Released in Japan during 1997, Princess Mononoke blasted
When young Ashitaka (Billy Crudup) is forced to kill a monster to protect his Northern Japanese village, the boar-like creature leaves a curse upon him. The discolored mark on his right forearm will slowly spread through his body until it takes his life. If Ashitaka hopes to find a cure, he must return to the land of the beast.
His journey brings him to Iron Town, where Lady Eboshi (Minnie Driver) operates an iron forge and manufactures rifles. But the industry's impact on the environment has brought the humans to war with the surrounding forest and animal gods. Ashitaka finds his loyalties torn between the improved quality of life employment affords and the forest's need to protect itself. Even more confusing are his feelings for the beautiful Princess Mononoke (Clair Danes), a human raised by a wolf goddess, who is helping the pack fight against Lady Eboshi.
Princess Mononoke, like other animes, does not follow the entrenched "good versus evil" stereotypes North American audiences have been conditioned to expect from animation. Instead, all of the characters are imperfect role models. Lady Eboshi's exaggerated feminist sympathies are compounded when all her male workers are portrayed as expendable buffoons, the Princess is driven by anger and hate, and Ashitaka ping-pongs between their persuasive arguments trying to balance man and nature.
Perhaps, because North Americans also associate animation with children's movies, the use of obscenities and violence are more glaring. While creator Hayao Miyazaki considers his work to be suitable for "anyone older than 5th grade," parents should be cautioned that the film contains many gory depictions including arms and heads brutally shot off, wounded creatures spilling blood, and demon's covered with blood like worms that form grabbing tentacles. Unfortunately, during those moments, the incredible animation seen through out the entire movie is not an asset for young audiences.