Overview

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫 , Mononoke Hime) is a feature-length animated film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. It is considered one of Miyazaki's masterpieces, taking sixteen years to design and three years to produce, with a recorded box office revenue of ¥19.3 billion yen, breaking box office records in Japanese cinemas at that time.

It is a jidaigeki (period drama) set in late Muromachi period of Japan, and centers on the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who consume its resources, as seen by the outsider Ashitaka. "Mononoke" (物の怪, Mononoke) is not a name, but a general term in Japanese for a spirit or monster.

The advertising slogan used to promote the film is "Live." (生きろ。Ikiro). The theme song "Princess Mononoke" (lyrics by Hayao Miyazaki / composed by Joe Hisaishi) featured counter tenor Yoshikazu Mera, a decision considered controversial at the time, but has since become a classic. The film originated in 1980 as early image boards by Miyazaki.

Roger Ebert placed the movie sixth on his top ten movies of 1999. "Mononoke" also became the highest-grossing movie in Japan until Titanic took over the spot several months later. Overall, Mononoke is the third most popular anime movie in Japan, next to "Spirited Away" (2001) and "Howl's Moving Castle" (2004), both by Miyazaki.

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born", a 400-minute documentary covering the film's production was released on home video on November 21, 2001, and a book with the same name was published by Tokuma Shoten on October 1, 1998.[1]

Plot

The Emishi prince, Ashitaka is banished from his village until he finds a cure to his curse.

Princess Mononoke follows the journey of the last Emishi prince, Ashitaka, and his attempts to make peace between the human settlement, Irontown, and the creatures living in the forest that surrounds it.

The film begins with Ashitaka saving his village from a vicious assault by killing a demon who is actually the giant boar god Nago embodied by rage. During the fight, Ashitaka receives a demon mark on his right arm, and he is cursed by the Boar God's hatred and pain. Ashitaka is told that the mark will spread throughout his body, killing him. A ball of iron is found inside Nago's corpse, which is somehow connected to the curse. Ashitaka resolves to journey to Nago's origin, the lands to the West, to try and find a cure for his curse. He cuts his hair, signifying his permanent departure from his village, and rides out with Yakul, his loyal red elk. Since it was considered taboo to see off one who is banished, only one person dared to say goodbye to Ashitaka: his 'little sister,' Kaya (according to Miyazaki, actually his bride-to-be; calling herself his 'little sister' was a term of affection), who gives him her crystal dagger so that he would not forget her.

San attempts to strike Lady Eboshi down for defiling nature.

Having traveled some distance, Ashitaka arrives in a forest full of animal gods, including the wolf god Moro. Also in the forest is the Forest Spirit, described as a "god of life and death", which takes the form of a deer during the day and a large shadowy "night-walker" at night. The forest lies beside a human settlement called Irontown which continually clears the forest to get to more iron ore, causing many battles as the animals attempt to protect their diminishing forest. It was during one of these battles that Irontown's leader,Lady Eboshi, shot Nago.

During the film Ashitaka travels between the forest and Irontown several times, trying to make peace. During Ashitaka's first visit, the village is attacked by San, a human girl who has been adopted by the wolves. Ashitaka intervenes to stop the two sides fighting and takes San back to the forest, but is injured in the process. With San's intervention, he is healed of his wounds — but not his curse — by the forest spirit.

The time of gods and spirits nears its end in the film.

Under the influence of Jigo, Eboshi sets out to destroy the Forest Spirit. The head of the Forest Spirit is believed to grant immortality; Jigo plans to give the head to the emperor; in return the emperor promises to give Irontown legal protection against the envious daimyos coveting the town's prosperity. Eboshi, however, suspects (rightly) that the emperor's agents are also assigned to take control of Irontown at the most opportune moment.

Despite Ashitaka's efforts, Eboshi succeeds in cutting off the Forest Spirit's head while it is transforming. Jigo collects the head while the body is transformed into a god of death, as a result the land becomes covered with a lethal black ooze, that completely destroys the forest and turns the land barren. To stop the spreading ooze from reaching the villagers, Ashitaka and San manage to take the head from Jigo and by returning the head to the Forest Spirit, the land becomes green again, and Ashitaka's curse is finally lifted.

Characters

Ashitaka (アシタカ , literally translates to "Leap" in Japanese) Ashitaka is an Emishi prince who was meant to become a leader of his tribe. While rescuing his village from Nago, the demon boar god, Ashitaka's arm is afflicted with a curse that will eventually consume and kill him. Under the effect of the curse, Ashitaka gains superhuman strength but causes him to grow weaker as time passes. Ashitaka is exiled by his village and sent westward to find the cause of the demon's corruption as well as a cure for his curse.

After arriving at Irontown, Ashitaka is caught up in the town's war against the mountain gods. Amidst the battle at Irontown, Ashitaka meets San and soon becomes enamored with her. Ashitaka takes San back to Moro and attempts to negotiate a ceasefire between the warring sides. He is unsuccessful. Throughout the film, Ashitaka develops deep feelings for San and eventually falls in love with her. It is stated by Moro that he wanted to share his life with her. At the end of the film, Ashitaka's curse is eventually removed and, though San and Ashitaka have grown close, they go their separate ways: to the forest and to Irontown respectively. However, Ashitaka promises to visit San in the forest whenever he can.

San (サン , translates to "Three" in Japanese) When she was a baby, the wolf goddess Moro attacked her parents, who were found damaging the forest. San's parents threw her to Moro as a sacrifice to save their own lives. Moro raised San as her own daughter, and in turn, San treats Moro as her mother and Moro's two natural pups as brothers.

San's primary concern is protecting the forest and the animals she lives with. San rejects her own humanity and even thinks of herself as a wolf. She has attempted to assassinate Eboshi of Irontown many times, as San believes that Eboshi's death will result in the end of Irontown and human growth into the surrounding forest. It is only by Ashitaka's affection to her that she slowly comes to acknowledge her human side as well.

After the battle for the Forest Spirit's head, San tells Ashitaka that he is very dear to her, but since she cannot forgive the human race for what they have done to the forest, she will continue to live apart from the humans. San returns to the forest and Ashitaka remains in Irontown.

Lady Eboshi (エボシ御前) A strong-willed and independent woman. Though seemingly callous and distant to others, she actually cares a lot about the welfare of her people; the guns they produce are primarily intended to secure their independence. She also takes in lepers, treating them as humans instead of parasites, and helps them with their wounds - a fact which Ashitaka acknowledges to the point that he cannot condemn her for inflicting him (indirectly) with the curse.

Eboshi has many enemies, including San, men, and the animal gods. Eboshi and her ishibiya troops are responsible for the cursed iron bullet in Nago which eventually affects Ashitaka. She shoots Shishigami's head off, causing him to turn into a God of death and send forth a dark liquid that kills anything it touches. The liquid falls on Moro's body, separating the head from it. After Eboshi throws Shishigami's head to Jigo, Moro's head resurrects long enough to bite off Eboshi's right arm. This event redeems her, and she decides to rebuild Irontown not as an industrial center, but as a modest settlement.

Jikobo (ジコ坊) An Imperial agent travelling in the disguise of a monk who was assigned by the Emperor to capture the forest spirit's head, in return for an entire hill of gold. The Emperor believed that the forest spirit's head would give him immortality. Jikobo used a pack of skilled hunters, and a group of his own men, to help him hunt down the forest spirit. He also manipulated Lady Eboshi to kill the forest spirit for him, in exchange for tracking it down for her.

Shishigami (シシ神(ディダラボッチ)An ancient spirit of the forest. During the day, Shishigami resembles a great stag-like qilin with many antlers, bird-like feet, and the face of a baboon. At sunset, Shishigami becomes Daidarabocchi (translated to the Nightwalker in the English version), a huge god in a humanoid form that appears to be made out of stars with a long pointed face and tentacle-like spikes on the back. Shishigami is protected by the Wolf Clan. As he walks, flowers bloom up at his feet though they quickly wither and die. He is capable of both giving life and taking life away. When Eboshi shoots off his head, he becomes a raging god of death and his starry appearance changes to a dark tar-like liquid that kills anything it touches.

Setting

A painted scroll showing samurai of the Muromachi period (1333-1573 CE). Rapid modernization as a theme is reflected in the film.

This story takes place in Japan during the Muromachi Period, which is considered to be the transition period between the medieval period and the early modern period. It is notable that the power of the shoguns greatly declined in this period. The landscapes which appear in Princess Mononoke are said to have been inspired by the ancient forests of Yakushima, off Kyūshū, and the mountains of Shirakami-Sanchi in northern Honshū.

Ashitaka comes from a tribe called the Emishi, which used to be natives of northern Honshū, that had been resisting subjugation by the Japanese emperor for centuries. However, the Emishi were defeated by the samurai of the Yamato clan, which proceeded to become the rulers and government of the Empire. The Emishi thus went into hiding, around the Northeast part of Honshu, Japan's largest island. By A.D. 1300, the Emishi were becoming integrated into Japanese society. However, Ashitaka supposedly comes from a tribe of the Emishi that had resisted integration and still lived in exile.

Director commentary

The film contains several themes and ideas Hayao Miyazaki has been wanting to tackle for some time. Toshio Uratani, director and author of "How Princess Mononoke Was Born", summarized five points:

  • A cavity of children's minds
  • Discrimination everywhere
  • The relationship between humanity and nature
  • Amplification of human hatred, the instinctive push to murder and destroy
  • Conflict between mysticism and rationalism

Uratani noted to Miyazaki that the film may be dealing with too many complicated issues at once. The director notes on tackling these issues more directly, "It's an unsolvable problem, isn't it? In the past, movies presented small problems that could easily be solved.."

Motivation of the hero

Shuna from "The Journey of Shuna" embarks on a journey similar to Ashitaka, but Miyazaki notes the lack of motivation with the former hero.

Miyazaki shuns the "loss of motivation" that pervaded popular Japanese animation protagonists. He cites this weakness in his own short story, "The Journey of Shuna", which was inspired by the Tibetan folk story "The Prince Who Became a Dog " (written by Hisako Kimishima , Iwanami Shoten). The main character, Shuna, sets out on a journey in search of "golden seeds," a grain seed that can save his village from poverty and starvation. The motive for Shuna's trip may be noble, but it lacked personal stakes and thus cannot be taken seriously. Ashitaka needed a motive that the audience could sympathize with, which then became a journey to cure a curse that was inflicted upon him.[2]

Furthermore, Ashitaka is forced to leave his village, thus becoming a a form of reluctant anti-hero. San is also portrayed as an anti-hero who is repulsed by Ashitaka and his hatred and corruption at first. As the story progresses, Ashitaka reverts to a "normal" protagonist.

Denial of past works

Hayao Miyazaki worried that his popular past works such as "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Castle in the Sky" gave Studio Ghibli this image that their films portrayed nature as benevolent and passive. With works like Isao Takahata's portraying nature striking back against human progress, he felt it was time and that he himself wanted to work on a film that thoroughly denied his past works. In an interview, Miyazaki said Ghibli should not try to cater to public expectations. He explains that once he perceive those expectations from people, he feels motivated to change them.[3]

The idea of "living"

The Boar clan and many of the other forest gods are already on the verge of extinction prior to the events of the film.

Miyazaki states the beasts and forest spirits in the world are already extinct by the time the film begins:

A population of 10 billion isn't wiped out when it reaches 200 million. In that sense, the beasts around (Mononoke's) world are already extinct and extinct (laughs). That's right. There used to be a hundred, but now there are only two left. I'm sure humanity will meet such a fate one day. It will be a gradual destruction. Our fate is probably like what happened at Chernobyl, when the old men and women who once lived there came back and picked up mushrooms, ate them and said, "I'm contaminated", but despite that, they'll go on living eating potatoes without any problems. You're supposed to live as if you were eating... Well, you can only say so much. Even so, I think I'm trying to live as best as I can, I feel like human beings are like that...

— "How Princess Mononoke Was Born", Pp. 136-137.

Behind the scenes

Number of drawings

Hayao Miyazaki oversaw nearly all key drawings in the film.

A typical Studio Ghibli film would produce around 50,000 to 70,000 drawings, but for "Princess Mononoke", more than 140,000 were made. Miyazaki was said to have put an extraordinary amount of effort and quantity into this work with the determination to "use up Ghibli". He personally checked each of the 144,000 cels in the film, and is estimated to have redrawn parts of 80,000 of them. This become a trend as "Spirited Away" (about 112,000 drawings), "Howl's Moving Castle" (about 148,000) and "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" (about 170,000) increased in scale and scope, resulting constant review of Ghibli's production system.

Hayao Miyazaki original story and image boards of "Princess Mononoke" in 1980. An English edition featuring these concepts was published on October 21, 2014.

When released, Mononoke was the most expensive animation ever made, with production of the film cost ¥2.4 billion (approximately US$20 million). The film's production is covered more extensively by "How Princess Mononoke Was Born", a 400-minute documentary that was released on home video on November 21, 2001. A book of the same name was also published by Tokuma Shoten.

A major point of delay during production was Miyazaki indecision on the film's finale. He ran several ideas through Toshio Suzuki that were quickly discarded. This gave the animators undue stress until Miyazaki finally finished his storyboards on time.

Yoshifumi Kondō was one of several animation directors for the film. After he completed his directorial debut with "Whisper of the Heart" (1995), he immediately began working on "Princess Mononoke". He was in charge of checking thousands of key drawings, and his workload only increased further after an animator was injured after a motorcycle accident. Shortly after the film was released, he was in talks with Miyazaki regarding their next project until he died of an aortic dissection or heart aneurysm on January 21, 1998.[4]

Kondo’s death led to Miyazaki temporarily announcing his retirement, which he later rescinded to work on "Spirited Away" (2001).

Transition to digital

"Princess Mononoke" was one of the last traditional cel animated films.

"Princess Mononoke" became known as the last film to use traditional cel-animation. The earliest use of CG in a Ghibli production was for Chage and Aska's animated music video, "On Your Mark" (1995) which was made prior to "Mononoke". At the time, Studio Ghibli had not had a dedicated IT department and its CG work had been outsourced to other studios.

Computer animation such as fluid simulation and particle effects was used during 5 minutes of footage, including blood effects on creatures and San's face. A further 10 minutes used digital paint due to the tight production schedule. The computer-animated parts are designed to blend in and support the traditional animation, and are mainly used in images consisting of a mixture of CGI and traditional drawing.

According to Steve Alpert in his autobiography, Michiyo Yasuda and a number of Ghibli staff were given a tour by Gary Goldman at Fox Animation Studios to learn about digital coloring. Fox was the only studio at the time that used the same digital coloring program as Studio Ghibli, and Yasuda, despite never using a computer, was a fast learner.

Background art

Yakushima Island in southern Japan helped inspire the film's setting. Ghibli staff such as Kazuo Oga did meticulous research trips in these areas.

Kazuo Oga, who was in charge of background art, visited Shirakami-Sanchi in 1995 to paint the village of Emishi, where the character Ashitaka lives. He walked around Ajigasawa Town, Tsugaru Pass, Tengu Pass, Hitotsumori Town, etc.

Promotion

Title name

The film took its name "Princess Mononoke" from an abandoned story idea of the same name by Miyazaki. During the film's production, Miyazaki visited producer Toshio Suzuki and said, "Suzuki-san, I'm thinking of changing the title, let's go with "Ashitaka" instead. Suzuki intuitively liked the name "Princess Mononoke", so he ignored Miyazaki's suggestion and went on with a production announcement on the television show "Friday Road Show" using its original title. After some initial protests, Miyazaki heard what was going on and didn't protest any further.

Advertising slogan

The film's catchphrase "Live." was coined by Shigesato Itoi. Itoi and Toshio Suzuki initially debated on which slogan they would use, ending with nearly fifty slogan proposals. The main candidates were (loosely translated from Japanese), "Are you scared or loved?" "You are dazzling." "Once upon a time, now." "Which do you prefer, death or life?" "Don't die."

Localization

『もののけ姫』_特報【6月26日(金)上映開始】

『もののけ姫』 特報【6月26日(金)上映開始】

Toshio Suzuki defied convention by releasing trailers of the film which featured gore and violence. At the time, Studio Ghibli films were known to be family-friend affairs. His strategy worked and the film gained much needed press attention until its release.

The film was promoted with the tagline "live." (生きろ, Ikiro). The inflection of the verb here indicates a meaning of encouragement, as in 'please live'.

The United States and United Kingdom DVD releases have both the English and Japanese soundtracks, together with subtitles for both the English dub and a more literal translation.

At Miyazaki's insistence, the film was uncut for the English release, so that only the soundtrack was altered. The English dub of Princess Mononoke is a translation with some adaptation by Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman. The main changes from the Japanese version are to provide a cultural context for phrases and actions which those outside of Asia may not be familiar with. Such alterations include references to mythology and specific names for groups, such as Jibashiri and Shishigami, that appear in the Japanese version, that are changed to more general terms, such as Mercenary and Forest Spirit, in the English version. The rationale for such changes is that the majority of non-Japanese viewers would not understand the mythological references and that the English language simply has no words for the Jibashiri, Shishigami and other terms. However, some critics (Michael Atkinson, Mr. Showbiz) have said that the translation from Japanese to English and the alterations in which it has resulted have weakened the film somewhat.

Toshio Suzuki brandishing a replica samurai sword he intended to delivery personally to Harvey Weinstein. When he met Weinstein, he shouted, "Mononoke Hime, NO CUT!"

The English dub received mixed reviews from critics. While most of the reaction was positive, others criticized the dub for most of its casting choices, notably Billy Bob Thornton as Jigo and Claire Danes as San, claiming that they detracted from the experience. Despite this love-hate atmosphere, the dub has been hailed as one of the best ever done alongside Spirited Away, which has been met with the same criticism.

The film has also been recently dubbed in Mandarin as well. There are not a great number of differences, and the translations seem to be accurate enough. Still, there are three translations mentioned of 'Princess Mononoke/ Mononoke Hime', while most of the other names use either Chinese or sound translations.

Instructions

According to Steve Alpert, Studio Ghibli and Tokuma Shoten's liaison to Disney, Miyazaki gave a short list of things to be aware of, or not do do, in making the dubbed version. Miyazaki's comments ranged from casting advice to concern about details in the film.

  • Don't bother trying to translate the title, it can't be done.
  • No contemporary language or modern slang.
  • Choose good voices; the voices are important.
  • Ashitaka is a prince. He's well spoken and formal; old fashioned for his time.
  • The Emishi people are a people that never made it into modern Japan: wiped out and gone.
  • Lady Eboshi's people are very low class; outcasts; former prostitutes, hustlers, crooks and reformed pimps; lepers. But she's not; she's from a different class.
  • Jigo Bo says he works for the emperor. The emperor is not how we think of him now. He would have been living in poverty and making a living selling his signature. Who does Jigo really work for? We don't know. He has a document signed by the emperor. It means nothing.
  • The things that look like rifles are NOT rifles. Rifles are a different thing. These are more like portable cannons. Do NOT translate them as rifles. They are not rifles. Do not use the word "rifles".[5]

Releases

In 1997, controversy surrounding the film propelled the film to box office success in Japan. According to the article, it took three and a half months for "Princess Mononoke" to reach ¥10 billion.

The film was extremely successful in Japan, earning 19.3 billion yen and roughly 14.2 million viewers. As of May 2007, the total number of DVD and VHS shipped in Japan reached 4.4 million copies. During its first TV broadcast on January 22, 1999 on the Nippon Broadcasting block called, "Friday Road Show", it recorded a massive 35.1% in the Kanto area and 40.8% in the Western Japan area. It was re-screened in 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic.

The film became a hit for both anime fans and "arthouse" moviegoers in English-speaking countries. In those countries, it was widely interpreted as a film about the environment told in the form of Japanese mythology. Box office revenue in Hong Kong hit a record of HK$6.54 million. Disney's Miramax subsidiary purchased U.S. distribution rights, but wanted to cut the film for American audiences (and for a PG-rating). Weinstein and several executives were worried the film did not fit the typical Hollywood formula at the time, questioning the lack of romance between the two leads to its sparse use of music and sound effects in several scenes. They also demanded more exposition be added to allow Western viewers to follow the story.

"Princess Mononoke" teaser poster.

However, Miyazaki balked at this, and the film was instead released uncut with a rating of PG-13. Miramax also chose to put a lot of money into creating the English dub of the movie with famous actors and actresses, yet when they released it in theatres there was little or no advertising and it was given a very limited run, showing in only a few theatres and for a very short time. Disney later complained about the fact that the movie did not do well at the box office. In September 2000, the film was supposed to be released on DVD in the U.S., but Miramax announced that only the English dub would be included on the disc. Outraged fans demanded the Japanese track be put on the disc as well, and the threat of poor sales prompted Miramax to hire translators for the subtitles, which held the DVD release back by almost three months. When the film was finally released on DVD it sold very well, due to no limitation in availability. According to Ultimate Disney, the film is due for a two-disc Special Edition treatment in the near future.

It was rated PG-12 in Japan, PG in the UK, M in Australia and PG-13 in the U.S. for images of violence and gore.

Reception

Leonard Klady of Variety wrote a positive review of an early release of the picture. On Roger Ebert & The Movies,the film received two thumbs up from Harry Knowles and Roger Ebert. Ebert also gave the film four out of four stars in his print review.

Music

See Soundtrack

Princess Mononoke (Image Album) (イメージアルバムもののけ姫 , Mononoke Hime Imeeji Arubamu) was released by Tokuma Japan Communications July 22, 1996.

Princess Mononoke (OST) (もののけ姫 サントラ盤 , Mononoke Hime Saundotorakku) was released by Tokuma Japan Communications on July 2, 1997. It was composed by Joe Hisaishi and features Yoshikazu Mera.

Awards

Alternate theatrical poster.

  • Best Picture; The 21st Japanese Academy Awards
  • Best Japanese Movie, Best Animation, and Japanese Movie Fans' Choice; The 52nd Mainichi Movie Competition
  • Best Japanese Movie and Readers' Choice; Asahi Best Ten Film Festival
  • Excellent Movie Award; The Agency for Cultural Affairs
  • Grand Prize in Animation Division; 1st Japan Media Arts Festival (by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Education)
  • Best Director; Takasaki Film Festival
  • Best Japanese Movie; The Association of Movie Viewing Groups
  • Movie Award; The 39th Mainichi Art Award * Best Director; Tokyo Sports Movie Award
  • Nihon Keizai Shinbun Award for Excellency; Nikkei Awards for Excellent Products/Service
  • Theater Division Award; Asahi Digital Entertainment Award
  • MMCA Special Award; Multimedia Grand Prix 1997
  • Best Director and Yujiro Ishihara Award; Nikkan Sports Movie Award
  • Special Achievement Award; The Movie's Day
  • Special Award; Houchi Movie Award
  • Special Award; Blue Ribbon Award
  • Special Award; Osaka Film Festival
  • Special Award; Elandore Award
  • Cultural Award; Fumiko Yamaji Award
  • Grand Prize and Special Achievement Award; Golden Gross Award
  • First Place, best films of the year; The 26th "Pia Ten"
  • First Place; Japan Movie Pen Club, 1997 Best 5 Japanese Movies
  • First Place; 1997 Kinema Junpo Japanese Movies Best 10 (Readers' Choice)
  • Second Place; 1997 Kinema Junpo Japanese Movies Best 10 (Critics' Choice)
  • Best Director; 1997 Kinema Junpo Japanese Movies (Readers' Choice)
  • First Place; Best Comicker's Award
  • First Place; CineFront Readers' Choice
  • Nagaharu Yodogawa Award; RoadShow
  • Best Composer and Best Album Production; 39th Japan Record Award
  • Excellent Award; Yomiruri Award for Film/Theater Advertisement

Home video

  • July 12, 1997 - Movie theater in Japan
  • Christmas 1997 - VHS release in Japan
  • 1999 - English dub version
  • 2003 - Newer VHS/DVD release in Japan
  • 2006 - DVD release in Australia
  • 18 November 2014 - DVD release in USA

Stage Show

"Princess Mononoke" costumed play in 2013 by Whole Hog Theater

Princess Mononoke 「もののけ姫」 is a live action stage performance by Whole Hog Theater, A British theater company. The theater company proposed the show through Nick Park (of Aardman Animations fame), who the forwarded the idea to his friend, director Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki gave the "GO" signal after seeing test footage created by the theater company. This was the first time that Miyazaki has allowed his own work to be performed on stage.

The play was performed at the New Diorama Theater in London, England. Tickets for April 2-3, 2013 were sold out within 72 hours, and the repeat performance on June 18-29 was sold out in four and a half hours. The show ran for 130 minutes, and was well received by viewers. In particular was the use of recyled material for some costumes and props. One reviewer noted, "Their work, they write, “explores the outer limits of [their] and [their] audience’s imagination” (quote), meaning they envision ways to translate seemingly impossible elements onto the stage, sometimes in straightforward physical forms, sometimes by means of more symbolic representations (e.g. a huge sheet of plastic foil becoming a forest lake) challenging viewers to suspend their disbelief and use their imaginative minds instead."

San discussing Ashitaka's fate with Moro.

The use of puppetry was also praised, "The puppetry also delights in its attention to detail, whether it be the glowing eyes of various creatures or the fact that the humans in boar skins are clearly distinguished from the real boars. Surprisingly, the Whole Hog’s marvellous use of puppetry combined with light and sound even manages to triumph with what I expected to be one of the most difficult scenes to adapt to the stage: when the deer god loses its head while transforming into the nightwalker, the world consequently falling to its terrifying doom." The play itself sticks very close to the original film's script, and its fast pace made up for minor inconsistencies and directorial decisions.[6]

In Japan, the show was performed at Shibuya AiiA Theater Tokyo from April 29th to May 6th, 2013. The cast includes Japanese actress, dancer and singer based in New York, Yuriko Miyake. She sings the theme song "Mononoke Hime". Non-human characters were represented by puppets made from used clothing, waste materials such as vinyl and PET bottles.[7]

Voice Cast

Characters Original Cast English Dub Cast
Ashitaka Yoji Matsuda (松田洋治) Billy Crudup
San Yuriko Ishida (石田ゆり子) Claire Danes
Lady Eboshi Yūko Tanaka (田中裕子) Minnie Driver
Jigo Kaoru Kobayashi (小林薫) Billy Bob Thornton
Kohroku Masahiko Nishimura (西村雅彦) John DeMita
Gonza Tsunehiko Kamijo (上條恒彦) John DiMaggio
Moro Akihiro Miwa (美輪明宏) Gillian Anderson
Hī-sama Mitsuko Mori (森光子) Debi Derryberry
Okkoto Hisaya Morishige (森繁久彌) Keith David
Toki Sumi Shimamoto (島本須美) Jada Pinkett Smith
Kaya Yuriko Ishida (石田ゆり子) Tara Charendoff
Kiyo Sumi Shimamoto (島本須美) Tress MacNeille

Credits

Credit Staff
Director, Screenplay Hayao Miyazaki
Animation Supervisor Kitarō Kōsaka, Masashi Ando, Yoshifumi Kondō
Character Design Masashi Ando, Yoshifumi Kondō
Executive Producer Seiichiro Ujiie, Yutaka Narita,
Chief Executive Producer Yasuyoshi Tokuma
Key Animation Atsuko Otani, Atsuko Tanaka (Telecom Animation Film), Eiji Yamamori, Hideaki Yoshio, Hiroko Minowa, Hiroshi Shimizu, Ikuo Kuwana, Katsuya Kondo, Kenichi Konishi, Kenichi Yamada, Kenichi Yoshida, Makiko Futaki, Mariko Matsuo, Masaaki Endou, Masako Shinohara, Masaru Matsuse, Megumi Kagawa, Michio Mihara, Noriko Moritomo, Sachiko Sugino, Shinji Otsuka, Shinsaku Sasaki, Takehiro Noda, Takeshi Inamura, Toshio Kawaguchi, Tsutomu Awada, Yoshinori Kanada
Animation Check Hitomi Tateno, Katsutoshi Nakamura, Kazuyoshi Onoda, Masaya Saito, Rie Nakagome
Background Artists Hiroaki Sasaki, Hisae Saito, Junichi Taniguchi, Kiyomi Oota, Kyōko Naganawa, Masako Osada, Naomi Kasugai, Noboru Yoshida, Ryoko Ina, Sadayuki Arai, Sayaka Hirahara, Seiki Tamura
Camera Junji Yabuta, Tamaki Kojo, Wataru Takahashi,
CG Masafumi Inoue, Mitsunori Kataama, Yoshinori Sugano, Yoshiyuki Momose
Color Design Michiyo Yasuda
Art Director Kazuo Oga, Naoya Tanaka, Nizo Yamamoto, Satoshi Kuroda, Youji Takeshige
Production Committee Akio Ichimura (Studio Ghibli), Daisuke Kadoya (NTV), Eiko Fujitsu (Studio Ghibli), Hidehiko Takei (NTV), Junko Ito (Tokuma Shoten), Kako Nomoto (NTV), Kazuaki Itō (NTV), Minoru Muroi (Tokuma Shoten), Mitsuyoshi Katsurada (Dentsu), Noboru Tsukahara (Tokuma Shoten), Nobuhisa Sakata (NTV), Noritoshi Aoyagi (Dentsu), Ryoichi Fukuyama (Dentsu), Seiji Urushido (NTV), Shigeru Kobayashi (Studio Ghibli), Shogo Komagata (Studio Ghibli), Shokichi Arai (Studio Ghibli), Shozo Katsuta (Dentsu), Sue Fujimoto (NTV), Takaya Noda (Dentsu), Tomoki Horaguchi (Studio Ghibli), Tomoko Kamiya (NTV), Tsutomu Otsuka (Tokuma Shoten), Yoshiko Nagasaki (NTV), Yushin Soga (Dentsu),
Producer Toshio Suzuki
Music Joe Hisaishi
Editor Takeshi Seyama

References

  1. How Princess Mononoke Was Born by Tokuma Shoten on Amazon.
  2. "How Princess Mononoke Was Born", Pp. 45-46.
  3. "How Princess Mononoke Was Born", Pp. 53-54.
  4. "Yoshifumi Kondō, Studio Ghibli's Forgotten Master", The Diplomat.
  5. "Sharing A House with the Never-Ending Man", Steve Alpert, p. 236.
  6. Marlies Gabriele Prinzl's review of "Princess Mononoke".
  7. Whole Hog Theater - Princess Mononoke stage play.

External Links

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