STARRING: Yōji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yūko Tanaka, Kaoru Kobayashi, Masahiko Nishimura, Akihiro Miwa, Mitsuko Mori, Hisaya Morishige
DIRECTOR: Hayao Miyazaki
GENRE: Anime, Epic, Historical, Fantasy, Adventure
While protecting his village from rampaging boar-god/demon, a confident young warrior, Ashitaka, is stricken by a deadly curse. To save his life, he must journey to the forests of the west. Once there, he’s embroiled in a fierce campaign that humans were waging on the forest. The ambitious Lady Eboshi and her loyal clan 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 tries to stem the flood of blood. This is met be animosity by both sides as they each see him as supporting the enemy.
Princess Mononoke is a film that stands right among Miyazaki’s (and Studio Ghibli’s) best. As an animation, it’s technically astounding, with lush forests and fire-lit villages done with the same amount of remarkable detail, and the CG sequences (mostly dealing with the Shishi Gami, God of Life and Death) are simply sparkling. This is top-of-the-line stuff, and it’s a treat for the eyes and ears. (I can’t wait to see this thing in the theaters!)
Acting is very well-done, and all the leads do a fine job. Lady Eboshi, despite her pride, is sympathetic because of what she has done for the people in her village. San finds herself drawn to Ashitaka, though she has despised humans all her life as an adopted Wolf God. Ashitaka’s sense of justice leads him to try to get the humans of Tatara Ba and the gods to find some sort of peace. The characterization is well-done, if a little less fleshed-out than most Ghibli productions, but it’s still better than most of the stuff out there. (Interestingly enough, actors in Ghibli films tend to be drawn from the live-action pool, rather than veteran voice actors.)
However, this is one movie that is decidedly story-based. And what a story it is. From the first scene between Ashitaka and the cursed God he must defeat to protect his village, to the ending, it’s gripping and absorbing, with plenty of action and more than enough intensity to keep the viewer locked into the film. The musical score (by Joe Hisaishi, of course), complements the film quite well, and I really can’t think of a single thing to really complain about this film.
Miyazaki Hayao has proven himself yet again a master in his trade, and his work deserves no less than the highest praise I can give it. However, do keep in mind that this isn’t the usual Ghibli film, and those expecting a slow-paced film a la Totoro or Porco Rosso will be rudely surprised, but on its own merit, Princess Mononoke stands on its own, and stands tall, at that.
- Miyazaki’s finest.
- Sorry nothing this time!
SCORE: 9.0 / 10
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