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[ a parent's guide to anime ]

[ rated m ] Mononoke Hime

A Parent's Guide to Anime
Rated: M
Recommended for Mature Audiences

Review by Yusura Kanzaki

A very, very worthwhile film, this is yet another astounding work by the famed Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. This rather long film is scheduled to be released the summer of '99 by Disney and Miramax. The voice acting is superb and the animation is flawless, but unlike Miyazaki's other films, this does contain some violence.

The story is about a young man named Ashitaka, who leaves his village to seek the cure for a curse he received from a boar god. Involved in the plot are Eboshi, a lady with the mission to capture the head of the Shishigami (the forest god), and the Mononoke Hime, a young girl who was raised by mountain dogs and is bent on killing Eboshi. The plot is fairly easy to understand, and the wonderful artwork keeps the eyes happily occupied. There is apparently a bit of romance between San (the Mononoke Hime) and Ashitaka, although the ending leaves it fairly untouched. The movie does include some moral values; Eboshi is originally a woman who runs a village that is slowly destroying the forest; at the end of the film, she decides to start over peacefully. There is some nice humor that offsets the somber mood of the movie. The backgrounds are simply incredible. Although the violence seems to be unnecessary, it really doesn't subtract too much from the film.

Review by Rachael Rooney

Princess Mononoke is about a young warrior prince named Ashitaka. While trying to defeat a crazed boar god, he gets a curse that leaves a strange deadly marking on his arm that will kill him if he doesn't find a cure for it soon. So he sets out to the west to find one. On his quest he is caught between a struggling battle of man and nature. He soon meets the Lady Eboshi with her clan of humans who are fighting against the animal gods of the forest along with their leading princess, San (Mononoke) who was raised by the Wolf God, Moro.

With beautiful animation, great plot and great characters Princess Mononoke is a must see and one of the best anime movies Hayao Miyazaki could ever make. Didn't see the subtitled version, but I thought that dubbing was just fine.

Review by Danielle Landgren

This is a beautiful anime. I will never argue with that, and I think that it's something every adult should see. However even young accompanied children would be too young for this movie. Parents brought their chidlren with when I saw it in the theater and it wasn't until after the arm scene that the violence made them cry.

Parent's Guide Rating:

red (recommended for mature audiences)

Ashitaka, the male lead character, uses arrows to decapitate two humans and literally disarm one. There is some other violence as well, but this is probably the most graphic. - Y.K.

Sex: None. A little romance between Ashitaka and San, but nothing serious. No kissing either.

Language: Some. All I heard was the word D-mn and h-ll, but I'm not sure about the subtitled version.

Violence: Lots. When I sat down to watch this movie, blood and gore was the last thing I expected. This is the most violent and the first anime I've seen with that much gore. It was a little graphic too. Here are some things you should watch out for, before showing this to your kids:

The first scene of gore was the boar god scene. Here we see a spidery creature with slug-like things crawling all over the boar. Ashitaka hits the boar in the eye with an arrow and the boar god collapses and starts to rot away. Before he disintegrates, he talks to the people in the village and while he talks, blood runs down his mouth. Then his flesh goes away, then his insides (though you really can't see anything, but red and pink) and finally you see his bones.

Next was when Ashitaka comes upon these samurai and beheads two of them, which they really didn't have to put in, and also looks creepy. Then his arrow goes right through a guy's arms and his arms get sliced off and the arrow hits a tree with his arms dangling off. Actually I found that kinda funny since the guy looked totally clueless as to what happened to his arms. Also, the samurai are going aroung killing people and hacked one person in the back, but nothing really showed.

In the scene where Ashitaka is in Eboshi's village, he saves San and carries her out. While he does this, one of the girls in the village shoots him by accident through his stomach. The wound continues to bleed, but Ashitaka is still standing.

Later, there are some war scenes which could scare a little kid. One part has some guys getting hit with cannon balls, but it looks like someone getting hit with a ball and flying backwards. And then there's a part where there's huge explosion and when the dust clears, they show some people with an arm missing or a leg, etc. After that explosion you also see boars fly through the air.

Now the most gory scene I saw was later on after this battle, this old boar god was so upset that he lost his other boar friends he went crazy and Lady Eboshi had some of her people trying to get the odd boar god. To do so, they dressed up in the dead boars fur and the really old bore god thought they were his friends that came back from the dead. San tried to stop him, but she couldn't and he was so upset, when he yelled blood gushed out. That was pretty intense even for little kids. That was probably the most graphic scene.

Finally there is the scene where San and Ashitaka return the forest god's head. The forest god's head was inside a box. When they opened it green/yellow looking jello goo was around his head. But before they gave back his head, the wolf god Morrow died and her head came off and bit Lady Eboshi's arm off!

So this film is very violent, but don't get me wrong! This is a great movie if it wasn't for those violent scenes. And at times it looks dark and gloomy and there are parts that will upset kids. I'd say if your 13, 14, 15 "mature" or older, you can handle this movie. If you can't stand violence and have a week stomach and if you love animals it may be upsetting to watch when the wolves get hurt or there is a gory animal death. - R.R.

I don't like how everyone downplays all the violence except for the arm scene, which is short and relatively bloodless. The animals in the movie almost all die. One scene with the boar god is much longer and bloodier than any violence towards the human characters. The animals who are wounded by the humans also turn into tentacle covered demons, which is unpleasant to watch. I'm not saying that the human violence is necessary or less bad but there is more than that in this movie that is potentially objectional. I had only heard about the one scene and was very surprised by the rest of the content when I got to the theater. - D.L.

Additional Content warning by:Lauren Smith

Although this is a wonderful film, it may not be the best choice for kids under 12. This ain't no My Neighbor Totoro, so you may want to think twice before letting the tykes watch this one.

*Nudity/Sex: There are almost no sexual references in this movie, unless you consider a guy and a girl sharing a cave, with SEPARATE grass piles, fully clothed as being damaging to young minds. The only thing you may need to be ready to explain is prostitution. The women inhabitants are all brothel girls whose contracts have been bought up by Lady Eboshi so they can work in Iron Town as regular people. There aren't any devious references past this, so your child might not pick up on the meaning of this.

*Swearing: There is a bit of swearing going around through out the movie, but not enough to, by any means, take away from the story.

*Violence: One of the only objectional things in this movie; there is quite a bit of dramatic war scenery. A few Samurai heads and arms go flying with spurts of blood, sword/knife fights, cannon and gun explosions, and the loss of Lady Eboshi's arm are almost tolerable for children 9 and up, but there is other stuff too. A border line disturbing scene where Ashitaka comes over a hill to the sight of thousands of dead humans and boars, and the highly dramatic ending when the Great Forest Spirit becomes a life-sucking monster when his head is cut off, are both questionable for kids under 12. It's all beautifully done, but could probably desensitize a child or send them crying to their room.

*Other: This is REALLY deep stuff here. Be ready to discuss issues like real fear, the cruelness of both humans and nature, and probably the most dominant, death. Also, this story is very rich in Japanese legend, so if you don't like that fact, don't get this movie.

Don't let me scare you with this review. It really is a wonderful story and is probably my favorite anime, but it is a very emotional situation and you should make sure your child is old enough to understand things mentioned above.

Editor's Note: This title has changed rating three times now, and so has been put in the stricter category.

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