Movie Review: Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke Trailer

Princess Mononoke Summary

In Muromachi Japan, an Emishi village is attacked by a hideous demon. The last Emishi prince, Ashitaka, kills it before it reaches the village, but it manages to grasp his arm and curse him before its death. The curse grants him some superhuman strength, but it also causes him pain and will eventually kill him. The villagers discover that the demon was a boar god, corrupted by an iron ball lodged in his body. The village’s wise woman tells Ashitaka that he may find a cure in the western lands that the demon came from, and that he cannot return to his homeland.

Heading west, Ashitaka meets Jigo, an opportunistic monk who tells Ashitaka he may find help from the Great Forest Spirit, a deer-like animal god by day and a giant Night Walker by night. Nearby, men on a cliffside herd oxen to their home of Iron Town, led by Lady Eboshi, and repel an attack by a wolf pack led by the wolf goddess Moro, whom Eboshi wounds with a gun shot. Riding one of the wolves is San, a human girl. Down below, Ashitaka encounters San and the wolves, who rebuff his greeting. He then manages to rescue two of the men fallen from the cliff and transports them back through the forest, where he briefly glimpses the Great Forest Spirit.

Ashitaka and the survivors arrive at Iron Town, where he is greeted with fascination. Iron Town is a refuge for outcasts and lepers employed to process iron and create firearms, such as hand cannons and matchlock muskets. Ashitaka learns that the town was built by clearcutting forests to mine the iron, leading to conflicts with Asano, a local daimyō, and a giant boar god named Nago. Eboshi admits that she shot Nago, incidentally turning him into the demon that attacked Ashitaka’s village. She also reveals that San, dubbed Princess Mononoke, was raised by the wolves and resents humankind.

Suddenly, San infiltrates Iron Town to kill Eboshi. Ashitaka intervenes and quickly subdues Eboshi and San while they are locked in combat. Amidst the hysteria, he is shot by a villager but the curse gives him strength to carry San out of the village. San awakens and prepares to kill the weakened Ashitaka, but hesitates when he tells her that she is beautiful. She decides to trust him after the Forest Spirit heals his bullet wound that night. The next day, a boar clan led by the blind god Okkoto plans to attack Iron Town to save the forest. Eboshi sets out to kill the Forest Spirit with Jigo; Eboshi intends to give the god’s head to the Emperor (who believes it will grant him immortality) in return for protection from Lord Asano, while Jigo desires the large reward being offered.

Ashitaka recovers and finds Iron Town besieged by Asano’s samurai. The boar clan has also been annihilated in battle, and Okkoto is badly wounded. Jigo’s men then trick Okkoto into leading them to the Forest Spirit. San tries to stop Okkoto but is swept up as his pain corrupts him into a demon. As everyone clashes at the pool of the Forest Spirit, Ashitaka saves San while the Forest Spirit kills Moro and Okkoto. As it begins to transform into the Night Walker, Eboshi decapitates it. Jigo steals the head, while the Forest Spirit’s body bleeds ooze that spreads over the land and kills anything it touches. The forest and kodama begin to die; Moro’s head comes alive and bites off Eboshi’s right arm, but she survives.

After Iron Town is evacuated, Ashitaka and San pursue Jigo and retrieve the head, returning it to the Forest Spirit. The Spirit dies but its form washes over the land, healing it and lifting Ashitaka’s curse. Ashitaka stays to help rebuild Iron Town, but promises San he will visit her in the forest. Eboshi vows to build a better town. The forest begins to regrow as a single kodama emerges from the brush.

Princess Mononoke Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We absolutely love any and all Studio Ghilbi films. While I don’t really watch anime, Ghilbi does a beautiful job integrating the anime animation style into their story telling. A lot of the animators trainer under Disney Animation department, which is why they do so well.

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