Anime Meta-Review


Mononoke Hime


By Date




Title Info

  • alias: Princess Mononoke
  • type: movie
  • grade: exemplary
  • people: Ghibli Miyazaki
  • form: both
  • dur: 135
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title is a personal favourite.
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: A while ago, i'll revise it eventually.
  • mod: none

The latest film from Hayoa Miyazaki, and in theory his last. Although after watching this you'll probably be hoping that such a terrible thing never comes true. That's because this film demonstrates the continued and sustained anime genius that studio Ghibli has come to represent. The story is set in historical Japan as the youth Ashitaka is drawn into a faraway conflict, that is both physical and spiritual. On one side is humanity with its need to expand, on the other the spiritual manifestations of the natural balance. As is expected of Ghibli the story is far more complex, and it is made clear that neither side is the `right' side which makes the exploration of this story very interesting. Indeed some have contrasted it to Miyazaki's first Ghibli film (Nausicaa) which is an interesting comparison both for the similarities, the pronounced differences and possibly the greater ambiguity of this later film. In addition, since this is a film of conflict, there is a great deal of action (some quite bloody) with all of the lead characters being very capable. Needless to say the action is amazingly animated and beautiful to watch (especially San, possibly the most agressive Ghibli Heroine yet).

The characters are also good with San (who features on the promotional material) and Ashitaka being centrally involved in the conflict but also being somewhat seperated by their heritage. Likewise the wonderfully complex Eboshi-sama and Moro, even as impersonations of their positions, are fully fleshed and believable (even sympathetic) characters. The strong action, rich story and wonderful eye for character (along with excellent animation) will draw you into the story of these characters. It must be mentioned however that this complex and rich story, with the long running time (2:15) will probably exceed the powers of the feeble of concentration.

The animation and production values of this piece are so obviously intended for cinematic release that it feels wrong to see it on anything else. The scenery, the solid environments and design, the music and voices are all superior Ghibli...which makes it just about the best there is. That said, I haven't seen it on the big screen, or the supposedly quite decent dub, because of Disney's limited ability to perceive of a world that isn't North America. A final comment, this is a mature production, both in complexity and action, and is probably not for young kids even though there is nothing gratuitous about it. Bonus points for Miyazaki delivering a admirable male hero (Ashitaka, probably the most direct equivalent to Nausicaa) which in anime is relatively rare. Final summary : see this film.

As part of the Kino's Japanime festival I got to see the only Melbourne showing. While I couldn't help feeling that a lot of the dialog was re-ordered and some emphasis shifted (especially for the comedy elements) it did seem to fit the spirit of what I was seeing. The voice actors were pretty good, although San seems much `younger' and informal (even by english standards) in her speech and Gillian Anderson was wasted as moro. If you have to put an obvious filter over the actor perhaps you've picked the wrong actor? Certainly acceptable enough, especially for a disney dub. The experience of seeing this film in a cinema also led to some other musings on cinematic anime, which I have placed in the miscellanea page.

THEM adore it, but note the violence and action focus in this review. There is also a entry from Lord Carnage which is mostly a story synopsis, but gives it five stars and says "I wish I could go higher". There's a new review by the anime critic who find it to be a complex story with amazing production quality.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:22 WST 2009