Princess Mononoke combines traditional hand–drawn animation with cutting–edge computer-generated imagery and a robust screenplay written by Miyazaki. When a giant boar covered in writhing worms attacks a small village, a young man named Ashitaka bravely defends his community and is wounded in the ensuing battle. When his wound begins to fester, Ashitaka leaves his village to discover the origin of the boar's curse. He soon encounters Lady Eboshi and the inhabitants of Irontown, who have leveled the nearby forests for lumber. The woodland creatures, led by Princess Mononoke, battle the residents of Irontown in an attempt to preserve their once-lush forest. Only Ashitaka believes that humans and the creatures of the forest can peacefully coexist.
Anime, the style of animation Miyazaki uses here, originated in Japan and evolved from Japanese manga (comic books). Anime films often include highly stylized futuristic environments and unnatural-looking characters. The narratives are frequently violent, with conflict, both physical and spiritual, at their core. Initially favored by adolescent viewers, traditional anime films and current commercial offerings such as those directed by Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, and Isao Takahata now appeal to a more demographically diverse audience. In Princess Mononoke Miyazaki comments on contemporary debates about irresponsible manufacturing practices, climate change, and the intrusion of development on nature by deftly creating an allegory of conflict between humans and the natural world.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 159.