Anime Review: Princess Mononoke
Updated: Apr 22
“Princess Mononoke” is a studio Ghibli film that was released in 1997. With a runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes, it’s quite the trek, but a worthwhile one at that. Princess Mononoke is not actually the main character, rather she is introduced later in the story. The main character is a boy named Ashitaka. Ashitaka is a boy who is a part of a tribe that was thought to have been killed off 500 years prior. Although their bloodline is small and getting smaller, there are still some tribe members left. They live in a rural village distanced from others, and they ride red elk, which are unique to only their people. Ashitaka happens to be their prince.
One day while in the forest, a demon attacks his village, and while defending it he is attacked and poisoned with a curse. He kills the demon, which had once been a boar god that was consumed by the hate and anger he had toward the humans that killed him, turning him into a demon. The village’s wise woman reads Ashitaka’s fate, and he is found to be fated to be consumed by the curse and have his flesh and soul devoured, dying and becoming a demon as well. He is told his only hope is to not run, but rather face his fate, and head to the origin of the gods in the hope that they can cure his curse. His village is forced to exile him, as is tradition. They are heartbroken, and they leave him with the words “Goodbye Ashitaka, you are now dead to us.” They don’t even watch him leave. He is forced out immediately and left in a world of feuding samurai lords, gods, and battles, all the while watching his curse spread, driving him to find his way to the forest god to cure him. He meets a lot of people along the way and finds himself in the middle of war, as well as Princess Mononoke and the forest where the god lives.
The movie was really pretty, as all studio Ghibli films are, but at times the story felt a little rushed. I can understand that it was a lot to fit into two hours, but things like his home village were never mentioned again after he left, and the ending was not my favorite, as it personally seemed a bit lackluster. Not saying I didn’t enjoy it; it was a great movie, but the ending left me wanting a bit more. I suggest the subbed version, as opposed to the dubbed. I watched the first half of the movie dubbed because most studio Ghibli films have great dubs, but for this one it seems subbed is the better choice. I think when specifically talking about studio Ghibli films, “Princess Mononoke” is a must-watch, but there are other films made by studio Ghibli that I like better such as Spirited Away, Ponyo, and From Up on Poppy Hill that might be worth checking out.