Anime is an escape from our everyday lives, it allows us to view an amazing new world while in our own. What makes anime such an enthralling escape is the moral lessons and teachings found in them that the viewers don't usually get in real life interactions. The world renowned Manga and Anime author, Hayao Miyazaki, struck gold with his 1997 hit Princess Mononoke, a tale of love, the human condition and ethical values. Combining all of these features turns this movie into a Classic hit that will forever go down in the Anime books as a masterpiece.
Princess Mononoke is a story based around feudal China. Humans are encroaching on the natural habitat causing a backlash from the forest’ inhabitants. Our protagonist, Prince Ashitaka who has been cursed by a demon and forced to set out to find the source of the demon, comes upon a village called Irontown that is raping the forest for its minerals. A girl named Princess Mononoke,or San to the wolves, spearheads the assault to stop the humans. Later on Lady Eboshi, the leader of Irontown,decapitates the Spirit of the Forest and sets loose an evil that threatens all living inhabitants of the forest. Ashitaka and San return the severed head to the Spirit and settle the crazed god. After the chaos settles and the antagonist (Lady Eboshi) realizes her wrongs, San returns to the forest to protect it and Ashitaka helps rebuild Irontown.
Throughout the movie, the presence of a romantic bond between Prince Ashitaka and Princess Mononoke is evident. He gets shot in the chest while saving San in Irontown by lifting the main gate that takes 10 men to raise all while bleeding profusely. Ashitaka passes out and San takes him to the Spirit of the Forest in order to save his life. These two care for each other deeply and go to extreme lengths to save the one they love. Ashitaka even dives into a demon infested boar king named Akoto to try and pry San out of his evil encrusted clutches. This movie proves that love, no matter how recent, can be worth fighting to protect. The connection between the two characters can be felt by any viewer regardless of being an Anime fan or not.
Lady Eboshi is a prime example of greed and pride corrupting ones soul. She lets her personal obsession with controlling the iron trade completely block out any sense of right and wrong, good and evil, ethical and moral choices in general. She teams up with the Jigo (the fat ninja monk) and together they try to completely eradicate the animals of the forest to get to the precious minerals beneath the mountain. The promise of fortune and wealth blinds both of them to what the repercussions of their actions are. They don’t care that they have disturbed the natural order of the forest, that animals gods have been forced to turn into demons because of the hatred brewing inside of them. The driving force behind the greed is, overall, the emperor who pardons Jigo before he even kills the Spirit of the Forest because he wants the recipe for eternal life. Just like modern day politicians or corporate tycoons, these two show us exactly how corrupt the human condition can be with the poison of greed.
Princess Mononoke is a posterchild for revolutionary Anime in the Western world. Unlike other Anime of the time like Dragon Ball Z and Inyuyashi that are all about fighting and comedy packed dialogue, Princess Mononoke focuses more on a serious, emotional background leading to a completely different experience than the aforementioned Anime. It contains all of the ingredients to an amazing Anime; Romance and family bonds, excitement and action, deep emotional connection with the story line as well as the characters, a completely different spin on any fantasy/parallel universe and much more!