Not to be confused with the 2007 anime by Toei and Kenji Nakamura, not that I’m expecting anyone would confuse this movie for the much less famous TV series. Mononoke Hime, aka Princess Mononoke, is widely considered to be one of the better Ghibli films, and I understand why. Yes, it does do that whole shtick with nature being “good” and industrialism being “bad”, but I didn’t find it as obnoxious in this movie as in, for instance, Laputa.
And I’m not exactly sure why that is. It could just be that I found the world in Mononoke Hime to be more fleshed out or that the story surrounding Ashitaka’s curse ties into the nature theme in a very organic way. Because I did find the symbolism of the curse to be very interesting even though it wasn’t the subtlest of symbols. I also liked the way the conflict between the Iron Town and the animals was portrayed, because unlike in most other stories of this kind the people of the Iron Town themselves were portrayed as normal people, not as evil people.
The only real issue I had with the movie was the back-and-forth traveling between the forest and the Iron Town. It’s not a problem unique to Mononoke Hime, it’s a pretty common pattern in adventure movies, but I just feel like the over 2 hours of runtime could maybe have been used differently. This isn’t a grave complaint, though, because as I said the Iron Town people are portrayed as normal, not evil, people, which means that I found them relatively interesting as far as adventure movie antagonists in general go. That’s one of the strengths of this movie.