Princess Mononoke (1997) IMDb


Suzuki Toshio (producer), Miyazaki Hayao (writer-director).


Epic fantasy in Muromachi-period Japan (14th-16th century).


A boar god poisoned by hate threatens a village and infects a young man. Ostracized and dying, the man journeys to find a cure. He stumbles upon human plans to take the head of the god of life and death.


Realistic, amoral, complicated and serious, lacking the sentimentality that tinges so much of Miyazaki’s other work. This is despite the stag god looking like Miyazaki’s tribute to the senior prince in Bambi (1942). The boars remind me of the tusked ogre Humbaba in The Epic of Gilgamesh (ca. 2100–1100 BCE), another doomed and fearsome guardian of threatened nature. Some of the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) manga is reflected here. There is also a form of reference back to The Adventures of Hols, Prince of the Sun (1968), where the seed of Ghibli was sown: Ashitaka’s people is the Emishi, a small pocket of an old ethnic group marginalized long ago by the immigrating Yamato Japanese who have been totally dominant for many centuries. Takahata wanted the Hols project to be about the plight of the Emishi, but the studio refused. After 29 years, Miyazaki had the power.

References here: Ghibli movie titles, The title of Princess Mononoke, On the wall of Tataraba, The hand of a princess?, Legend of the Millennium Dragon (2011).

Ghibli Japanese production animation fiction moving picture