I’ve never really been all that big a fan of anime. My experience of this animation style starts and ends with watching Yu-Gi-Oh! on CITV when I was a kid. But now that I’m old and trying my best not to paint fans of anime with the same brush, I find myself investing time into the work of Studio Ghibli. Popular stuff, I know, and nothing short of enjoyable in more or less every film they craft, films like Princess Mononoke offer glimmers of hope that the genre of anime isn’t all just soppy love stories and the internet stereotypes we love to laugh at.
Mythical creatures and demonic spirits carve out an engaging story, but the humans within this tale are nothing out of the ordinary. The typical battle of good versus evil manages to get a nice boost due to the mythology that surrounds it, the simplicity of such a tale is easy to follow and leaves room for the visuals to excel. We should expect nothing less other than extraordinary animation from Studio Ghibli, and it’s nice to see that their work in Princess Mononoke is possibly some of their most creative stuff. The darker, serious tones of the film make for intense detail and horrifying monsters, a real creative feat that blends Ghibli’s traditional style with harsher, unremitting storylines.
Although traditional and expected on a surface level, the plot to Princess Mononoke offers up nothing less than the fantastical worldbuilding fans will have come to expect. Some of the best-remembered moments to ever come from the work of the studio span from this film. It’s laden heavily with engaging moments, most of which look truly amazing. The story of a young prince from a dying tribe is sent away to fight demons and restore balance between those that wish to protect the forest and those that wish to destroy it. A certainly interesting tale, its final thirty minutes offering up perhaps the best moments of the film with perfect animation, justifying the slow build-up it takes to reach this final, gorgeous climax.
Possibly one of the most visually rewarding experiences Studio Ghibli has to offer, Princess Mononoke is an aggressive action piece that doesn’t shy away from the guts, gore and bloodiness of its harsh, engaging story. A cast of somewhat forgettable characters pave the way in this delightful Ghibli tale. A visually pleasing film with a strong enough story to carry us through two hours of work that will rightfully be regarded as some of the very best available.