cough*.
Anyways, I recommend this film because its Miyazaki's Masterpiece.
For each new Studio Ghibli film I watch, I just get more and more convinced that they are the best animation movie studio out there. Princess Mononoke is by no means an exception.
Ashitaka, the last prince of a people called the Enishi, gets cursed while fighting a demon, and sets out on a journey to get rid of the curse, which can be lethal. He soon hears rumors of a forest spirit that can give and take away life, and sets out to find it. However, he soon finds himself in the middle of a fight between humans and animals, and he soon gets to
know of a girl called Princess Mononoke, who has sided with the animals.
The way the story is presented makes it really enjoyable, as we get to see how various humans and animals view the ongoing fight. Different humans have different viewpoints, different animals have different viewpoints, and it makes it so that part of what they think is right, but they're also wrong about things. In the middle we have Ashitaka, who is the only one looking for a peaceful resolution to this struggle. It's mainly the theme of destroying nature that's mainly being touched upon, a theme I feel is something everyone should think about.
The small love story you that's presented is what some would call forced. At least I do. I didn't quite like the way in which it was presented, but different persons have different opinions. It was okay enough though, but nothing that really placed itself in my heart. Maybe they just didn't do enough with it. But it's okay, since the focus of this movie is other things than love.
As expected of Studio Ghibli, the visuals are stunning, especially when you think about the movie's age (8 years). With its massive budget of 2,4 billion yen, what else is there to expect anyway? The environments are drawn extremely beautifully, be it mountains, lakes, villages, trees or underbrush. Sometimes I just forgot the movie because of the stunning environments. Thank heavens for rewinding! The character motions are extremely fluid and lifelike, and with a total of 144 000 cels during the movie, you couldn't expect anything less (I even heard that Miyazaki re-drew quite a lot of them himself). I got quite surprised when I learned that they used CGI in the movie; I couldn't spot it at all. That again serves to prove the quality of it. The character designs are typical Studio Ghibli-ish, so you'll know what to expect in that department if you've watched a Studio Ghibli film.
The music is perfectly in tune with the movie, giving that calm, mysterious kind of feeling that you'll expect when in a forest where magical creatures are as normal as insects. But ti doesn't do anything more than that, really.
Overall, Princess Mononoke is a film that you might enjoy the most for its stunning natural environments; they almost overshadow the plot. But all the different factions, the different viewpoints in the fight, and last but definitely not least, the theme of destroying nature are all something that everyone should give a thought. Especially the latter.
First off, I LOVE Hayao Miyazaki and a lot of his movies. I fell in love with Studio Ghibli’s artwork, music, and pretty much anything about them. This is one of my all time favorite movies in fact. Just the story line is so beautiful about how man and nature are supposed to live side by side but when one fights against the other, there can be both misunderstandings and consequences. The story is open to interpretation but it feels like a timeless tale. A lot of times, I found myself believing that he could have made the story in this time frame and it
would have had the same meaning behind the story. I’m going to sort of talk about what I consider part of this Psychology of this show, and this is only what I feel is part of this. What you take from it may be different.
The story is set in the Muromachi period of Japan when there were few Emishi people. The Emishi were actually a real people in Japan much like the Native Americans were to America. They lived in harmony with the land and had different tribes slightly different cultures and so on. Not much is actually known of the Emishi like where they came from and from what I have read, there are very few groups left.
The story of this movie follows the ‘last prince’ Ashitaka. I looked around but I couldn't find much on if this was a real person or not. I don’t believe he is a real character and was more symbolic of how that tribe was dieing out. Anyway, in order to protect his village, he kills a demon that was rampaging nearby and is cursed by the demon as he died. It turns out the demon was actually a boar god who was driven crazy by an iron ball that was shot into his body. In order to save himself and protect his village further, he leaves his people and travels west never to return to his people. I see this sort of a symbolic image, the idea of the young leaving their native land, the land they were born into and the culture they were born into, and being integrated into the Japanese basic ideas. It’s similar to the way Native Americans turned away from their culture to become part of the ‘white man’s world’ here in America. Not being able to return pretty much is the same where once you learn something different, you’re never really the same person as you once were.
As Ashitaka leaves, he sees the world outside his home as different and we get to see it through his eyes as bandits sort of rampage through another village he runs into. The places we see and the world we see outside his village just ends up looking like a rather cruel and selfish place. I think that was done on purpose as it again shows everything through the eyes of a boy who grew up in a place where everyone took care of everyone else. He goes farther from his village and the areas seem to get harsher until he finds Irontown which in many ways could be like Tokyo or New York in our age. It is a place with ‘futuristic machines’, guns, iron working and so on. Actually, I think the better thought of this place would probably be Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh was pretty much known for their Steel work.
And here in lies a problem. In order to get iron sand for making their weapons and machines, they must clear down the forest near them. Unfortunately, the forest spirits don't like this, which leads to the war between nature and humans. I consider San as like the ‘hippie’ or hard core nature lovers who think they are fighting for natures rights. Without giving away the ending, the whole feel of this movie seems to be about trying to find a balance between humans destructive nature and of nature itself. And that’s what I love about this movie. It’s something that a lot of people are trying to do now as well with all the new eco friendly things we have been doing lately to protect the earth.
The artwork is astounding and that’s saying a lot since it was all cel done. Each background, character, and lighting had to be hand drawn over and over again. In fact, according to the wiki, there were over 144,000 cels and Miyazaki personally oversaw each and every one of them, including redrawing parts of 80,000 of them. That is dedication to his work guys and that is why I love his work so much. They even give them a lot of detail down to small crust near the boar’s eyes and the almost realistic backgrounds that seemed to capture your eyes with every detail. There was very little computer animation used in the show, parts like the demon flesh on Ashitaka but I never noticed. They perfectly made it seamless. In fact, I had no clue it was computer animated in those parts until I did a little research for this review and that is what surprised me more.
I only watched this show in English, and I was not sorry. I fell in love with the voices; each person did a wonderful job trying to give the characters a realistic way of talking that worked well with that character. I do have some little nit picks though that I have to do. I might have praised this show up and down but I can also see some of the ‘mistakes’ that were done in it. Billy Crudup was the voice of Ashitaka and he played the character a bit too bland I think. I understand the character is not a wild and brave guy, he is just an average guy who left his family but he just sounds a bit to shy at times. Also, even though Billy Bob Thornton was the rather good voice of an old monk named Jiko-bo, he just never really grabbed me as much as I think that character should of. I don’t know exactly if this was intended but Jiko-bo just felt like he didn't know what he wanted to be. I could never tell if he was a good guy, a bad guy, or even what he was. You would think him being a monk would mean he would be one with the spiritual side of things but then on the other hand, he seems to be against them as well. He was a very confusing character for me and though Billy did a good job conveying that confusion in what he was, I wish he would of leaned a little more to one side instead of being so in the middle.
I fell in love with this movie so much, and it is definitely a must see for anyone who loves Studio Ghibli or movies with deep meaning behind them. That’s why this gets a very high rating from me.
Warning: This review may contain significant plot spoilers and is really more intended for the thought and entertainment of those who have already watched the movie.
For a while now I've been hearing rave reviews about Hayao Miyazaki's films. He certainly has an impressive track record, having created the three most popular animated movies in Japan. Apparently his anime work is greeted with positive reception everywhere, for this movie was placed in Roger Ebert's own top ten favorite movies for 1999. It's about time I finally watched it for myself, but it's left me with a strange aftertaste, and I'll tell you why.
The movie opens with
a dramatic scene that shows off the superior animation quality in the form of a worm-covered boar demon. The main character and hero of the movie, Ashitaka, is introduced. He makes short work of the beast as it advances on his home village, but not without being cursed himself. Afterwards the village leader explains to him that he must leave forever because the curse is going to agonizingly rip through his soul, eliminating every remnant of his being before killing him shortly after. In her own words he is now completely dead to all of them, and may god be with him as he leaves to the West on some hopeless quest for self justification. Ashitaka replies simply, showing no fear at all, leaving in what appears to be some kind of manly, stoic demeanor. He wouldn't have even said goodbye to his family if it weren't for his younger sister seeking him out as he rides away into the night.
Frankly, Ashitaka is one of the most brick-like characters I have ever watched. It takes well over half the movie for him to display any kind of feelings at all. Quiet, brooding, and mysterious characters are always great side additions to someone a little more exciting, but Ashitaka isn't there to complement anyone. He is the main character, and his empty lack of reflection on everything that happens in the story ended up encouraging my own empty lack of reflection. However, the problems don't end there. The other half of his personality is being Mr. Perfect. Mr. Perfect never explains what he's doing or why he's doing it, but he always resolves every situation without any sort of doubt or difficulty. He is the walking antithesis of conflict. In fact all his presence ever really does is delay some sort of inevitable action. This character doesn't feel like he should be the focus of anything. He's flawless and emotionless and what's left is this feeling that the story might have been better off without him. The main events of the movie are set in motion and concluded without his significant involvement. The only thing that's changed by his presence is that two characters who are destined to kill each other are forced to wait a little longer.
This movie could have been a lot more enjoyable if the focus was on someone else. It's like every character besides Ashitaka is interesting and has some kind of inner conflict or apparent goal. Granted, all of the characters are as flat as a slab of concrete, but at least some of them could drive the story somewhere. Perhaps the story could have followed San, the savage human girl raised by monstrous, intelligent wolves. Or maybe it could have focused on Lady Eboshi, a woman hell bent on destroying an entire magical forest to advance her manufacturing of advanced guns designed by lepers, all so she can conquer Japan and, presumably, the rest of the world. Even Jigo could make a more interesting story as an undercover agent posing as a monk who, ironically, is tasked with killing gods.
Unfortunately, despite these exciting events, this leads into my other complaint: This story is random and full of holes. I'm picky about plot. When someone tells me that a movie is great I expect some kind of reasoning for the events that take place within. As the movie progressed I found everything increasingly less believable. No, I don't mean believable as in magic and gods; I mean believable as in characters and actions are motivated by some kind of evidence. Early in the movie Mr. Perfect pays for a bag of rice with a gold nugget, impressing everyone in the town he's passing through. Why would someone from a tiny village that was exiled from the Japanese empire be sporting gold, and why wasn't it ever mentioned later on? Is it just a stab to emphasize Ashitaka's flawlessness? The lying monk whose job is to kill the forest spirit, a powerful and benevolent god, was asked to do so by the emperor. Why? To kill the forest? Why does everyone want to destroy the forest to begin with? For natural resources? While that does make a little bit of sense, it's never clearly confirmed or denied. Instead you're left with this epic battle between Iron Town and nature in which everything is destroyed.
The entire movie is comprised of seemingly random events that were all designed for the purpose of making it to the end and looking really dramatic along the way. I mean really, LEPERS are designing Lady Eboshi's guns? One second Ashitaka displays freakish demonic strength and the next he's out cold for days. The very climax of the movie came from absolutely nowhere! Upon being beheaded, the benevolent holy forest spirit god whatever who disapproves of war turns into a giant raging blob of doom that indiscriminately kills everything in it's path. Mr. Perfect returns its head so it can become normal again, but it would have happened about thirty seconds later without his help anyways. Iron Town and the forest are both leveled, but that's O.K. because the revival of the forest spirit plants new seedlings so it can all grow again. San leaves Ashitaka because she can “never forgive the humans for what they have done,” and Lady Eboshi vows to rebuild Iron Town “even better than before.”
Basically what I'm trying to say is that after everything that happens its all back to square one. Perhaps in the future Ashitaka convinces everyone to live in harmonious peace, but it doesn't matter because it didn't happen in this movie. I was left with a feeling that the story's net change was zero, and I hate watching anime that ends this way. Sure, people died and stuff got trashed, but there is no PLOT ADVANCEMENT! Every time I see a story that ends this way (like Trigun, for example) it makes me want to smash my head into my computer monitor until I faint. But I guess the visuals were great, and the music too: top notch for this medium! Great really, it's so great! If you like Naruto or Inuyasha or Death Note or whatever then this movie is probably some kind of godsend. Really, I think you should watch it and then you should watch everything else created by Miyazaki and demand more and more and more and more and more and more! There's nothing like endless waves of mediocrity constantly pumping out of the studios to keep us all entertained. Who cares about little details when we can just keep getting more of it?!?! We say screw quality because that takes TOO LONG. Quick somebody get me more anime that I can inject into my veins and get high on big shiny eyes, impossibly attractive characters, and cool demons and shit FUCK YEAH!
-You can read all my non anime related reviews at my blog: alexanderzero.wordpress.com
Ah, Princess Mononoke. It was one of the most earlier films, and anime in general, that I watched, and was captivated at first sight.
The thing I love about this movie is that I've seen so many different takes on what people viewed as the purpose behind the plot. I've read in a few different places that Miyazaki is not a fan of industrialization (or what it has evolved into) and clearly that is represented in the overarching plot in this movie. Whether or not that was the true meaning Miyazaki was trying to portray, he nevertheless sends a powerful message of the side effects
of industrialization and not respecting the natural Earth and its resources. I've also read opinions where people were a little disappointed in the movie's plot because "its one big ad for environmentalism." I obviously view that as an extremist point of view and while I can see where people who say that are coming from, I feel they did not watch the movie with an open mind or already had some preconceptions about the movie. And of course, first impressions are everything, so once you come away with that mentality, its hard to adjust. Yes, the whole environmentalism aspect does play a part, but its so much more than that. It's about the struggle of man to find a niche in the world all the while trying to find a right balance in respecting it.
Miyazaki also decides to throw in a little romance as a secondary plot and I thought it worked well. It was not the main focus of the story and there really wasn't a point in the movie where they forced it down your throat. It was there, for the people who wanted to see something develop between Ashitaka and San, but for the people who could care less about it, it easily could have been pushed aside for the main view the movie was portraying.
I loved how in this movie, we never had any good or evil. Just two completely different points of view of what the sides viewed as "right" or "correct." Miyazaki included the right cast of characters to represent each side of the struggle. First you have the animal gods, who obviously are the victims of human industrialism and simply want to live in their forest of peace. He also included San, our Wolf Princess, to give us a human's point of view from that side too. On the other spectrum, we have Eboshi, who cared for her tribes people, evident in the way she took care of the wounded and only wanted to best for her people. And finally Ashitaka. A lot of people have mixed feelings of him because he never really seemed interesting and just "was there." In my eyes, that's exactly what his character was meant to be. He was an outsider to this war between human and nature. Coming from a small village where villagers already respected the Earth, he was more of a witness to all of the events, and simply wanted to find a way where both parties could be appeased and eventually, everyone live in harmony. I thought in that aspect, he played his role exceptionally well.
It's a Miyazaki film, and sound is usually top-notch, and that's definitely the case with Mononoke. The music was peaceful when in the countryside, fierce when in battle and soothing during the more emotional moments of the film. The main theme song is still one of my all-time favorites to this day.
I've watched this film only in the original Japanese cast, so I can't comment on the English VAs, but I felt the Japanese VAs did a pretty good job with their respective roles. The animal gods voices were rough, yet understandable and unique to each species. They fit rather well. Though in some of the more "inspired" moments of the movie, I remember being quite disappointed with a view of the voiced lines. But nothing too big.
Background art was beautiful. I have a friend who is an art major and he once commented to me on how amazing some of the scenery is done in Princess Mononoke. I guess I kind of took that comment to heart as I also believe that 100%. Animation holds up to today's standards, and in some instances, I feel it even outshines some of the stuff production companies do today. I feel Princess Mononoke is Studio Ghibli at its finest. Everything feels fluid, body movements move realistically and believably for the world that the movie is casted in.
I guess because this is one of my earlier experiences with anime, this movie holds a special place in my heart and no matter what other people may say about this, nothing can convince me otherwise. I will admit that there are some scenes in the movie which drag on a little too much for one's liking and I felt they could have handled the Deer god's head thing a little better than what was seen in the final outcome. However, those are just small pet peeves I had about a movie in which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.
The best part about this movie, in my opinion, is that it has something for everyone. Whether you're looking for something thought provoking, or simply something to watch without having to think too much into the situation, Princess Mononoke can be seen in both lights. Action events are done exquisitely as is the touching romance between San and Ashitaka.
Princess Mononoke. Another classic from Hayao Miyazaki.
Before watching this, the only other Miyazaki film I had seen was Spirited Away. That was my favorite anime at the time. After watching Mononoke, I found a new favorite.
I think the english dub of the film is one of the better ones out there. Their choices for voice actors and actresses were good for the film.
The animation was superb, as was the music. The strength of Mononoke lies in the story. I really felt connected to the characters. When Ashitaka was searching for San, I felt the sense of urgency with which he was running. I was practically
jumping up and down while rooting for him to reach her.
The ending was definitely different from Miyazaki's other films, but then again, I feel that you have to look at this film differently. It was something you would not expect and I feel it is a good thing.
Princess Mononoke is definitely one of my top anime of all time, and my favorite anime film. If only they can give it a Disney release like they did Miyazaki's other film.
Mononoke Hime is a 1997 Studio Ghibli film written and directed by the legendary Miyazaki Hayao. It's also frequently brought up alongside Nausicaä & Spirited Away as one of Ghibli's classics. Does it hold up as well as those two films? Let's take a look.
We open in a small village coming under attack by a demon God, which looks kind of like a boar covered in small, squat tendrils. In order to protect his people, Prince Ashitaka rides into action. He manages to stop the rampaging beast, but its tendrils grasp his arm, leaving a scar that won't abate and continues to increase in
size. He's told that it's curse and will eventually claim his life. So, his people send him out into the world to try and find a cure while examining things with unveiled eyes. It doesn't take him long to encounter a situation where the people of a prosperous little town seem to be at war with the creatures of the forest, including a girl who lives with the wolves as one of their own.
I can't really criticise anything about the narrative in this film. The pacing is perfect, using slow and atmospheric scenes as well as more tense action scenes effectively while striking a good balance betwixt the two. The major theme concerning humanity and how we interact with the environment is superbly handled, aided by the fact that the opposing sides are both portrayed as sympathetic and as having some validity to their viewpoints. While our main protagonist tries to encourage a balanced approach. The scope itself is also really grandiose, in spite of most of the action occurring in one city and the adjacent forest. The climax is excellent, with a pressing problem and our heroes being very much on a timer, which helps make it a very intense experience. I also appreciate that not everything gets wrapped up. We're ultimately shown a situation that's going to require more work but it still ends on a satisfying note in spite of that.
The characters are about as expertly done as you can get. While it is true that the side characters are less developed, they still have verisimilitude. You can very much look at them and see them like actual people. I also do like that all the major characters have sympathetic aspects to them,. They all have things at stake that they don't want to surrender and there are compelling reasons for them to not just sit down and come to a compromise even though it would ultimately be to their benefit to do so. Having an outsider like Ashitaka as the main focus character allows the film to examine both sides of the conflict and see that balance in a way that the characters involved in it can't. I also do love San and her lupine family. A lot of works centring around a “feral” child raised by animals will focus on the more beastly aspects but this one shows a lot of the tenderness and love that you see from actual wolves when they interact with their cubs. Which also, in an odd way, lends a very human element to it.
The artwork and animation are fantastic. The world the film creates is lively, vivid and even sublime. The backgrounds are really well detailed. The fantastic creatures of various varieties are fascinating and just have amazing designs. The animals and people are nicely detailed. The action sequences are awesome. It's just an excellent looking film. Which isn't all that surprising given that Studio Ghibli is known for their superb artwork. Even the films of theirs that I wasn't fond of have had amazing animation.
The vocal work was really well done. Ishida Yuriko, Matsuda Youji & Miwa Akihiro in particular just gave outstanding performances. The music composition was handled by Hisaishi Joe, who also worked on the music in Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle & Spirited Away. His work in those was all very well done and pleasant, but this film might have the best I've heard from him. The compositions are stupendous and really add to the atmosphere.
There isn't any. What little romance we get is het.
Mononoke Hime is just fantastic. The atmosphere, story, characters, artwork, music and acting are all excellent. It absolutely deserves a spot among Ghibli's finest films. My final rating for it is going to be a 10/10. If you want to see a fantasy film with some amazing action & a nuanced approach when it comes to its environmental themes, I highly recommend it. So, that's it for film festival week. Next Wednesday I'll return to my weekly schedule with a look at Terra Formars: Revenge.
Princess Mononoke was the second Ghibli Studio I ever saw, and to this day remains one of my most favourite works of all times and styles.
A cross-story of love and hate, nature and humanity cohabiting or failing to do so. The story of the wolves and the spirits of the forest is halting; their determination to fight, each of their respective personalities and their respective decisions as to HOW they will fight, were halting. The Mother Wolf fighting to protect her young ones, her forest, her home, despising the humans and then finally handing her only daughter over to one of them, handing her home
and thousands of lives over into the hands of one boy...
And a human's struggle, far away from home, with the thing that consumes him, while never fully designating the thing consuming him as 'bad' or 'evil', because he wants, desperately, to understand the suffering that his world is going through. His compassion, his insight, his aspirations, his views on justice...
Flawless pacing, haunting sound effects and music choices, perfect character development, outstanding art...
A spiritual journey, a beautiful trail to follow. In my mind, a work of perfection.
Throughout the months and days that I have been reviewing animes, I have been reviewing anime shows and OVA's, and I just previously reviewed one movie which would be Resident Evil: Degeneration. I will say that I was not originally planning on reviewing this movie this time around. I was actually hoping to do a series of reviews of Studio Ghibli films someday. This review was actually requested by a good friend of mine and today just so happens to be her birthday. She did not request the
Resident Evil: Degeneration review, I threw that review in as a little "Tribute" review since she just started getting into the Resident Evil series and encouraging me to cosplay as Albert Wesker at Aki-con which is an anime convention in Bellevue, Washington which isn't too far from where I live. She did not suggest the Wesker cosplay, it was one of my other friends. My trip in that convention was 20% badass. Yeah, I just used the 20% Cooler meme from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic except I twisted it around, and yes...I'm a Brony, deal with it. Just so you know, I am not one of those super-obsessed fans of the show but I actually enjoy the show because of its humor. I consider myself a "Brony" because I will admit that I am a fan of the show, I'm what you could call a "Normal Brony". I think enough has been said for this intro of mine, my friend wanted me to review this movie on her birthday and I shall begin the review of Hayao Miyazaki's epic masterpiece...Princess Mononoke!
Somewhere in Japan, a rampaging boar-god is heading towards a villiage and the confident young warrior and prince Ashitaka defends and protects his village. In the process, he is hit with a deadly curse and is told to leave his village. To save his life, he has to journey to the forests in the west. Once he arrives there, he gets involved in a fierce conflict that humans are waging on the forest. The ambitious Lady Eboshi and her loyal group use their guns against the gods of the forest and a brave young woman, Princess Mononoke who was raised by a wolf-god. Ashitaka sees the good in both sides and attempts to stem the flood of blood. This ends up with both sides showing animosity towards Ashitaka as he supports both sides. An epic battle that the humans will never forget ensues and the fate of the world rests on the courage of one warrior.
To be technical, this is a Studio Ghibli production and stating the obvious could not be avoided here. This film shares quite a history that I will love to dive deep into. Princess Mononoke is a film that was 4 years in the making, it was also the most expensive Japanese animated film at the time which was more expensive than the 1988 landmark anime film Akira. This was also the final Studio Ghibli film to have hand-painted animation cels. It was also the highest grossing film in Japan before being surpassed by Titanic. It also won Best Picture in Japan while being the first animated film to ever win Best Picture in Japan. Princess Mononoke was declared by Miyazaki-san that it would be his final film before he went into retireme...Oh wait, he never retired yet. I guess Miyazaki-san changed his mind at the time. Princess Mononoke has been highly regarded as Miyazaki-san's masterpiece and magnum opus and I can obviously see why. This is the pinnacle of Miyazaki-san's career and by far the most environmental film that he has ever made. His other films have some environmental themes thrown in but not as heavy as Princess Mononoke. This is the film that we can assume that he always wanted to create and the film that is closer to his heart. This is the only Miyazaki movie that is not really meant for a younger audience. Sure, there's violence in the movie as well as some blood and gore. Not only that, there is also some mature themes that are thrown into the movie as well. Even if parents are okay with the idea of having their children watch Princess Mononoke, there are a lot of things in this movie that kids wouldn't respond or understand too well. It has a complex story that has mature concepts that are mixed in a blender with a big weight on subtext and has great depth in writing that is made by the same man that gave us the cutesy magically charmed animated beloved classics such as My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. This is a man who happens to be an environmentalist, a pacifist, and a feminist. I think us otakus know full well that this is present in all of his films. Princess Mononoke is obviously an environmental film that might as well be called an environmental epic. The reason I consider it to be an environmental epic is because the atmosphere in Princess Mononoke (in a metaphorical sense) brings a lot of wonder and mysticism as well as having a vast landscape with vivid imagery that I think all people that watch movies can appreciate the extremely detailed animation in all its beauty. I think we can all agree that all the Studio Ghibli films are gorgeous. Princess Mononoke is so well detailed with a sense of realism in the ancient fantasy world that is shown in this film. The production value somehow bolsters and supports the writing (strangely enough). Even though the setting is in an ancient fantasy world, the realistic aspect is that it has a conflict in a world that could reflect on our own. With all the background info on the animation said, Here's what I think of the animation. It is beyond gorgeous, It is the most majestic and breathtaking film that Hayao Miyazaki has ever produced. Every scene from beginning to end is a visual tour de force and a Thanksgiving Dinner to the eye. It is so well-detailed which it comes to no surprise as to why this is considered Miyazaki-san's masterpiece and magnum opus. This is a real treat to animation lovers and otakus alike.
The music by Joe Hisaishi compliments every scene in Princess Mononoke and is a great listen without the movie. If Miyazaki-san is compared to Walt Disney, I guess it could be fair to say that Joe Hisaishi could be compared to John Williams. Walt Disney was a wonderful animator in the U.S. and Hayao Miyazaki is still a wonderful animator in Japan. Joe Hisaishi and John Williams are also wonderful music composers as well in their respective countries. The music is beautiful and always makes the worlds that Miyazaki-san creates feel magical and wonderful. Joe Hisaishi is a very talented composer and is easily one of my favorite composers in anime alongside Yoko Kanno, Shiro Sagisu, and Taku Iwasaki. Princess Mononoke is one of his more recognized film scores but the music Princess Mononoke has adds up to the "majestic" quality that this film has.
The Japanese cast performs quite well in this movie and I should point out that you'll get a better understanding in cultural settings as well as Japanese mythology (possibly religion too) if you watch this film in subtitled form. The Japanese cast is well casted in this film. Yoji Matsuda is terrific as Prince Ashitaka, Yuriko Ishida has a believable voice as San, Yuko Tanaka is great as Lady Eboshi. I think I know what you're thinking. You are probably wondering what I think of the English Dub of Princess Mononoke. Before I tell you that, I will share some background info on the dub which is somewhat relevant to what I think of it. Back at the time that this movie was picked up in the U.S. Disney had a thing where all the Studio Ghibli films would be licensed and distributed stateside by Disney. Disney decided not to pick this movie up because of its content and everyone knows that Disney is known for its family-friendly flicks and most of the crappy TV shows they have on their channel. Instead, we have Miramax Films which is a subsidiary to The Walt Disney Company that picked up Princess Mononoke and the English Dub is often the most debated in all the dubbed Ghibli films. While Princess Mononoke was picked up, Harvey Weinstein who was the chairman for Miramax at the time (or still is) gave the ADR voice directing role to Neil Gaiman, for those who are literary buffs out there, it's that Neil Gaiman. I've never read any of his books but he has written some fantasy books in the past and even wrote with Terry Pratchett on the book Good Omens, If you don't know who Terry Pratchett is, he is a fantasy writer best known for the Discworld books. Anyway, Since Neil Gaiman wrote some fantasy stories, it's probably safe to say that he knew what he was doing while writing the adaptive English script of Princess Mononoke. The end result leads to Princess Mononoke being one of the best dubs for a Studio Ghibli film and probably the best of the Ghibli dubs. Before you go all angry on me, let me me explain. First of all, the dialogue in the English script is spoken well because Neil Gaiman really appreciates the beauty of the English language. Secondly, the dub is performed extremely well. I know that Princess Mononoke has the most debated dub in the Ghibli films so let me explain right here and now. I think most people agree that Billy Crudup is an excellent Ashitaka and you can tell because he sounds like he's extremely invested in the role too. Claire Danes as San is one of those performances that people debate over and I understand that but her performance was great. What I think people don't like is how her voice sounds, I think what people tend to see towards San is that she is some kind of brave leader and she didn't sound like that at all. Claire Danes' portrayal of San is angry, immature, and upset and that's San's character. I honestly can say that I got used to Claire Danes' performance in the dub. Minnie Driver is terrific as Lady Eboshi because she has that confident sounding voice which she pulled off quite nicely. She sounds like someone you could trust. Another debatable role would be Moro which is voiced by Gillian Anderson in the dub while Akihiro Miwa voices her in the subtitled version. The reason this role is debated sometimes is because the voices sound different from one to the other. That is because Moro's seiyu is male and Moro has a male voice. The reasoning for this is because according to Japanese Mythology or Spirituality, Wolves are considered one of the most divine animals and would always speak in a male voice typically. This is why Moro has a male voice in the Japanese version. This is not the case for the dub because it might have not made any sense to us Americans but Gillian Anderson is also terrific as Moro. No one has said a bad thing about Keith David as Okkoto and I guess that's somewhat good because Keith David was also great as Okkoto. The last debatable dub role that I haven't mentioned yet is Billy Bob Thornton which he really is a great actor, but I completely understand where people are getting at with Billy Bob Thornton as Jigo (Jiko-bo in the Japanese version). I will admit that he was great as Jigo but he sounds a bit different than Jigo's seiyu. Some say that Billy Bob Thornton does not fit the Japanese intent of Jigo's character. Jigo is a well-written character that even though he is a bit of a corrupt monk but some other characters trust him and Billy Bob Thornton has that kind of voice that sounds like you could trust him, that is until later in the movie. There are some nice extras in both versions. So here's what I think of the dub, even though it's the most debated dub of the Ghibli films, I think it is performed extremely well even if some characters sound a bit off. I really like the dub to Princess Mononoke, I also like the Subtitled version as well so this is a movie that I like both versions to.
As far as characters go, there are quite some interesting ones. Prince Ashitaka is a young confident warrior that is trying to save his own life while trying to simmer down the hatred between the humans and the beings of the forest (which includes San). San is portrayed nicely because even though she's human, she is raised by wolves and she is obviously trying to defend the forest because it is technically her home. She does have a hatred towards humans even though she's human herself and that made her quite a fascinating character. Lady Eboshi on the other hand is kind of a villain-ish character but she is not completely evil, she's actually compassionate towards people who are defenseless, which is ironic to say that least since because she brings ruin to parts of the forest. Jigo is a well-written character and there's really not much I have to say about him except for that I thought he was nice until he ended up being a bit of a corrupt monk unless I've spoken wrong about the whole "corrupt monk" thing. Moro is interesting to watch since she's one of the spirits of the forest (Wolf-God, Wolf-Goddess, whatever she is.) Okkoto was another character I thought was interesting because he's sort of a key character later in the movie. If Toki was the comic relief character in the movie, her character was good enough for that.
When it comes to the story, this has to be the hardest thing for me to discuss because there is so much to talk about when it comes up to the story of Princess Mononoke, it is such a complex tale. I've said earlier that this movie is a visual tour de force and a Thanksgiving Dinner to the eye, that does not mean that you need to turn your brain off at the same time, OH, no, no, no, no, NO! You need to pay attention while watching this film because it is a bit complex and for good reasons. There is a lot going on. What is portrayed well is nature itself. Not only is environmental nature portrayed well, human nature is also portrayed quite well. What really is quite effective is that there are no villians in this movie, Lady Eboshi is not a villian in Princess Mononoke. She is doing a little bad just so she can help her own people. This is the kind of movie you can really sympathize with the characters for whatever society or some people think is "Bad" because this movie really wants you to think that they deserve to exist as we do. That is probably the strongest element in the movie and it is enough to get the message of the movie across because nature isn't pure good and we are not pure evil and not taking over the defenselessness of nature and we are not being at fault for doing the wrong thing by nature either because nature isn't completely defenseless but neither is in a position of moral superiority. It just exists, like all of us. If there are any flaws that some people address that I really don't see a flaw to would be Prince Ashitaka from beginning to end. I've read some comments somewhere that Prince Ashitaka sort of comes out of nowhere and has no character traits except for the fact that he falls in love with San while being the bridge that will bring the two worlds together since San is from the world of the Forest Spirits (in a metaphorical sense) while Ashitaka is in the human world. To be honest, there is a bridge between the two. Ashitaka is not necessarily from the human world either. He's not a force of pure good at all and there is not force of pure good or pure evil in this movie at all. Everything Ashitaka does is just so he can survive. He is the last of his people and he is also the hero because he has to be the one to save his own life. If this still hasn't convinced you yet, let me make it clear then. If he didn't have that curse in his arm, he would've been a boring chararacter. He has valid motivations, he has desires to kill, he can get angry, he does fall in love. He is a believable character if you pay attention. He also brings an interesting weight to the story thematically. There are these two polar forces that are going at eachother which we already know is Lady Eboshi's group and the beings of the Forest. Both are not sides of pure good or pure evil and you have these bridges that are between them. Ashitaka is that bridge, so is San. It is sort of brilliant in a thematic way. San is the brave warrior of the Forest Gods but she's not really one of them, that is why she's the bridge. Ashitaka is a warrior for the human side but sort of isn't one of them either. The Japanese people portrayed in this story aren't really his people because he's the last of the Emishi people and he is trying to survive on his own by associating with these people that drove his tribe out and they eventually went extinct (what I'm saying is a part of Japanese history) Ashitaka does not have a direct reason to help the human side although he sort of does, the same goes for San as well, she's human, so she shouldn't really be trying to kill one of her own kind, but it's not hers. When it comes to both sides, they are the last of their kind or maybe even the only of their kind and they are trying to survive and exist. There is an extension of a pure force on either force that cannot link together and cannot reconcile as well as a force that can't achieve balance. The key to balance in both of them is an impartial member from both sides that come together to solve the issue. All out of the need to survive from the individual, to the group, and to the force at large which really can be the essence of balance which is kind of the need to push forward and continue to exist. Ashitaka was a fascinating character to me. Now that may be a complex subject to swallow but this does all add up to a fascinating story that can make you root for both sides which is one hell of an accomplishment. It also touches on the human condition in such a unique way. As a humanist myself, I think it's safe to say that human nature has some part in all that which Princess Mononoke does portray. There's so much more to this movie than meets the eye and that's the one thing I truly admire in this movie. I tip my hat to Miyazaki-san for being blessed with such talent and showcasing his masterpiece which is this film.
Princess Mononoke is available from Miramax Films
With all that said, Princess Mononoke is a film that has a fascinating story with well-written characters, spellbinding music, and majestic animation. This is undeniably one of Hayao Miyazaki's best films since it has been critically acclaimed that even films critics such as Roger Ebert gave praise towards Princess Mononoke. I consider myself an unofficial critic and I've already gave enough praise towards this film. This is a movie that I can watch over and over again and not really get tired of it. There's always something new that I learn with repeated viewing. This is a movie that I really don't see anything at fault. It's for environmentalists, animation buffs, and otakus alike. I have almost seen all of Hayao Miyazaki's films and out of all of them, Princess Mononoke is my favorite Miyazaki film. If you haven't seen this movie, you must see it. Some will tell you that it is incredible, some will say it's gorgeous. What I can tell you is that it is an unforgettable experience
I give Princess Mononoke a 10 out of 10, it is a MASTERPIECE!
Feel free to leave a comment and try to live your life to the fullest.
I believe Princess Mononoke can be underrated as one of studio ghibli's films. Although movies like Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle are great, Princess Mononoke gives a different vibe that deals with the battle between man and nature. I really fell in love with the characters; San who tries to protect the forest along with her wolf tribe-family, and Ashitaka who takes no sides and wishes for peace. There's definitely scenes that I found scary as a child, but even now I'd get goosebumps when the movie takes a darker turn. I think the music fits well with the movie as it should, rich
and full as it should. I watched it dub my first time, which I honestly think isn't bad and I still watch it dub to this day, depends on your taste though. Overall, Ashitaka's journey is definitely one to follow!
I'll make this review short and sweet. This is my favorite Ghibli film by a mile. I have only seen 2 others - Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. This one is my favorite. It is the LOTR of anime for me.
The only thing not really 10/10. The story isn't really original. It is the same as Avatar (the "blue people" movie) or really any story about humans encroaching on nature. But that isn't to say it is well told. The fantasy elements bring a nice touch and the story never drags.
Not necessarily a 10/10 for today's standards, but this art does stand
up really well for its time. As with any Ghibli film, so much attention is put in the details. The characters were designed really well and the whole world put a spell on me.
THE. SOUNDTRACK. OMG. This is one of my all-time favorite soundtracks ever. From the beginning, it reminded me of playing Zelda (although I guess it should be the other way around). The music really makes this movie and it has not aged a bit.
You will see some other reviews point out how stoic the main character is. How he is heartless to the point of having no emotion. I love this. He is a strong character and a smart one too. As is the girl, San. There is no bigger turn off for me than a weak character and this movie has none of it.
I was in a trance from beginning to end. A state of euphoria, if you will. This is one of the most enjoyable movies of all time for me.
This is the LOTR of anime, please watch.
it's one of the few Midzayaki cartoons that isn't really for children as much as the others, has some very violent moments, but thankfully they aren't the centre of attention of this movie.
The plot follows a boy from a village who gets cursed during fighting a demon and is now seeking the spirit of the forest to beg for a cure.
Instead he gets tangled in wars between regions for resources, and this is where the main point of this movie comes in, it's greed that makes humans want to claim things. "Everyone wants everything, but i might actually get it" and they
don't care as to what happens to the surroundings, so they try to kill a god for their own greed, thinking that they are the god that can rule over everything.
As you can see the plot is pretty good, it is directed in such a way it gives a sense of an adventure, full of interesting, a little cliche but interesting characters.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the art. Holy shit it is all very smooth and drawn very well, looks like a little smoother version of 'Spirited Away' which is only to be expected from Studio Ghibli, but it is also drawn very nice, the blood isn't just red ketchup, and the animals all have their fur nicely detailed, most backgrounds are in late-80s style so i guess you'll either love it or hate it.
Overall it's very enjoyable, stood the test of time very well, but kinda lacks a sound direction as in soundtrack, and also i just feel it kinda fails to achieve something more than just a good watch.
Not bad though/
I feel as if i wasted 2 hour of my life watching this but I will try to review it fairly...
Ok, it wasn't too slow moving and it wasn't too quick, bonus points for rating. It had a nice sort of nature vs ironforge vs empire sort of story. It wasn't simply good vs evil, nature and ironforge both had their fair points to war, bonus points. The princes adventure... fair story... But I think the biggest let down was my expectations of the whole..."The Star Wars of animated features" and besides that the cool action sort of action style cover...yea...I can no't recall more
than 30 seconsd (out of 2 hours 14 minutes) of decent action footage, nothing worth remembering except when he was first cursed and his first fight scene. Being generous because it was a decent fantasy adventure anime... 7 out of 10. Oh and for the record, my opinion, this was more like lord of the rings without as much action.
The art was nice and a few nice scenes, animated well but could've been better 9 out of 10.
The sound went well with the movie although I feel the music could've been mor emotive it was a slight let down...compared to some anime i've seen this anime made me feel emotionless except for the kawaii wolf girlie <3
Ok well I think this is the one section that shines out on the anime as a whole, the character development seemed well done and they came along way to become slightly different people by the end of the anime. Yet again for a fantasy adventure i think this should've been a little more emotive...there was a possible love relationship going on too which could've added a little more depth to the characters overall effect on the anime.
I enjoyed what was happenning but when it ended it all hit me like...wtf did i just watch? That was meant to be an animated star wars equivilent? NO WAY!!!
Looking for a good action flick? Go to TOKKO, FF Advent children, or Sword of the stranger because you will be greatly dissapointed here.
Fantasy Adventure fans? I don't think you should miss this providing you don't expect it to be any comparison to star wars...on the whole ill give it a 7 out of 10.
I personally adored this film, as I do most Ghibli films!
I loved the story of this film! I have always been one for mythology and folklore and this film gave me just that! The historical aspect to the plot makes it even more enticing as does the message behind the conflict.
This film's art was very pretty and followed the usual Ghibli style.
I watched this film and Japanese (with subtitles) and found the sound perfectly fine.
The characters are both interesting and oddly unique, causing you to wonder if they will develop into something greater. I fell in love with both San and Ashitata.The reasons for me not giving this category a 10 is because I sometimes felt like Ashitata was a bit overpowered and it affected the struggles he had within himself and within the web of people whom he had encountered.
Overall I found the film incredibly unique. I enjoyed watching it and probably will watch it many more times!
Mononoke Hime. This movie went higher than my expectation for a traditional Ghibli movie. I would have to say this movie is intriguing and amazingly well built. The art in this movie is fantastic and the soundtrack too. Its better than the traditional Ghibli movie. The plot is also intricately developed and very well built. The story begins with the prince of a small town somewhere in feudal Japan. Take in to matter than most ghibli movies contain some sort of spiritual or magical aspect within the story. On one normal day, a rampaging boar suddenly starts going berserk and heads toward the village. The
boar is taken down, but the MC acquires a curse inadvertently, and is banned from the village as a result. The curse on the boar was placed by a being known as the spirit of the forest, the boar was deliberately sent to that village in order to get revenge on the humans for massively abusing and damaging the environment. The MC has to find the spirit of the forest and somehow find a way to remove the curse to save himself before he meets his fate. Awesome plot start there in my opinion. While watching this movie, you develop a really good liking to these characters and their influence among the entire story. If you are a diehard fan of Ghibli movies, then this a must watch for you!
The best part of Ghibli films is honestly rewatching them. Doing a dry run and seeing just everything that happens and taking in the artistic story and the pleasant but thought provoking plot is the first step. But taking a deeper look and tearing at the frays of deeper themes the second time around. While this is important to fully take in all the information a film like this throws at you, watching it is still fun anyways, and the rewatch helped me also enjoy the film as simply a modern creation in the style of telling an epic cultural myth. Princess Mononoke got bumped
up from an 8 to a 9 for me after watching it twice, as it's richer in symbolic content than many of the other films from Mr. Miyazaki. And even if this theme along with some of his other consistencies gets a little repetitive and heavy handed in the expanse of his movies, it makes sense to apply it to a story similar to the creation and moral stories which are the basis for many cultures' moral standings and beliefs.
The story, to start is the exact reason that I go back to my library and dust off older movies, it's quite original and uses thematic ideas to tell the full story and bring light to issues surriounding being human; and in this case Princess Mononoke is a beautiful case of fantasy reaching out to touch that reality. The film feels like an epic myth rooted in any number of cultures, but throws some magical realism into the setting of a growing industrialized world. The film's strongest point is how well it portrays and explores man's tense relationship of self progression versus the destruction that can cause on nature. The theme that nature is cyclical, a highly Native American trope, is important to the film as well, as the demons growing from the iron bullet comes around to affect Ashitaka at the beginning of the film. This is one of many things I picked up from the rewatch; themes and elements that are explored later in the film that aren't made explicit in the beginning when the viewer is being introduced the world of the film. The message, as is the case with several other Miyazaki movies, is relevant and beautiful but there's the occasional slip up of a line that comes across as too preachy or cheesy. In the case of this film it's any line where 'no hate will save the day'. But even if that's the case, it makes sense in the vein of creating a story about the beginnings of man.
The art and sound, even being made in 1999 could easily hold up to the animation quality of a more modern film like The Wind Rises, and even while being 15 years older than that film succeeds just as well in the beautiful epic scope of the art and sound direction of the film. The film's music does the most for the aesthetic aspects of the scenes, particularly anytime there is a mass traveling scene of soaking in the landscape or quiet moments of tinging percussion whenever we see ripples in water or a quiet moment with otherworldly beings. The creatures of the world show the complex imagination of Myazaki and capture the life of the film the best, there's so much detail to show who the animal characters are, in addition to just how well the animation works for both the animals and humans. When they make them talk with a simple mouth motion it's odd but other than that there's a constant sense of adventure from most every movement. Both good and bad creatures in the film add a lot in their own ways too, ranging from elegant to disturbing and destructive. The people in the film all have more elaborate costumes that enhance the fantasy setting, but the director's art suffers because so many studio Ghibli people look absolutely identical, and so many of Miyazaki's protagonists unfortunately blend together due to this weakness. It's a small gripe, but spans all of his films enough to be not only a bore, but a consistent one. Everything is definitely beautiful in the art department, it's just that Mononoke doesn't go above and beyond in character aesthetics other than the bright contrasting costumes.
While not 100% interesting, the characters are simple enough to work in the context of the classic story idea (hero, villain, mystic gods etc.). But even if Ashitaka seems like the most typical and boring of hero characters, his demon arm provides more depth to his character. While noble, the flaw of being infected with the demon cuts away the naivety characters like him have and gives him introspection for peaceful answers to tense situations, in addition to the fact that he uses this to make a goal unique to either side fighting the other in the story. While they work well in the way that they’re simple, many of the other characters however are different from him as their character traits are defined solely by who they side with. I wish there were more little moments of introspection from the individuals who are pulling the strings, such as when San saves Ashitaka after trying to kill him. The weakest part of the Ghibli films I’ve seen is the romance. Characters will announce that they love each other even if they have little to no time to build chemistry or attract during the down time between action scenes. And while I prefer internal dialogue and introspection over outright saying it, the other characters during the film show that they have noble reasons for helping out their side and tear at the frays of their own flawed ideologies. Lady Eboshi while straight faced and cold still cares for the lepers, and the emperor’s troops show up only for Iron Town residents to start defending the wolves. But even without little bits of fleshed out dialogues, the climax resolves fighting and changes minds of characters on both sides. A guilty pleasure of mine is a happy ending or a horrible one done right, but this one is an example of everything turning out okay in the end and finding the balance between progress and nature.
It falls short of being a masterpiece, but Princess Mononoke is an oasis among so many bad movies these days. Despite its flaws I can’t help but say I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a movie immersive and beautiful in its aesthetics while maintaining an occasionally tragic yet hopeful story at the same time.
Princess Mononoke is going to be difficult for me to talk about because it is such a perfect film. Probably Miyazaki’s magnum opus.
This is not to say that I favor Princess Mononoke over the film that would follow, Spirited Away. That film is Miyazaki’s other magnum opus. What I mean is that in looking at Hayao Miyazaki’s work, his ability and interests range from grand-scale, mature, fantasy epics in which the theme of man versus nature is the centerpiece to wonderland through the eyes of a child in which the child learns to grow and mature and come into their own
as a result of their journey. The latter is fully realized by Spirited Away, while the former attains perfection in Princess Mononoke; they’re two completely different but equally wonderful movies. Honestly, I really do consider these to be his best films-- they’re my two favorites-- and it’s hard to see how he could possibly outdo either of them, especially given the more lenient work schedule he’s allowed himself as he gets on in age.
With all that said, Princess Mononoke is the last of it’s kind for Ghibli-- the last to use hand painted cells; it was also the most expensive animated film in Japanese history, and won best picture in 1998 for Japan’s Academy Awards (this was a very big deal, in the same way Beauty and the Beast’s nomination for best picture in the US in 1991 was a big deal; animated features were just never considered to be contenders in this category, so it really speaks to the greatness of both films to even be nominated, much less win, when the notion was unheard of at the time).
Princess Mononoke is also the spiritual successor to one of Miyazaki’s earliest works, Nausicaa. Whereas I could never get behind the first film on this list because of flaws in both the characterization of the protagonists and the villains as well as the way it approaches the conflict of man versus nature, Princess Mononoke not only fixes all of those elements but also improves upon them in a way that propels it to ‘masterpiece-status’.
Musically, again, Joe Hisashi is a powerhouse composer. Aesthetically, like Spirited Away, I think a lot of the appeal comes not only from Ghibli-quality animation, but because the integration of Japanese elements and mythology just allows for spectacular visuals and characters. The wolves, the pigs, the forest deity-- all perf.
The other problem, the conflict of nature versus man. Instead of being an issue of extreme good v. evil, in which Man is bad just because they are and Nature is divinely just and good and victimized because Man is just so evil, Mononoke achieves the balance between the two. Man and Nature are two opposite but neutral entities which inhabit the same space, and as such, inevitably come into conflict. However, both are justified in their arguments against the other, so there is no ‘right’ answer. There isn’t an inherent victor or loser of the conflict; these are two forces of equal magnitude acting in opposite directions. Not only does this make Mononoke a less conventional story, but a more thought-provoking and mature film. This, more than any other Ghibli movie, breaks the stereotype in the West that animated films are meant exclusively for children; not just because it is violent, but the content is so elevated above good and evil, it’s not really suitable for children on any level.
This film just proves that Miyazaki is a master of his medium, can actually write a mature and subtle commentary on conservation and environmentalist themes, and possesses a profound understanding of everything that goes into good storytelling. All of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies are masterpieces, but this one is really is the crowning achievement.
For those of you who haven't seen this film, I pity you. Out of all the masterpieces that the great Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghilibi have created, Mononoke Hime is the greatest one; easily my favorite movie as a child, and even today. Honestly, this movie isn't even for children unlike Miyazaki's other films. Thinking back on it now, I wonder why I loved the show so much considering I couldn't possible have understood the complexity and themes from the movie as a child. Perhaps it was just the natural beauty of the movie just like all of Miyazaki's films. Spirited Away? Totoro? Castle in
the Sky? Howl's Moving Castle? Nausicaa Valley of the Wind? Kiki's Delivery Service? Sure, they're great in all, but nope, for me they're not even close to the greatness of Mononoke Hime. Why? Well, first of all I should point out that unlike Miyazaki's other films, Mononoke Hime is very violent and serious which is actually to my liking. Furthermore, the creativity, beauty, wondrous, sadness, darkness, and deepness level of Mononoke Hime is just unexplainable in words and nearly unmatchable by other films. The movie is a magical glimpse of what the real world, what our reality truly is behind the curtains of our own delusion and idealistic dreams... It is not a simplistic tale of good and evil, but the story of how humans are connected to the beauty and darkness of nature, and how all living things fight for their belief of the order and happiness, no one is truly wrong.
The story is set in medieval Japan, during the dawn of the Iron Age. Mankind still lived in harmony with nature but slowly mankind was trying to tame and overtake it.
In simplest form, the film revolves around a young prince of a tribe, Ashitaka who after having protected his village from the Boar God/Demon, inherits an incurable evil curse that's going to eventually kill him. In order to save himself from the curse, he travels into the great forest of the west with his trusted elk, Yakul. There, he plans to find the source of the iron ball, found in the decomposed body of the Boar, as a way of diminishing the curse's plague on his body. Once he reaches the forest however, he is caught up in the middle of a long raging war between the technologically advancing humans and the forest spirits, lead by the female protagonist, Princess Mononoke (San). Ashitaka's journey brings him to the situation where he must try to stem the flow of blood being spilt, reach out and show the good in both of the sides. This is met by animosity by the human and forest spirits and seeing him working to help each side leads to them approaching him as an enemy.
I guarantee that you won't find Hollywood films as philosophical as this film. The obvious message of the film is to represent the relationship between humanity and nature. But even deeper within that outer layer, there are plenty of themes: such as the concept of "right vs wrong", "good vs evil", "freedom vs confinement", "reality vs dreams", and most importantly, "technology-future vs agriculture-past". Miyazaki doesn't only bash technology though, he shows that technology can be the demise of mankind as well as nature, but it can also be the greatest innovation ever if handled properly. The show shows being alive and being happy in any form in itself is a magical thing that people should appreciate. I could go on and on about the symbolism and themes, but moving onto why the show was enjoyable. The love in this show was handled beautifully (& metaphoric). Ashitaka and Princess Mononoke's lives and points of views differ despite them being in love. They realize that neither of them can really lead the life of the other, and so they learn to grant each other "freedom" (reality). There's no holding back despite it being a Ghibili film in the violence part of the show, which was a nice surprise.
The characters were symbolic figures rather than relatable and solely enjoyable to watch. Ashitaka symbolizes purity and innocence, which is what he loses when he kills the Boar (despite it being to protect his village), hence leading him to set off to the great forest of the west, to purify his curse/himself and repenting for his sins. San symbolizes the harmony between humanity and nature. San is a human despite living and fighting alongside nature, who become torn between her origins vs her ideals. Eboshi, who most people call "the villain" of the show symbolizes the evolution of humanity. But in Princess Mononoke, no character is intrinsically bad or good, just like in our reality which avoids the usual simplifications and shows the difficulty in judging things easily; there is no "bad guy". Lady Eboshi may be massacring the forest animals, but she is also rescuing prostitutes and lepers. Just like how San and her wolves may have killed humans, but they were merely defending the forest; their home. Genius.
The images are gorgeous, the lighting is amazing; concept of "illuminating light at end of the dark tunnel", and the lavish backgrounds of mankind's civilization vs mother nature: Perfection. The addition of forest spirits was beautiful as well. Furthermore, the portrayal of the animals of nature was like a shameless addition of magical icing on top of the perfect cake. I mean honestly, the great white wolves and their threatening look/teeth that give the message, "mess with nature, and we're going to kill you filthy human beings" to the sad writhing dying body of the boar (god). But, the character's I must admit aren't unique at all though... They look just like all of Studio Ghibili's film's characters, except with addition of "nature" on them. The realism of the show is scary as hell. The lush and lavish green forests --- Empty, destroyed wasteland. Animals scurrying around the woods --- extinction due to mankind's hunting. Vast beautiful trees --- dying trees, cut down trees. How can an anime have such beautiful art?
Do I even have to say anything about the music? You already know that it's 10/10 stunning, beautiful, fitting to Miyazaki's films, masterpieces of music once you hear that Studio Ghibili + Joe Hisashi are involved. The music fits the film's themes and emotions by amplifying scenes level of emotion; Sadness, Pity, Anger, Violence, Ominous, and Love/Unification (between nature and humanity). "Legend of Ashitaka" is a piece that I've played in my orchestra; it is beautiful. Alongside Joe Hisashi's stacks of great music, Legend of Ashitaka tops it alongside other masterpieces such as Laputa (Castle in the Sky), One Summer's Day (Spirited Away) and Kaze no Toorimichi (Totoro). Of course, there are more than 1 good song, the entire soundtrack of Princess Mononoke was dazzling (another great piece is "Journey to the West"). The voicing of the characters (in japanese) gives the entire film a whole new level of feels. I want to mention that the dubbed version of Princess Mononoke isn't terrible, but it's certainly worse than the subbed version, so.. I recommend the sub if you haven't seen this masterpiece yet (what are you doing with your life, go watch the movie). Oh my goodness, I love Joe Hisashi's music... His music fits Miyazaki's films so well that it's scary.
Now having said all of this, I hope you've either already seen the movie, or are planning to see it now, otherwise I don't know what you're doing with your life.