I have been blogging about anime series, but haven’t really blogged about anime movies, other than to comment on how wonderful Miyazaki Hayao’s movies are, especially coupled with Joe Hisaishi’s music. I think it may be time to post about one of my favorite Miyazaki films, Mononoke Hime or Princess Mononoke if you prefer.
This film follows the actions of a young man named Ashitaka, who is a prince of his own small clan. He is injured and cursed by a dying Boar-god when he prevents it from ravaging his village. Because of the curse he must leave his clan, and he must also attempt to find a cure for the curse before it kills him.
Ashitaka follows the back trail of the Boar-god to a town on the edge of a lake, where the townspeople mine iron ore and smelt it into usable metal. The town forge is “manned” by women that have been rescued from less savory occupations by the town leader, Lady Eboshi. The town leader is beloved by the townspeople, for keeping them employed, housed and fed and protected from other warriors who wish to take them over. She also keeps a colony of lepers employed in developing new weapons. She is a mixture of good and bad, keeping her people safe, but at the same time working to destroy the forest and the old gods in the name of progress and her town.
Fighting against the townspeople are a wolf-god, Moro, her two wolf-children and her adopted human child, San. These four are trying to stop the townspeople from destroying the forest and the old gods by making random strikes against them and against their supply chains.
Ashitaka enters this set-up and discovers that the iron ball which killed the Boar-god and indirectly cursed him was made by the townspeople and fired by their rifles. Ashitaka is caught in the middle of the battle between the townspeople and the forest. He prevents the townspeople from killing San and is injured himself while rescuing her. She in turn takes him to be healed by the Forest Spirit. The two of them then try to prevent the destruction of the Forest Spirit by the humans and the rampage of the boar-clan against the humans in retribution for the death of the Boar-god.
In the end Ashitaka manages to save the townspeople and he and San return the Forest Spirit’s head to him after it is stolen by the people trying to kill him. Although a lot of forest destruction is accomplished by the bad guys, the forest is coming back in the end, and Ashitaka and San and most of the townspeople are alive and well.
This movie is a clear struggle between old ways and forests and progress and towns. Although some coexistence can occur between these two sides, parts of both are lost in the process and compromise is essential.
Besides the clear moral to the story, the story itself is wonderful. The character and design style is awesome, the music is awesome. If you haven’t seen this one yet, you should. It’s arguably one of the best anime movies ever done.