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The setting is medieval Japan, a time of great change as industry and firearms are introduced to a feudal nation. Prince Ashitaka (voice of Yoji Matsuda) kills an enormous wild boar that threatens his village. As it happens, the animal is no ordinary beast, but a demon from a far away land and Ashitaka is left with a quickly spreading scar on his arm. He leaves on a quest to cure his curse and find out what drove the boar mad. Eventually he encounters Iron Town, a new metropolis ruled by Lady Eboshi (voice of Yuko Tanaka) that provides employment for the townsfolk but is also causing damage to the nearby forest. Opposed to the industrialists are the denizens of the woods, including a raft of animals, the Forest Spirit, and San, the Princess Mononoke (voice of Yuriko Ishida), a human raised by wolves. Torn between his allegiances to each side, Ashitaka strives to find a way for both to co-exist amid impending internecine battle.

Review by David Edwards:
At first glance, Princess Mononoke appears to be a simple tale of a boy having to overcome the odds to win the girl. But appearances can be deceptive. The film is a complex and intricate contemplation on our place in the world and our relationship to it. Rooted in Shinto beliefs, it examines mankind's attempts to tame nature - in the process disturbing its delicate balance.

Technically, the film is to anime what Toy Story 2 is to CGI - it doesn't do anything particularly new, but it takes the art form to new heights. The sheer scale of the film, its stunning visuals and its elaborate plot combine to make it a significant moment in animation.

If Princess Mononoke has a weakness, it is its 133 minute length which tests audience endurance. The story can't really keep the excitement going the whole time, and there are flat spots. But just when you think the film has gone to sleep; it jumps up and grabs you by the throat. It should be noted that Princess Mononoke is adult animation and definitely not suitable for children; with decapitations, mutilation and blood featuring prominently in the story.

Princess Mononoke is a vibrant and exciting film - must-see for anime fans; and a definite should-see for everyone else.

Complete feature length storyboards are featured on the DVD, together with original Japanese trailers.

Published October 28, 2004

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VOICES: (Japanese version voices: Yoji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yuko Tanaka, Kaoru Kobayashi, Masahiko Nishimura, Tsunehiko Kamijoe, Sumi Shimamoto, Akihira Miwa)

DIRECTOR: Hayao Miyazaki

SCRIPT: Neil Gaiman, Hayao Miyazaki

RUNNING TIME: 133 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio

SPECIAL FEATURES: Complete feature length storyboards; original Japanese trailers


DVD RELEASE: October 20, 2004

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