Mononoke Hime is a wonderful piece of animation not only because of its visual beauty or atmospheric seriousness but because of its ability to connect both grey morality and magical optimistic ambiance. While Ghiblis other works focus too much on either being shallowly pretty or proenvironment aesopish this one is the fusion of straight themes and charming epicness. After all if it is animation then animate. Use your visual creativity to convey messages that otherwise wouldnt be able of being conveyed. The story follows a protagonist whos searching for solutions to some sort of illness he happened to acquire while fighting against a giant hatredpossessed boar. Among the people he encountered is a warlord whose purpose is to provide shelter and work to the unfortunate who happens to be in conflict with the Princess Mononoke herself a wolfraised girl that fights against the humans advance towards the forest along with a lot of other entities. Entities that are not very fond of humanity and their greed and disrespect and whore willing to fight back. However the conflict extends to not only two sides but three when another warlord decides to request abusive part of profits from the first one and also wants to achieve immortality by obtaining the head of a certain deity the Great Forest Spirit. So you have this clash between various sides that are in search for their place in a newly established order. Obviously not your classical and overused bad humans poor forest since humanity is in fact struggling and at least concerning the Iron City people are indeed just surviving and trying to fix their problems. Not a mischievous cynical expansion for the evulz but rather a natural and believable approach on the society both of humans and animals that are above everything seeking for their own. Things dont get better with time and by the end a nearapocalipse happens to kill many destroying the city and all because of irrational hatred and inability of proper communication. The big message of the movie is about the consequences of a conflict rather than its causes since as it is obvious we never come to know why and how exactly the problems began. By the end a massive restoration occurs and while Im not really a fan of this specific way of ending something it was foreshadowed that the Forest Spirits healing capacities were enough to solve several human conditions including the aforementioned protagonists illness. As always you cant expect from Miyazaki characters below the line of grey personality at least not the main ones. However I also cannot expect a not idealized protagonist from him either. Even the flaws of said characters serve only to emphasize their perfection and sense of justice. Mononoke Himes protagonist whos not Mononoke Hime by the way is a very skilled just kind and smart being who always always do the right thing. While you can see Nausicaas berserk mode revealing her dark side this one is just too idealized for me. Hes searching for the truth he gets angry by unfairness and fights back against those who attempt to impede his journey you know the basic. You also have the other perfect girl who isnt that perfect and whose moral code is basically I hate humans but I dont kill humans with exception of that miserable bitch. Shes a very concerned daughter of a giant wolf and isnt afraid of doing some parkour within the city where literally every citizen is ready and loaded to blow her brains out with some hightech machinery. However as always my favorite is the antiideal and usually only understood through time characters also known in this series as Eboshi or Mononkes Kushana call at your will. Shes a strong independent smart and confident woman that despite appearing at first mainly due to her naughty glance and suspicious quasiwicked laugh your new villainous lady it is in reality the most humane leader of this show. Only a bold charismatic mistress can lead with such success and raise so much loyalty from her commoners. Shes the cause of several deaths and immense destruction but I doubt you can hate her or merely disregard her reasons to do so. Ignorance is something lady Eboshi easily shares with the other sides of this war but shes maybe the only one you can really relate yourself with since your alternatives are basically animals who blatantly hate humans some bland samurais whose only purpose was to attack the Iron City and two protagonists who are just an idealized couple of wild kids thatll not date afterwards. I wouldnt go as far as saying the show is storydriven but the characters are just and simple what they were supposed to be in order to carry the plot forward so theres no need for extending on this subject. The animation is beyond just fluid its challenging. Situations not commonly seen like ghost burning worms growing from a boars skin curving due sunlight and their interaction when characters met their edges. The combat between peasants and samurais full of blood and maiming heads floating arrows flying hitting and ripping limbs. Violent but realistic. Best animated parkour Ive seen weight calculated and balanced by the shows own rules of physics and ingenious choreography that makes sense and whose speed resembles reality. So as you can see both through fantastical unimaginable or extremely loyal to realitys situations the show establishes of seriousness not commonly seen in anime. Its not the only atmosphere they want to establish though. This is a japanese movie that does justice to its origins and represents well enough the environment of a feudal setting from early Japan the guns are faithful to reality since there were indeed machines just like those at the time of 15th and 16th centuries and even the furnace is perfectly depicted within the boundaries of reality since its almost exactly like a real furnace of its time. Im amazed by their capacity of joining such a realistic approach upon magical phenomenons without losing grasp or charm throughout the entire film. While the soundtrack may not outstand itself that much its cool I gotta praise the sound effects utilized theyre simply gorgeous. I dont think most people are used to the natural sound of an arrow cutting the air and entering gently inside a piece of wood or even the ground but those who are will notice how faithful and varied is the usage of it in this movie. I dont know if every arrow has its distinct sound effect but it seems that way. Also steps on the roof of houses cannon shots blades colliding the furnace in operation every small thing contains a specific fitting sound and that only demonstrates the amount of effort that was put into this. I honestly liked more the silent moments where everything you can hear are the sounds of nature or heavy machinery or whatever than the soundtrack. The latter is very good but the good you are already used to. Nothing earworming like Nausicaa for example just the classic Ghibli composed tracks of piano and violin maybe a flute I dont really remember since I wasnt that captivated by it. So besides the aforementioned idealization of characters and I must add the fact Miyazaki really likes beautiful characters and by their beauty you already assume theyre or arent going to die this movie is enough on its own to easily surpass mediocrity and strides towards the top of animated movies with its clever usage of animation imaginative and at the same time faithful setting and scenarios and serious grey story where things are not easily dealt with. As a matter of fact therere some annoying plotarmor moments and god the protagonist will dodge every arrow imaginable from whichever angle possible. Also the goo at the end is apparently simply unable of reaching them unlike everyone else which is funny. Its conclusion is similar to Nausicaa movies one in many ways and thats not actually good since things get easily resolved after all. Its not like Nausicaas manga for example where Miyzaki was super inspired and represented so many things in a short amount of time with so much success and whose conclusion is beyond thoughtprovoking. So overall great movie and very recommendable.