The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Princess Mononoke

Title: Princess Mononoke aka Mononoke Hime
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: Studio Ghibli
Format: Movie; 133 minutes.
Dates: 12 Jul 1997

Synopsis: The Emishi people are under attack from a demon boar god. Its prince, Ashitaka, is compelled to save his home. Though he succeeds, a deadly curse is implanted upon him. Knowing his fate, he leaves his village on a journey for answers. He comes upon Irontown where the ambitious Lady Eboshi resides. His life is entwined with a mysterious girl named San and eventually, the battle between nature and civilization will unfold.

The Highlights
Visuals: Splendid.
Characters: Fascinating.
Music: Stunning.
Plot: Fantastic; drags at times.

Mix an exploding demon boar, a curse, a “never give up” prince, a ruler hell-bent on domination, and a girl who seems to have a bad case of identity crisis together and what do you get? No, not Mad TV or South Park, the answer is a brilliant and enchanting anime.

Princess Mononoke has a magnetic quality that Miyazaki Hayao and Studio Ghibli seem to be able to produce with ease. This is a film that grabs you by the throat from the very beginning and for two hours never lets go. It throws you into a feast for the senses with its top-notch animation and amazing art. The visuals are absolutely splendid and there is no low-point in terms of artistry.

This experience is only heightened by the fantastic music supplied by the incomparable Hisaishi Jo. The name Hisaishi Jo is synonymous with Miyazaki Hayao and Studio Ghibli productions and for excellent reason. He has under his belt many brilliantly composed scores and Princess Mononoke is no exception. Princess Mononoke’s music is a harmonious collage of emotion and energy, resulting in a one-of-a-kind musical experience.

Along with gorgeous animation and music, the plot and characters work wonders for the film. Clocking in at a little over two hours, the plot is able to express itself quite well. The beginning has an explosive and magnetic quality that draws in viewers whose interests are then piqued by the interesting plot twists throughout the film. The film then ends with a serene, yet effective quality to complete itself. The characters play off of each other wonderfully and support the plot. They are fascinating and have diverse dispositions and range from the cynical to the idealist.

While this film is worthy of endless applause and praise, I nitpicked one flaw. I felt as if this plot possessed a “dragging” quality, particularly towards the end, where it feels like the plot took a little too long to conclude. Odd as it seems, I personally doubt that it was the film’s length, for if it was shorter, the overall quality may have been compromised. Granted this may have been the climax that Miyazaki was intending, but it felt like the film was not getting to the end fast enough, for me at least.

When all is said and done, Princess Mononoke is definitely a can’t-miss. While it most likely would be realistic in saying that Princess Mononoke is not the greatest anime to date, but if one could bottle the beauty and charm of it, heck, that would make one marketable product. It has an unforgettable charm that continues to wow its viewers in a way that cannot be easily imitated.

The Rating: 10

Reviewed by: Genkisakura

Top of page