Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: F
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
- MSRP: 32.99
- Running time: 134
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Princess Mononoke
By Kevin Askew
February 16, 2002
Release Date: December 19, 2000
Audio-The audio is very good, with both a English and a Japanese 5.1. French however is only 2.0, but if you are like myself, the English and the Japanese audio is all that matters. If you do not have surround sound, I would strongly recommend waiting until you can get to a T.V. that does. Surround sound can be really noticeable during some of the exciting scenes, which is nice. The man is charge of the music is Joe Hisaishin, and his music is wonderful. It fits the movie perfectly and really helps the emotion of each and every scene. I bought the sound track since I liked it so much and I have never bought a movie soundtrack. Each time I listen to one of the songs on the soundtrack, I can instantly tell what part of the movie it comes from. Amazing job on the music.
The English version's dialog fits very well with the mouth bleeps and yet the translation does not suffer. Only a little extra dialog was inserted during scenes where you can not see the character's mouth. This was done to help explain some things that American viewers might not understand. This really doesn't bother me, but there will be some people who will complain.
Extras-This is the area the disk lacks in. There are only two extras on the disk! No Easter eggs either (that I know of). One of the extras is the movie trailer for PM, and the other is a short talk with some of the voice actors. While I don't really care for the movie trailer (it's hard to sum up the plot of this movie in a two minute trailer), what the voice actors had to say was interesting. One other little thing that was added was two different subtitles. One the English translation for the hearing impaired and more importantly second, the literal translation for the purists. This is the only part of the PM DVD that I feel needs to be improved.
Menus-The menus are short but sweet, meaning there aren't very many menus because of the lack of extras, but they aren't confusing and the artwork in the back fits.
Video-The picture is sharp and clean, which I really appreciate because this is the best animation I have ever seen! It has a higher frame rate than most anime, and the attention to the smallest detail is breath taking. When Ashitakka rides on a running Yakuru (his red elk) through a luscious green forest, not only do you see the beautiful use of shadows, but the trees used in the background don't repeat themselves. I'm pretty sure it is the same with when it rains although that is harder to tell. Some computers were used in the making of about 10% of the cells, but Miyasaki made sure they blended in and weren't noticeable, unlike a lot of anime that use computers. I couldn't even tell computers were involved until I read about it online. Also this is a bright film, filled with life. The colors are so bright and the forest so magnificent, that you wish you could visit a place like this. Every time I watch this it makes me want to run outside and go to the woods near my house. Now on to the packaging.
Packaging-The packaging is average. It is original art, which I usually prefer over a scene from the movie (though this artwork is close to a scene from the movie). It contains Ashitakka sword fighting someone behind the point of view (lady Eboshii?), with Iron town and kodamas in the background. The swords are tin foil, which I think is okay, but the writing below the title says "The fate of the world rests on one boy." This isn't true. A forest in Japan rests on the fate of one boy, not the world. Overall the packaging is pretty good, but could be better.
Content-Princess Mononoke is a magnificent story about a young boy named Ashitakka, and his attempts to bring peace between the humans and the animals of the forest. The main theme of this movie is that there is more important things in life than hate, and that it foolish to waste time fighting.
The story starts out with Ashitakka riding his trusty red elk Yakuru through the forest. A few seconds later, he meets up with a young girl named Kaiya and her two friends, who inform Ashitakka that the watchman saw something in the forest. Telling the girls to go back to the village, Ashitakka rides off to the watchtower to talk to the watchman. On the way up the tall tower, Ashitakka notices something move in the forest. He continues climbing until he reaches the top, where he is informed by the watchman that he too saw something. The watchman concludes that it's not human, but then is suddenly interrupted by the instant death and decay, of part of the forest behind the stone wall ahead of them. The stone wall then explodes and out comes a monstrous spider like creature covered in worms, and complete with red eyes. The beast destroys the tower and heads straight for the village. After landing in some nearby trees, Ashitakka calls Yakuru and rides the swift creature down the mountain. Cutting off the spider-like monster, Ashitakka tries reasoning with. Upon seeing Kaiya and her two friends, the monster heads for the girls. Abandoning his feeble attempts at reason, Ashitakka pulls out his bow and shoots an arrow directly into the creature's eye. The nameless monster halts for a second, before the worms around it's body explode into multiple different streams, one of which grabs Ashitakka's arm as he flees. Breaking free from it's grasp, Ashitakka finishes off the creature with another arrow. The worms clear, and a giant boar is revealed to the village. The village's wise woman arrives, and talks to the giant dying animal. The demon tells the wise woman, that they all will suffer as he had suffered, then dies.
Back in the village, the wise woman tells Ashitakka about the giant boar's hate, and that it was caused by an iron ball found inside of him. She then informs him that the scar left on his arm by the boar, will spread through out his body, and soon kill him. She tells Askitakka to go to the land far to the west, and see what you can see with eyes unclouded. You might be able to find a way to lift the curse, she adds. She also tells him that he must cut his hair (a sign that he is dead to them) and leave, never to return. Taking Yakuru, Ashitakka leaves the village, saying goodbye only to his sister Kaiya, who gives him her crystal dagger (a necklace).
Let me first start out by saying this movie has a very wide appeal. When Miyazaki made this movie, he intended it to be for anyone in fifth grade or up, and it shows. You can show this movie to just about everyone and come away with good results. Most anime only appeals to a few people who like the genre or like anime. Especially a fictional, fantasy movie like this, but I have shown this to a dozen people, only one of which was actually into anime, and every single one of them liked it. My friend didn't want to see the movie, but after he saw it, it became his favorite movie and he brought it as soon as he could. I have even shown this to my grandmother, and I have never heard of her liking any kind of fiction. She usually doesn't even like anything that isn't historical, and she liked it! You kinda have to know my grandmother to get the full impact of that statement.
Some of the reasons I think this movie appeals to so many people is that it is a movie anyone can understand. It is one of the only movies I can think of that has a really good plot, but at the same time isn't even the least bit confusing. It also has a lot of action in it and can be violent, but the story's main theme isn't violence, so those who are a little less tolerant of violence can also enjoy it. The fights and action scenes aren't repetitive which helps the movie a lot too and the characters in this are very likeable, which is important because if you don't like the characters then you don't care what happens to them. If you don't care what happens to them, then you don't care what happens in the movie and then there is really no point in watching the movie. Another thing about the characters is there is no real "bad guy." Everyone has different points of views, and is doing what he or she believes to be right. Now I know you are probably thinking, I have heard this "it appeals to non-anime fans" thing before, and so have I. But those people are almost always wrong. That is why those shows aren't put in theaters- because they only appeal to a small group of people. This and maybe Grave of the Fireflies, are the only two anime movies I would say appeal to non-anime fans (not so much Grave of the Fireflies as much as PM).
Though this movie is a fantasy/drama, it is never too serious and can be quite comical at times. For instance the kodamas. These things are so hilarious! When I saw this in theaters I couldn't even look at the screen part of the time when these little guys would walk across it. But that was probably just me in my friends, because no other group of people in the movie theater thought it to be as funny as we did. Oh well, if the kodamas don't make you laugh, something else probably will.
One last thing I have to mention is the voice acting. I am very happy to say the voice actors are superb, even in the English version! This is the only movie I can think of, in which some of my favorite scenes are pure dialog. The conversations are very cleaver and keep you interested the whole time. Also the voices in the English version are close to their Japanese counterparts, making the differences in the two versions very minor.
Well, that about wraps up my review. Bottom line- if you are open minded, you will like this movie. If you are not open minded, you'll still probably like this movie.
9 inch GE T. V. and a playstation 2