Once upon a time i was a massive fan of Anime, back in the days of Toonami, Dragonball Z and the like. But i grew up and stopped with those shows. Once again my days in college and my access to Netflix revitalized my love for new and great films. Mononoke is not just a great anime, but an overall great film
We begin the journey with Prince Ashitaka, one of the last of a samurai-like tribe. Ashitaka slays a demon that threatens his village but in so doing curses himself to a slow and painful death. As per usual, he sets out on a pilgrimage to find the source of the demon and perhaps find a cure. Far from home, he comes upon war, a war between the animal gods and the men harvesting their land for precious metals. Ashitaka is now forced to decide between preserving nature or aiding his fellow man. The title comes from the princess San, a girl much like Ashitaka that was raised byt he animal gods and fights on their side. This sounds really familiar doesn’t it? but SORTA SPOILERS: Ashitaka takes a much higher road than Last Samurai, Avatar and all those guys, He elects to fight for a union between the two worlds, not to crush or destroy.
Acting: it’s an anime so not much ACTING is done per se. The voice talent is a group of fairly well known names, and they each do a fine job, but it’s not spectacular. The character drawing is quite interesting. The animal gods don’t actually mouth their words when they speak, it’s almost as though they’re speaking with their minds to those around them. as for the human characters, not much can be said, they’re the same as any other Miyazaki characters (not to say they;re bad or boring, but they’re not that special).
Visual: this is where anime shines. Princess Mononoke was the longest animated film ever produced (it may still be). each frame is a painting and it’s 130~ minutes long. At 24 frames a SECOND that’s somewhere in the range of 190,000 individual frames, just try and imagine how much time that takes even with the aid of computer technology. The scenery is just GORGEOUS, between detail and color. Like i said it’s like watching paintings, not cheap cartoons. The intricacies of the backgrounds are astounding, it’s to be expected that great attention is paid to the foreground, but when the background of a shot that you see for maybe 5 seconds is as intricate as a landscape masterpiece… It speaks for itself, if that kind of detail doesn’t impress you i don;t know what will.
Audio: As i said the voice acting is fine. There is nothing particularly fancy about the sound effects. Guess that leads me to my audio ranting: the score. The music of Joe Hisaishi is fantastic. The stuff he writes is orchestra class material. I’ve always been a sucker for Japanese scoring, from animes to JRPGs, the stuff is amazing. The moods are very well carried in the music, swelling melodies for the epic journey and dark horns for monsters. Hard to describe (i swear I’m gonna use this copout every time but it’s true) but lovely, listen and you’ll see what i mean.
Overall: If you like anime and you haven’t seen it already, i don’t know what’s wrong with you. If you’re not an anime person you should see it anyways, it’s probably the most friendly anime to break in with. Like i said before, change it from anime to actors along side good graphics and you’ve got a blockbuster summer movie. It may be a bit long, but it never drags. The only drawback is the ending is a bit lackluster for me, but that’s entirely up to you to make your own judgments. Very high marks, a good film, Go see it.
Thanks again for reading, feel free to make requests and you’ll hear from me next week!