|Directed by||Hayao Miyazaki|
|Written by||Hayao Miyazaki (English adaptation by Neil Gaiman)|
Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) is an animated film from Japan. Released in 1997, it is the film that first bolstered Hayao Miyazaki's reputation to international status. It remained the highest grossing film in Japan until Titanic was released.
Princess Mononoke begins in a rural village, but the peace of the village is broken by a rampaging boar god in his death throes. The lead character, Ashitaka, kills the boar god but is cursed for his pains. Because of the curse, Ashitaka is exiled from the village and sets out to discover who killed the boar god. His only clue is a lump of strange metal.
Ashitaka's adventure brings him to an ironworks facility run by Eboshi, a woman with a kind heart but a fierce mind for business. He discovers that Eboshi is at war with the forest animals and has been fighting with guns. Eboshi's main opponents are the wolf gods and a human girl who lives with the wolf gods. The iron workers call the wolf girl Princess Mononoke, which literally translates to Princess of the Spirits or Beasts. Ashitaka endeavors to end the war between Eboshi and the forest because he fears the results if hatred is allowed to spread among animals and people.
Significance in the Animation Community
Princess Mononoke is regarded as a landmark film in North America, though it is not quite as big in Japan. The film deals with very adult themes such as war, ecology, and gender roles. It is clearly not intended for young audiences (decapatation, loss of limb, and death are all graphically depicted), yet the film was highly successful. Therefore, numerous possibilities opened in the American market for movies in a genre previously considered child's fodder. Though American animation companies have been slow to move on this opening, a gradual movement is becoming visible, including recent shows such as Family Guy,The Boondocks, and Robot Chicken, all very clearly intended for adults.