Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) [1997]

This is what hatred looks like! This is what it does when it catches hold of you! It’s eating me alive, and very soon now it will kill me! Fear and anger only make it grow faster!”

Director :  Hayao Miyazaki

Writer :  Hayao Miyazaki

Story :

A wild boar frantically charges toward a small, isolated town, from where only one man emerges to defend his home : Prince Ashitaka. Soon it is obvious the boar is a demon, an animal changed by hatred and if Ashitaka touches him the curse will spread to him as well. He tries everything to make the boar change his path, but when a few little girls life is in danger Ashitaka doesn’t have another choice but kill it. Before shooting the final arrow the boar wraps his tendrils around Ashitaka’s arm and leaving his curse with him. The oracle of the village tells him his only chance is to go west from where the animal came and try to find a cure or otherwise the infection will spread and kill him.

What I Liked :

– I hated animes from the bottom of my heart, but my friend kept recommending this one so one night I sat down and watched it. I was more than sure that it will bore me to death , I never imagined I could get caught up in a story conveyed in cartoons. Yes, I was that person who said cartoons are for kids only, and now I can’t understand when someone says the same thing. A great actor can make you feel a range of emotions, and compared to a drawn character he has the upper hand because it’s a lot easier to emphatise with another human being.

– So it was a Sunday night, yes I even remember that, and I started watching this anime. After a half hour and so I said to myself hm, not bad, not bad at all, then slowly I started enjoying it more and more. An hour went by and I was so absorbed by the story I wouldn’t have noticed if someone spat in my face. It is that good. Every aspect of that movie is that good. This anime is pure magic.

– first I want to talk a bit about the story.  No need to praise it anymore, cause if you read the review so far you know what I think, but now I will explain why. The story itself delivers a message  clear as the blue sky, yes it is a highly environmental one. I hate those kind of movies too, bt Miyazaki manages to present a story that simply caresses that idea, that feeling in our minds instead of force feeding it to us. Second reason why the story is genius : there is no good side or bad side. This is not your typical story where in the end the bad gets punished and the good rewarded. At one point Ashitaka is asked what is he doing in Iron town he simply replies “To see with eyes unclouded by hate”, and surprisingly he does exactly that. He never chooses a side, he helps them both. I was so angry at one point over his action, but when I heard that one phrase I understood. He sees the errors and rights of both parts, and tries to help them to find a balance, to make peace. It is so rare to find a movie where there isn’t set an evil side, and you have to cheer for the good to win. This story makes you think. And the last reason why I loved the story is because somehow it makes you believe this could have been true, this could have happened a long-long time ago, only there wasn’t an Ashitaka near to save the nature, to save us.

– the animation is beautiful, Miyazaki  payed such a close attention to details ( flying insects throughout the film,  bioluminescent dragonflies glide around the screen, movement of the grass, the rain) and the live actions have such a natural flow you don’t even observe you are watching a hand drawn movie.

– One thing I haven’t talked about yet is the characters, for a powerful script you need equally powerful characters, and Miyazaki created some of the most complex, powerful, intriguing and intense characters I’ve seen on the big screen. You just have to admire Ashitaka’s strength, I can’t even find the right words to describe his immense strength and I’m not referring at the physical one. Lady Eboshi’s ambition to care for her village and stopping at nothing to make them the most powerful, her ambition comes from an emotional level, even if her means aren’t right. I would like to have a mayor in my city who wants nothing else but the best for me. And of course San, the rebel one who, of course, is full of gentleness, I will give you just one example – when Ashitaka falls ill she chews the food before giving it him. This list could go on and on and on.

– one more thing I loved, the animals. Miyazaki personalised them with such refinement you find yourself in them, how we can go blind and stupid with anger and hatred, how stubborn we can be and the love and pride they feel and express is no different from ours. At some points it’s like seeing humans colliding with humans,  because none of them wants to talk the same language. In a way this is a really sad film.

– Miyazaki has some crazy imagination (Forest Spirit)

– the end leaves everything a bit in the shadow, you are left with one thing HOPE.

– this is an epic anime, touches a range of moral questions, features beautiful animation, well round characters, and you are not going to have a dull moment, if you haven’t seen it, I’m begging you to go watch it!

What I Didn’t Like :

– it is really hard to not fall in cliché with these type of movies, Miyazaki managed to stay afloat but time to time the script is dangerously close to cliché land

Final Note :

4 out of 4

Interesting facts :

– Hayao Miyazaki personally corrected or redrew more than 80,000 of the film’s 144,000 animation cells. (imdb)

-Miyazaki had intended to this be his final film before retiring. Its great success led him to continue working and make a few more spectacular movies (imdb)

– Around 550 colors were used in this film (imdb)

Trailer :

don’t watch it, rent the movie and let it sweep you off your feet


5 thoughts on “Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) [1997]

  1. As with many other people, this was my first experience with Miyazaki. I never knew what was so special about him until I saw this one, and was naturally blown away. I enjoyed this movie, but relative to other Miyazaki films I have seen (such as Castle in the Sky), it is pretty far from my favorite. Still, it’s nigh impossible to go wrong with Miyazaki as far as anime films go.

  2. this is my favorite one from him, I guess it isn’t a big surprise after reading the review :P, and Castle in the Sky is my least favorite. Somehow it didn’t blow me away that much. Nevertheless any anime from Miyazaka is guaranteed to entertain, just as you said.

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