Anime / Princess Mononoke

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The Fate of the World Rests on the Courage of One Warrior.

"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. Those that remained were guarded by gigantic beasts, who owed their allegiances to the Great Forest Spirit. For those were the days of gods - and of demons."
Lord Okkoto

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫 Mononoke Hime) is an acclaimed 1997 film from famed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, with a rather dark, serious plot and ambience (compared to most of his other works), yet lacking none of the trademark stunning visuals of a Studio Ghibli production. The score was written by Joe Hisaishi. Also worth noting is that Neil Gaiman adapted the film's English dub.

The story is set during the 15th or 16th century (Muromachi period), and begins in a small village of the Emishi, the indigenous inhabitants of Japan who by this time have mostly been conquered or driven into hiding in remote corners of the east. The village's peace is shattered by the attack of a terrible demon; their last remaining prince, Ashitaka, is injured during the fight against it, and even worse, the mortally wounded demon is revealed to be a powerful spirit — a giant boar that curses the Emishi with its last breath and reveals that the wound Ashitaka suffered will kill him too. The village elders decide, with much reluctance, that Ashitaka must leave the village before the curse takes full possession of him, and travel west in search of his destiny. Ashitaka leaves immediately, with only his trusted red elk Yakul. The young prince follows the demon boar's trail of destruction with the only clue he has about what transformed it into a demon: an iron ball found embedded in its body.

Ashitaka travels through the war-torn countryside, discovering that his curse has also imparted superhuman strength along the way. He eventually comes upon Tataraba (Iron Town), a mining settlement on the edge of the wilderness that's in the midst of a three-way war between the strong-willed Lady Eboshi (who protects the town through the use of firearms), the spirits of the forest (who want to stop Iron Town's expansion to protect their homes from destruction), and an influential samurai warlord (who wants to seize the town for the wealth it generates). Ashitaka must endeavour to create peace between the various sides, understand the reason behind his curse, and pursue a relationship with San, a human girl who was Raised by Wolves and fights alongside the spirits as events seem to be heading towards an inevitable disaster.

Not to be confused with the anime Mononoke.


This film contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: San is the foremost example. Lady Eboshi also has a place here. Toki and the other gun-wielding girls, too.
  • Affably Evil: Jigo.
    • Lady Eboshi is as close to this as an Iron Lady of Iron Town can be (having Minnie Driver as your English VA helps a lot).
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Yes, there were quite a lot of firearms in pre-Edo Japan (first appearing in the form of Chinese cannons in the 13th century). Even after unification, the shogunate maintained gunpowder-weapon arsenals in case of rebellion.
  • An Aesop: War, greed, and hatred only escalate, corrupting everyone in the process.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Numerous limbs get lost in battles, from sword blows to canon fire and even a bow and arrow; as well as Lady Eboshi getting her arm bitten off.
  • Animal Motifs: San has wolves, for fairly obvious reasons.
  • Annoying Arrows: Justified and averted. The Gods shake them off (justified), Ashitaka's demonic strength makes his arrows far deadlier than they would usually be: he can easily decapitate people, and how about hitting the hilt of a mook's sword causing the poor guy's arms to fly off? Ashitaka is also seen catching an arrow as it shoots by him (with his demon arm), spinning it around and notching it, then firing it back in the space of about three seconds. Normal arrows aimed at non-gods or non-demon-possessed characters are treated as as lot bigger deal than usual; one of them cripples Yakul near the climax.
  • Anti-Hero: San.
  • Anti-Human Alliance: San and her wolf brothers aid the boars in their last assault on the humans.
  • Anti-Villain: Lady Eboshi.
  • Archer Archetype: While a skilled swordsman, Ashitaka's truly badass feats are performed with his bow. He also proves himself perfectly capable of living alone in the wilderness without other people.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Eboshi is shown to be a lighter shade of grey, but her samurai opponent, Lord Asano, is only described as "A greedy bastard". To be fair, Asano was described as such by Jigo, while he was sucking up to Lady Eboshi — that and he chuckled about it immediately after; since it's a major example of pot meeting kettle.
  • Armies Are Evil: The armies of samurai that roam the land are portrayed as marauding, savage murderers. It's pretty accurate to how they really were at this point in history.
  • Arrow Catch: Ashitaka not only can catch an arrow, but use it to fire back at the attacker. He also cuts arrows in half mid-air.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Ashitaka instinctively turns and shoots his second arrow into Nago's eye which turn out to be his weak spot.
  • Audible Sharpness: Many blades make a distinct sound-effect, even when swung through the air. At one point, San swings a blade towards Ashitaka's throat, and creates a particularly sharp "metal on metal" sound despite only air being in its path.
  • Author Appeal: Nature, strong female characters, pacifism, precipitous heights, pigs (well, boars), it's all here. About the only thing missing is a flying scene.
  • Awesome McCool Name: Princess Mononoke, which while not San's actual name, roughly translates to 'princess of the vengeful spirits.'
  • Badass Adorable: Even if she doesn't act like one, San is still a cute young girl.
  • Badass Beard: Standard among the older Emishi men.
  • Badass Boast: Lady Eboshi. "Now watch closely, everyone. I'm going to show you how to kill a god. A god of life and death. The trick is not to fear him."
  • Badass Normal:
    • Applies to Lady Eboshi in particular. Her enemies are the gods themselves, but it is they who fear her.
    • Ashitaka himself applies; even before receiving his curse, he's able to defeat an enormous boar demon single-handedly.
  • Bad Black Barf: In both instances where a boar is turned into a demon, they start to bleed and drool dark purple/black slime. In addition, the Forest Spirit starts releasing massive gobs of toxic black gloop that instantly kill everything they touch.
  • Bandage Mummy: Most of the lepers are wrapped up head to foot, which is probably what would have happened to them in Real Life.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Ashitaka takes some moments to watch San sleep after he wakes up in the cave.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ashitaka is very kind, helpful and polite to those he likes, and would rather promote peace than fight. But when he's serious nothing can get in his way.
  • BFS: Gonza's nodachi. During his Unflinching Walk, Ashitaka bends it into a circle with his demon-infected arm when Gonza tries to stop him.
  • Big Brother Instinct: During the demon attack at the beginning of the film, Ashitaka the pacifist is initially very reluctant to attack and spends quite a while trying to pacify Nago. When he sees the demon boar charging towards Kaya, however, he doesn't hesitate to shoot it square in the eye.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lady Eboshi is a rare well-intentioned version of this.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Ashitaka and San fall in love, but they do not get together because San is unable to forgive the other humans. Ashitaka promises to stay close enough to see San on a regular basis.
    • Despite Irontown being destroyed, the inhabitants decide to start anew, this time being closer to nature rather than opposing it.
  • Bloodier and Gorier / Darker and Edgier: The most violent Miyazaki film to date, only rivalled by Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Okkoto.
  • Body Horror: Rather mild examples, as body horror goes, but the fates of both Nago and Okkoto are not for the faint of heart particularly when San is trapped inside Okkoto's demon-flesh.
    • Ashitaka's right arm, which is slowly going rotten from the curse and often moves against his will, contorting itself into weird and extremely painful-looking positions.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: While killing the boar-demon, Ashitaka receives a curse on his right arm, which grants him superhuman strength but will eventually kill him.
    • Also, Lady Eboshi succeeds in cutting off the Deer God's head, and shortly after loses her arm. And then it gets worse.
  • Catch and Return: With an arrow!
  • Cannibalism Superpower: The apes believe that if they eat Ashitaka's corpse they will steal his strength.
  • Canis Major: The wolf deities are huge.
  • Chekhov's Aesop: Courtesy of Jigo -
    "So you say you're under a curse? Well so what? So's the whole damn world."
    • And later, also by Jigo.
    "Look, everyone wants everything, that's the way the world works, but I might actually get it!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: "Cut off a wolf's head and it still has the power to bite."
  • Chick Magnet: All of the Iron Town women think Ashitaka is gorgeous and fawn over him constantly, and even San seems attracted to him.
  • Cool Horse: Yakul, despite being an elk.
  • Cool Mask: San wears one during her attacks.
  • Comforting Comforter: When Ashitaka goes back to the cave to sleep off his injuries San wakes up setting up the perfect opportunity for him to tuck her in with his blanket. Ashitaka wakes up the next morning with the blanket on him. D'aww.
  • Cooldown Hug: Ashitaka gives one to San after she stabs him in the chest.
  • The Corruption: The plot begins when Ashitaka is attacked and infected by a corrupted boar-god. While Walking the Earth, he discovers that his infected arm has supernatural strength and a will of its own.
  • Cranium Chase: The film plays this for horror with the Forest Spirit, whose body turns into an enormous Eldritch Abomination draining life from nearly everything in sight, seeking reunion with its severed head, which can still move.
  • Crapsack World: Face it... this world stinks. To the especially negative, it's a frighteningly accurate thematic representation of man and the modern world- how, despite the philanthropic intentions of respectable and powerful people, there is no balance between man and nature, and that nature is rapidly losing its struggle to resist urban development and stay a habitable place for non-humans.
    • May be taken with a grain of salt however; to those who aren't especially negative or excessively green, this amounts to taking Miyazaki's standard pacifist grey vs. grey message to the environment debate: both sides are valid, and it's no more right to eliminate a people's means of survival than it is to eliminate the habitats around them.
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Gonza is prone to this when angry.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The animals get slaughtered whenever they try and attack the humans head on. Asano's forces also seem to be on the receiving end of this, due to Iron Town possessing gunpowder and the enemy only having conventional weapons. Despite this, they do manage to break into the city near the end.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Sure, whatever Ashitaka has will kill him, but, while he's still alive, he's strong enough to decapitate people with arrows or single-handedly open gates that normally take ten strong men. He doesn't consider this a good thing though, and mainly uses his powers to do good.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Hate very much begets hate. Ashitaka is the only one to see how pointlessly self-perpetuating the violence of both sides is and actively works to stop it.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lady Eboshi.
  • The Determinator: One of the reasons the land suffers so much is that Okkoto, Moro and Lady Eboshi are all implacably determined. Then a new Determinator shows up...
    • Not even getting shot through the lung slows Ashitaka down.
    • Moro spends most of the film with a bullet lodged in her chest and absolutely refuses to give up despite being paralyzed at one point. She may be a god, but she's getting on in years. She still bites after her head was cut off. It doesn't get much more determined than that.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: San cannot bring herself to leave the forest and live with Ashitaka because she hates the human race.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Less blatant than many examples, as Gods and spirits are shown to be more vulnerable than in most stories, but still obvious at points.
    Eboshi: He's a god, you fools — it'll take more than one shot.
  • Disappeared Dad: Neither of Ashitaka's parents are ever even mentioned in passing, which seems odd as his father would be the leader of the Emishi. For that matter, the father of Moro's wolf cubs is never mentioned either.
    • The original language seems to hint that just as the women want to avenge their husbands, San has come to avenge her own tribe — sounds like there were more wolves before.
  • Dramatic Irony: When Ashitaka intervenes in the fight between Lady Eboshi and San, Eboshi exclaims that she's tired of Ashitaka's cursed right arm, before shouting "let me just cut the damned thing OFF!". Later in the film, Eboshi loses her right arm to Moro.
  • Dramatic Slip: Early on, one of the girls slips when being chased down the hill by Nago. Cue a Big Damn Heroes moment for Ashitaka.
  • Dramatic Wind: Played with — rather than merely being the usual dramatic convention for Miyazaki's characters, this effect seems to signal the presence of magic in action - usually the actions of the Deer God or of Ashitaka's curse.
  • Dying Race: The Emishi are nearly extinct due to a genocide 500 years before the movie. It's implied that Ashitaka's curse and exile dooms them.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Any of the tatari-gami; they don't drive people mad, but they can lay a death curse on anything they touch. The Forest Spirit becomes one after it gets decapitated.
    • There's also Nago, the initial boar demon, and later Okkoto.
  • Elite Mooks: Eboshi's snipers wield what are essentially miniature cannons that can punch cleanly through samurai armor and play a part in mortally wounding Moro. There are also Jigo's warrior monks, who are experienced hunters and trackers that use the normal Iron Town troops as cannon fodder.
  • Epic Movie: The film was the largest box-office draw in Japan when it came out, features an all-star cast of characters in a dark and serious mythological setting, and cemented Miyazaki's reputation as Disney's partner overseas.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ashitaka is established as The Hero early on when saving the village from Nago. San is introduced as a Wild Child when she and Ashitaka meet by the river and he watches her Suck Out the Poison.
  • Even Evil Has Standards/Everyone Has Standards: When San is told by the apes they plan to eat Ashitaka in order to become as powerful as the humans, she tries to tell them that would just make them into something far worse than humans.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: Averted; practically every samurai in the film is a murderous asshole, which according to some historians is a much more accurate depiction than what we normally get in pop culture.
  • Evil Brit: In the English translation, the only person who speaks with a British accent is the Anti-Villain aristocrat Lady Eboshi.
  • Evil Hand: Ashitaka has one due to the infection.
  • Expy: Lady Eboshi for Princess Kushana.
  • Eye Scream: Ashitaka shoots a demon in the eye early in the film, which happens to be its only weak spot.
  • Facial Markings: San's distinctive red wolf-fangs.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Deconstructed with Okkoto, whose desire for a glorious death in battle only leads to his entire tribe being massacred in a Curb-Stomp Battle and he himself being corrupted by his hate and pain into a mindless demon. Played straight with Moro, who calmly accepts her doom and states that she has lived long enough.
  • Fertile Feet: The forest god's footsteps don't just make plants bloom; they immediately wither away as it passes. The deity gives life and takes it away, and in the end, rot is just fertile material for new growth.
  • Feuding Families: It has an element of this as part of the main plot. Who started the vicious cycle of disrespect? Eboshi by not asking if they could clear a way to the mountainside, or Nago for refusing to listen to a human? After all, the boars are a "proud race", according to Moro.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Played with - simply put, it's rare to see one that's pulled off with Tranquil Fury.
  • Foreshadowing: "Cut off a wolf's head and it still has the power to bite", Lady Eboshi tells her men in one early scene. Much later, she finds herself on the receiving end of this, courtesy of Moro.
  • From Bad to Worse: Pretty much the entire plot. The ending is a minor deviation from the general trend. Things still suck, they just suck a bit less.
  • Full-Boar Action: Cranked Up to Eleven; this isn't any old boar, it's the boar kami (god).
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The situation that Iron Town has found itself in.
  • Gambit Pileup: The human world is filled with these.
  • Ghibli Hills: Well, it's by that studio... and the whole film seems to be set there.
  • The Ghost: Lord Asano, the man besieging Iron Town, despite being referred to at several points, is never seen on screen.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The wolves have these at night, due to eyeshine. However the apes seem to keep their bright red eyes at all times.
  • Greater Scope Villain: The Emperor, who sent Jigo on his mission to retrieve the head of the Forest Spirit so he could use it to become immortal, thus causing a large part of the story's conflict. Despite this, he is never seen on-screen or even given a name, let alone confronted.
  • Greed: This is Jigo's main motivation. It also plays a role with Eboshi as well, though ambition is clearly the stronger influence in her case.
  • Green Aesop: It might seem like that at first glance, but Miyazaki uses the "humanity vs. nature" theme to thinly veil the other major message: a blatantly pacifist one that, in particular, shuns the "us vs. them" mentality so commonly seen in society, as clearly evidenced numerous times throughout the story. Additionally, it shows that while technology has a tendency to pollute and corrupt the natural world, it also allows people to become strong.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: Everyone has their own reasons for fighting, and Audience Surrogate Ashitaka finds it hard to blame anyone completely. Heck, San hates all humans...but she can't bring it in herself to kill anyone but Lady Eboshi, who has hurt her. Lady Eboshi meanwhile indeed sets out to kill gods and animals who get in her way, but it seems to be out of a genuine desire to help (human) people: the lepers say she's the only one who looked at them as human and she regularly buys women from brothels to give them a home and work.
    • It is interesting to note that Eboshi initially favors the smooth method to assert the domination of humanity on nature - it is when Jigo threatens her that she turns to more drastic measures.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Okkoto freaks out when he becomes the only survivor after the battle between boars and humans. And the Assassins disguised as boars to kill him don't help.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Inverted with the enigmatic Lady Eboshi. She's "saving" her people from the gods, though, not vice versa...
  • Happily Adopted: San is so happily adopted that she fully believes herself to be a wolf, and that Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • Happily Married: Toki and Kohroku, although she does give him a bit of a hard time.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Ignorance on both sides is a bigger cause of violence and suffering than outright maliciousness.
  • Henpecked Husband: Kohroku puts up with all the verbal abuse Toki throws at him and almost never talks back.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Ashitaka gets one in the film's climax. See The Power of Love.
  • He's a Friend: Inverted.
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Honor Before Reason: The boars are a proud warrior race and would rather fight and die than than to make deals with the humans about the usage of the forest. They all die in a final Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Former hookers, anyway. Toki and many (if not all) of the other women in the town used to work in brothels. They are very kind, if sarcastic, and all bravely take up arms and defend Iron Town from the invading samurai.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Though the forest has been ravaged and most of the old gods are dead, the film's final shot shows a single kodama appearing on a tree. Since the kodama are inextricably linked with the forest, living and dying as it does, its presence signifies that the old spirits are still alive to some extent and the forest will eventually rejuvenate.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Ashitaka's faithful red elk, Yakul. In addition, San often rides one of her wolf brothers into battle.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Played with. Most humans are normal people, and Eboshi has a lot of good as well as bad. Some others, however...
    • Moro tells Ashitaka that San's parents abandoned her when facing the wolf gods just so they could get away faster, which cemented her opinion of humans.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Averted. Where most other Green Aesop works make complete caricatures of both humanity and nature, Mononoke goes to great lengths in humanizing villains like Eboshi and Jigo and highlighting the shortcomings of the nature-themed characters, such as San's immaturity (her first spoken line is "Go away!") and the barbarism of (some of) the nature spirits.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Yakul gives off vibes of this, despite having only slightly Amplified Animal Aptitude.
  • Ideal Hero: Ashitaka has no flaws whatsoever. He always does everything what's right, the ladies fall for him, he's a great fighter, he's smart, wise, charming, handsome... just all-around perfect.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Ashitaka is shot through the torso this way.
  • Immortality Seeker: Jigo's attempt to take the head of Shishigami/The Forest Spirit for the Emperor, who believes that it will grant immortality.
  • Immortality: What the Emperor believes the head of the Forest Spirit will grant him. While this is never proven, it at least heals Ashitaka's curse. But only after making it a hundred times worse.
  • Important Haircut: A symbol of Ashitaka's eternal banishment from his people. It's odd because the gesture is samurai in nature and Ashitaka's people quite clearly belong to the ancestors of the Ainu, who lived in Japan before the arrival of the modern Japanese people. The symbolism must have been too good to pass up.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Eboshi's matchlock-men, all things considered. Especially since their "guns," as opposed to the actual muskets used by her guards-women, more accurately resemble small cannons on the end of pole-arms and are much harder to aim. The only reason San wasn't blasted ten times over was that she's supernaturally agile too, but every single shot was a close call, and even she couldn't avoid all of the shots.
    • Eboshi takes the cake. She got Nago, and Moro, and two Samuraï generals from a very long range, and the Forest Spirit, in the head, twice. Her full name is probably Lady Eboshi Amidala.
  • Informed Species: Yakul is referred to as a Red Elk. Yakul really looks more like a wild sheep or antelope.
  • Intellectual Animal: Wolf mother Moro and the elder boar Okkoto definitely count.
  • Intimate Healing: When San feeds a wounded Ashitaka, who is too weak to even chew, by chewing up the meat for him and then transferring it from her mouth to his.
  • Jerkass Gods: The animal gods do not exactly endear themselves to the human race. Since Nago and his underlings retaliate against Iron Town's earliest settlers encroaching on their territory with violence right from the off; at least, according to Lady Eboshi... Even Moro states that the Boar Tribe has and will always be guilty of the Fatal Flaw of Pride.
  • Karma Houdini: Jigo precipitates a plot that destroys an ecosystem and pretty much gets away scot-free.
    • Lady Eboshi turns two gods into demons and kills two other gods, including the god of life and death himself. She is also as responsible as Jigo for the destruction of the forest and preferred to continue hunting for the Deer God instead of returning to defend her people. Possibly hundreds of people died after she shot the Deer God's head off. She suffers - she's maimed and sees the beloved town that she built demolished - but the punishment could still be considered light considering her crimes.
  • Kill the Cutie: Happens to the kodama en masse as the Forest Spirit goes berserk during the final battle. Thousands of them are seen falling from the trees like dead leaves and dissolving on the ground.
  • Lady of War: Lady Eboshi, quite literally. Though her favored weapon is a very unladylike gun.
  • Large and in Charge: The most powerful gods, such as Moro, Okkoto and Nago are all huge, whereas their subjects are smaller. This makes sense as they're the oldest, and it's implied that as time goes by and the gods lose power, they become smaller.
    • Eboshi is also a very tall woman, and leads the ladies of Irontown.
  • Last of His Kind: Ashitaka is the last prince of the Emishi. Without him, his people face a dark and uncertain future.
  • Le Parkour: San pulls this during her assault on Iron Town, vaulting over walls and leaping from rooftop to rooftop while simultaneously avoiding hails of gunfire from below. The girl can move.
  • Lip Lock: Not really, but the gods seem to have the ability to speak without moving their mouths. There are animal noises in the background of them speaking, which sync up with the mouths just fine. Presumably there's some sort of Translation Convention at work.
  • Losing Your Head: Played for Drama and Up to Eleven; the body of the Forest Spirit goes on an omnicidal rampage to reclaim its head.
  • The Lost Woods: Where the Forest Spirit dwells.
  • Love at First Sight: Ashitaka for San. It's especially striking because her face was covered in blood at the time (above picture).
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Yakul. (The wolves are more like relatives).
  • Made of Iron: Flaming arrows don't affect the boar gods at all, and Moro is seen to be mostly unhurt after being set on fire and thrown off a cliff.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Despite everything, the Forest Spirit is killed and the elder gods have died. Earlier on, Okkoto had bemoaned the fact that the spirits were getting smaller and stupider, and would eventually devolve into dumb beasts. It isn't completely gone though, as in the final shot, a single kodama appears.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Ashitaka gets shot through the chest, but doesn't collapse until he's pushed open an impossibly heavy gate, lifted San onto Yakul, gotten on himself, and ridden away. Possibly a result of his Iron Woobie or The Determinator nature, possibly the fact that the demonic curse won't let him die by mundane means.
    • Ashitaka seems more distraught by the fact that his girlfriend said she hated him than by being stabbed. (Granted, that dagger's blade is tiny.)
    • Eboshi gets her whole arm ripped off, and not even a scream (though she does pass out). Her only reaction was "I told you it can still bite..."
  • Mark of the Beast: Ashitaka's curse manifests as a large, nasty rash or tumor which starts on his arm and spreads throughout his body.
  • The Marvelous Deer: The Forest God takes this form during the day.
  • Mascot: The kodama (tree spirits).
  • Meaningful Name: San's name can mean "three", which would make sense as she is technically Moro's third child.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The crystal necklace. It's almost an orphans plot trinket since Ashitaka gets it from Kaya for good luck and so he won't forget her. He later gives it to the wolves, as a token for San.
  • Milky White Eyes: Okkoto has these, being old and blind.
  • Mood Dissonance: The Love at First Sight moment between Ashitaka and San, mixing Meet Cute with Gorn.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Arguably Ashitaka, the one young, attractive male in the cast who frequently performs feats of great badassery and/or takes his shirt off.
  • Multiple-Tailed Beast: Moro, the female Wolf God that raised San, has a two-pronged tail.
  • Multishot
  • Nature Hero: Despite being the Princess in the English title, San is much closer to being this than a Jungle Princess.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: San starts out as brash and intractable, the boars are bloodthirsty, and the apes are psychotically superstitious. The human characters aren't much better.
  • Nature Spirit: Lots of 'em, including the kodama (mentioned above) as well as several deities.
  • No Arc in Archery: Ashitaka's arrows are almost like medieval cruise-missiles. Justified in that this is due to the super strength provided by his curse. Non-powered humans can't do this.
    • Also, it's implied to be averted. A later battle shows characters holding umbrellas up to protect themselves from arrows.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Eboshi.
  • No Ontological Inertia: At the end of the film, the Forest Spirit restores everything to its initial state by creating a World-Healing Wave which lets the forest grow back at once, and Ashitaka and San are both instantly cured of their infections.
  • Oblivious Adoption: San never questions that she's not a wolf. She knows that her species is human, but she identifies with wolves.
  • One-Man Army: Ashitaka. It's already established he has the strength of ten men, but then he takes on the forces of Irontown, Lord Asano and Okkoto all at once!
  • Opening Monologue: The original Japanese version places a brief text narrative at the beginning of the film; the English-dubbed version replaces it with a verbal narrative explaining the setting to viewers.
  • Pet the Dog: Eboshi gets a number of these moments, such as when it's shown that she gives shelter and work to lepers. The movie is unusual for Green Aesop stories in that the traditionally evil Humans Are Bastards representative gets several chances to Pet the Dog, while the environmentalist side represented by San is more often kicking it. See Hanlon's Razor; it's shown that both sides are capable of quite a bit of good, and the source of their conflict stems entirely from their refusal to coexist.
  • Physical God: All the gods are physical. In fact, "god" in this film essentially means "sentient animal". The exception is the Deer God, who lives up to both parts of his name quite well.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Poison darts are being used at one point.
  • P.O.V. Boy, Poster Girl: Ashitaka is the POV protagonist and The Hero, while San is the wild Princess Mononoke who serves as the film's titular character and poster girl.
  • The Power of Love: During the climax, Ashitaka gets knocked out and is slowly drowning in the lake while San is trapped inside Okkoto's demon-flesh. At this point Moro calls to Ashitaka's love for San which then gives him a Heroic Second Wind. He comes back up to the surface and manages to pull San out of Okkoto's flesh.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Okkoto and, supposedly, Nago. The boars in general are a proud warrior race.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Jigo is the most villainous character who actually appears in the film. Despite that, he's also one of the most likeable. Basically he's a sort of Punch Clock Villain who's motivated mostly by greed.
  • Raised by Wolves: Literally for San, albeit the wolves are gods that can speak.
  • Rampage from a Nail: The boar at the beginning of the film is crazy/evil because of a bullet.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Eboshi, fitting for a lady of high status.
  • Recursive Translation: In an amusing twist, the Woolseyist English dub (including a script translated by Neil Gaiman and featuring several rather big-name actors) was considered so well made that it was re-released in Japan ...with Japanese subtitles!
  • Red Baron: "Mononoke Hime" means "the princess of vengeful spirits". Not knowing her real name, the villagers call San "Princess Mononoke" out of fear.
  • Red Right Hand: Ashitaka, in a more literal sense than usual.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Downplayed, as several characters learn better without dying, although most are faced with near death or life changing injuries first.
  • Reverse Grip: How San holds her knife most of the time. In this case, it also makes it easier for her to block.
  • Roof Hopping: San does this at one point to get to Lady Eboshi, with Ashitaka following her.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Most of the major characters are generally good people, and from their point of view are totally justified in their actions to protect their way of life from outside forces.
  • Say My Name: "SAAAAAAAAAN!" "ASHITAKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
  • Scenery Porn: Oh so very much of it! Ashitaka's journey west in particular is full of this. Shortly followed by Scenery Gorn as everything goes to hell.
  • Secondary Character Title: The titular character of San is only a supporting character in the film.
  • Smug Snake: Jigo. He's playing everyone, including Lady Eboshi, to his own ends, but his plans are neither grandiose nor successful enough to qualify him as a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Shirtless Scene: Ashitaka steadily loses more and more of his clothes throughout the run-time, until he is running around in just his pants and his... sleeves?
  • Shown Their Work: It isn't amiss to call this film an animated Shōgun. There are quite a few elements from Japanese history and culture that aren't obvious to American audiences:
    • The movie is set in the Muromachi period of Japan, when the central government was weak, local warlords (the shogunate) were powerful and bands of samurai were not at all above sacking and massacring peasant villages in their paths.
    • The Emishi tribe was a real ethnic group until around the 9th century, when they were wiped out by the shogunates; the presence of a holdout village in the 14th century was Rule of Drama, however.
    • The presence of both Shinto kami (gods) and yōkai, including one (Daidarabotchi, the Night Walker,) well known example from Japanese folklore. Moro's two tails, much like a kitsune yōkai's multiple tails, are a sign of her age and power. The "demons" are actually tatari-gami - curse-gods; they can either be kami or yōkai completely overtaken by rage. Etc.
  • Silence Is Golden: There are several times in the film where the dialogue and the score are absent, leaving only the animation and occasional sound effects.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Apparently, San and Ashitaka can communicate with the animals of the forest and with Yakul.
  • Solar Punk: A village in the throes of industrialization clashes with the forces of nature, but they ultimately learn to coexist? Sounds about right.
  • Stepping-Stone Sword: San uses her spear as one while vaulting over the wall of Iron Town.
  • Suck Out the Poison: San tries this with Moro's bullet wound. It apparently didn't work, as Moro later says the bullet is still inside, slowly killing her.
  • Talking Animal: The animals of the forest talk to one another, and to Ashitaka and San. Yakul cannot speak but still seems to be able to communicate with San.
  • Tap on the Head: Ashitaka ends the fight between San and Lady Eboshi by knocking them both out with a couple stiff shots to their respective abdomens. To be fair he is imbued with superhuman strength.
  • This Means Warpaint: Just before the boars attack the mining town, there's a sequence of them using their snouts to warpaint each others' faces with mud.
  • The Time of Myths: When the great forest covered all the land... "For this was the time of gods... and of demons."
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: "Mononoke".
  • Tranquil Fury: Ashitaka when striding slowly in to break up the fight between San and Lady Eboshi.
    • When Eboshi tells him how she plans to defeat all the gods with her new guns, he is noticeably angry, but then his right arm moves to attack her by itself. He holds it back and calmly states that he would kill her with his left if he thought it would solve anything.
  • Tsundere: Toki is this toward her husband; loving but also gives him a hard time. San has elements of it.
  • Unbroken Vigil: After Ashitaka awakes the day after his gut shot, San mentions that he should thank Yakul who hasn't left his side the entire time while he was asleep.
  • Unconscious Objector: The detached head of wolf goddess Moro wiggles across the ground and bites the arm off of her Arch-Enemy, Lady Eboshi.
  • Understatement: "A little crisis and they panic!"
  • Unexplained Recovery: Averted. Eboshi tells Ashitaka earlier in the film that it is said that the blood of the Forest Spirit could potentially grant immortality, heal her lepers and cure Ashitaka's curse. It could be said that the Forest Spirit's blood has the power to heal all things, and it ties into the aforementioned 'power to give life/take life away'.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: Ashitaka gets two of these moments in the aftermath of his gut shot injury. First he wakes up under a tree by the forest lake, tries to get up but falls back because he is too weak. The next time he wakes up is in San's cave.
  • Waif-Fu: San's fighting style.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: Ashitaka recommends this to non-swimmer Gonza.
  • Walking Wasteland: Nago became this when he turned into a demon. Also, the Forest God after losing its head.
  • Walk on Water: A habit of the Forest Spirit. After the first time he's shot, he briefly sinks into the water, then begins walking on it again as if nothing happened.
  • War Is Hell: Miyazaki has nothing positive to say about war. Despite some admirable acts of bravery from certain characters, he also shows fields of corpses, soldiers being slaughtered en masse by guns and bombs, decapitations, dismemberment, and innocent civilians being massacred by marauding soldiers.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The animals all want Iron Town gone, and united they could probably wipe it out fairly easily, but that whole "predator-prey relationship" issue creates friction.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Moro, and Eboshi as well. San, being Moro's adopted daughter, is also this. Sure she hates humans, but the only one she really wants to kill is Eboshi.
    • The boars came to the forest to fight for it, but Moro can hear how the woods are screaming under the disturbance their presence causes.
  • The Wise Prince: Ashitaka, who is also a prime example of a Warrior Prince.
  • Why Can't I Hate You?: San on her opinion of Ashitaka. "I hate him! I hate all humans!" Then when she gets Ashitaka's necklace, "From Ashitaka? For me?... Pretty..."
  • Wild Child: San. She can speak, what with being raised by wolf gods rather than mundane wolves, but she otherwise fits the bill.
  • World-Healing Wave: After reattaching the god's head.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Lady Eboshi.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Some of the characters do not recognize gold. This is justified by the fact that peasants are extremely unlikely to have seen gold up close before and would be hard pressed to recognize it.
  • Wretched Hive: Completely subverted, as in the case of the Ironworks the first impression from a distance is highly misleading.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ashitaka knocks out both San and Eboshi to keep them from killing each other.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Ashitaka.
  • Youkai: The forest gods, as well as the kodama.
  • Your Days Are Numbered:
    • Ashitaka is told his curse will eventually kill him, and that his chances of finding a cure are very slim indeed.
    • Moro to some extent. She tells Okkoto that she's dying from Eboshi's bullet.
  • Zerg Rush: The boars' primary method of attack. It works really well at first, until the humans get firearms. In the climactic battle, the humans have the high ground AND are armed with grenades and bombs, so it... doesn't work out very well for the boars.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Anime/PrincessMononoke?from=Main.PrincessMononoke