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Mononoke Hime

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Details


By MIYAZAKI Hayao (Mononoke Hime)

Category : Japan (Manga), action, mystery

Main characters
Ashitaka

Ashitaka is an Emishi prince who was meant to become leader of his tribe. While rescuing his village from Nago, the demon boar god, Ashitaka’s arm is afflicted with a curse that will eventually consume and kill him. Under the effect of the curse, Ashitaka gains superhuman strength, but causes him to grow weaker as time passes. Ashitaka chooses to leave his village and goes westward to find the cause of the demon’s corruption as well as a cure for his curse, despite being told there was no cure to his curse.

After arriving at Irontown, Ashitaka is caught up in the town’s war against the mountain gods. Amidst the battle at Irontown, Ashitaka meets San and soon becomes enamored with her. Ashitaka takes San back to Moro and attempts to negotiate a ceasefire between the warring sides. He is unsuccessful. Throughout the film, Ashitaka develops deep feelings for San and eventually falls in love with her. It is stated by Moro that he wanted to share his life with her. At the end of the film, Ashitaka’s curse is eventually removed and, though San and Ashitaka have grown close, they go their separate ways: to the forest and to Irontown respectively. However, Ashitaka promises to visit San in the forest whenever he can.

The director Miyazaki wanted Ashitaka to not be a typical hero. "Ashitaka is not a cheerful, worry-free boy. He is a melancholy boy who has a fate. I feel that I am that way myself, but until now, I have not made a film with such a character. Ashitaka was cursed for a very absurd reason. Sure, Ashitaka did something he should not have done - killing Tatari Gami. But there was enough reason to do so from the humans' viewpoint. Nevertheless, he received a deadly curse. I think that is similar to the lives of people today. I think this is a very absurd thing that is part of life itself."

San

When San was a baby, the wolf goddess Moro attacked her parents, who were found damaging the forest. San's parents threw her to Moro as a sacrifice to save their own lives. Moro raised San as her own daughter, and in turn San treats Moro as her mother and Moro's two natural pups as brothers. The other pups accept San as a sister.

San’s primary concern is protecting the forest and the animals she lives with. San rejects her own humanity and even thinks of herself as a wolf. She has attempted to assassinate Eboshi of Irontown many times, as San believes that Eboshi’s death will result in the end of Irontown and human growth into the surrounding forest. It is only by Ashitaka's affection to her that she slowly comes to acknowledge her human side as well.

After the battle for the Forest Spirit's head, San tells Ashitaka that he is very dear to her, but since she cannot forgive the human race for what they have done to the forest, she will continue to live apart from the humans. San returns to the forest and Ashitaka remains in Irontown.

Lady Eboshi

Eboshi is the strong-willed and independent leader of Irontown. Though seemingly callous and distant to others, she actually cares a lot about the welfare of her people; the guns they produce are primarily intended to secure their independence from hostile parties. She also takes in lepers, treating them as humans instead of parasites, and helps them with their wounds - a fact which Ashitaka acknowledges to the point that he cannot condemn her for inflicting him (indirectly) with the curse.

Eboshi has many enemies, including San, men, and the animal gods. Eboshi and her ishibiya troops are responsible for the cursed iron bullet in Nago which eventually affects Ashitaka. She shoots Shishigami's head off, causing him to turn into a God of death and send forth a dark liquid that kills anything it touches. The liquid falls on Moro's body, separating the head from it. After Eboshi throws Shishigami's head to Jigo, Moro's head resurrects long enough to bite off Eboshi's right arm. This event redeems her, and she decides to rebuild Irontown not as an industrial center, but as a modest settlement.

According to the producer Hayao Miyazaki the character of Lady Eboshi was supposed to have a traumatic past. Whether she herself was a prostitute or if she got married to a Japanesse pirate. She has a strong will, enough so that Prince Ashitakas situation doesn't bother her at all. She should also be viewed slightly as a revolutionary. If she were a man it wouldn't have the same effect. She was also a typical 20 century woman in the fact that she wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice herself or those around her for her dreams.

Jigo

Jigo is an Imperial agent traveling in the disguise of a monk who was assigned by the Emperor to capture the forest spirit's head, in return for an entire hill of gold. The Emperor believed that the forest spirit's head would give him immortality. Jigo used a pack of skilled hunters, and a group of his own men, to help him hunt down the forest spirit. He also manipulated Lady Eboshi to kill the forest spirit for him, in exchange for tracking it down for her.

When director Miyazaki was working on creating Jigo at first he wasn't sure what he was going to do. Jigo could have been any number of things from a spy to an assassin to a religious fanatic or even just a good guy. In the end it turns out that this character had all of those qualities and then some.

Shishigami (The Forest Spirit)

Shishigami is the ancient spirit of the forest. During the day, Shishigami resembles a great elegant stag with many antlers, bird-like feet, and the face of a baboon. Shishigami is protected by the Wolf Clan. As he walks, flowers bloom up at his feet, though they quickly wither and die. He is capable of both giving life and taking it away, which includes healing wounds.

At sunset, Shishigami becomes Daidarabocchi (translated to the Nightwalker in the English version), a huge god in a humanoid form that appears to be made out of stars, with a long pointed face and tentacle-like spikes on the back. When Eboshi shoots off Shishigami's head whilst it is transforming into Daidarabocchi, it becomes a raging god of death and his starry appearance changes to a dark tar-like liquid, searching for his head, that brings death to all it touches.
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