Princess Mononoke is a brilliant fantasy anime film about a man named Ashitaka, who comes from a small, dying village. The forest is dying because of humans, and a demon comes in a fury to try to kill Ashitaka’s village. He kills the beast, but in the process it touches his arm and he becomes cursed, and it will soon kill him. The village elder tells him to go and find the Forest Spirit, who may be able to lift his curse.
On the way Ashitaka meets Lady Eboshi, who runs Iron Town, which mines the ground in the forest to make iron. He learns that Iron Town was responsible for turning a god of the forest into the demon that cursed Ashitaka; they continue to chop down the forest and anger the other forest gods. Ashitaka has to stop Lady Eboshi from killing the forest spirit, and he also has to stop San (Princess Mononoke), the girl raised by wolves who is trying to protect the forest, from killing all the humans and getting herself killed in the process.
Hayao Miyazaki is the best Japanese anime artist and director there is, and Princess Mononoke is one of his very best anime movies, filled with lots of action and romance. Fighting demons is just the beginning! This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I have lost count of the times I have watched it. And it’s not just me – Roger Ebert included it on his list of the best movies of 1999 – not the best animated movies, the best of ALL movies!
Recommended age: 12 and up for fantasy violence and gore and disturbing imagery.
Voice acting by: Billy Crudup (Ashitaka); Claire Danes (San/Princess Mononoke); Minnie Driver (Eboshi); Billy Bob Thornton (Jigo); Gillian Anderson (Moro The Wolf); Jada Pinkett-Smith (Toki).