Monday, August 17

Blind Spot: Princess Mononoke

I’ve made it my special mission to finish all works released by Studio Ghibli, or at least the ones I can get my hands on. I’ve never really had the trouble of sitting through one of the films, until I’ve began watching Princess Mononoke. It’s safe to say that this is one of the studio’s high profiled works, with its content a bit darker compared to its counterparts. As much as I was willing to love it, something in the film did not sit with me – the fact that I had a hard time sitting through it should have already raised a few red flags.

Princess Mononoke starts off with the invasion of Nago, a boar demon that used to be a protector of the forest. When Ashitaka defeated it, he had been affected by the curse and must now go to the Dear God to possibly have it removed. On his journey he encounters a warring nation, a citadel lead by Lady Eboshi launching a war against the forest, particularly the wolves. San, the daughter of Moro, commands the wolves. Her mission is to kill Lady Eboshi in order to save the forest. It turns out that the humans are slowly chopping off trees in order to make more of their weapons. 

The film does not fail in terms of characterization. Ashitaka is a just protagonist, and the women he encounters have strong personalities with their own beliefs and principles they abide by. Their personas abide with the conflict of the story, with him playing some sort of mediator between the two grounds. The animation of the film was good; the tones are very earthy and its lack of vibrancy suggests darker themes, which suited the grittier parts of the film. 

So what failed to resonate with me? Sadly I do not have a clear answer to that. It was a well-rounded film with strong characters, a direct story and great animation. When thinking of the studio’s body of work, San can make a memorable character, but can be quickly overshadowed by other notable characters. Mononoke’s story does stand out from the works of Hayao Miyazaki, but it is his other acclaimed creations that take the lead. 

Princess Mononoke can be considered as a masterpiece, but when Ghibli talks arise, does it still stand out against time, or does it get pushed aside for other notable works?


Final Word: It was quality work, but not one of my favorites from the studio

Cast: Yoji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yuko Tanaka
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Year: 1997

16 comments:

  1. One of my friends loves Studio Ghibli and Princess Mononoke is his favourite Ghibli film. I myself have only seen Spirited Away (which was my January Blind Spot) and The Cat Returns dubbed version (the less said about that the better) but I do want to watch more. When I watched Spirited Away I found it really hard to talk about because it was unlike anything I'd ever seen before, no bad thing but it was difficult to decipher what I meant so I totally get where your coming from! I have to say in terms of notable works Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro are the ones I hear about the most, Princess Mononoke would be third though I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Princess Mononoke is very notable, but the film didn't live up to its expectations, at least on my part. I haven't seen The Cat Returns, but enjoyed Spirited Away.

      Delete
  2. I had the same feeling with this one. Something just didn't sit quite right with me. It's been a few years since I've seen it so I want to go back and see if that's still the case. Great review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I might have missed something in my initial viewing; I was disappointed that the film did not live up to its reputation.

      Delete
  3. I've been meaning to see this after watching Spirited Away this year. I think I might try Ponyo first, then this. I'm sorry you didn't like it a bit more, but it still seems like a good score over all. Nice write up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ponyo is adorable; it reminded me of a story I use to read when I was a kid. The film was well-made, but there was something missing.

      Delete
  4. I'm kind of with you here as well. I liked it...but it didn't strike me as strongly as I expected based on the reputation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reputation-wise, it doesn't hold up so well compared to the other films.

      Delete
  5. I don't really love it either but then again I don't like anime in general, barring Grave of the Fireflies of course

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen Grave of the Fireflies, planning to remedy that soon.

      Delete
  6. No shame! It's weird when we don't connect with movies we're "supposed" to like, but there it is. Good on you for giving it a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I had a couple of those this year alone (Annie Hall, The African Queen, Citizen Kane); they're all worth watching but I didn't find myself 'falling in love' with these films.

      Delete
  7. I feel you mate. I think I have the same feeling with The Imitation Game too

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen that one yet, but I've been meaning to!

      Delete
  8. I love this film but I completely understand what you mean; when you look at many Ghibli films like Kiki's Delivery Service, Ponyo, Totoro (even Spirited Away in some aspects) it's much lighter and deals with lighter subject matter, so when you watch Princess Mononoke the dichotomy is a little tough. Great review, though! I'll look forward to reading more of your posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Maybe in a few years time I'd appreciate the film more.

      Delete