Some years ago, as I wandered the Hollywood Video in search of something new to watch, I began a conversation with the lonely worker sitting at the cash register. As he began to figure out my interests, his eyes shown and dove into the labyrinth of video tape shelves. As he presented me a box with the normal yellow logo of the store I tried my best to pronounce the name. As he told me it meant spirit or monster, I questioned him further about what was inside.
It was Princess Mononoke.
Even 20 years after its initial release, Princess Mononoke seems to be a timeless classic. Set in the late Muromachi period (approx. 1336 – 1573), the film chronicles the story of Prince Ashitaka of the withering & beaten Emishi tribe. As a result of an infection following an attack by a demon-god, the prince has been cast out of his home and goes in search of a cure. He soon finds himself in the middle of a war between a village led by Lady Eboshi, and the forest gods whose resources are being used up by the villagers.
What is in a name? With the term Mononoke having two meanings, it parallels the movie in several layers; two worlds clash with the amazing characters carefully created in the series, as well as inside the princess.
When I was younger, so many messages in this movie flew over my head, and yet I stayed glued to the television; my butt firmly on the floor as I sat silently with my Dad, who was equally fascinated with the movie. As he relaxed on the couch behind me, I didn’t hear once about being in close proximity to the television would ruin my eyesight as we both stayed there in silence until the credits rolled. The movie tackles heavier and deeper subjects including deforestation, poverty, and survival without favoring the humans or the animals. The mystery surrounding the Princess made me want to mimic her personality traits, especially her bravery. Stirring up sadness, laughter, and questions about right and wrong, I couldn’t be happier for its 20th Anniversary. I know I will be celebrating it by watching my own copy purchased some odd years ago.