Flashback Friday: Princess Mononoke
(Image: Studio Ghibli)
Today starts our series called Flashback Friday. Here, we will discuss classic video games, films, TV shows, and comics that impacted our love of pop culture. This week marked the 20th anniversary of the classic anime film, Princess Mononoke. What better way to kick off our series than discussing this classic film.
Princess Mononoke was released in Japan in 1997 and received an American release in 1999. It marked the 9th theatrical release from Studio Ghibli and the 6th film by acclaimed animator/director Hayao Miyazaki. The film takes place during Medieval Japan and begins when a small village is attacked by a demon like creature. Prince Ashitaka, slays the demon before it can attack the village but before his arm is cursed by the creature. After careful observation by the village elders, it is determined that this demon was once a boar god by the name of Nago. The corruption came from an iron ball found lodged inside the boar. The elders tell Ashitaka that a cure may be found in the western lands where the boar originates. I will not say more about the plot as I do not wish to spoil the story for those who may yet to see this fantastic film.
Princess Mononoke was my first exposure to the talent of Miyazaki. I have since watched all of the films from Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, but this film remains my favorite. This is the most mature and darkest tale from Miyazaki, but also I believe his most symbolic. The themes of the environment clashing with the on coming industrial age are just as relevant as ever. The animation is absolutely superb blending classic hand drawn styles with some computer animation. Worth mentioning is the score by Joe Hisaishi which is elegant and personal for a film of this scope. The English language translation of the film was done by famed novelist and comic book writer Neil Gaiman, who did a wonderful job of making it understandable for American audiences while keeping it distinctly Japanese. I would rank this film among some of my favorite films of all time. It holds up very well and I believe it will to continue to age well.
Princess Mononoke features the voice talents of Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Gillian Anderson, Minnie Driver, Billie Bob Thornton and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The film is out on Blu-Ray and digital and if you have yet to see the film, do yourself a favor and see it right now.
Written by Eddie Sampson