Tag Archives: Princess mononoke

The Importance of Symbolism in Princess Mononoke

For my paper, I am going to delve a bit deeper into the symbolism of Princess Mononoke. I believe that Miyazaki uses specific characters, scenes, dialogue, and symbols that express the relationship between humans and nature that aren’t explicitly noted in the film. 

            I will introduce my paper with a brief definition and explanation on the relationship with humans and nature. This will introduce the film into the paper as being a symbolic example of humans and nature. My thesis will be “Although Princess Mononoke is an animated film, through its use of symbolic references and images one can see the relation of humans and the natural world in the realistic world outside the realm of the film”.

            In the first part of the paper I will summarize the film, focusing on the aspects of the relationship of humans and nature from the symbols. For example, I will skip some of the unimportant dialogue and focus on discussing the scenes that include the “evil muck” that infects the creatures and eventually the land and San.

            I will then discuss the kind of relationship that we humans must have with nature in order to live fulfilled lives. I will use sources such as articles from Taking Sides (an environmental ethics compilation) and various other articles that I have accumulated to discuss these relationships.

            The next part of my paper, I will describe each symbol that I identify from the film, and how each character, creature, scene, or object relates the philosophy of nature and human relationships.

            Finally, the last part of my paper will be a wrap-up of my paper, along with my thesis. I will conclude with describing the importance of maintaining a relationship with nature, even if it means the destruction of industry and other commodities that we have relied on for survival.



Goldman, Rebecca L. “Ecosystem Services: How People Benefit from Nature”. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007. 44-53. Print.

            I will use this article to describe the many ecosystems of the natural world. This article shows how specific ecosystems are important to human development and growth, and I can describe the citizen of Irontown wanting to create a sustainable environment within the ecosystem.

Attenborough, David. “This Heaving Planet”. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007. 246-251. Print.

            This article explains the problems of the growing population, which includes the destruction of the environment because of human influence. I will use this article to show how the humans in Princess Mononoke are affecting the natural environemt.

Berry, Wendell. What Matters. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010. Print.

            Berry explains the importance of work and culture for a community to survive. I will not only explain the community of Irontown, but also the community of the spirits of the forest and how they must too work for their species’ survival.

Berghoefer, Uta, Ricardo Rozziand Kurt Jax. Many Eyes on Nature: Diverse Perspectives in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and Their Relevance for Conservation”. Ecology and Society. Vol. 15, No. 1. Leipzig: The Resilience Alliance, 2010. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss1/art18/. 28, July 2013. Web.

            This online article explains the importance of the relationship between humans and nature. I will use this article to focus on how nature is something that humans should tend and care for.

Brown, Peter G. & Geoffrey Garver. “Humans & Nature: The Right Relationship”. Minding Nature. April 2009, Vol. 2, No. 1. Center for Humans and Nature, 2009. http://www.humansandnature.org/humans—nature–the-right-relationship-article-38.php?issue=5. 28, July 2013. Web.

            This article will help me to explain why humans should have a relationship with nature. Brown and Garver give specific examples of the relationships with the land that we already promote. This article, along with the film’s symbols, will help me explain the importance of the human/nature relationship maintenance.


Princess Mononoke

Well what we have here ladies and gentleman is a another classic version of man vs nature, except this time the nature actually talks back and fights. No blue monkeys or Indians shooting arrows at the big guys, but there’s still the guns on the side that seems to have the biggest advantage. My first question is why shoot the movie as an animation film? Well I would have to say that it’s mostly due to the Japanese culture, but also because it’s very “fantastic” in the way of myths, talking animals, spirits, gods, etc. Anyone have nerd status like me and seen the TV series on Nickelodeon called Avatar the Last Airbender (another foreign animation)? I think that there are several instances where this movie reminds me of the series because the evil “fire nation” uses its fire and machines to torch the earth. This time we see a “spirit” turned demon by the very materials pulled out of the earth. The intention to me to get this steel made is to see who has the bigger stick; either it’s going to be Iron Town or the Samurai attacking the town and Lady Eboshi is very intent on making sure she has the bigger stick. Is Ashitaka the hero? Well sure he is, but what about Princess Mononoke? Ashitaka is the hero for the town while Mononoke is the hero for the forest. I think it’s also very symbolic that after the forest spirit’s angry headless form destroys the forest, it then destroys Iron Town; without the forest there is no wood to burn the fires in the shops and therefore no steel to make. The ending is flooded with notions that things will only get bad again. Lady Eboshi says that they will build a BETTER town. Does that mean more guns or even bigger ones? Or does that mean they will build a town that isn’t so dependent on tearing down the angry forest. I don’t think Lady Eboshi will start out being a destructive force again, but who’s to say that who ever follows her won’t. Just as our very blunt monk said early in the film, “You’re under a curse so is the whole damn world”.

Screening Report: Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is about the struggle between nature and humans.

In Princess Mononoke,  Nago, a giant boar that is possessed by a demon. He attacks a small village where Prince Ashitaka lives. Nago has large tentacle that kill anything they touch. The green plant turn black when they are touched. Ashitaka shoots an arrow at Nago and this makes him mad. Nago’s tentacles touch Ashitaka’s arm poisoning him. Ashitaka finally kills Nago and goes to search for a cure for his curse. He finds a forest that doesn’t have any humans living there. He meets a Kodama, a tree spirit that brings good luck.

During this time Lady Eboshi is leading her men back to Iron Town. They are attacked by giant wolves and a young girl named Princess Mononoke. Some of the men that were injured from Iron Town, and Ashitaka was able to rescue them with the help from the Kodama. Lady Eboshi and her men clear the forests to dig for iron to make her weapons. Lady Eboshi and Jigo develop a plan to kill the great spirit god by cutting off its head.

The group of giant boars hear of Nago’s death. Okkoto leads the boars to fight the humans for taking over the forests. The forest was growing weaker because of the humans. Jigo had set up land mines and grenades on the front line when the boars were attacking. Many people of Iron Town were killed as well. Okkoto was injured badly. Princess Mononoke and one of the wolves try to bring him to the spirit god to save him. Lady Eboshi beheads the great spirit god. The great spirit god changed from this colorful creature into this dark purplish blob. The great spirit god started to kill everything that it touched until it received its head back. When it got its head back everything turned back into green and was alive. Ashitaka was cured from his poisoning and the people and nature were able to live along each other peacefully.

I thought this film was interesting because it shows how humans selfishly use the land. And the actions we take toward the land turn around to hurt us later on.


Princess of The Wolves

Just as with the other movies that we have watched, the very opening scene of Princess Mononoke was a foreshadowing of what was to come. The scene opens up with a view above the forest and mountains with a narrator speaking about man and beast no longer living in harmony together as they once had, causing the forest to be destroyed. The camera angle then lowers into the forest as we see some weird type of creature moving through the trees. A younger man (who we come to find out is the Prince Ashitaka) and an older man guarding the town decide this creature is a demon boar and Ashitaka chooses to try to save the town from the demon. While killing the boar, Ashitaka becomes injured and is later told that he is cursed. He has to leave the village and travel to the west in order to try to find a cure to the curse, or he will die from it.

There is a scene of Ashitaka riding through the nature where he comes to a town. He meets a monk (Jigo) who tells him that there is a place in the forest that may be able to cure him, but that it is not safe for man. Ashitaka decides to go anyway and sets out that way. We then see a scene of Lady Eboshi and her people being attacked by wolves while they are trying to work up in the mountains. One of the wolves is shot and a few of their men fall off the cliffs to their assumed death. Ashitaka then comes across two of the men who made the fall off the cliff and actually lived. He sees a girl sucking blood out of the injured wolf and asks for her help. She yells at him to go away and he goes on into the forest to get the men home.

Ashitaka gets the men back to their home, Irontown, and learns that Lady Eboshi is cutting down the forests in order to get the iron under the ground. Due to Lady Eboshi’s actions, the spirit-wolf girl (San or Princess Mononoke), attacks the village in hopes of killing Lady Eboshi. Ashitaka separates San from Lady Eboshi and leaves carrying San. On his way out of the village, Ashitaka is shot and injured, but he continues on anyway.

San is able to get Ashitaka to the magical forest where the Great Forest Spirit heals his wound, but not his curse. Soon after there is a fight between the boars and the humans and it ends in the lead boar becoming a demon. The demon boar captures San and Ashitaka, with the help of the mother wolf, saves her from the demon boar. The Great Forest Spirit causes the demon boar and the mother wolf to die. Right after, Lady Eboshi shoots the Great Forest Spirit’s head off and the spirit tries to find its head. During this time, anything the spirit touches dies. Ashitaka is able to warn the people of Irontown in time to save them, but their village is destroyed. San and Ashitaka get the Great Forest Spirit’s head from Jigo and return it to the spirit. The spirit then dies, but all the nature comes back to life. Once woken up, Ashitaka realizes his marks from the curse are fading/almost completely gone. San and Ashitaka decide to live in separate areas: San in the forest and Ashitaka helping the people of Irontown rebuild their home, but they agree to meet frequently. There is now a connection between man and nature, in which humans are no longer hurting the forest.

I must admit I was the least excited about watching Princess Mononoke out of all the movies for this class. I am not a fan of anime and I figured this would just be another one of the typical Japanese anime movies. Although the animation and some of the ideas did follow the typical anime movie, there were other aspects of the film that did not seem very anime to me. There were many characteristics of the film that were similar to that of the films we watch that are the normal “Hollywood” productions. For instance, the way the camera angles were done reminded me of a non-anime movie that one would watch. One example of this is the shots above the trees in the sky. There were several of these in this movie, just as there were scenes like this in both of the other movies that we have watched so far. There were also many scenes that displayed the beauty of the nature surrounding the film, just as there were these types of scenes in the other movies as well.


Mononoke Madness!

Princess Mononoke

            “In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where, from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Back then, man and beast lived in harmony, but as time went by, most of the great forests were destroyed”. The opening lines of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke are not only a foreshadowing of what the story is to be about, but it is also a reflection of the reality of the effects of industry on nature.

            Ashitaka, the main character of the story, must go on a journey to either meet his fate of death or to rid himself of the curse he has received from the demon boar. The land, which once belonged to the boar and the rest of the forest gods and demons, has now been destroyed and industrialized by humans in search of the lands’ iron resources. Once Ashitaka realizes that the leader of this Industrial Revolution, Lady Eboshi, wishes to kill the spirits and creatures of the forest, he rebels and joins forces with Princess Mononoke (San), the self-proclaimed defender of the spirits. However, not wanting anything to do with Ashitaka or humans in general, San wishes to assist the boars and other forest gods in the war against Eboshi and the rest of the Irontown villagers. Unfortunately, the blind boar, along with San, become demons at the hand of the humans. Through the power of love, and from a little help from the Forest Spirit, Ashitaka is able to save San from becoming a demon. But, love can’t save the Forest Spirit from the hands of humans. Eboshi beheads the spirit, and all hell breaks loose. The dead come back to life, and it’s up to humans to restore the chaos. Ashitaka and San return the Forest Spirit’s head, and all is restored; Irontown is destroyed and replaced by greenery, the tree spirits return, and the humans realize their faults. In the end, San agrees to protect the forest, and Ashitaka helps humans restore their home. It is a perfect agreement between humans and nature.

            Princess Mononoke shows the relation between humans and nature, after the effects of the Industrial Revolution. The evil inflicted on those who have been touched by the “demons” of industry can only be restored by the beauties and love of nature. Even in today’s world, nature seems to be hard to come by; everything is either industrialized or destroyed. It is a rare beauty to find oneself in the midst of a green, serene nature. Ashitaka represents those trying to restore the bond between humans and nature. San shows how nature can restore a person, while Eboshi embodies the effects of industry on the human being. The ending of the movie, with the agreement between San and Ashitaka, show that even in today’s world there can be a healthy and loving balance between human industry and the natural environment. We just have to work for this bond, even if it means compromise.

Gods, animals and human beings in Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is a movie full of creativeness, with a little bit of lack of humor, but very original. The soundtrack is amazing and very solid. The landscapes accompanied with the music in the movie creates a perfect experience. The movie might seem a little bit slow but the music and plot made it interesting.

The movie starts with a world of Gods and human beings living in the same place. One of the interesting characters that can be mentioned, like the fearsome Lady Eboshi, represents one of the good humans, who knows how to take care of her own kind. She gives work to prostitutes and the forgotten lepers, who are rejected in society. Animals are wrong too when they think that all humans are the same and that they all deserve death. Not all humans think that nature does not need to be taken care of. The director, Hayao Miyazaki, presents powerful characters with curious personalities. The film also focuses on the personalities of the characters. For example, we can mention Ashitaka, a young warrior who is trying to cure his threatening disease, but at the same time he wants peace and health for anyone who is around him.

Many have discussed that this film has an ecologist message but I think that the main theme is the coexistence of all the species in the universe.  One of the good things about this movie is that is not like other movies where there is the “good guy” and the “bad guy.” Instead, in this film everyone plays a role in nature and small actions cause the perturbing of peace of other species. Nature does not have unlimited resources and that is why these actions can break the relationships among the species. Humans do not respect nature, but they do not do it because they do not know how to appreciate the beauty of it, but because they do not realize what nature can offer them.