Anime Review: Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke
Dragon 777

Princess Mononoke is Japan's number one movie of all time. It is also the latest animated film by Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. In the summer of 1997 Princess Mononoke made headlines by breaking all attendance records for a movie in Japan. It replaced ET as a top grossing film. In the next year Miramax Films (owned by Disney) will release an English dubbed version to U.S. theaters. Right now the only way to receive this in the West is to import it on LD or VHS from Japan. The animation is visually stunning. For pure visual spectacle this film rivals other Miyazaki favorites like Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind and LaPuta Castle in the Sky. The visual images are some of the most stunning ever seen on film. Only other Ghibli films could compare to the animation quality. This makes Disney and some of the fantastic scenes in Mulan seem inferior by comparison. Joe Hisaishi has provided another wonderful, stirring musical score. The music had a wistful quality that reminded me of the Nausicaa: soundtrack. I would like to own the soundtrack to this film if I can find it. The story is very complicated and shows two group of characters in conflict with each other. This film is more adult in nature containing much more violence and blood shed as well as more complex story and themes than is usual in a studio Ghibli film. In the movie as in life, conflicts are not black and white. There is not a clear villain, both parties of the conflict are both right and wrong in their own way. Parts of this movie reminded me of the Tarzan story as well as Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind and Neon Genesis Evangelion. The story got a little bizarre near the end and started involving mythic gods and demons, but on the whole this movie is exceptional. I can see why the Japanese queued up to see it again and again. I look forward to seeing this on the big screen.

Update 1/ 2000 I have now seen the English version on the big screen and this movie is incredible! The English helps explain the mystic parts of the story. The English translation is great, the English voice actors are top Hollywood talent, and did an excellent job, especially Gillian Anderson (Skulley on X-files). This is a must see !!!

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