Known for meticulous animation and a minimal use of computers and graphic technology, Miyazaki and his animation studio, Studio Ghibli, have produced inventive stories and characters reminiscent of such authors as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. One of my favorite among them is Princess Mononoke, which proved to be a great feat in animation, as it grossed more than 160 million dollars at the japanese box office. The film is both beautiful and violent as Miyazaki’s creatures and worlds collide with the broader themes of human nature, survival and morality. I must also note that aside from Akira, this was one of the first full length anime movies I saw and it made my interest in anime grow even more.
The plot of Princess Mononoke started with a young guy Prince Ashitaka who eventually becomes the curse for his peoples in an attempt to kill the demon who attacked his village. This is the classic display of the battle between mankind and nature. Its this particular fight which gives him an unwanted gift of the curse that has now generated within him. This curse was so dangerous that he has to leave his village to find the source of this curse and possibly the cure.
The animation is smooth, colorful, and detailed beyond belief. Simple things, like water, are depicted beautifully enough to catch your breath. Movement is fluid and lifelike, and the use of light and shadows are spot-on.
The musical score is brilliant. It’s grand, magical, and always well timed. Rare for an anime soundtrack, silence is effectively used, often enhancing a scene’s atmosphere. It’s worth noting, however, that the Japanese track is significantly louder and fuller. While on the subject, the English dub track is very well done, with excellent performances by all but Billy Bob Thorton (Jigo the monk), but the Japanese version is still this reviewer’s choice. It has none of the embarrassing or awkward moments of the dub and none of the translation errors, making it the preferred track. This is the total package for what an anime movie should be. I assure you that this is just the beginning in a long line of reviews that spotlight on Studio Ghibli. Strong Recommondation.
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