Princess Mononoke picture image

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke it was made by Studio Ghibli. It was released in Japan on July 12th, 1997 and was the highest grossing movie till Titanic. It was released in the United States on October 29th, 1999 by our old friends at Miramax. It didn’t do well at the American box-office but did well on DVD. Princess Mononoke pretty much introduced the west to Studio Ghibli.

Princess Mononoke has made my life slightly annoying as one of my favorite anime is called Mononoke and has nothing to do with with Princess Mononoke. Mononoke literally means Strange things. Mononoke can be used instead of the word youkai, which means ghosts or supernatural things like monsters and spirits. You can also get the OVA it was based off of, Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales, Vol. 3 – Goblin Cat, it’s so awesome.

Anyway, I watched this in Japanese with subtitles.

San and Ashitaka Princess Mononoke picture image

San and Ashitaka

Princess Mononoke follows Ashitaka, an Emishi Prince who travels west to the Forest of the Deer God to cure his curse that he got from a boar god who was corrupted by hate. The curse will eventually kill Ashitaka but does make him stronger, like he can take off people’s heads with single arrow.

Once he reaches the Forest he sees that there is the conflict between the Gods of the Forests and the people of the Ironworks, who are cutting down the tree in the Forest and the Mountain. On the side the god is San, the adoptive human daughter of the wolf God, Moro. San is Princess Mononoke.

On the ironwork side is Lady Eboshi, who employs women who once worked as prostitutes and leapers to work her guns.

Thing come to a head (pardon the pun) when a group of mercenarys try to take the Deer God’s head which supposedly grants immortality as the Deer-God is life itself.

Ashitaka rising of his Curse Princess Mononoke picture image

Ashitaka rising of his Curse

Much like Fergully, Princess Mononoke is an environmental movie about man vs nature. Unlike Ferngully, Princess Mononoke’s character are all shades of gray. Lady Eboshi is painted as the antagonist but she cares for women and leapers. The Gods are just as susceptible to anger and rage which when it consume them unleashes corruption which is what cursed Ashitaka in the first place and can kill people. Ashitaka is painted as the good guy but he sees both sides but he leans more on the God’s side than than with the humans. Ashitaka is also interesting in that his neutrality is that he is an outsider.

Ashitaka and Yakul  Princess Mononoke picture image

Ashitaka and Yakul

Princess Mononoke is a very sophisticated movie that is steeped in Japanese Culture, so much so that I can’t possible put in all in here. But it gives the environmental message a lot more weight than a made up mythos. The film never really explains thing like the political environment is bog down exposition but you get a sense of the turmoil. It also doesn’t really explain what the Gods are but you understand them on a basic level. This just lets the view be immersed in the world of the story. I had heard that the English version explains stuff and has more exposition.

San Princess Mononoke picture image


We discussed some of the major characters but let’s talk about San, our Princess. She is very different than every other Princess. She is was raise by wolves so she is unrefined and tough but by no means unkind. She really wants to kill Eboshi as she destroying her Forest and she will risk her life for to achieve that goal. She is the flip side of Eboshi. Where Eboshi is cool and tactical, San is wild and implosive.

San is a very adept fight as she is both vert fast and strong. She has no interest in human and she openly rejects it. She does like Ashitaka enough but no enough to go off with him at end.

The Deer God Princess Mononoke picture image

The Deer God Footstep

As is standard with Miyazaki’s movies, the animation is gorgeous. I really enjoy the animation on the Deer-God especially with his footsteps. The music is also lovely and during the slower point the film is very calming.

Lady Eboshi with the Deer God's Head Princess Mononoke picture image

Lady Eboshi with the Deer God’s Head

I would say the only issue I have with Princess Mononoke is the ending felt rushed and bit contrived. It’s like the need additional conflict in the narration since the Gods and Human were at a stalemate so that is why we have the Deer-God head and the mercenaries. Apparently the storyboard for the ending were only finished a few months before the film’s premiere, so it makes sense.

Kodama Princesss Mononoke picture image


Princess Mononoke is really a stunning movie with great visuals and great characters. The ending is a little forced but you are so caught up in the world that you don’t really notice. The Tree Spirits or the Kodama are so awesome with their clicking head!

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