Wednesday, May 18, 2011

“Listen And Learn” – Princess Mononoke (anime) – 9/10 Flowers

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words. ~Elbert Hubbard

Genre: Action/Supernatural

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/1 Movie)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Fabulous, as always! Ghibli’s usual round-cheeked characters look more sleek and adult, while the animation and art is top-notch: Fluid, smooth, and brightly colored. The fight scenes are astoundingly fluid and a treat to watch.

Summary: Inflicted with a deadly curse, a young warrior names Ashitaka sets out to the forests of the west in search of the cure that will save his life. Once there, he becomes inextricably entangled in a bitter battle that matches Lady Eboshi and a proud clan of humans against the forest’s animal gods… who are led by the brave Princess Mononoke, a young woman raised by wolves! (from the back of the DVD cover)

Review: “You’re under a curse? Well, so what? So is the whole d--- world.” These are the words of one of the characters, a truth that echoes throughout the story of Princess Mononoke. Humans and spirits are converging in a battle around a little village in the West, and it may be a battle to see who survives… and who doesn’t. You see those words describe exactly what’s happening between the two factions- the humans are angry and upset that the Gods do not want them to continue growing and expanding, while the Gods and spirits are upset that the humans raze forests without care and turn good animals into stupid, cruel ones. They are cursed by a deep misunderstanding, an unwillingness to listen to each other, and it almost leads to a great amount of pain and destruction on both their sides.

One of the things that always amazes me is how real these characters seem. The ‘bad’ guys are not necessarily evil through and through. For all the trouble Lady Enoshi causes, she has nonetheless saves women from being slaves in whorehouses and gives them an amazing amount of freedom and equality for that day and age, and shows kindness and care to lepers that everyone else would shun. The wolves and boars aren’t cruel creatures- they are losing their homes and families, and are trying to save themselves. Both sides have valid reasons for fighting each other, none more right or good than the other.

This is part of what makes the story so intriguing and interesting to watch- you see both sides equally, why they feel that it is so necessary to make the choices they do. And that is why it is so nice to see the story develop as the movie goes on. The pacing of the story is slow but sure, with each side eventually coming to a sure conclusion that they must work together in order for them to live peacefully.

There are other small things that add to how great this is- such as how the dub is equal in quality to the Japanese voice actors. The only thing that brings down my score is that the environmental message can come across a little too strongly.

Overall, this was an amazing action anime where man meets and faces the Gods.

Recommended: 13+. There are perhaps three swears in the film, usually the d-word. This has an unusual amount of gore for a Ghibli production- early on, you see a boar killed with an arrow through its eye (just the arrow hitting is shown- no bloodhappened when it is shot), there are soldier attacking a few villagers, and one of the attackers has his arms ripped clean off from an arrow- no blood spurts but you do see the wounds clearly. Some fighting happens, and this includes explosions and some boars dying. Early on, one of the wolf gods is shot. The girl gets the bullet out by using her mouth to suck it and the infectious agents out. A few men fall off a cliff- the implication is that all but two of them die, though their bodies are not shown. Some blood is shown being spat and around her mouth. The ‘curse’ that affects Ashitaka and others can be a bit disgusting- it looks like oily, black worms. The village where this takes place is made up of women that were saved from brothels, and reference is made to this as well as a few flirtatious remarks. Ashitaka does get shot, and he does bleed.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Spirited Away (anime)
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (manga and anime)
Origin: Spirits of the Past (anime)
Earth Maiden Arjuna (anime)
Seirei no Moribito (anime)

1 comment:

  1. Also note the quality of animation - it almost goes without saying for a Studio Ghibli production, but the animation in this film is amazing. Long after I forget the quality of animation in many anime movies and OVAs, there are some specifically gorgeous shots from Princess Mononoke that remained ingrained in my memory (ex. the grass growing when the forest spirit walks on it; the opening scene with the tubule-like possession of the boar). A spectacular film and a really standard-bearer for how beautiful, powerful, and intellectually satisfying an anime film can be.