In my post on anime heroines I covered one of my favorite female ass-kickers in anime history. After re-watching the movie I thought it was high time I talked about it. This might not be the best “family film” on the list, but it is something that fans can watch with their families. Provided they do some explaining of course. The movie I’m talking about (if you haven’t read the title yet), is…
Mononoke Hime (Japanese title) is one of the movies that turned me into the raging otaku I am today. The exceptional music, visuals, pacing, and scope of this film propelled me to seek more from this strange country called “Japan”. I was enthralled with it’s world, and also with the message it drives into you from the onset of the movie. All of it born from Miyazaki-san’s want to preserve nature, and delivered with the fervor that only he could muster. There are also undertones of “the pitfalls of blind hate”, but I think the movie speaks more to nature preservation.
This movie is a historical fiction in the vein of Japanese mythology. Large beast gods and a frontier feel are central to the narrative, and serve to immerse you in the world. Some of the parts of it are borrowed from their mythology, and some from actual history. For example Ashitaka (the main character) is from a tribe of Emishi people, who were a tribal hunter-gathering society in ancient Japan. Before I ramble on and bore the crap out of you let me tell you about the plot so you’ll watch this classic.
Ashitaka, the afore mentioned protagonist, starts the movie by fighting a demon that attacks his village from the forest. After a short battle Ashitaka fells the beast that appears to be a corrupted boar god, but not before he is touched by the corruption. The village wise woman informs Ashitaka that the corruption will evelope his body and kill him unless he finds the source of it. However to do so the prince of the Emishi would have to cut his hair and live in exile from his people forever. With that Ashitaka leaves his homeland for lands to the west where he can see what he can with “eye’s unclouded by hate.”
The young elk rider soon discovers Iron Town, a settlement dedicated to the mining and smelting of gold… kidding it’s iron. Wanted to see if you were actually reading, moving on. Lady Eboshi brought guns to this settlement to help deal with the local gods of the forest. These gods (large intelligent beasts) did not take kindly to humans cutting down the trees and mining in their forest. Ashitaka learns that it was Lady Eboshi’s bullet that turned the boar god into the demon he had met. In this he finds himself somewhat sympathetic to the beasts, but after meeting the good people of iron town his views become conflicted.
San, a human girl raised by the wolf goddess Moro, fights for the beasts and wants to kill Lady Eboshi. She attacks Iron Town’s people constantly to discourage them from further deforestation, but thus far her attempts have been for naught. Iron Towns guns (early arquebuses) are too powerful a weapon, and during a raid Moro is hit in the chest. This prompts San to attack Iron Town directly, where Ashitaka is currently meeting with Lady Eboshi. That’s where I’ll leave you so as not to spoil the end, but suffice to say that Disney wishes it could write and animate this well.
Like any Miyazaki film this one enjoys a breathtaking orchestral soundtrack that really pulls you into the moment. It’s the kind of music that, no matter where you are, when you hear it you are instantly reminded of a scene from the movie. Also like all Miyazaki films it is hand drawn the whole way, making every moment a freaking work of art. Not to say that anime today is any less art, but many shows today pale in comparison. If you have a family movie night coming up, you could do A LOT worse than this movie.
If any of you actually get your friends or family to sit down to this movie let me know. I’d be interested to hear what non-anime fans have to say about it. If you aren’t able to convince those close to you to watch “them thar Chinese cartoons”, then just watch it by yourself. Either way this movie deserves to be watched whenever the mood strikes. Let me know what you think of my assessment in the comments or on my social media pages. Hope you had a good weekend, and till next time…
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!