In a Land of Pure Imagination
Cursed during battle by a demon, Ashitaka leaves his village in search for a cure. He finds himself caught in a bitter — and bloody — feud between the humans of Irontown, led by Lady Eboshi, and a clan of wolf gods, along with San, a human girl raised by the wolves.
Adorable Child Alert
None! Everyone who has a speaking role is at least a teenager.
Lovable Anthropomorphic Sidekick
Yakul doesn’t really count, since he behaves like a red elk should behave. But he’s loyal and all majestic, so.
Even a serious epic like this isn’t devoid of cuteness. Although it’s CREEPY cuteness, in the form of the kodama.
This movie doesn’t sugar-coat the bloodiness AT ALL. Not very Disney at all, but its distribution rights for North America are actually owned by a Disney subsidiary, Miramax. So riddle me this: why has a film with a way less bloody girl, Only Yesterday, never been released on home video by Disney? There are obviously ways around putting it under the flagship Disney umbrella. (Yes, I’m still bitter.)
- Billy Crudup as Ashitaka
- Claire Danes as San
- Minnie Driver as Lady Eboshi
- Billy-Bob Thornton as Jigo
- Gillian Anderson as Moro
- John DiMaggio as Gonza
- Debi Derryberry as Hii-sama
- Keith David (Goliath from Gargoyles) as the narrator and Okkoto
- Jada Pinkett-Smith as Toki
Class Superlative: Greatest Impact
Princess Mononoke helped Studio Ghibli break into the worldwide market. While this would have happened sooner or later, since work of this calibre could only go unnoticed for so long, this was the one that started Ghibli’s international distribution deal with Disney. Say what you will about Disney (I certainly have), but they’re instrumental in getting Studio Ghibli the global attention that it deserves. Plus, it’s at the centre of Ghibli’s ‘no edits’ policy; rumour is, when Miramax wanted to make edits to it, they received a katana in response: “No cuts.”
As for the actual movie, it has similar themes to Nausicaä, with a more nuanced antagonist, and an emphasis that the environment needs to be actively protected. Big sweeping epics are Not My Thing, but I can still appreciate the artistry and storytelling for what it is.