Classic Review: Princess Mononoke

What can’t I say about this film, and yes I would go as far to say that this not just anime, this is ground breaking, awe inspiring, and more powerful than K-On Movie and many other anime’s to grace the big screen since. もののけ姫 Mononoke-hime is a film that stands in Roger and Ebert top 10 films of all time. Thousands of critics have weighed in on this movie, and it has floated on rotten tomatoes at a solid 95 out of 100.  I don’t have to tell you how good this movie is, recently re-watching brought back some deep memories of anime of yesteryear. Watching many other animations from the 90’s to compare to Mononoke and yet for some reason this film just looks current, like it has not aged a single year since it’s release back in 1997. Outstanding, astonishing and timeless, just a few of the words that come to mind while watching this movie, hands down one of the greatest animated films of all time.

 The amount of detail and love that went into this film is simply incredible, Miyazaki took 16 years to fully develop the story and characters of Princess Mononoke. Mr. Miyazaki personally checked each of the 144,000 cells in the film, more than 80,00 of them were re-drawn several times. The film when it was produced cost a record $23.4 million dollars. It made that back quite quickly and put Miyazaki and his studio on the map. This movie was a hybrid of 3d art, classic cells, and new age anime tech, but all the 3d was used with great care, and all the computer touch ups were done by hand. I can’t stress how much effort went into this production, it is simply astonishing. Also keep in mind that this movie predates DVD, windows 95, and was built mostly by hand, frame by frame.

The music was composed and performed by Joe Hisaishi, one of the many legends working on this masterpiece. The music is perfect, deep and touching, dark and hopeful. The Theme of Princess Mononoke is in a word moving, timeless and powerful. Easily one of my all time favorite soundtracks ever, and the same can be said about the voice acting. Stop reading and just listen. Fully orchestrated, and written by hand instrument by instrument. Bliss.

All this aside what about the story, the characters and the set. Well If you have never seen this movie, you need to go out and buy it now! Watch it on netflix, or borrow it from a friend, however you can watch it, just watch it. I remember watching it on the big screen years ago when I was just getting into anime, this film was so well written, well acted, and just so good in general it got even my parents to cry. And that’s saying something, this film is that moving and it’s appeal is nearly universal. That said this movie is not for young children, or those who can’t handle some violence and scary imagery. I was shocked the first time I saw this film, and that same feeling tingles to this day.

I will say my understanding of this movie has evolved and grown up over the years, when I was younger the story was much more simple. Viewing it again, many years later has opened my eyes to depth of the characters, the struggle of life and death, the understanding of the underlying story. It’s very deep, very dark and yet tells a very important story about the cycle of life and death. Greed, war, humanities evil, and the story of a boy and a girl stuck in the middle. This story can be as simple as good guys and bad guys, but it’s not. The main character is neither a hero or an evil doer, the people are not bad, but the forest is not bad either. So where does this leave you, well that’s for you to think about. I personally viewed the story as something unique, it took more than a decade to write, it cannot be digested in just an hour and a half. The love story, the life and death of the forest, the gods, and the humans. Infighting was a common theme, struggle in war and lies and deception, death and re-birth.

The characters are deep and well developed, expression and life are exquisitely done. The forest and sets are a masterpiece, jaw dropping, rich in detail and life. Words fail to describe the power of the visuals, this movie could be enjoyed without dialog or sound and it would still stand by itself. Putting it all together left me without words. I could continue to rant on into greater detail but instead I’ll leave you with a few questions.

Dub or SUB? Which did you prefer? I enjoyed both

Your feelings on this film? How does this movie make you feel? Personally this movie moves me every time I watch it. 

“With its epic story and breathtaking visuals, Princess Mononoke is a landmark in the world of animation” – anon critic

Chris Samaripa
About Chris Samaripa 592 Articles
Writer, editor, photographer.

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