While it is stressed that San sees herself as a wolf, an equal to her siblings, she treats them an awful lot like house dogs with all the scratching behind the ears bit. It seems like she sees herself in the dominant side of the master/pet relationship.
This Troper saw it more as a sign of affection, after all- it doesn't seem like they dislike the feeling, and if they like it, well... Honestly, I saw it more like when you give your friend a back rub or something. (Okay, bad example, but still...)
Friendly touch is very important for most mammals. Wolves constantly nuzzle and rub each other. San is doing the human equivalent to them. Not to mention that they must be really grateful that she can so masterfully scratch them in places they have really hard time reaching.
They might see her as an older sister. Even among siblings it is not uncommon for one to be more dominant and assertive than another, usually along age or gender lines.
I saw it that way too. I mean she does even tell them what to do at times (like not killing Ashitaka or eating his elk, leaving those monkeys alone and other parts of the movie.) I didn't see it as her being their "Superior" or something. Just an older sister. She was very affectionate with them, and they do respect and cherish her.
This is very much in line with natural wolf behavior. Wolves are matriarchal with an alpha pair and seniority usually passing to the eldest daughter. San's "brothers" would instinctively defer to her, especially if she's older than them and her place reinforced by discipline from their mother.
While San is... um, incapacitated on Okkoto; It is ultimately Moro, San's mother, who saves her, not Ashitaka. All he succeeds in doing is... giving her a bath. Now, during that scene the crystal dagger is highlighted. We all know what the dagger means, so what is Miyazaki saying here? A mother's love is more powerful than a husband's/lover's? Family-Unfriendly Aesop!
Doesn't the water partially ward off the effects of the curse though? Just saying Ashitaka deserves a little bit more credit.
Yes, it looked like the closest Shinto equivalent to Holy Water - the pool was "sanctified" by the Shishigami, and thus it worked against the unnatural curse.
Two things. First, I saw it as being equal love: It was Moro's love for San, her daughter, that gave her the strength to reach San and save her from Okkoto; and it was Ashitaka's love for San, his love interest, that gave him the strength to finish the rescue. If either of them had failed, San would have died. Both of them, together, saved her. Second, I am very concerned by your insinuation that a mother's love is/should be less powerful than a lover's. A different kind of love doesn't mean a less powerful love. The strength of a mother's love can certainly be matched, whether by the love of a sibling or a friend or a lover, but it's not possible to surpass something that is unconditional and limitless, the way a mother's love for her child(ren) should be.
Is there anyone who likes the Japanese version better than the English dub? I saw both and I feel the dub is superior. Perhaps I shall write a review.
I actually I think the best Dub is the French one. I watched the original, the English, the French and the Mandarin dub; the English one is okay, the Chinese one is the closest to the original but the voice acting sucks and the French version has a good voice acting and a good translation.
I personally prefer the English dub of anything because I don't speak Japanese and would rather watch the screen than have to read. You can miss a lot of visual clues if you're stuck reading the text on the bottom of the screen.
While the dub is indeed masterful, this troper still prefers the original Japanese version, since he doesn't need the extra explanations that the dub provides, isn't a native Anglophone to begin with, and has grown up with subtitles since early childhood as per his country's conventions, and can read them almost subconsciously without losing anything of the visuals. Knowing rudimentary Japanese also helps in holding this opinion.
I prefer the Japanese version due to its more natural dialogue flow (well, with English subtitles). But watching the English dub (which I did first) didn't ruin any of the experience for me. Claire Danes is a bit of a miscast and can sound more like a complaining teen than a fierce warrior. And Billy Thornton's voice (to be fair, he got the character down, a cynic) just doesn't match the appearance. But it doesn't detract from much.
I'm actually not a huge fan of the dub. Billy Bob Thornton phones in his performance too much, and I wasn't a fan of Claire Danes as San either. Add in the male soprano singer of the theme song in the Japanese version (seriously, a male soprano!) and I'll pick it any day of the week.
I realize that there's a whole lot of gray in this movie, but I need to know whether or not there was any one side they wanted us to root for. It wasn't like Avatar where the Na'vi were supposed to be the heroes, I just rooted for the humans of Iron Town to come out on top.
The fact that the protagonist, Ashitaka, steadfastly refuses to pick sides indicates which side Miyazaki wanted the audience to take as well.
I don't think there was a side you were "supposed" to root for, no. And I liked the movie all the more for it.
As far as I can tell, the point of the story is that it is entirely possible for different cultures to live in harmony with each other, without war to determine a 'winner.' In that sense, I don't think you should root for anyone. The closest thing to a villain is Jigo, and his motives are understandable...
No, you weren't suppose to root for either side. Everyone is portrayed as having the potential to be bloodthirsty or have an ounce of kindness. Even the forest harbours irrational (but somewhat understandable) hatred for the humans. This explains how even the merciful Boar who pardoned and thank the protagonist for the truth becomes consumed by his demons. Even so the forest reveals it kind side when it willingly guides the protagonist and two wounded man across. Note the scene where two woman are willing to meet Princess Mononoke to avenge their fallen husbands. Everyone can have a sympathetic side.
Out of curiosity, why does someone have to be the villain? Why does someone need to be the cut-and-dry bad guy with a big neon sign over their head flashing VILLAIN? The vast majority of real people don't fit that mold. There are good and bad people on every side of the line. Most people are on the side they're on because they believe, for whatever reason, they're in the right. Soldiers don't fight in wars because it's fun, they fight because they believe they're on the right side. And, sort of related, I'm also curious as to why you decided that the people to root for were the ones who deliberately started a war and knowingly attempted to commit genocide.
Don't forget they successfully attempted deicide!
Close - what they DID was trap the Shishigami halfway between its normal form and the Daidarabotchi form. This turned it into a Tartarigami, who killed and destroyed everything in its path seeking out its head. By the time Ashitaka returned its head, the forest that sustained it was dead - killed off not by the humans, but its own rampage, and it self-destructed.
After viewing the movies a few more times, I made this interesting observation: Irontown doesn't seem to have children. I suppose the reason behind it is that the men and women are too busy with their jobs whether it's in the industrial town or outside and there were higher priorities, and Lady Eboshi built her town by recruiting so there wasn't a need to reproduce (or because it would just be a burden to them). What do other tropers have to say or speculate about this?
Despite the fact that it was well-developed, Irontown seemed to me to be a very young town, with little security. Note how they were constantly under the threat of invasion due to their iron supply, to say nothing of the constant attacks on their husbands by Moro and her children. There probably wasn't really much of a chance for anyone to settle down and have kids. When their town gets rebuilt, perhaps... Of course, this may also be a case of Hide Your Children, as many children would probably inevitably have been killed by the Forest Spirit's toxic ooze, and that probably would have made the movie even darker than it already was.
San sees herself as a wolf, but that cape she wears and the fur on her mask look awfully like wolf fur. To her, wouldn't that be the equivalent to Genuine Human Hide?