Posted by psgels on 23 November 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


If you want to know why Hayao Miyazaki is famous for his environmentalist movies, then you should watch Mononoke Hime, as the struggle between humans and nature forms a huge focus in this movie. This is the movie that ranks for many people as the best movie that came from Studio Ghibli. While I don’t share the same views, this does remain a worthy addition to their repertoire.

The setting of Princess Mononoke has actually quite some similarities with Nausicaä: humans need space, forest doesn’t like it and fights back, humans fight back and come to hate the forest and an ever-increasing cycle continues, until of course, the main character appears. The only change is that while Nausicaä took place in the future, Mononoke Hime is set in a past-like world, in which the industrial revolution has just begun.

If I had to compare the two settings, then I’d say that Nausicaä wins in terms of creativity. On the other hand though, Mononoke isn’t held back by a manga that went on for too long to make a proper movie about it. Most of the major characters and parties are fleshed out pretty nicely, and the major villain walks into an excellent line between good and evil. You can see why she’s doing the things she does, even though they’re morally unacceptable at times. One thing that also adds to the movie’s value is that there are many different parties that all have their own reasons to fight and be involved with the story, both on the human and forest-side. The side-characters are really the ones who make his movie shine.

And yes, there we go again: the same can’t be said for our two lovely main characters, like in most other action-anime that start a bunch of teenagers. A lot of predictability in the movie comes from the two of them, especially the male one. While most characters aren’t really good or evil, the two of them are clearly meant to be on the good side, and I blame them for the rather Disney-ish ending. This really is a mainstream movies: both in the good, and in the bad ways. Be also aware that near the ending, a few inconsistencies in the storyline appear, though to delve in them would be a bit spoilerific.

And while the setting may be less creative than other of Miyazaki’s movies, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any creativity at all. For Mononoke Hime, Hayao created a fascinating world, especially the iron-factory where the women have basically become equal to the men is something I’ve never seen delivered in such a believable way, especially considering the time in which the movie is set. You can clearly see that Hayao is a huge feminist as well.

I finally understand why Ghibli has become such a big name. Hayao Miyazaki knows exactly what it takes to make a movie mainstream, and yet creative and good. While a few things had to be sacrificed for this (most importantly, the rather dull male lead and the cute and mysterious girl that is the female lead), this turned into a worthy movie. While the animation isn’t as revolutionary new as the movies that he produced in the 1980s (apart from perhaps the few elements of CG), they still look as beautiful as ever, with quite a nice musical score added to it.

4 Responses

  1. Lika says:

    On the other hand though, Mononoke isn’t held back by a manga that went on for too long to make a proper movie about it.

    Actually, I just want to point out the movie only covered 1/4th of the manga because only 1/4th of the manga had been written until then.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Ack! There was? Now that you mention it, that might explain as well wy the climax felt so forced and Disney-ish.

  3. L.A says:

    Oh no! If you only had watched this in a theater….I know you could give better score than that, the sound track of this movies is just a masterpiece!
    Well anyway, I personally think Mononoke Hime was more like Seirie no Miribito to me than Nausica….

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  • mike
    (Saturday, Aug 29. 2015 12:30 AM)
    WW2 is a overcrowded genre, but not many modern manga touch on the subject. This is as close to the civilian side of WW2 as I could find over the years. It’s not Kouji’s best work, but it’s not a boring read either. http://m.mangafox.me/manga/love_letter_seo_kouji/
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 11:33 PM)
    @;(: Its a crowded genre I’ll admit and its hit or miss for me, all the war story stuff out there. I think I’d like to see more world war 2 films that focus on the common man living through it than the soldiers.
  • ;(
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 10:37 PM)
    @Emma: sounds interesting. WWII is a very interesting period, but also a very depressing one… To be honest though I find it hard to like war stories. They are either depressing or tacky to me.
    Also just read Billy!!! I have no idea what happens no more… The bat never makes any sense…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 09:41 PM)
    Reads latest sidonia chapter: Dem feels, dem feels.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 08:38 PM)
    Which reminds me Apocalypse meow would probably be Japans answer to Spielgemann’s Maus.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 08:37 PM)
    And I am happy to call onward towards their noble deaths the manga equivalent to Stanley Kubrick’s paths to glory.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 08:35 PM)
    @;(: Theres an old autobiographic war manga from the early 70s called onward toward their noble deaths that deals with personal experiences of the author during the second world war thats worth buying/finding, obscure manga.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 08:32 PM)
    @:(: He definitely enjoyed SMT3 despite it giving him a hard time. I think he found the persona 3 movies to be decent at least.
  • ;(
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 08:27 PM)
    @Jerkoff: I have no idea how you can say that considering you’re not even legal yet…
    @Emma: well I only played the Japanese dub. And I think Rises voice sounding like that was the point since she’s an idol. But to be honest I disliked persona 4 so… That said all other SMT games seem to be more his style. Well maybe except persona 3. (But it’s still way way better than 4 in my opinion.)
    BTW I also find war in anime and manga to be very unrealistic many many times.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Aug 28. 2015 07:29 AM)
    *avoids

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