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Princess Mononoke - A Fantasy Tale with a Message

Princess Mononoke is another magnificent tale from Hayao Miyazaki, one of the greatest animation filmmakers in the world. Mononoke is a historical fantasy anime film from Studio Ghibli. It was the highest grossing movie in 1997 and was included in the highest grossing movie of all time as well before the movie Titanic beat it.

Princess Mononoke is a gripping story of conflict between mankind and nature. The movie is more relevant today as we battle global warming and climate change. The film gives a very strong message while providing a great story and animation – a great feast for the eyes.

Combining the beauty of Japanese fantasy genre and historical period, Princess Mononoke takes you to a different kind of world which is saying something for an animated movie.

The Story of Mononoke

Mononoke is not a proper name. It is a word used in Japan for spirit or monster.

The story of Mononoke takes place in Muromachi Japan (a historical period). In an Emishi village, everything seems to be fine. People are going on about their life until this demon attacks the village. The demon is a wild boar and is rushing towards the village. The beast is killed by Ashitaka, the last prince of the village. But, he acquires a deadly curse in the process of killing the boar. The boar was corrupted and Ashitaka’s arms get infected by it.  Later they discover that the beast was boar god corrupted by something iron in its stomach. The elders advise Ashitaka to go to western lands where the demon Nago came from in search of a cure as he cannot return to the homeland with the curse still on.

On his way to the western land, Ashitaka meets a monk who tells him to find the great forest spirit who can lift off the curse from him. The Great Forest Spirit is described as a Kirin-like creature by day and a giant "nightwalker" by night. In the Irontown he meets Lady Eboshi, a feisty and ambitious woman who rules the town and wants the forest destroyed so that they can build machinery. While they are on their way they are attacked by a pack of wolves led by wolf goddess, Moro. Riding one of the giant wolves is the San. She is a human. While attending to the injured ironmen, Ashitaka meets with San near the river. He greets her but she ignores him and leaves.

In the Irontown, Ashitaka learns about San and that Eboshi plans to kill the forest god to claim the forest land and expand the Irontown. During this time, San infiltrates Irontown to kill Eboshi. But, Ashitaka intervenes and escorts San out safely. The curse gives him the great power but it will also kill him in the future if he does not find the cure. When San wakens she charges to kill Ashitaka, but stops when he wakes up and tells her that she is beautiful. She decides to take him to the forest.

Now the war begins between the humans and the non-humans to claim the forest. To save the forest a boar clan led by the blind boar god Okkoto is charging towards the humans. Meanwhile Eboshi is all set to kill the forest god. The boar clan is finished and Eboshi decapitates the Forest Spirit. Soon the forest begins to die as the Spirit oozes something that destroys everything that it touches. Ashitaka and San help retrieve the cut head and return it to the Forest Spirit. Ashitaka, and San are healed of the curse and the land survives but the Forest Spirit dies.  

In the end everyone vows to live in peace and protect the forest and its gods. Ashitaka helps build the Irontown and promises to visit San in the forest.

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