Going from almost absolute innocence to total darkness, this film caught me slightly off-guard as to just how epic it actually is. I mean, I always expected good things after hearing about if from a few people, but I didn't expect it to honestly have the potential to end up on my personal list of all time favourite films. Believe me, I know how abrupt that must sound, but this title has so much going for it that its scale can almost be compared to that of 'Lord of the Rings'. That's surely heavily debatable, but that's honestly how taken I was with this movie. It's likely to reach the #1 spot on my Ghibli film list.
We begin in an Emishi village where the last prince of the village, Ashitaka (Billy Crudup) takes down a demon-possessed boar, and in the process, has a curse placed on his right arm. The arm allows him superhuman strength, but he is told that it will ultimately consume him with pain and kill him in the end. His only hope is to head west to try to find a cure, and he is ultimately now dead to the rest of the village.
To make a long story short, Ashitaka soon finds himself caught in the middle of a raging battle between San (Claire Danes), a.k.a. Princess Mononoke, along with her wolf pack, and Lady Eboshi and her warriors. The most interesting catch behind it all is that, much like with a movie like 'Nausicaa', we can sort of see the villain's side of things when it comes right down to it. Where San is trying to protect her pack and the surrounding wildlife she can openly communicate with, Eboshi is trying to protect her people. It's one of these movies where you can almost find the good as well as the bad in every character.
The only truly good character here all around seems to be Ashitaka, as he has thins tendency to assist both sides. The thing is, the challenging side for him to help out ends up being San's - who we ultimately view as the "hero side". The exection of it is really quite interesting, and it shows the human side of the characters more than good vs evil.
On top of everything, this title also holds with it some of the best English dubbed voice acting, animation with absolutely breathtaking scenery, a truly epic soundtrack that totally sets the mood, and a whole load of originality and imagination. The whole movie is almost like watching some fantastic dream unfold on the screen in front of you. Let's also not leave out the fact that this title is ballsy enough to throw in some pretty heavy blood and gore at time, along with some cursing here and there.
For my money, this is the most epic Ghibli title of the collection so far. It runs approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, has a solid PG-13 rating with good reason, and if anyone out there reading this thinks these films are childish just 'cause they're animated - please just give this one a watch. It honestly kinda blew my mind with how thoroughly good it was. Indeed, I'd recommend it before a lot of other big 'Ghibli' titles I've seen. If you're looking for an epic-scale Ghibli title to check out, it's right here!
As anime is an all-around untapped resource for my viewing pleasure, I have decided to explore the Ghibli titles, one-by-one. It seemed good a place to start as any. I'll be focusing on these titles throughout the month of August.