A Month of Studio Ghibli Part 2
By Counter Monkey Steve the Animeniac
My first exposure to any of Studio Ghibli's works was with Princess Mononoke,
and to this day, it remains one of my features, animated or otherwise.
It's unique amongst all of Ghibli's other films in that it caters to a
more mature audience, at least by American standards. There are scenes
of violence and the occasional use of explicit language. This does not
in any way detract from the enjoyment of the film and instead helps
relay the story and the message with a stronger emphasis. Let me explain
by giving you a small detailing of the film's plot.
Princess Mononoke is
set during the Muromachi period in Japan, which ran from the mid-14th
century until the mid-15th century. It begins with an attack on a small
village by a demon. The prince of the village, Ashitaka, is able to slay
the demon but at the cost of the curse of the demon being transferred
to him. For a time, the curse will endow him with supernatural strength,
but it will eventually kill him. Upon finding that the demon was
originally a boargod named Nago that had been shot with an iron ball ad
not wanting to risk his presence endangering the rest of the village,
Ashitaka goes off in search of the source of the iron ball. A short time
after he begins his journey, he is informed by a monk that the Forest
Spirit may cure what ails him, giving him hope.
Ashitaka continues his journey, viewers are introduced to more of the
principal players. A woman named Lady Eboshi finds herself and her town,
Tataraba, under attack from a wolf goddess named Moro, her wolf clan,
and her human daughter San. Eboshi is able to ward off the attack, but
she is unable to do so without casualties. Ashitaka encounters wounded
from Eboshi's town, and after glimpsing San and Moro in the distance and
finding himself the subject of scrutiny from the many spirits of the
forest and the Forest Spirit itself, He manages to carry the wounded to
their home and discovers thatTatabara, translated as Iron Town in the
English language dub of the film, has been provided hospice to lepers
and former prostitutes and gifting them with jobs. Much of the work in
the town involves manufacturing weapons to defend against constant
attacks from the many spirits and gods surrounding villages and towns
that wish to progress in their way of life at the cost of damaging
is initially treated well and gains the trust of the town's
inhabitants, an attack from San in an attempt to assassinate Lady Eboshi
results in Ashitaka intervening to prevent bloodshed on both sides. In
the process, Ashitaka and San are knocked unconscious but manage to
escape the town, with Ashitaka receiving a bullet wound, Despite having
been rescued by Ashitaka, San is unwilling to trust him until he tells
her how beautiful she is and finds himself healed by the Forest Spirit,
who also removes the curse of the demon,
prepares for war against the spirits of the forest as Moro and the
leader of the boar tribe, Okkoto, also gather their forces. The monk who
has suggested using the Forest Spirit as a cure to Ashitaka reveals
himself to be a mercenary in search of immortality, which the head of
the spirit is said to provide anyone who holds it. He encourages the war
between the two forces in order to receive a chance to obtain the head.
War does break out, as it inevitably does in most films where it is a
possibility, and it is up to San and Ashitaka to find a way to end it.
You'll just have to watch the film yourselves if you want to know what happens. I highly recommend Princess Mononoke to
anyone old enough to enjoy it, The bloodshed and violence is not
extreme or excessive, blood is to be expected in a film featuring demons
and war, but this film is pretty tame compared to many others. The
message this feature wants to deliver is clear: there must be harmony
between man and nature. This is a message that a previous film worked
upon by the Studio Ghibli team had delivered before Ghibli was
officially founded: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. However, I think the Princess Mononoke does
a better job of relaying the message and is an altogether superior
film. Both the original Japanese language and the English dub are very
well done. The animation, as always with a Studio Ghibli film, is
absolutely beautiful and is accompanied by an equally beautiful score.
This film comes highly recommended.
I'll see you again next week for yet another installment in my Month of Studio Ghibli blog posts!