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Characters / Princess Mononoke

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"What I want is for humans and the forest to live in peace!"
Voiced by: Yoji Matsuda (JP), Billy Crudup (EN)

The last prince of the Emishi tribe. A prepossessed and earnest young man; he is as skilled in war as he is of strong moral fiber but one day his ethics and his soul will be tested from within as well as without. Exiled from his home village after being inflicted with a curse on his arm, he journeys to the lands of the west in an odyssey to lift the curse and to see with eyes unclouded by hate.

  • The Ace: Goes back and forth between being a caring, charming, easy-going, honest prince and an almost absurdly competent fighter (and despite that, a pacifist) and a self-pitying drifter constantly talking how he's going to die soon due to an evil curse. The fact he's so good is also important for his people—he was the last hope for the tribe before being cursed.
  • All-Loving Hero: The voice of peace between the humans of Iron Town and the animals/spirits/deities of the forest. Without him the film would have been much shorter and very bloody.
  • Amazon Chaser: Ashitaka falls head over heels with the fiery, bonafide badass, slightly murderous San.
  • Archer Archetype: A highly skilled, solitary archer who proves himself perfectly capable of living alone in the wilderness without other people.
  • Badass Normal: Even before receiving the curse, Ashitaka manages to kill an enormous boar demon single-handedly.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: A kind, heroic, and respectful young man. You do not want to make him angry.
  • 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.
  • Bishōnen: An incredibly handsome (former) prince.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Though Ashitaka tends to favour his Bow.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: He begins the movie killing Nago the boar god-turned-demon, but in the process gets his arm grabbed by its accursed flesh and is afflicted with a curse himself that will eventually kill him.
  • The Cassandra: His beliefs that violence won't solve anything are dismissed by the people of Iron Town and the forest Gods, but later turn out to be true.
  • Chick Magnet: All of the Iron Town women (sans Lady Eboshi) think Ashitaka is gorgeous and fawn over him constantly, and even San seems attracted to him.
  • Cursed with Awesome: His cursed arm sporadically causes him a deep throbbing pain and even made him an outcast from his own people. On the other hand, it gives Ashitaka a rather grim and definitely supernatural level of strength which he uses to both save others and maim men to pieces.
  • Evil Hand: His demon-infected arm often moves against his will, contorting itself into weird and extremely painful-looking positions.
  • The Exile: He goes into exile at the beginning of the film after he gets infected by the curse.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Inverted. Ashitaka alters his hair at the right at our story's beginning, due to being exiled from his village after becoming infected with a curse.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He might be soft-spoken, gentle drifter that helps people out of genuine care. He will also destroy you if it is what it takes and his threats aren't just for show.
  • 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.
  • Important Haircut: Cuts his hair at the start of the film to signify his banishment.
  • Last of His Kind: He is the last prince of the Emishi. Without him, his people face a dark and uncertain future.
  • Leitmotif: ''The Legend of Ashitaka'. Which is sometimes played as a gentle melancholy tune or as an epic crescendo of passion.
  • Love at First Sight: Towards San. He is overcome with awe and reverence when he first sees her, saves her life even when she tried to kill him in the dark and can only say she's beautiful when he passes out, on the cusp of death.
  • Mark of the Beast: His curse manifests as a large, nasty blotch or tumour which starts on his arm and slowly spreads throughout his body.
  • Martial Pacifist: Ashitaka is a pacifist in a world where humans and nature are at war. The funny thing is Ashitaka actually aims to be a Badass Pacifist, but what keeps him from reaching that is the fact that he will kill you if you leave him no other choice.
  • Master Archer: While a skilled swordsman and hand-to-hand combatant, Ashitaka is truly gifted with a bow. He begins the film shooting a giant, rampaging boar god through the eye while racing full-pelt on Yakul's back and his feats of archery only get more ridiculous as the film goes on.
  • Memento Macguffin: The crystal necklace that he gets from Kaya for good luck and so he won't forget her. He later gives it to the wolves, as a token for San.
  • Morality Pet: Even though San still won't forgive the humans for what they did, she makes it clear to Ashitaka that she won't attack them for his sake and that they will always be close.
  • Nice Guy: Doesn't want a war to start between humans and forest spirits? Check. Killed a boar spirit when it headed towards his younger sister, Kaya? Check. Has a deep respect for the forest spirits, that may only be second to San? Check.
  • One-Man Army: 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.
  • Primary-Color Champion: He wears blue clothes and a red hood.
  • Red Right Hand: An aversion: Ashitaka has the physical indications and the power, but remains firmly dominant over The Corruption.
  • Scars Are Forever: Ashitaka keeps one under his left eye, courtesy of San, even by the end of the film, when all his wounds have been healed. Miyazaki also made the decision to keep a tiny patch of Nago's curse scar on his palm to act as a reminder of what it cost to lift; stating that to remove it entirely would not only ruin the symbolism but be too condescending for the intended audience of teenagers who might think it will resurge in a sequel. The joke's still on us though.
  • Shirtless Scene: Gets a few: when he crosses a river with Yakul, helps the women with the smelting bellows, and in the climax.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Apparently, he can communicate with Yakul.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Ashitaka never flinches before the presence of the gods. He initially attempts to talk Nago down before killing him, argues with Moro in a way that infuriates her without back down from her threats, and even stands tall in the presence of the enraged Forest Spirit to return its severed head.
  • Super Strength: Due to his cursed arm. Among other things, Ashitaka can fire arrows with enough force to several limbs and heads, as well as lift the portcullis of Iron Town, which takes the strength of ten men to lift, by himself.
  • Tranquil Fury: When striding slowly in to break up the fight between San and Lady Eboshi.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: While San does come to reciprocate his feelings, at the end, they realize that neither of them could give up their present life styles for each other, and the two part, promising to still meet each other every so often...
  • Warrior Prince: The last prince of the Emishi Clan, and a skilled sword-fighter, archer, and... elksman?
  • Weapon of Choice: His bow and arrows.
  • The Wise Prince: He's an All-Loving Hero prince with a bad case of Cassandra Truth.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Interposes himself between both Lady Eboshi and San, knocking the two of them out cold when the former attacks him for his audacity.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: After being cursed by a kami turned demon, Ashitaka is forced to leave his dying people, the Emishi, to find a cure, rather than staying to die in agony. After cutting off his top-knot, he is banished and can never return.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Along with the above trope, Ashitaka will eventually die from the curse imparted to him.

    Mononoke Hime / San
Lady Eboshi: "Do you wish to avenge your clan, princess of beasts?"
"You've thrown away your life by getting in my way."
Voiced by: Yuriko Ishida (JP), Claire Danes (EN)

A young girl who was raised by the wolf gods of the western mountains. When she was just a baby, the wolf goddess, Moro, confronted San's birth parents, who were violating the forest. The couple abandoned their child to appease the wolf and fled but Moro pitied San and chose to take her in as one of her own. Although the recent war with humans has blackened San's once pure heart with loathing, she eventually comes to care deeply for Ashitaka and through that love, envision a future brighter than she can imagine.

  • Animal Motifs: Wolves. She was literally raised by them since infancy and models her mask, fur cape and hood in order to more closely resemble a wolf.
  • Anti-Hero: While her goal is to protect the forest, she sees nothing wrong in escalating the conflict further or trying to kill lady Eboshi.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: "Princess Mononoke", while not San's actual name, roughly translates to 'princess of the vengeful spirits.'
  • Badass Adorable: She's only fifteen years old and can't quite help looking as cute as she actually is. No matter how fierce she strives to appear. She was not only willing but hungry to take on an entire village of people armed to the teeth with swords and guns. And charges into battle in the front lines of the boar's last battle with humanity.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: One of the main reasons San likes Ashitaka is because of his respectful nature towards her and the spirits, something that the humans she met before him did not endeavor to do at all.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Her hair doesn't even reach her chin.
  • Breakout Character: San pretty much stole the entire film. She probably stole the show for the animation team as well, because when Miyazaki took a vote on the film title, his favorite 'The Legend of Ashitaka' was outnumbered by those who wanted it to be titled 'Mononoke Hime'. And the rest is history.
  • Cool Mask: Her first is a full Oni war mask which bears a distinct resemblance to the Forest Spirit's face by daylight. After that one is shattered she wears a half helm that is also lost or destroyed.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Her birth parents abandoned her to save their own skin. And while San's relationship to Moro and her two wolf brothers were good ones, she also had to see her home be destroyed by humans, which may have meant close friends and family members dying as well.
  • Death Glare: She gives a major one to Ashitaka when she first spots him across the river, augmented by the fact that her face is covered in blood.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She comes very close to killing Ashitaka with her knife to his Addams apple, but after she witnesses the forest spirits heal him, she warms up to him.
  • Deuteragonist: The second main focus after Ashitaka.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The ape tribe accost a bloodied and battered San by throwing sticks down at her and her equally tired wolf brothers, during the retreat from the final battle. They even accuse her of bringing the death of the forest when the wolves have been the only ones who have been fighting smart, instead of hard.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Being weaned by a god and raised in a place of magic has put her far ahead of what any fifteen-year-old girl should be capable of. She endures head trauma that would bust a skull inwards, can leap incredible heights, slice a thumb-thick quarterstaff in half with a back-hand swipe of a sharp stone knife and endure falls that would kill an ordinary human. Even surviving Demon Corruption with little to no scarring until the decapitated head of the Forest Spirit's own exuding ooze touches her skin. May overlap with Charles Atlas Superpower.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Although she hates most humans, expect Ashitaka she is horrified at the Gorillas trying to kill him.
  • Facial Markings: San has three red "fang" markings on her forehead and both her cheeks. Since it is quite unlikely she could have tattooed them on herself they may actually be the signs of a lesser god blessed unto her by Shishigami.
  • Forest Ranger: With her adoptive wolf family, San looks after and protects the forest from any humans who attempt to spoil their territory.
  • Fragile Speedster: She moves very fast, to the point where none of Iron Town's riflemen can hit her, but gets knocked out fairly easily by Ashitaka, although that was with his cursed right arm. She's really only this compared to the other kami of the forest and would quite likely reach Lightning Bruiser status when she reaches her prime.
  • Freudian Excuse: San's hatred of humans mainly stems from their destruction of the forest and the subsequent deaths of many friends and even implied close family members. She must also likely have been told the origin of her adoption from Moro, her parents abandoning her as a baby to save themselves from the wolf-goddess would be an extra point of contention.
  • Friend to All Living Things: San definitely qualifies since she's a Nature Lover and Forest Ranger. But she also has definite exceptions - any and all humans are off her list. In the beginning...
  • Happily Adopted: San casts away her human heritage in favour of being a wolf. Is so happily adopted that she fully believes herself to be a wolf, and that Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • Human Sacrifice: How her parents gave her up - after Moro caught them violating her forest, they threw the infant San at her feet and fled.
  • Intimate Healing: When San feeds a wounded Ashitaka, who is too weak to even chew, by softening up the meat for him with her own jaws and then transferring it from her mouth to his.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She resents humans, but she deeply cares for her adoptive wolf family, the denizens of the forest even if they insult her to her face, and later Ashitaka.
  • Jungle Princess: She is referred to by the people of Irontown as "The Princess of the Vengeful (forest) spirits". She dresses the part.
  • Kick Chick: When she's unarmed, she resorts to kicks in close combat, as briefly shown near the end of the movie.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Despite living in a forest all her life, she sure knows how to look damn good in a fight. Both of the film's battles she takes part in she not only wears a purple dress, her white wolf fur pelt, upper arm bracelets, a diadem inset with a single pearl and rather large bone disc earrings, but two types of ornamental masks, an animal-tooth necklace and later a gifted crystal dagger amulet as well.
  • The Lady's Favor: Genderflipped. Ashitaka gives Kaya's crystal dagger to one of her brothers to deliver to San when he's about to leave their realm. San ties it around her neck as a keepsake.
  • Leitmotif: Not only does she have both an instrumental and a vocal track iteration of the same piece of haunting music to her name provided by Joe Hisaishi but she also has a personal sound effect, which is of her ivory disc earrings chiming together off her canine tooth necklace myriad times during her first few appearances.
  • Le Parkour: Even Ashitaka with all his prodigious cursed strength has to clamber up some timbers to chase San on the roof-tops of Tataraba. She leaps up first in a single crouched bound.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: To the Wolf Goddess, Moro. Despite being a human, Moro deeply loves and cherished San just the same as her two biological wolf cubs.
  • Meaningful Name: "San" is Japanese for "three". She is the only daughter (adopted and human) of Moro's three children. The other two are biologically related to her.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Hates humans even though she is one. Justified given how she was raised by her adoptive wolf family from infancy because her parents left her to be eaten by them to save themselves.
  • Morality Pet: To the Wolf Goddess, Moro. San is probably the sole human that Moro loves.
  • Nature Lover: Has deep respect for the forest and those who live in it.
  • Not Good with People: Has a distrust of other humans due to being raised in the forest.
  • Nubile Savage: She's quite pretty and well groomed for somebody Raised by Wolves, aside from the fact that her face is often smeared with blood. It may have something to do with the fact that the wolves that raised her are also magical Shinto demigods.
  • One-Woman Army: Mounts a solo attack on Iron Town for the sole purpose of assassinating Lady Eboshi, and gets far enough to duel Eboshi herself one on one at the center of town.
  • Parental Abandonment: Her parents literally threw her to the wolves.
  • Pint Sized Power House: She sometimes fights nearly on all fours, making her even smaller against experienced, battle-hardened adults.
  • Raised by Wolves: She was adopted by the wolf goddess Moro while still in swaddling clothes. Albeit the wolves are gods that can speak.
  • 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 Is Heroic: The red fang markings on both her face and blades. Not to mention her mask. Although, she's more of an Anti-Hero: while Lady Eboshi and her followers are desecrating the forest and the spirits, San's solution (general murder and terror) isn't actually fixing the problem.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: On the day Moro is shot by Eboshi, she and her brothers make a play to take her down once and for all that very same night.
  • Secondary Character Title: San's nickname is the name of the film, but she's the deuteragonist.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Ashitaka is a pacifistic man who has a great respect for the spirits, and was the first human San encountered who treated her nicely. San does return Ashitaka's affections but the film ends before we can see where they go from there.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Naturally, due to her upbringing, Ashitaka is surprised to learn this when she tells him she has been talking to Yakul.
  • Suicide Mission: She fully expected to die when she went into Iron Town alone to kill Eboshi.
  • Tsundere: Has elements of it. For example, when Moro comments that Ashitaka wanted to share his life with her, San angrily responds that she hates him like she hates all humans. A few seconds later, one of her brothers comes to give her a necklace from Ashitaka. San puts it on.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: By the end of the film, San admits that Ashitaka's love means so much to her but she cannot quit her home to live with him in Irontown; there's too much bad blood between her and the settlers, not to mention Eboshi. Where their relationship will go from there... Her final smile suggests that it will hold hate at bay for many years to come.

Shinto Gods

"Disgusting little creatures. Soon, all of you will feel my hate and suffer as I have suffered."
Ashitaka: "He must have died full of hate..."
Voiced by: Makoto Sato (JP), John DiMaggio (EN)

A mighty boar god of the forest steppes. He and his clan were the first to retaliate against Tataraba's lumber operations. Until the day Lady Eboshi planted a bullet in him and her warriors burned his territory to the ground. He fled far to the east, refusing to die from his shattered bones, blistered insides and the memory of his slaughtered people. His hate turns him into an abomination.

  • Animalistic Abomination: Becomes one thanks to his bullet wound and his hatred towards those who shot him; transforming him into a demon.
  • Annoying Arrows: He literally shakes off about three-score flaming arrows to the face from Tataraba's first settlers.
  • Body Horror: Completely covered in writhing, demonic black worms.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Not intentionally, but it is his actions that catapult Ashitaka's story into motion.
  • Combat Tentacles: He can send out writhing arms of his corruption as flails and extend his own legs to increase his sprinting speed.
  • Dying Curse: After being killed by Ashitaka, he says, "Disgusting little creatures. Soon, all of you will feel my hate and suffer as I have suffered."
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The only time he speaks, it's in a deep and distorted growl.
  • Eye Scream: Ashitaka shoots him in the eye, then between both eyes, which finally kills him.
  • Fallen Hero: Used to be a noble boar spirit, before being shot.
  • Our Demons Are Different: A giant pig covered in worms resembling a giant spider.
  • Physical God: One of the guardians of the Forest Spirit's realm.
  • The Power of Hate: It is so virulent that anything in his path will die. Plant-life quickly, humanoid matter slowly and painfully with just minor contact.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: As a demon.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: He doesn't live past the opening scene, but his short time onscreen essentially sets the stages for the film's story.
  • Starter Villain: The first threat faced by Ashitaka in the film and killed by him, but not before he curses his right arm.
  • Talking Animal: He despises the human race enough to actually curse them vocally as well as physically. Notable, in that his elder, Okkoto went completely mad while he retained some monstrous intelligence.
  • Walking Wasteland: He curses everything he touches after turning into a demon.
  • The Worm That Walks: Covered in black worms, as seen in the image above.

    Moro-no-Kimi / Moro
"Can you save the girl you love?"
Voiced by: Akihiro Miwa (JP), Gillian Anderson (EN)

A three hundred year old, two-tailed giant wolf goddess and San's adopted mother. She's protected the Forest Spirit's realm since time immemorial and is as wise as she is fearsome.

  • Action Mom: Mother of three and will fight when necessary.
  • Act of True Love: Towards the end of the film, Moro, close to death and lame, gives up her best chance to kill Lady Eboshi to rescue San from Okkoto’s demonic tendrils.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Unsurprisingly, her goals aren't concerned with human concepts of good and evil. And though she has fought for the forest all her life, she is content to let what will be, be. Even if that is the doom of her kind and the misfortune of her adoptive offspring.
  • Canis Major: She's almost the size of a small elephant. She's so large that she can break an oxen's spine with a single snap of her jaws. Her eyes are the size of dinner plates!
  • Character Death: She receives the touch of death from the Forest Spirit near the end of the film.
  • Contralto of Danger: In the English dub.
  • Crossdressing Voices: She is voiced by the male Akihiro Miwa Japanese dub, despite being female. This is due to how Shintoist belief portrays the kami of canines in a masculine context regardless of gender and why feline kami are always portrayed in a feminine light regardless of gender.
  • Dented Iron: Although she survives a close-range blast of a black-powder cannon, being bathed in a jet of fire from a fire lance and falling about three hundred feet off a massive cliff, clipping the side at least once and being swept downriver; Eboshi's bullet condemns her to be greatly weakened and eventually paralyzes her hind legs.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In sharp contrast to Nago and later Okkoto, who went insane and turned into a demon after being shot by a bullet, Moro is calm and accepting of her inevitable demise. Even when San begs her to go to the Forest Spirit to be healed of the bullet wound, Moro replies that she's lived long enough.
  • Intellectual Animal: Moro is probably the wisest and most rational of the forest spirits.
  • Last Breath Bullet: Her decapitated head leaps forward and snaps off Eboshi's arm as her final act.
  • Made of Iron: Flaming arrows don't affect the boar gods at all and Moro is seen to be mostly unhurt after being shot, set on fire and thrown off a cliff.
  • Mama Bear: "Give me back my daughter, demon!"
  • Multiple-Tailed Beast: Has two tails as opposed to her birth children who only have one each.
  • Noble Wolf: She is a protector of her pack, of the forest, and adopted San when her parents abandoned her.
  • Not Afraid to Die: She calmly accepts her eventual death.
  • Not So Stoic: While she is calm and collected (for the most part), she only bears her teeth when she is in combat or when she is really ticked off.
  • Physical God: A Wolf Goddess... and a very big wolf at that.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Kind of. In both versions, she's the mother wolf. However, in Japan, she has a male voice courtesy of Akihiro Miwa because in Japanese tradition all wolves are treated in a very masculine context.
  • Shipper on Deck: Downplayed; she makes subtle hints that she thinks San will be happy with Ashitaka, though that doesn't stop her from making bloodcurdling threats to him and rejecting the idea that San should leave with Ashitaka instead of dying with her clan. In fairness, Ashitaka was still cursed at that stage.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: All full-blooded wolves have eye color that ranges from light brown amber to gold but since she and her brood are the spirits of the gods...
  • Talking Animal: A very de-whimsified version. She talks through some type of telepathy since her lips don't move in sync with her words.
  • Tranquil Fury: Moro absolutely seethes with hatred and disgust for the destruction humans have caused to the ecosystem but her voice remains eerily calm for most of her screentime and even her most violent kills have an almost surgical precision, snapping quickly at vulnerable spots rather than rending wildly like her children are wont to do.
  • Voice of the Legion: She seems to have an ethereal background rumbling growl whenever she talks.
  • White Wolves Are Special: She's a wolf goddess with noble intentions, even if they're incomprehensible to human morality. Her whiteness matches well with her divine status, and her children are the same color.

    Moro's cubs
"What about the elk?" "Yes... Can we eat him?"

Moro's last two male cubs born to her. They were reared alongside their human sister and cherish her just as deeply as if she were both wolf and god, an affection that she returns to both her siblings just as strongly.

  • Big Brother Instinct: They don't take kindly toward anyone insulting San.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Ashitaka tries to save San from Okkoto's demonic influence; they charge in and begin rending Jigo's hunters apart; guarding their new friend's back.
  • Canis Major: Not quite as big as their mother but still large enough for San to ride them as mounts.
  • No Name Given

    The Kodama / Wood Sprites
Ashitaka: "I hope you're not leading us astray, little one."

Tiny, innocent spirits that inhabit the forest, appearing as small white humanoids with mask-like facial features. They are birthed from the trees, and their lives are inextricably linked with the forest. Should the forest die, so do they.

  • The Fair Folk: Averted. Kohroku fears them to be this, but in reality, they mean no harm at all.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: After it appears that they all died during the final battle, a single kodama appears in the rejuvenated forest at the very end.
  • Kill the Cutie: Occurs en masse during the final battle. As the Forest Spirit begins to go berserk after being beheaded, thousands of them are seen falling from the trees like dead leaves and dissolving on the ground.
  • Mascot: They are pretty much this for the movie, showing up everywhere in merchandise from bumper stickers to garden ornaments.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: They are this for the forest gods, being innocent and playful creatures who help the heroes out in what small ways they can.

    Shishigami / The Great Forest Spirit
Lady Eboshi: "They say the blood of the Great Forest Spirit can cure anything..."
Imperial Huntsman: "Don't look at it, sir! It's a sin!

Shishigami, or the Great Forest Spirit, is an ancient god who watches over what is now Japan's Shirakami-Sanchi mountain woodland. During the day, the spirit resembles a great stag qilin creature with many tree-branch antlers, the feet of a strange ungulate bird and the face of a baboon. During the moon rise, however, the spirit becomes the Didarabocchi (Nightwalker), a two hundred foot tall god resembling both a human man and his original form, sculpted out of stars with a long pointed face and nebulous spines protruding from his back.

  • Above Good and Evil: In this case, justified. The Spirit won't or can't aid directly in Moro's fight to save the forest: it has a very alien kind of intelligence.
  • Beware of the Nice Ones: Once beheaded, he becomes a full on spirit of destruction.
  • Big Bad: All depending on your point of view within the movie's Grey-and-Grey Morality. While possibly being the Big Good, if you shoot his head off, he'll quickly become the latter.
  • Big Good: All depending on your point of view within the movie's Grey-and-Grey Morality. While possibly being the Big Bad, the Forest Spirit is beloved by all and seen as a sort of guardian.
  • Blob Monster: After it gets beheaded, it turns into an amorphous mass of black sludge that congeals into a vaguely humanoid shape.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: As a higher being governing life and death, it shows little concern for the conflicts that surround it.
  • Dark Is Evil: It's not evil, but when it gets decapitated, its body becomes a filthy black sludge that kills whatever it touches.
  • The Dreaded: The people of Iron Town fear it for its status as the enigmatic lord of the forest spirits trying to kill them.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Although Jigo's hunters fear him to be one of these, daring not even to look at his night-time form at first. This is revealed to not be the case. At least, up until the point that he's decapitated; then he becomes a walking Armageddon.
  • 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.
  • Healing Hands: While he can take away life with a mere touch, he can also restore it.
  • Humans Are Special: Its last actions are to put out the fires of Iron Town, and heal everyone afflicted by curse or disease. In spite of mankind's inherent flaws, its aware the gods have previously treated them very poorly, and ushers in their age, their time. It wants humans to live.
  • Kaiju: His Nightwalker form, a gigantic creature whose body appears to be made of water and the night sky.
  • Killed Off for Real: San believes so as its Reincarnation cycle has been disrupted, but Ashitaka points out that, as a god of life and death, Death Is Cheap.
  • The Marvelous Deer: The form he takes during the day resembles a deer, in keeping with his mysterious and elusive nature.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: While his day form mostly looks like a deer, he also has birdlike feet and a baboon-like face.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He's a stately hart with strange chimera-esque factors during the day, and a translucent invincible entity called the Nightwalker during the night.note 
  • Nature Spirit: His title is the Great Forest Spirit.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Very hard to kill. And becomes harder to kill once wounded.
  • Off with His Head!: Lady Eboshi shoots off his head with her rifle. This turns out to be a very bad idea, because losing his head turns him into a Walking Wasteland who will kill everything he touches until he gets it back.
  • The Old Gods: He is both life and death personified and a force the other kami treat with deserved respect.
  • One-Winged Angel: He becomes an Eldritch Abomination after Lady Eboshi shoots his head off.
  • Physical God: When he transforms into his deer form.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: After being decapitated it needs its head back and nothing save the coming dawn will stop him.
  • Rasputinian Death: Ashitaka explicitly states that after all that the Forest Spirit has been through, he will still live on.
  • Super Power Lottery: Has numerous abilities, can give or take life from a god, demon, or human, walk on water, plants bloom wherever he walks, then wither and die as quickly as they came. An ability that he can also direct with his gaze on even the dead wood of Eboshi's rifle.
  • Touch of Death: How he kills Okkoto and Moro when he knows that it is their time to depart from the world...
  • The Voiceless: The only nature god to never speak, not that it ever really needs to.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Can switch from a deer form to a shadowy humanoid figure called the "Nightwalker".
  • Walk on Water: In his deer form, he is able to do this.
  • Walking Wasteland: Turns into this after being decapitated. The uncontrolled spirit no longer brings life, only death - anything it touches is killed.

    Okkotonushi / Okkoto
"It will be a battle the humans will never forget..."
Moro: "You can't even speak, can you?"
Voiced by: Hisaya Morishige (JP), Keith David (EN)

A six-hundred-year-old albino boar god from the southern islands of Japan. After the death of his younger tribesmen, Nago, and the destruction of the forest he guarded; he swims the ocean straits with the entirety of his own hundreds-strong clan to bring a final war on Tataraba; to whatever end.

  • Animalistic Abomination: His despair and fear turn him into a mindless monster that will melt the flesh from your bones with a mere touch.
  • Ax-Crazy: As a demon. He isn't even capable of speaking anymore when he turns, wanting only to mindlessly kill.
  • Badass Baritone: He's voiced by Keith David in the English dub.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Vomits up a great deal of blood after being shot, stabbed, burned and poisoned by Eboshi and Jigo's men.
  • Body Horror: When he is slowly being demonized and San is trapped between the masses of wriggling tendrils... gah.
  • Character Death: Killed by the Forest Spirit's Touch of Death.
  • Determinator: Continues trying to fight the humans even after all his people are slaughtered and he himself is covered in wounds and drenched in his own blood.
  • Empty Shell: After becoming a demon, he loses all his former reason and intelligence and becomes a mindless, rampaging monster.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Subverted and even deconstructed. He realizes he has no chance of defeating the humans in battle, yet goes to war anyway because he wants a dignified death for himself and his people. However, his actions only end up bringing more suffering for everyone, because his people die screaming and aflame in a futile charge against the entrenched and heavily armed humans, who easily slaughter them, and the mere presence of his army before that brings great suffering to the forest. The lead up to his death is even worse.
  • Full-Boar Action: He's a giant boar god with a hot-blooded temperament and a thirst for battle.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: When he reaches the horrific conclusion that he's the only boar god left.
  • Last of His Kind: The only boar spirit remaining after the fight with the humans.
  • Made of Iron: The mere fact that he's still alive after all the rest of his tribe are massacred by the humans is a testament to this. It takes no less than the Forest Spirit itself to finally put him down.
  • Mercy Kill: The Forest Spirit euthanizes him with its Touch of Death, releasing him from the agony of his wounds and becoming a demon.
  • The Nose Knows: He is able to ascertain the truth of Ashitaka's story by way of his keen snout. Unfortunately, this gift is later used against him when Jigo's monks and hunters disguise themselves with the skins of his slaughtered tribe.
  • Old Soldier: He's ancient, but still leading his boars into battle.
  • Oh, Crap!: Even when maddened by pain and despair, and despite being blind, he seems to recognize the Forest Spirit as it approaches him and freezes in fear.
  • Peaceful in Death: Despite the horrific lead-up, when the Forest Spirit gives him its Touch of Death he noticeably calms down while his eyes slowly close as he's freed from his agony and madness.
  • Physical God: A spirit in the form of a boar.
  • Prophet Eyes: His eyes are misty with cataracts and stuffed with sleep but he is certainly the most introspective of his tribe despite his blindness.
  • Rasputinian Death: A very horrific example, especially once his mind goes and he becomes a demon.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Unlike the other boars who are ready to kill a wounded Ashitaka for being a human and are ready to jump to conclusions about Nago's death, even accusing the wolves of eating him, Okkoto listens to Ashitaka's story and accepts it after Ashitaka shows him proof, namely the cursed mark on his arm. He then allows Ashitaka to leave the forest in peace, though he does warn him that he will kill him if he sees him in the forest again, if only because they'll meet under different circumstances.
  • Sanity Slippage: His mind snaps completely after his devastating defeat at Eboshi's hands, and despite San's attempts to talk sense into him he becomes a demon.
  • Talking Animal: Like Moro, his power of "speech" is not played for laughs. He talks telepathically, and when he does it's always serious.
  • Trauma Conga Line: This movie is not nice to him.


Residents of Iron Town

    Lady Eboshi
"Remember, you can't trust men."
Voiced by: Yuko Tanaka (JP), Minnie Driver (EN)

The de-facto ruler of Tataraba (Iron Town). With help from the Emperor's religious sect, she gained the firepower that secured the fledgling outpost against Nago and his tribe; wiping them from the face of the earth. Her men clear the forest back inch by inch to further mine the ore needed for weapon production in order to protect her burgeoning community; made up of the disenfranchised as wars between the Daimyo ravage the country.

  • Affably Evil: Quite affable most of the time. The "evil" part becomes clearer whenever she's with Jigo.
  • Anti-Villain: She wants to cut down the forest, dig out all the iron ore and is more than willing to kill local deities, including the spirit of the forest itself. She also doesn't mind waging a brutal war with other humans for what she considers her turf. At the same time, she wants nothing but prosperity for herself and the people working under her, and she treats those people with the utmost respect. All of the women of Iron Town were once brothel workers until Eboshi freed them. She also takes in lepers, and her other reason for going after the Forest God is that she hopes to use its blood to cure them.
  • An Arm and a Leg: At the end of the film, Moro bites off Eboshi's right arm, rendering her unable to fire a gun again.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: She has a standing army of lepers, criminals, and former prostitutes. Subverted in that these people aren't evil, just the misfits of humanity that they joined Lady Ebosi for her quest to create a paradise for themselves. Ebosi's benevolent and caring nature to them ensures their loyalty.
  • Badass Boast:
    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: Matched San blow-for-blow when the latter attacked Iron Town on her own as well as being at the fore of battle against forest gods or samurai. Also, she will attempt to assassinate gods.
  • Big Bad: Depending on your point of view in the film's Grey-and-Grey Morality. While possibly being the Big Good, she's also after all the one who threw the proverbial first stone and is bent on killing the Forest Spirit.
  • Big Good: Depending on your point of view in the film's Grey-and-Grey Morality. While possibly being the Big Bad, Lady Eboshi genuinely cares for the people of Iron Town and they, in turn, look to her as a beacon of hope.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Or rather "Lost Your Arm Shooting at the Forest Spirit." After shooting at the Forest Spirit, she ends up having her right arm bitten off.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Gradually comes to warm up to Ashitaka over the film, ending with her asking to see him so she can apologize for everything.
  • The Determinator: Not a positive example. Nothing will stop her from killing the Forest Spirit. It gets to the point that she's willing to leave the people of Iron Town to fend for themselves rather than defend them from Lord Asano. It even causes her to have a minor Villainous Breakdown as her attempts to shoot at the Spirit are hampered by both Ashitaka and it.
    Eboshi: You will die!
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: She blows the Forest Spirit's head clean off with her rifle. Though it only ends up making things worse.
  • Evil Brit: In the English dub, she is the only person who speaks with a British accent as a result of her being voiced by Londoner Minnie Driver (who also played Jane Porter from Tarzan).
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: She was a former slave who broke free after a mutiny in a ship, and managed to be the powerful ruler of a city she founded herself.
  • Heel Realization: After seeing the destructive result of her actions post-climax, she promises to change for the better and rebuild Tataraba without resorting to military industrialization and the whole-sale clearing of all natural resources.
  • Hime Cut: When she's in her battle wear, her hair is right above her eyebrows.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Feels little to no remorse for wiping out the boar tribe wholesale and setting Nago loose on the world as a demon, which afflicted Ashitaka with his cursed arm.
  • Iron Lady: A non-royal, power-wielding, tough-as-nails woman.
  • Ironic Echo: "Cut off a wolf's head and it still has the power to bite."
  • Kick the Dog: Her decision to continue hunting the Forest Spirit rather than heading back to defend Iron Town during the climax can be seen as this.
  • Lady of War: She's elegant, calm, calculating and has an arsenal of rifles at her disposal that can pierce samurai armor like paper. This is in contrast to the more primal and savage San.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After using her rifle to shoot the Forest Spirit and kill many other animals and people over the course of the movie, Moro's last act of defiance tears off her right arm, ensuring she can never fire one again.
  • A Mother to Her Men: Able to buy up the bond of every brothel girl she meets and gives them a new and better life in Iron Town. She's shown to care deeply about the men and women of Iron Town, even knowing the names of random ox-cart drivers. Even when she chooses to keep hunting the Forest Spirit rather than defend them, it seems to be because she has faith that they can continue to stand strong rather than You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Lady Eboshi's full Japanese name, Eboshi Gozen, alludes to the legendary, twelfth-century female samurai warrior Tomoe Gozen.
  • The Needs of the Many: She may be A Mother to Her Men, but if some of her people are injured she won't hesitate to abandon them for the good of the whole community. For example, when Moro and her cubs push several men off a cliff while they're escorting oxen carrying rice through a storm, she decides it's better to push on home rather than divide or risk the party looking for survivors.
  • Nice Hat: Wears a distinctive red hat which makes her easier to spot in a crowd.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Averted. She may be A Mother to Her Men, but she is ruthless and results-oriented. When Moro and her cubs push a few men off a cliff, she decides to focus on the ones she can easily get home, rather than divide or slow her party down by looking for survivors.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: She does this, befitting a refined lady like her. And in English dubbing it is only further amplified.
  • Necessary Evil: She sees the destruction of the forest and genocide of the gods and spirits therein as necessary to protect and feed her people. (With marauding samurai raiding the countryside, they need weapons to defend themselves from attacks, as well as raw ore to trade for food.) At least, she does before her Character Development.
  • Pet the Dog: She's a Noble Demon who takes in lepers and prostitutes and people who have nowhere else to go, and defends them against the greedy ambitions of the local samurai.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: One of the palest characters in the film, fitting for a lady of high status.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She's always stately and composed, and is also personally responsible for killing at least two gods. Especially notable when she fights San in her Kimono and nearly manages to stab her with a hidden needle.
  • Weapon of Choice: Utilizes a Chinese fire cannon to mortally wound both Nago and Moro, then later a more advanced matchlock musket created by her leper gunsmiths on both Lord Asano's samurai generals and the Forest Spirit.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Has to sell her soul to the Emperor and his new Buddhist sect to secure enough power to keep her people safe.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Never breaks a sweat. Even after she loses her arm.

"Answer milady! Or I'll cut you in half!"
Voiced by: Tsunehiko Kamijô (JP), John DiMaggio (EN)

Eboshi's bodyguard and her major-domo. He is also the official captain of the guard and the head of Iron Town's contingent of riflemen.

  • Badass Normal: Though he's the comedy relief of the film he did face down Moro, a Physical God, alongside Eboshi; burning her and forcing her off a cliff.
  • Butt-Monkey: The guy cannot get a break. For starters, he's called an idiot by Toki, gets his face stepped on by San and has his sword bent by Ashitaka.
  • The Brute: To Eboshi. He's huge and aggressive, but not very bright.
  • Co-Dragons: With Toki. Gonza operates as Eboshi's 2nd in command most of the time and leads the bulk of her soldiers. Gonza tends to lead in the field whilst Toki leads the defense of Iron Town.
  • Dirty Coward: As implied by Toki, the first thing he does when faced with danger is flee and hide like a pansy.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He is a bit of a hot-head.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He acts openly hostile to Ashitaka, but he does thank Ashitaka for bringing back two men deemed killed, and has every reason not to trust him seeing as he came through the forbidden forest.
  • Kill It with Fire: His gun seems to incorporate large amounts of powder rather than a bullet, so it works like an old fashioned flamethrower.
  • Undying Loyalty: He is a very loyal man to Eboshi.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: In-universe, he's told by Ashitaka to walk along the bottom after the Forest Spirit loses his head and goes berserk seeing as he can't swim himself.

"Sweetness, could we discuss this later?"
Voiced by: Masahiko Nishimura (JP), John DeMita (EN)

An Iron Town cattle driver who is nearly killed en route by the wolf clan's attacks. Ashitaka rescues him from certain death in the wilderness.

  • Butt-Monkey: Nothing goes right for him, but its all played for comedy.
  • Cowardly Lion: He's terrified about going through the forbidden forest, logically fearing another attack from the wolves or from Shishigami. However, he also freaks out at the little kodama, who are extremely cute and extremely harmless.
  • Henpecked Husband: He's this to Toki. She berates him after coming back alive from what was believed to be near certain death before hitting on another man in front of him. He raises no objection to this.
  • Nice Guy: Koroku is a polite and kind man.

"You scared me half to death! Don't you 'little flower' me!"
Voiced by: Sumi Shimamoto (JP), Jada Pinkett Smith (EN)

Koroku's wife, a former prostitute, and the leader of Eboshi's circle of fiercely loyal ladies.

  • Tsundere: Despite her constantly yelling at her husband Koroku, she really does love him.

Other Characters

San: "You're very wise aren't you?"

Ashitaka's red elk. A mount and friend of considerable loyalty.

  • Amplified Animal Aptitude:
    • Downplayed. Yakul shows no unrealistic abilities - just the natural athleticism of a mountain beast and the affection of a well-trained domesticated animal. It might be argued that he's awfully smart for a member of the deer family, though.
    • San does say he is "wise" for not setting foot on a sacred island in the middle of the Forest Spirit's grove, and he is apparently able to tell her his name and relate stories of his and Ashitaka's home life to her as well. Whether this is true sapience, or simple instinct and the use of a more vague animal language that San can decipher, is left open to interpretation.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": An elk is a large North American deer with antlers almost as large as a moose. These "red elks" of which conveniently there are none in Japan, or in any other part of the world now for that matter, much more closely resembles a three-way cross between a yak, a pronghorn and a gazelle (or perhaps a lechwe).
  • Cool Pet: A swift, agile, exotic antelope who follows Ashitaka around with quiet devotion.
  • Horse of a Different Color: He looks like a slightly modified Siberian ibex. Not only can he comfortably carry a rider, but is so strong that he can do that kind of animal's graceful leaping so burdened.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Gives off vibes of this, despite having only slightly Amplified Animal Aptitude.
  • Undying Loyalty: No matter what, whether it was being shot at or treading on sacred ground or even threatened with being eaten by wolves, Yakul always stuck by his master.

    Jiko-Bou / Jigo
"Everybody dies, boy. Some now, some later, from brothel girl to Emperor."
Voiced by: Kaoru Kobayashi (JP), Billy Bob Thornton (EN)

A cynical yet buoyant Buddhist monk and mercenary who encounters Ashitaka on his journey to the west. He brings both a new religion from the Indies to his birth country and a technological promise from China that will allow him to fulfill his new convert's ambitions.

  • Acrofatic: Shown to be very fast and agile, especially in his fight.
  • Affably Evil: He just never stops being so pleasant and personable, even when he's vaguely threatening you. Or trying to kick your ass.
  • Big Bad: In all but name. Nearly every bit of misfortune can be traced back to him: He's the Man Behind the Man for Lady Eboshi's effort to destroy the forest and its spiritual denizens, and is therefore indirectly responsible for Ashitaka's curse; also, while Eboshi herself is a Well-Intentioned Extremist Anti-Villain who just wants to build a home for her people, Jigo is a more clear-cut villain, being motivated purely by greed; and to top it all off, he serves as the Final Boss who Ashitaka and San have to confront during the film's climax.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Briefly sports one when fighting Ashitaka.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jiko's much stronger and faster than he first appears.
  • Consummate Liar: When Ashitaka presents him with the iron ball that was shot into Nago and drove him mad, Jigo inspects it closely and says he's never seen anything like it before. He looks so sincere even the audience may believe him at that point.
  • The Cynic: Boy howdy
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has shades of this, like when he remarks that the soup he's eating "tastes like donkey piss."
  • Evil All Along: He doesn't appear to be a bad guy when we first meet him.
  • Gonk: A fat, short man, with a huge mole on his face.
  • Just Following Orders: According to him, he's just following the Emperor's mandate to secure the secret to immortality. Of course, given that he's a very skilled liar...
  • Karma Houdini: He indirectly assists the genocide of two boar tribes, nearly kills both our protagonists, cripples an ecosystem and tries to profit from deicide but doesn't die from any of his wrongdoings. In fact, he gets off completely scot-free by the film's end apart from the fact that the Emperor may be after his greasy hide now for failing to acquire the Forest Spirit's head.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: "Well, I give up. Can't win against fools."
  • The Man Behind the Man: Or rather, "The Man Behind the Woman". It was his contacts with the Son of Heaven that allowed Eboshi to combat Nago and secure the foundations of Tataraba.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: One really wonders how Jigo's scheme would have played out had he not told Ashitaka where to find the Forest Spirit.
  • Nothing Personal: Reflecting the banality typical of environment-destroyers. He doesn't hate his enemies: they're just inconveniently willing to fight to the death to stop him.
  • Pet the Dog: His treatment of Ashitaka when they first meet. Despite their differences, he appears to genuinely like the young man. Sadly, circumstances compel them to become enemies.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He is the most villainous character who actually appears in the film. Despite that, he's also one of the most likeable when off the job. Basically he's a sort of Punch-Clock Villain who's motivated mostly by greed.
  • Smug Snake: Shows shades of this when he talks to his lackeys - he claims that the best way to get what one needs is to let someone else do the dirty work.
  • Warrior Monk: Jigo so heavily subverts the classical image of a Japanese warrior monk he nearly inverts it. Instead of being a fighter for a righteous cause, or a contemplative mystic with Enlightenment Superpowers, he's an incredibly cynical mercenary who'll carry out any act, no matter how repugnant, as long as he gets paid for it; with the most Buddhist thing about him being his robes.

    Lord Asano 
A samurai warlord who wants to seize Iron Town for its wealth. While not as dangerous as the Shinto Gods, his army is also a big threat to the citizens of Iron Town.
  • Uncertain Doom: Assuming he was actually present during the siege of Irontown, he likely was consumed by the Forest Spirit along with his army.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Clearly has no problem attacking a village of (as far as he believes) defenseless women while their men are away. The Iron Town women and lepers swiftly disabuse him of the notion that they can't fight back.