Princess Mononoke (1997) – [subtitled]
I’m watching all the Studio Ghibli films chronologically and sharing my thoughts.

A masterpiece of film-making. An epitome of perfection.

Set in a time between times, on the edge where reality and myth collide, where gods and demons dwell in the realm of man’s emerging technological striations. A fight for balance emerges, nature verse industry, good verse evil, past verse future, myth verse modernity, individualism verse societal conformity. This movie is brilliant in bringing to life its characters without falling prey to traditionally perfect heroes and hateful villains. In fact, many of the character are so rich and complex that they are neither heroes nor villains, yet can and do oscillate between.

Lady Eboshi has create a town where everyone is treated equally, lepers, prostitutes, everyone no matter the race, sex, or who they were before, coming together to create a hardworking, caring community. She is, in many ways, the best of humanity trying to prosper for the benefit of her people. Yet, she is also the worst of humanity, as she is attempting to destroy without understanding, believing that the world belongs to man, not that man is simply part of the world.

San is the defender of the forest and of nature against the indulgences of man—heroic indeed. Yet she lashes out, willing to kill any human necessary to achieve her goal. Humanity is one thing to her, a plague that needs to be cleansed from this world.

Ashitaka, is the balance, the harmony. He befriends and assists both women, showing them there is only one side to the conflict—coexistence.

The beauty of the film cannot be overstated. The visuals and character design are beyond amazing and are a delight to watch. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are master craftsmen and it’s quite obvious the love and respect that has gone into every film this studio has released. That said, Princess Mononoke feels bigger, denser, more ambitious, than previous films. Simply, I cannot give any film a higher praise.