Princess Mononoke Region 1 DVD case cover.San, the Princess Mononoke

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Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫 - Mononoke Hime) is a Japanese animated film by Hayao Miyazaki and was first released in Japan on July 12, 1997). more...

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It is a jidaigeki set in late Muromachi period Japan, and centers on the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who need its resources as seen by the outsider Ashitaka. "Mononoke" is not a name but a description that might be rendered in this context as "avenging spirit", making the title of the film Princess of the Avenging Spirits.


Ashitaka, an Emishi prince , saves his village from Nago, a cursed boar-god, but is cursed in the process himself. As the curse spreads, he has a short amount of time to find a cure before it kills him. He discovers the curse originated from an iron bullet shot from an arquebus made in Irontown. Upon travelling there, he finds Lady Eboshi, who is fighting a war against the spirits of the forest so she can extract its resources for her people. Tribes of intelligent boars, apes, and wolves, along with San (the mononoke princess of the title) who was raised by the wolves, defend the forest. Ashitaka tries to mediate and falls in love with San in the process.


Theatrical run

The film was massively successful in Japan and with both anime fans and "arthouse" moviegoers in English-speaking countries. In those countries, it was widely interpreted as a film about the environment told in the form of Japanese mythology. Disney's Miramax subsidiary chose to put a lot of money into creating the English dub of the movie with famous actors and actresses, yet when they released it in theatres there was little or no advertising and it was given a very limited run, showing in only a few theatres and only for a very short time. Disney later complained about the fact that the movie did not do well at the box office. The DVD sales have, however, done far better in the US and elsewhere due to no limitation in availability.

Box office totals & admission numbers

Box office gross:

  • Japan: ¥18,650,000,000
  • USA: $2,298,191
  • Spain: €598,040

Total admissions:

  • Japan: 13,530,000
  • France: 500,380
  • USA: 467,344
  • Spain: 156,816
  • Italy: 26,989

English translations

The United States and United Kingdom DVD releases have both the English and Japanese soundtracks, and the US release additionally includes two different sets of English subtitles (the dialogue used in the dub and a "literal translation").

The English version of Princess Mononoke (with a script adaptation by Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman) received mixed reviews from critics. Although most of the reaction was positive, others felt that some of the actors, notably Billy Bob Thornton as Jigo, detracted from the experience. Despite this love-hate atmosphere, the dub has been hailed as one of the best ever done alongside Spirited Away. In fact, the English version might not properly be a dub at all; the normal procedure for an English dub is to write the dialogue to match the mouth movements of the characters, which can lead to the odd rushed sentence structures seen in many dubs. However, for Princess Mononoke the process was reversed: the script was written, and mouth movements were painstakingly re-filmed to match.


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