First of all, I’d like to say this is my favorite Miyazaki film. Why you might ask? Its the most powerful and thought-provoking of all his films. It also communicates a message very different since it has much darker overtones than his other lighthearted films.
While they may be enjoyable and powerful in their own way, they can never be compared to the stature of this film. I hold this one higher than the quality of Spirited Away. Which in my opinion is then the most overrated Miyazaki/anime film. This is the one film that Miyazaki completed perfectly because it gave you that feeling that it couldn’t get any better. The film has themes that even an adult could enjoy immensely.
The story basically can be summed up as Man’s conflict against the natural world.
While this may be a good summarization it also could be misleading because with Mononoke we don’t get a classic good vs evil plot. The fascination I have with this film stems from the many groups that are at conflict with one another and how no one is truly the evildoer. We have nature battling with human civilization while within itself there are humans trying to topple each other.
The story revolves around how self-destructive we are as human beings and how we haven’t realized we are innate in nature. The movie gives us parallels of the battles that the humans face with each other while still all congregating together for that one perceived enemy in the film, nature.
All in all the film tries to communicate a deep message through the story and it leaves the viewer with a lasting impression.
The characters in this film are fascinating. Particularly Ashitaka and Princess Mononoke.
We follow the story through Ashitaka’s experiences with the different warring groups in the story. He always is the rational character in the movie and he openly tries to correct the irrationalities the other characters have. He serves as the medium which communicates the overall story and how meaningless the conflict can be found to be. He is extremely brave and he usually gets himself in dangerous situations in order to show the others their incorrect ways.
Princess Mononoke is another intricately created character that is full of mystery. She seems to detest fellow humans for their selfish egotism and hostility towards the earth and its inhabitants.
Lady Eboshi is the character some may mistakenly confuse for the villain of the movie. I think this would be more prevalent with western viewers like myself. The reason for this is they might seem to mistake her as another modern-day oil baron except she is much more than that. Her main goal is to protect her people, particularly the other women who live in the city. She feels in order to do this she has to pursue the industrialization of her city in order to protect her people from the samurais and beasts of nature.