This epic film, staring the voices of Gillian Anderson, Claire
Danes, Minnie Driver, Billy Crudup and Billy Bob Thornton,
tells a deep story of conflict and the repercussions for one's
action. While protecting his village from a demonic beast,
Ashitaka becomes infected with a curse. Banished from the
village, Ashitaka goes on a search to discover the means by
which the monster was created. Before too long, he comes across
a magical forest, where he sees a young girl and three large
wolves. Not long after, he comes across a mining town, which
is in conflict with the spirits of the forest. At that point,
Ashitaka becomes a part of the conflict, even though he wishes
for a peaceful resolution and co-existence.
The strength of the story is not just that it tells a conflict
between the industrial development of mankind versus the power
of nature, but that the people involved are not so easy to
define. While you might be able to immediately label certain
characters, you'll find that everyone has their own reasons
behind their actions. Every character, even down to the smallest
bit part, is developed with enough heart to make the cast
fully believable. Everyone has their own reasons why they
do the things they do, so no single person can be defined
as villain in the conflict.
The animation is wonderfully stylish. Environments has a
watercolor style to them, giving a lush life to the film.
Characters all have realistic animation to them, with a good
degree of humanity given to the characters. The world is believable
and the difference between the forest and the mining city
are stark in intent and execution. Princess Mononoke manages
to deliver an lush visual story without the excess.
With such a big-name cast, there was always the chance that
some of the performances might not come off well, but the
main characters all sound and feel well executed. Except for
a few "stiff" performances, the English dub is pulled
While running well over two hours in length, the story is
paced well enough to keep you interested. By the time the
film comes to an end, you'll feel like you've been through
every aspect of the intense conflict. The ending comes across
as bittersweet but appropriate after such an intense buildup.
If you've ever enjoyed anime, you owe it to yourself to see
this magnificent masterpiece.