On Sunday night, I stayed up late watching Princess Mononoke. Since Beth didn’t like Spirited Away, which I thought was quite good, I decided it would make sense to see this one alone. The fact that I had trouble staying awake should not be taken as a reflection on the movie’s quality, but rather on my crappy sleeping schedule as of late. Besides, once I decided to sit in a chair rather than lie in bed, I no longer had that problem.
I’d heard so much praise of this film that I was kind of afraid NOT to like it. Really, though, I think it deserved the praise. It didn’t hurt that it was very mythological in its themes, and that it was quite even-handed in its views. I’d heard before that Hayao Miyazaki is known for presenting many different points of view, and while there were hints of this in Spirited Away, it was central to the plot in Mononoke. Rather than a clear battle between good guys and bad guys, this film gave us several perspectives on the issue of human progress versus the preservation of nature, and the hero, Prince Ashitaka of the lost Emishi, was forced to mediate between the different sides. The main fight was between the inhabitants of Iron Town and the wolves and boars of the forest, but there were other complications as well. Perhaps too many, in fact. I can’t say, for instance, that the apes added a whole lot to the story. Still, they didn’t detract either. The animation was excellent, and I’m someone who’s usually not a big fan of anime. Yes, I realize that it isn’t fair to lump all Japanese animation into one category, any more than it is to compare the style of, say, South Park to a Disney animated feature. I think I’m mostly just reacting to the people who seem to LIKE any anime that makes it into the Western world, regardless of quality. But anyway, I’ve heard a few people mention that you can like Miyazaki without being into anime in general, and I’m in agreement here.