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Princess Mononoke
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 06/20/2000

When Prince Ashitaka slays a demon god which threatened to destroy his village, he is afflicted with a curse that could soon end his life. As Ashitaka searches for a cure, he comes across a thriving ironworks fortress... and he meets the gallant Lady Eboshi. Lady Eboshi's fortress has long been at war with the animal-gods, led by Moro's wolf tribe. Surprisingly enough, a young human girl also dwells amongst the wolves and fights for the animal-gods' cause. Lady Eboshi and her people refer to her as the Princess Mononoke, and Mononoke supposedly lives to kill Lady Eboshi and put an end to the ironworks. But something about the willful wolf girl intrigues Ashitaka, and draws him to her. Can Ashitaka do something to stop the impending war between the humans and the animal-gods? More importantly, can he ever find a way to lift the demon god's curse?
With all the hype surrounding Princess Mononoke, I couldn't pass up the chance to see what people have been raving about for myself. I was very skeptical, as I was envisioning Princess Mononoke to be something like a cross between Disney's "Pocahontas" and "Lion King" -- both of which I dislike. Plus, I've never really been a fan of animal-oriented movies... and I tend to avoid them like the plague. None of the online reviews I read helped in giving me an idea of what this film is really all about to boot.
Princess Mononoke's visual magnificence was the first thing that gripped me. The sheer vibrance and detail of the scenes, combined with exceptionally fluid character movements make for a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. The plot is pretty complex. What starts out as Ashitaka's quest for a way to lift his curse soon branches out into something deeper and more involving. Lady Eboshi and her people have reasons for wanting to get rid of the animal-gods, and the animal-gods have reasons for wanting the destruction of the ironworks as well. Both sides present valid arguments, and it's very hard to determine just who the protagonists and the antagonists are.
Characterization plays a key role in Princess Mononoke. No one is truly good nor evil, and each character comes across as a complex being. Ashitaka is perfect for the role of the hero (he is actually the main character, not Mononoke). He tries his best to remain neutral and go between the two opposing forces... despite the possible consequences. I must mention that there is a certain amount of blood and gore, so this isn't something you'll want to show children just yet.
As I mentioned earlier, the art and animation are superb. Given, the character designs are on the simple side -- but its combination with spectacular backgrounds, a touch of computer imagery, and smooth-as-silk animation make Princess Mononoke a grand visual experience indeed. The English dubbing is pretty star-studded, and at the same time well-cast. Claire Danes plays the title character Princess Mononoke, and Minnie Driver plays Lady Eboshi. Princess Mononoke also features the voices of Billy Bob Thornton, Gillian Anderson, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. They all turn in good performances, and I have nothing bad to say about the dub. Overall, Princess Mononoke is one title that should not be missed -- and something that even non-anime fans won't have trouble appreciating.
This anime is from the renowned Hayao Miyazaki (Kiki's Delivery Service, Nausicaa, My Neigbor Totoro).

Princess Mononoke
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Review Title:
Princess Mononoke
Alternative Titles:
Mononoke Hime
130 Minutes
General Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
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