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Movie Review: Princess Mononoke 172

Princess Monoke, a wonderful anime film, was reviewed for us by frohike / Dan Potter. The film, done by Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki is currently coming to the US, and is popular in Japan under the name Mononoke Hime, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, with "translation" assistance by Neil Gaiman, of The Sandman and other literary undertakings. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie - click below to get the lowdown.
REVIEW: Princess Mononoke
Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki
Published in the U.S. by Miramax Films

Princess Mononoke is a Japanese animated film set in historical Japan that explores the trials of nature versus an ever-encroaching civilization. Famous artist/writer/producer Hayao Miyazaki has broken the charts with Mononoke Hime, released in the U.S. by Miramax Films as Princess Mononoke. This is a movie that anime fans and non-fans alike will delight in seeing.
Rating: 10/10
Reviewed by frohike / Dan Potter

The Scenario

The setting is historical Japan in the Muromachi era (1392-1573), during the time when firearms were first beginning to appear in the country. A raging monster enters the up-to-then peaceful village of Ashitaka, a young warrior. It plows with towering hatred straight towards the village, aiming to destroy it and kill every human it can find; so strong is the hate in the creature that the very grass it runs across wilts away to brown mush. When Ashitaka defeats the demon, it finally speaks to the gathered humans with its dieing breath. It tells them that it was a great boar protector-god of a faraway forest who was overcome with anger at the destruction humans had caused in his forest. The boar curses Ashitaka in the form of a consuming disease in his arm. As its already-dead body crumbles away it utters a scathing curse on humanity.

Such is the intensity present throughout much of Mr. Hayao Miyazaki's latest full-length film, released in the U.S. as Princess Mononoke. There are really two parts to a proper review of the American release of this movie -- a review of the movie itself, and a review of the cultural adaptation and dubbing -- so I'll handle those separately.

A small note before I begin, I was privileged to see this movie because Austin has a small but thriving film community that brings film festivals to town occasionally. It was shown in a (mostly =) normal movie theater (The Paramount), and it was attended by Neil Gaiman (more on Neil Gaiman's relation to the movie in a moment). The movie won't be coming out for the public until early November, and there is more information on that below.

The Movie: Mononoke Hime

As many anime fans are aware, Mr. Miyazaki, and associated Studio Ghibli, are famous for creating films that contain excellent artistic talent, entertaining stories, and are just plain neat movies. You may know that team for such titles as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Laputa (Castle in the Sky in the American release). All of those good qualities are present in this movie, but at about twice the normal strength for a Ghibli film. The artwork and animation of Mononoke Hime is breathtaking, the scenery is fabulous, the musical score is worthy of comparison with the contemporary greats, and the issue is close at hand: man and his continuing detrimental effect on nature. Only, in Mononoke Hime, the battle is a bit more tangible.

The story begins when a forest-protecting boar god intrudes on a peaceful village and imposes a curse on the young warrior Ashitaka. His fate is to leave the village and discover what has unquieted the boar god so and cure his curse if possible. His journey takes him across streams, through enchanted forests, and finally to "Iron Town" (as it is called in the American release). Here he witnesses the reason for the anger of the forest gods: a city setup across a lake from a forest whose residents aim to mine the iron from the hills in whatever way possible so that they might make ends meet. The story is even more complicated when Princess Mononoke herself appears, a human child raised by the forest wolves who is also out to eliminate the Iron Town.

This story is noticeably darker and more serious than most from Mr. Miyazaki. On the other hand, it is not without its light-hearted moments, and it comes across as very well balanced in that regard. If you took the kids to see My Neighbor Totoro and that's all you've seen of Mr. Miyazaki's works, you might want to consider seeing this one first without the kids. It was definitely written for an adult audience. It is also probably one of Miyazaki's longest single pieces: it weighs in at about 15 minutes past two hours.

The Dub: Princess Mononoke

Ok, when Neil Gaiman first came out before the movie and stated that he had done a "cultural adaptation", I groaned. I'm sure I heard a number of other anime fans groan too, because we are all quite familiar with said adaptations. They usually involve a butchering of the dialogue until it's not recognizable, replacing the good music with bad, and just generally tearing the show up to make it sell with American marketing.

If that's what you're expecting, you'll definitely be disappointed. It took a little bit of getting used to the English voice actors/actresses, but overall they are very good. Having seen the Japanese version a few times, I can say that the translation and "adaptation" is also very good. Mr. Gaiman said that his goal was to make an adaptation that made you feel like you were watching a movie produced in English, not a foreign film that's been dubbed; he succeeded quite nicely in that goal. The lipsyncing is very good, and the only real changes were a few extra bits and phrases thrown in near the beginning to try to insert a bit more historical background for a non-Japanese audience. Way to go, Neil! You just produced the first dub that I, a die-hard subtitled-anime fan, actually enjoyed and would recommend!

This goal was also helped by the all-star cast. While the voice acting talent of some of these folks hasn't been tested, their voices are well known, and they did a pretty good job. Billy-Bob Thornton as the monk is a really nice touch, and Lady Eboshi's British-accent-wielding voice actress gives her a very aristocratic touch (not that Brits are inherently aristocratic, but she does come across as very refined and regal among the more normal voices of Iron Town).

There was a nifty Q&A session after the showing with Neil Gaiman, and I think it's a bit out of scope to post all of that with this review, but I'll give two little tidbits that stand out in my mind.

The first one is the story of Mr. Gaiman meeting Mr. Miyazaki. There's an Asian restaurant Neil Gaiman frequents, and the daughter of the owner is a really big Miyazaki fan. So of course she asked Neil to get something autographed. He said he would do it, but that he's really a very shy person, and the idea of meeting this man who many consider to be a minor deity of animated film making was just a bit shaking. To make a long story short, he did indeed meet him for a few moments at a dinner, and he came away with a signed CD, a signed art book with a little Totoro sketch, and a hug from Mr. Miyazaki. Deal!

The other one is talking about how he got involved in the production. There is more info about that on the web site for the movie, but here's the part they didn't include. Mr. Gaiman said he didn't want to be involved in this. He went to see a subtitled version at Miramax, though, and came away feeling like he'd seen something phenomenal. The next thought that went through his head was, "What's the next guy they try to hire going to do with this show?" That was what decided him. His statement on the matter was (paraphrased), the next guy who works on this may just look at it as a job, without the respect it deserves and really f*ck it up; but at least I'll f*ck it up with respect! (censored for the innocent, and for the web policing packages ;-)

What's Bad?

I can't think of a whole lot that detracts from this movie. There are a few points that may turn you off from it though: its long length; the number of things you still won't understand about Japanese culture from the added dialogue (unless you already know); keeping track of the crazy procession of things that happens towards the end; and of course, despite the quality of the dub, I'm still a die-hard subtitled fan and a sometimes student of the Japanese language, and I like to hear the Japanese ^_^;

What's Good?

What's not good? ;-) The quality of the animation is excellent, the music is good, the plot is neat. You get to feel close to all of the characters, not just "the good guys". In fact, there aren't really any "good guys and bad guys" in this movie like in so many movies. There are several sides to a conflict, and every side has humane and cruel qualities, and every side has a valid argument. Exemplary of this is the fact that Lady Eboshi, while she appears at first to be the "bad guy" of the story, is just trying to make a life too -- and to help make a new life for an entire group of women from a local brothel, and a group of lepers, and so on. She turns out to be their humane savior, even though she encourages the destroying of the forest.

Watching this movie leaves you with a ponderous feeling. I don't want to spoil the ending for you, but I will say that they did not cheese the heck out, and that is one of the most endearing qualities of it.

So What's In It For Me?

An easy glance into some aspects of Japanese culture; a look at some of the latest in state of the art animation (not a lot of computer rendering! =); and of course, a good time. If you're an anime fan, seeing it in good ol' analog on the big screen is a real treat! While much of the mythology of the movie was created by Mr. Miyazaki himself, it does have a very Japanese feel to it, and many of the history tidbits are fairly accurate.

Showing information

The movie will be showing at the "20 major markets" at first. You can find more info on the web page about the movie. The web site, while a bit flashy for my tastes, is actually kinda neat. It has a pure HTML version, but the interface is a Shockwave-esque Myst-like environment that includes lots of information snippets, Quicktime movies of scenes, etc. On the top of the front page is a link to the "20 major markets" and when it will be showing at each. They start in late October (29th in New York City) and go from there.

The success of this small run will be the determining factor if they show it nationally, and in fact if they bring any more things like Mononoke Hime to the U.S. If you like this kind of film, please go see it and vote with your dollars! Tell your friends too! =)

I apologize for the length of this review, but it's such a neat movie and there's so much that could be written about it. If you have doubts, give it a shot, you might like it! If you are a Miyazaki fan already, the dub won't disappoint you!

A final note, if you can read Japanese or have translation software, there is also a Japanese Mononoke Hime site at the Ghibli web site; and if you want to find more about anime in general, try The Anime Web Turnpike.

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Movie Review: Princess Mononoke

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  • ... or is this actually playing in theatres?
  • I watched it on video during the summer in Japan. The artwork was pretty rich but I found the story blasse. Perhaps my Japanese skills weren't strong enough to fully appreciate it -- but then again my girlfriend, who is Japanese, didn't think much of it either.

    Nice artwork, though. :-)
  • Having seen fight club, I am not about to say that
    fight club is not a good movie, in fact it was an excellent movie.

    What really annoys me though, are people who dismiss anime movies as silly or juvenile. Some are, but then c'mon.. so are a lot of live action movies (you know you've seen them).

    When the good artist/innovators like Miyazaki set down to do a movie or a manga, they create thought provoking artistic works that deserve the proper amount of merit. A big fan of miyazaki myself (mainly through Nausicaa), i've been waiting a long time for this one to come to the US. The fact that Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, did the translation is yet another reason to go see it.

  • Is it really that important to tell us about Anime movies?! this is news for nerds.

    There are some that believe that if you do not appreciate anime, then you are not a proper nerd.

    I would go a step further and say that if you do not appreciate anime, then you are not a proper human being.

    Besides, good anime comes out, in the U.S. at least, rarely enough that it doesn't really take up that much bandwidth on /. to cover it.

  • Nope, unlike basically all the other domestic anime releases so far (with a few exceptions in very limited areas, like Perfect Blue in Austin) this one is planned to go into the theaters. That's where it was shown here too. It's only going into 20 theaters at first, and then if it does well they'll distribute it nationally. There's the possibility of other things being brought to theaters too (Laputa/Castle in the Sky, etc).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Anime Perfect Blue [] is currently playing in movie theaters across the United States. Perfect Blue breaks away from the traditional giant robots / technology theme and focuses on a japanese sub-culture and psychological issues. The Animation quality is certainly up to the Levels of the anime classic Ghost in the Shell. Definetly worth checking out if you are lucky enough to live in a major US city.
  • The great guys over at Stomp Tokyo [] have also reviewed Princess Mononoke.

    They reviewed the original [] and dubbed [] versions. (So you can see what you're missing.)

    The reviews are heartfelt but also quite funny.

    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

  • I was really disappointed when I found out how limited the initial showing would be. There was originally an intent to show it 'on 1000 screens', accross the US, but now thats been trimmed down to a handful for testing purposes.

    I really hope it does well, though, or if not comes to sale on vidio/dvd quickly. The trip for me and my friends from Las Vegas to Pheonix (taking 10 hours including the movie) just isn't worth it.
  • I love Anime. I think some of it is amongst the best movies ever created, and it makes me sad that it goes so unappreciated here in the US. Having said that, I agree with a lot of the other posters -- Anime film reviews do not belong on Slashdot. Yes, this is "News for Nerds", but for the most part it's really "Tech News for Nerds" and I think it should stay that way.

    Slashdot is nice because it's a very specific forum for us to talk about computers and OSes (read: Linux). If we bog it down with less salient issues, it will become garbage.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I remember last semester in animation class,
    I saw this book on CGI, and they showed the
    "worms" on Ahitaka's arm and how they were done.
    They did some kind of other effect I can't
    remember the name of to flatten it out and make
    it look like it was had drawn.
    Thea early versions looke WAY snakey.

    I just hope when it comes out on DVD,
    that they don't do any adding to the japanese sub.
    If I'm doing the sub thing, I don't need the hints.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is coming to the big screen in the United States, showing at select theaters in select cities. If enough people go out and support it however, i'm sure Miramax will "upgrade" it so that it shows at many other major mainstream non-arthouse theaters. This is the English dubbed version. .ot.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...... Hayao Miyazaki's anime. His anime is the best thing a nerd will appreciate. His anime movies constantly depict the struggle of human being in adopting new technologies. Although most of his stories has a background in ancient time, he was using a irony way to potray the conflict bewtween new and old. "Laputa - the castle on the air" is my favorite movie from Hayao Miyazaki.

    My advice is "See it before you neglect!!!!!"
  • Neil Gaiman of Sandman and literary fame...

    This is an unfortunate trend. Sandman is Gaiman's most acclaimed literary credit, but we sort of trip over the idea of calling it "Literature". Sure, there are words, but there are... GASP... PICTURES! It's a COMIC BOOK!

    Books like Sandman will continue to challenge the assumption that works with storyboard-style pictures are not Literature. This is a Good Thing(tm).

    Or, to paraphrase Gaiman from a talk he gave at MIT: If it's a picture we call it art, and it's respected. If it's a book with words, it's literature and it's respected. If it's a book with words and pictures, it's crap for kids.
  • I certainly hope that the dubbed version was not ruined by Disney (as they have been known to turn originbal works into trash). I saw the movie with subtitles, and personally quite enjoyed it. I think the foreign language (the way it sounds as oppiosed to what it says, when you can't understand it) is an integral part of the film. I wonder if the dubbed version is really worth seeing... Although the film itself is spectacular!!!
  • Yeah, that's one of the main reasons I like anime so much, along with a lot of other people -- it's generally aimed at a mature audience, not the Saturday morning cartoonies. Animated movies as a medium really haven't see much in the way of serious movies here in the U.S.

    One other thing of note:

    The fact that Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, did the translation is yet another reason to go see it.

    Hmm... I guess one thing that I didn't really say very explicitly is that Neil Gaiman only did the dialogue adaptation. The other credit listed for the translation/adaptation (Jack Fletcher) is apparently the one who did most of the raw translation work. He translated the bulk of the text pretty literally, and then that was picked up by Neil Gaiman and made more natural sounding and such. Sorry for the ambiguity.

  • For those interested in this, and movies in general, visit Ain't It Cool News [].

    The site is dedicated to movie industry news and rumours, and the search engine should point you to past rumblings about Mononoke and anything else at all..

    Don't forget to check out the buzz on Pitch Black.
  • Slashdot is nice because it's a very specific forum for us to talk about computers and OSes (read: Linux). If we bog it down with less salient issues, it will become garbage.

    Let's just look at the trend here:

    See es [] for a lot more examples of non-technical news. Oh yeah, this is just a tech news site. This is a site dedicated to a particular set of cross-cultural interests held by the new technical sub-culture (oooh! I just made that up ;-)

    If what you want is to have a site that caters to your specific tech bent, then exclude the movie info (that's under preferences []). Slashdot is Slashdot. If you see it here, that's Slashdot content. What you think is Slashdot "style" is rather beside the point.
  • Well, AICN has more bitching and moronic comments in its feedback section than a /. story on Apple :)

    They too suffer from the "First Post!" syndrome, and the posters mostly come across as 12 year old boys with ADD and no formal logic skills.

    That aside, one of their writers, "Moriarity," does write some good stuff.
    Mostly, though, it's pointless, spoiler-filled rumour mongering and fan-boy rants.
    Visit at peril to you sanity :)

  • Your silly japanese cartoon comment is very telling that you haven't a clue. The Japanese animation that I've seen and have is geared towards the adult viewer, many with adult situations, violence, and language that would easily rate an R or even X rating. Most all have an excellent story line, unless butchered during the English translation process.

    In contrast, the vast majority of American cartoons are geared towards children, and are not worth seeing for those not in a family way. This does some to be improving, Iron Giant was a pleasent surprise!

    Most of my collection is on Laser Disk, though I've started getting DVD titles now that I've a Thinkpad with DVD support.

    One of the Tenchi Muyo specials would be especially popular for this group - it's a major spoof on Microsoft, complete with Gates and his attempts to monopolize the Japanese Computer market.

  • I like Miyazaki, but I have a big fucking bone to pick with Ruroni, in that the author set it in the Meiji period, and then proceeds to stomp ALL OVER historical fact. If all the major characters were fictional, then it wouldn't bother me so much, but when he starts pulling in people like Saito Hajime (I mean, really, after reading/seeing Ruroni Kenshin, what impression would most people have of Saito? How many of them know what sort of person he really was?), then it turns me right off.

    I mean, f'chrissakes, the guy's descendants are still around - how do you think they feel about it?

  • Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My interest in anime is best described as:

    [ ] I want to marry Belldandy!
    [ ] Every other paycheck covers anime goodies!
    [ ] I watch a lot of anime.
    [ ] Some of it is all right.
    [ ] Not really interested, thanks.
    [ ] Isn't that all just pr0n and ninjas?
    [ ] What's anime?
    [ ] Foo!

    Hey Rob! Let's have a real poll on this!

  • You must have only seen some of the early Sandman issues, with the rather unfortunate superhero subplot.

    It gets much better than that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Note that I have seen the original version of this movie twice, and would like to comment that the aspects of ancient Japanese culture that appear in this movie are going to confuse many people. Also, please note that, to the best of my knowledge(which, therefore, cab be disputed), is that Miyazaki Hayao's animations play out in what is considered to be "parallel" worlds, that are fictional by all accounts, yet deal with the common thread of "humans" dealing with the problems caused by the same "humans". So, even though the reviewed mentioned the Muramachi period of Japan, the story of Mononoke Hime is set in a "transitory" world where changes are about the rock the foundations of not just a single party, but all of the involved parties that have conflicting interests... And these interests are ultimately represented by two single individuals in this story, and this is where Mononoke Hime is considered to be one of the better works of Mr. Miyazaki because no one is really wrong nor right in the end, and that's how life is. However, fans of Mr. Miyazaki's previous works will be able to pick out similarities in the characters that appear in this movie with the past favorites that appeared in all the excellent works mentioned by the reviewer above. And this may either be a disappointment or a source of joy for these fans, since this element makes the plot of the story somewhat predictable. And, yes, it is a love story between a boy and a girl, there is no way to go about this in any other way. Despite the violent scenes, the tangled interests of various groups or parties involved, it is ultimately a Japanese love story between a wacky girl and a too-serious boy. :) (Hopefully this doesn't make this a flame bait) ----------- Of note, the music for this movie was composed by Hisaishi Joe(URL: - note, it's in Japanese), who was also the composer behind almost all of Mr. Miyazaki's works. His music is panoply of styles that share a common thread of enticing the listener into the world that maybe Mr. Miyazaki alone wouldn't have been able to create if it hadn't been for Mr. Hisaishi's music.
  • by Christopher Cashell ( 2517 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @07:41AM (#1581018) Homepage Journal
    For those of you who enjoy good Anime, this is *definitely* worth checking out.

    This is the man who created my all time favorite Anime, Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä (Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind). Not only is this a full length story (weighing in at right about 2 hours...I hate 45 minute 'movies' with no time for a real plot) but the depth, the characters, and the writing are all abosolutely amazing.

    It's strange, but very few people in the US seem to be familiar with Nausicaa, despite the fact that I'm told it almost always places in the top 5 of every Japanese poll about the greatest Anime ever. I suppose part of the reason may be that no Enlglish dub was ever made (Technically, there was an English dub, it was called Warriors of the Wind. However, I refuse to count it, because it was so horribly chopped, mangled, and destroyed, it's not even worth watching. They cut out almost half an hour in the dubbing and editing, essentially everything that was important for the plot, leaving you with a few disjointed action scenes.)

    If you'd like more information on Hayao Miyazaki and his Animes and Mangas, check out some of the following URLs:


    Find out for yourself why the old stigma 'cartoons are for kids' only goes in the US. This will show you how amazing an indepth a 'cartoon' can be.
  • Since I have a life size poster of Belldandy in my living room (picked it up at Nandes Con), I will take the top option!
  • One of the Tenchi Muyo specials would be especially popular for this group - it's a major spoof on Microsoft, complete with Gates and his attempts to monopolize the Japanese Computer market.

    For those who are interested, see "Pretty Sami: The Magical Girl, episode 2".

  • Well, if you remember the American release of Akira, they hyped the hell out of it, and because of the piss-poor shitty-ass job of dubbing, (the American voice "actors" made it sound like a Scooby-Doo episode)(IMNSHO), it sucked at the box office. Even Anime fans hated it (of course, they all had a subtitled or japaneese version at home on VHS anyway).

    I don't suppose they want to repeat a gamble like that, regardless of Mr. Gaiman's passion.

    I might make the round trip to SF to go see it. . . (only 8 hours including the movie)

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Thursday October 28, 1999 @08:03AM (#1581025)
    Personally, I avoid anime dubs, and for lots of reasons, but I don't mind other people seeing them. Besides, I know enough Japanese that I can nearly completely understand most anime raw - I saw Mononoke Hime 'raw' before I saw a sub, and 'got' most of it - so I don't need dubs or subs much. Might be interesting to see a good dub for once though...

    Some little points I thought I'd share with the rest:
    *) The movie came out in Japan 2 years ago.
    *) Ashitaka comes from a race known as the 'ainu' (I think it was) who (in real history) died out somewhere between the 5th and 10th centuary or something. Originally, "shogun" used to be short for something that meant something like "army leader and suppresor of the Ainu". (I don't have some of my history books around, so I'm just doing it from memory)
    *) "mononoke" means something like a "vengeful ghost/spirit" - doesn't translate very well. "hime" is a name suffix which normally translates as 'princess', though in some periods it can be a bit more like 'lady'.
    *) The "wolves" are "mountain dogs" in the original
    *) In Japan, firearms were removed from the whole country by the government in the early 17th centuary. They were originally introduced by Portugease missionaries, who offered them to local lords in exchange for the lord and people going christian.
    *) I like this film a lot, though that doesn't mean it'll be like that for everyone.

  • Having contributed a couple non-techie book reviews, I'm very aware of this issue.

    A couple of my friends have been talking about whether it would be possible to do a general alt-culture website based on the Slash code, and the consensus has been that, to be worthwhile, it would have to be heavily configurable, with multiple department editors maintaining different areas of interest.

    Well...the arrival of the YRO, Apache, and BSD sections have gotten me wondering...could Slashdot broaden that way itself?

    At the moment, I suspect that most users don't exclude any subjects--would making /. so big that it was necessary to exclude stuff to be able to keep up kill the core culture or not? It doesn't seem like it would have to.
  • Trying working within Everything. - the new verison is out in about 5 days. It'll be much, much ,better
  • I am not an anime fan (saw a few ones like Ghost in the Shell, it was ok, but not enough to turn my head) and I suppose that will qualify me to be burned. :P

    But personal opinions aside, it sounds like a good movie. I *do* sometimes enjoy reviews that don't pertain to the latest processor or OS, and it seems to me like this is more interesting than the M$ got hacked article. I got into some books just because I saw it on slashdot (The Diamond Age comes to mind) and I appreciate that fact. It would suck if slashdot turned all pseudo-techy ( zd.. net..) but once in awhile reviews are ok. I think this is the first time I saw an anime review here anyways. Reviews aren't necessarily a Bad Thing(TM) IMO.

  • Thank you for the kind words.

    Thank you also for taking the time to visit Scott Pakin's automatic complaint-letter generator [] and asking it to generate three paragraphs in my honor.


    (Yes, I've had this nick for a few weeks now. Only because my regular one was already taken.)

  • Mononoke Hime is an ok movie, it has beautiful scenery and detailed animation. However, I think the only reason it was the highest grossing domestic film in Japan is that it was Miyazaki-san's last production, not that it was his best film.

    Other films by Miyazaki, which I think are better, are "Tenkuu no Shiro no Laputa" (the rough translation is "The sky castle laputa") and "Kaze no Tani no Naussica" ("Naussica of/in the valley of wind"). I'm not a big anime fan, but I think these films stand out much more than Mononoke Hime in terms of plot, setting, character development, and technical merit.

  • They are using the same technique as was used on Blair Witch, American Beauty, Life is Beautiful, etc: Premier the movie in a small number of markets, build interest in the movie (through websites and reviews) and slowly distribute the movie to more markets. This lets the excitement build, and increases the chance of better returns.

    Only the the biggest star (or franchise) driven movies get enough initial hype to open wide and make money. Plus, non-Disney animation is a tough sell. Look at what happened to Iron Giant (great movie, IMHO.) IG was gone from the theatres before good word-of-mouth had a chance to circulate.


  • there is more to anime than pokemon, sailor moon, and robotech

    Absolutely! It's too bad that the majority of 'anime' that reaches the US mainstream media is crap. Ask any anime fan about what movies and books they prefer. There are much much better shows than Sailor Moon Would you decide that Western television is stupid if the only shows you could get were Power Rangers and Teletubbies? Certainly.

    All of the Ghibli movies I've seen are totally excellent. Slashdot nerds might particularly like Wings of Honneamise.
  • Having seen Princess Mononoke in the theatre already (I live in Cambridge, MA where they released it at one of the local theatres about 2 months ago), I have to say that Disney did not ruin it in any way shape or form. It's an incredible film and definately worth seeing.
  • It's playing in theaters, next week i'm driving from columbus to Cleveland to see Perfect Blue. The week after that I'm going back to see Princess Mononoke. :-)

    P.S. Anyone wanna tag along? I got an extra seat in the car.
  • My major problem with American dubs on anime is the general lack of appreciation or understanding of the Japanese approach to voice dubbing.

    The Japanese voice-overs generally have a *LOT* of expression, with over-the-top 'wacky' characters contrasted with more even-keeled 'cool' characters.

    American attempts at dubbing grossly downplay the 'over-the-top' aspect for the 'cool' approach, giving all characters a more similar (lack of) affect, and deadening the sudden leaps and dips of emotive expression which are a HUGE part of the charm and magic that make anime appealing for so many.

    The two girls in 'Totoro' are a good example of this.

    A lot of American voices (especially the 'big name' ones) seem afraid to speak in anything other than a cool, high-status style. To do it right, they need to have more fun and take more risks. Shout, scream, cry, whimper, grovel, shriek, whatever.

    Also, most Big Name Hollywood Act/ors/resses genuinely suck at vo's. To their credit, it is also probably more largely due to an utter lack of intelligent/thoughtful direction than to their own faults.

    But I think the big name actors generally feel afraid to 'tarnish their image' by giving a voice-only part their all.

    The latest wave of Disney flicks suffer horribly from this. All the characters (the few, that is, that aren't played by Robin Williams) sound like bored Beverly Hills brats.

    Bottom line: I'd WAY rather hear an enthusiastic and talented unknown than a Name who's unskilled and/or uninterested. Never happen here, tho', 'cause film industry investors are attracted only to film with Names in them. There's no interest in creating New Names.

    Oh well! Fsck 'em!

  • Try Porco Rosso. The art and animation weren't nearly as good, but I thought it was a much better story by Miyazaki. Oh, and another great from Studio Ghibli is Grave of the Fireflies. Roger Ebert said it was the only animated movie that ever made him cry.
  • i would rather see a movie that didn't fit into what i "expected".

    different pacing and style. why is that a bad thing? must all of our movies be cookie-cutter fashioned?
  • Good old online anime site EX Magazine [] has done an editorial on Princess Mononoke-and they love it. Check it out here []. =D

  • Yeah, the anime was good. And it certainly was head and shoulders about most of the other crappy anime out there. But I was seriously disappointed in it. Why? The manga. AMAZING. Heartwarming and breaking at the same time. Now, they DO hold pretty close to the story, but they only cover the first book of about seven in the series. Now, they do treat it well. Killing off Nausicaa at the end was a nice touch too; it really got to me, particularly because she didn't *have* to die. I loved that. But I wanted more, which the comics gave me. So much, much more. WONDERFUL story, if you ever get a chance, seek this one out.
  • Think of Mel Blanc and all the characters voices he produced, or the early Disney efforts, or Popeye, the Flintstones or whatever. These efforts created voices that we still recognize immediately 50 years after the fact.

    What are the modern equivalents?

    What modern cartoon character voices are difficult to imitate, but garner immediate recognition when done successfully?

    The Simpsons? - Definately
    Ren and Stimpy - Yes, and my personal faves (jon k'falusi versions ONLY)
    Freaky and the Bean - dunno, never seen it
    The Teletubbies - don't ask, just shoot on sight


  • BZZZT! You do not get to go onto final jeopardy. The Ainu are much like Native Americans. They were forced off their land and had terrible things done to them by the forces in power (Japanese), but they are still alive, although their culture has been effectivly wiped out.

    The people that Ashitaka comes from are the...Emishi! Yes, the same Emishi that Yamato Takeru of Kojiki myth sets out to vanquish. In the Kojiki (Collection of Ancient Things), the Emishi are depicted as a thouroughly nasty bunch who are uncivilized, but this was probably because they lost against the Yamato clan (who ended up uniting Japan).

  • As a huge Anime fan (The Slayers, Fushigi Yuugi, and Battle Atheletes being my favs! - especially The Slayers (subbed) w/ Megumi Hayashibara) I'd just like to say that my wild-blind-stab-in-the-dark-guess is that Mononoke Hime will catapult Anime into more mainstream America. I'm not talking about Pokemon or DBZ (Japanese-Americanish) Anime, I'm talking about real subtitled (on even dubbed, if it's good).

    I can't wait til this happens, as so many really good Animes get 'stuck' in Japan, and they're only available if you can speak Japanese, read Kanji, or know where to find a good Fan-subber.

    Anyways, everybody should see Mononoke Hime - you'll love it. (It was the best selling movie in Japan ever, until Titanic crossed the Pacific) And check out some Anime - you can get it at local stores like Suncoast, or online at [], which has really great prices! I'd suggest getting 'The Slayers' if you're a fantasy fan, it's hilarous, I guarantee you'll love it, or Rob promises to give you a full refund!

    Mina Inerz (a.k.a Lina Inverse) - visit my webpage for great Anime Wallpapers!
    Mina Inerz [N. Reinking]
  • I bet this is from the same person who flamed Free BSD here. Dude, if you're actually writing this by hand, get a job in advertising or politics. If it's an automated program, link please?
  • I agree. I thought they did a good job with Kiki...

  • Some points on your points! Being an avid historian and deeply interested in Japanese history from my armchair let me make some clarifications.

    1) the Ainu are an aboriginal race in Japan. There are still Ainu cultural centers for them in Japan. Race wise the most recent scholorship thinks of the Ainu and Japanese as basically the same race with different cultures. Ancient Japanese are divided up between Yayoi and Jomon. They are named after different ways of patterning pottery. Yayoi overcame Jomon. Around 200 A.D. the Yamato court started to do the big push off of Kyushu (one of the 4 main Islands of Japan) and spread into the Kanto plain (the area around Tokyo). There the Yamato and the Ainu met and struggled for land/water/game rights. Overtime the Yamato began to refer to the Ainu as Emishi and also called anyone who wasn't keen on a big central government Emishi (barbarian). By 805 the Yamato had pacified the Emishi and by 950-1000 AD the Ainu and Emishi were pretty much totally absorbed into Japanese culture. This is important because if it wasn't for the wars against the Emishi and the proof that the Yamato Court's conscription system basically sucked we would not have had the development of the military houses that by 1100AD had become the Samurai.

    2) The Dutch can also be implicated in arms trade with the Japanese, but for less "holy" reasons (unless you venerate gold...) There are some fascinating tales of the struggles of the Christian Samurai.

    3) Does anyone else find it funny that one of the lead characters is named after a court cap? Eboshi means court cap (one of those funny caps that look anything like a sailors cap to something the coneheads would wear.) It would be like refering to a character in one of our films as Mr. Baseball Cap! Well, perhaps Costner could get away with this one.

    4) The Japanese have come a long way and are now avid Linux users. (See, back to tech news!)
  • From my limited sampling I have found that a high number of Anime fans are also into computers. My IS department is getting a group together from work to make the 10 hour trip to see this when it comes out in theaters!

    This is refreshing News for Nerds!
  • Perhaps you only read the first trade paperback. That one did, admittedly, have an extremely lame superhero subplot. Or maybe you started right on the eigth one (huge mistake); the story in that one is wonderful but unless you've read the rest of the series you won't understand just why the characters were drawn as they were in that one.

    My advice: keep reading. As quickly as the second of the TPB's, it dumps the superhero junk and very quickly becomes among the best books, "comic" or otherwise, most people I know have ever read.

    Oh, and yes, the pictures and words in Sandman probably could stand alone (you'd have to put it into novel form, I'm guessing, but that's not too much of an alteration).
  • You lose more meaning when it is dubbed. The japanese voice actors are always better then the english ones (evangelion for example) and if you miss the visuals, watch it twice and ignore the subs the second time.
  • I have heard unsubstantiated rumors that Dimension films will also release a subtitled version, although only on video. They did this for Kiki's Delivery Service (majo no takkyubin) also. This would us hard core fans happy without having to buy the Japanese LD for over $100 (although I guess a true otaku would do that). Anyone with more substantial info, please post a link!

    More info on the film, including an interview with Neil Gaiman, can be found here [].


  • Yeah, well, that cuts both ways. His opinion (and mine) is that your opinion bites.
  • Ugh, I hated slayers.. lina is annoying and gourry no baka. :p but beyond that, there are many of us that argue that anime going mainstream would be a -bad- thing. My #1 concern is lawyers. The fanatical fandom of anime brings forth many creative endevors by the fans. Doujinshis (manga fan comics) would be a prime target for lawyers, since many fans sell them for profit. (usually this profit goes back into anime, but these are lawyers we are talking about.) Concerns about fansubs (fan subtitled anime), which many companies have turned their heads to, come to mind as well. They turn their heads because they are not marketing the anime in the us, and it just opens up more orders for the merchandise.. that and they probably just dont care. When things are integrated into American society, the quality and artistic integrity are de-valued. Look at pokemon, its more of a marketing strategy then an anime, or videogame, or comic, or cardgame, or toys.. catch my drift? that and the anime just flat out sucks I guess what im trying to say is, although the goal for many anime fans is to make anime popular in japan, you must be wary of the after effects.. the more people that are into it.. the more stupid people you have to deal with.. and weve got plenty of them to go around.. ok im done
  • From what I understand, Mirmax/Disney has a deal to release 5 Miyazaki movies in the US. They've already released "Kiki's Delivery Service" straight to video. I believe that the success of Mononoke Hime will determine which other movies (Nausicaa, Laputa) will be released and how.

    I believe the Video rights are held by buena vista entertainment (they are in japan anyway) and there is no official word on a subtitled release at this time:( I know there are a few fansubs floating around, and that the Ohio State Anime club has a great sub.

    The CD for this movie rocks as well, just try to get the Japanese release, since they changed the theme song to English and it's just not nearly as good.

    And, as I am a total fanatic for this movie, I also bought "Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan's Most Popular Film of All Time." Just got it from Amazon... pretty pictures.
  • I don't know where you get the idea that people who prefer to view a movie in the original language expect others to view them as superior. Only in the US do people consider you smart if you know multiple languages. In other parts of the world, especially Europe and Asia, it is very common for kids to grow up speaking more than one language. For example, every child in school learns English, and that together with their native language is already two languages.

    Surely you must admit that people who know the language should prefer to see the film in the original language, rather than English.

    Your comment that every animated film is dubbed is completely false. You must be under the impression that the images are drawn first and then the voices are recorded. In fact, an animated film is made in the opposite order. First the audio is recorded, and then the images are drawn, frame by frame, to fit the voices exactly. Fitting drawn images to a prerecorded audio track gives much more satisfying results than trying to fit a new audio track to an existing video. That is one reason why some people genuinely prefer to view animated films with the original sound track.

    Finally, as has already been remarked above, Japanese voice actors do voice acting for a profession, while American movie stars are not accustomed to the role. In Japan the actors spend a lifetime honing their skills at voice acting. In America voice acting is treated as an afterthought. It should come as no surprise that the Japanese actors deliver much more pleasing performances.

  • You're totally off. How clueless can one get?
  • Dude, I'd sure hate to be you... Do you go around kicking dogs too?

  • It's also worth noting that ajs quoted the article incorrectly. The actual quote is "of The Sandman and other literary undertakings". The author wasn't calling it "non-literary". (Flamebait about the horribleness of the last two years of the book's run has been self-censored.)

    (I'm being Jiji for Halloween. My girlfriend is being Kiki. Miyazaki is good stuff!)

  • Halp! I can't seem to find it here in Ottawa, Canada!
    Where is it? When?
  • Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • The trailer for this outstanding movie is also on Apples Quicktime page under Miramax.

    I must admit that when I learned that Disney was going to import this movie about a year ago, I was a bit apprehensive. After all the "dubbed versions of anime` that I've seen ,such as the awfull "Clash of the Bionoids", an adaptation of the original "Macross". Which I later learned was adapted by Carl Maceck (of "Robotech" fame)himself. But after the small sample that I saw on Apples quicktime page I'm almost excited. My only real fear is in how much of the original story has been changed or lost in the translation.

    Les Tolbert
  • At the Monica. who's up for it?
  • I saw this in theaters about two years ago, but it was called The Quest at that time and was in test-marketing. I gotta say, I thought it was particularly bad. Give me ghost in the shell in theaters, give me ninja scroll on dvd. I saw it for the right price (free) and walked out wishing i'd seen prince of egypt for $8 instead. I mean, its not a bad movie. I just didn't enjoy it nearly as much as plenty of other anime.
  • There was a preview a few weeks ago at UCLA, apparently it is pretty amazing. I know I couldnt go then, but am going to be going next week...

    As for the translation, Neil Gaiman apparently tried very hard to stick closely to the original.
  • yeah - it's showing tonite at the Cinematheque (at the Cleveland Institute of Art) at 8:15. i hear there's a possibility that it might sell out, so if you're gonna go - show up early - i know i will
  • Ack. They screwed it up. They added a bunch of cheezy synthesizer piano music to Kiki's Delivery Service. And it was at parts in the movie where it is supposed to be quiet. For example, the scene where Kiki is looking out over the ocean, in the Japanese version all you hear are the sounds of the wind and the waves. In the English dubbed version, they added a cheezy little synthesized piano tune. It was completely annoying and destroyed the poinancy and reflectiveness of the scene.

    Also, Jiji, Kiki's cat, talked too much. There are scenes where in the Japanese version, Jiji isn't saying anything, but in the English version, he is. Also, all of Jiji's lines were changed from the Japanese version. All his jokes are different. In fact, Jiji really wasn't very funny in the Japanese version.

    Oh man. This is bringing back some horrible memories. They completely trashed the opening theme. The Japanese opening theme is this song which really sounds like a 1950's pop song, only sung in Japanese. It's a beautiful song. The American people decided that they had to replace it with a cheezy Generation-X modern rock type song. The movie is supposed to be taking place in the 1950's, I think. Why do they have to make the opening theme completely out of place? Couldn't they have replaced it with an English-laguage 1950's pop-style song?


  • The artwork in the books varies maddeningly, but the writing is really great. Preludes & Nocturnes (the first book) was kinda crummy, but hey thats why its called BOOK ONE. Check out the kindly ones (book 9) and see if it doesnt make your skin crawl =) IMHO best artwork is Mike Zulli's (sic?) work on The Wake (book 10). That stuff is beautiful! In any case, the series is really great stuff, and gaiman is a fantastic author. Did anyone catch the brief interview with Gaiman on They were mostly asking him about his collaboration with Yoshitka Amano (Of final fantasy 6 arstistic acclaim, at least in the US) on dream hunters. Go grab a copy of that if you're still fixated on poor artwork and dialogue of the 'comic books'. Anyways, that's my $0.02
  • My volunteer group ran this last Friday as part of a Miyzaki film festival (only 8 cities in the US ran this festival).

    Mononoke sold out (IIRC the theater only held like 200-250 people).

    As part of Buena Vista's distribution deal with Studio Ghibli, they CANNOT edit any of Miyazaki's work. Unlike his other work Mononoke is seen as more mature, so it is actually being distributed by Miramax.

    While unable to see Mononoke, I did see My neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso (been waiting years for that), and Laupta: castle in the Sky. All were very good.

    Typical themes are female child/adolescent protagonists, change thru conflict (often nature vs man), and a notable abscence of good vs evil. Miyazaki is a big flight buff as well and you see a lot of that in several of his films.

    As mentioned before, his films can run over 2 hours, but they are paced really well and a good mix of plot and characterizations.

    That said, I get to see a sneak preview Wednsday and hear Gaiman speak afterward!
  • Webslacker dun said: Oh, and another great from Studio Ghibli is Grave of the Fireflies. Roger Ebert said it was the only animated movie that ever made him cry.

    "Only animated movie that ever made him cry", HELL. Trust me when I say you don't want ANY sharp objects around (or even dull ones capable of causing self-injury) when watching "Grave of the Fireflies", especially the last 45 minutes or so. (I'm not going to say why, because this would constitute a major spoiler warning--let's just say that the movie occurs near the end of WW II in Japan and snowflakes don't occur in summer, and leave it at that.) It is a HORRIBLY depressing movie, though not without good reason...

    Me, well, I'm still kinda pissed/whingy that the closest theatre to where I live that is showing "Princess Mononoke" is OVER THREE HUNDRED MILES AWAY *sob* *wail* *howl at moon* *rending of clothing and donning of sack-cloth and ashes ensues*. So I have to now pressure y'all who ARE near major market areas that are showing it to go see "Princess Mononoke" if I have any hope of seeing it come to theatres in Louisville instead of waiting for over a year for it to come out on DVD.

    Trust me, you want to see this movie . One, it is positively beautiful and from what I've heard they've not farged the dubbing up (Gaiman is just about the only person alive that I think could pull it off, but from what I've heard he's done it). Secondly, 235 million Japanese can't be wrong (it literally was the most popular movie EVER in Japan until Titanic--I'm up for starting a posse to feed Leonardo DeCaprio to the inugami ;). Thirdly, I promise you all it is nowhere near as suicide-inducing as "Grave of the Fireflies" (yes, there are tear-jerker scenes, but not the "gods, this is so sad I think I'm going to kill myself" kind--the good kind of tear-jerker). Fourthly, if you don't see it and it doesn't come to Louisville, I will make it my personal mission next Halloween to dress up as San and get a large club and personally beat living hell out of each and every Slashdot reader who was within 50 miles of a market showing "Princess Mononoke" and didn't see it (yes, I want to see the movie THAT badly, no, I don't have enough money for a 600-mile road trip or I'd be going on one my own bloody self, and YES, I'M DEADLY SERIOUS ABOUT HOW THIS MOVIE BETTER COME TO LOUISVILLE THEATRES, DAMNIT :)=. ;3

    (As a minor aside, something tells me that Miramax/Disney won't be bringing over "Grave of the Fireflies". I am not certain Disney wants the larger part of its adult audience to commit suicide. :) Though it might make a REALLY nice Christmas present to Michael Eisner :)=

  • I'll never be able to get my nick on IRC again. And then I'll get asked if I'm Japanese. *sigh*
  • I have seen the original, and disney's version.

    Yes, disney added music (Night on Bald Mountain? Why?) and changed the intro music. They HAD to. They weren't selling the movie to the Japanese. They were selling it to Americans. Americans with short attention spans. Americans who are scared of hearing their own thoughts during the silence.

    I didn't much like the additions. And I think Jiji talked way too much. But I did appreciate the reactions of the children who watched and enjoyed the movie. They didn't know of the alterations. They just knew they had been entertained.

    Somedays that's what it's all about: Entertainment.

    Overall, disney did a damn fine job with Kiki, and I suspect they'll do even better with the next film.

    BTW, they didn't make any change that wasn't approved by Ghibli. So you can blame them, I suppose.

    (Dear moderator: My name is on-topic. Does that count? ^_^)


  • I saw this film subtitled early this year. The animation quality was simply amazing. It had some of the best camera work I have every seen, and the pacing was well done as well.

    I am also a huge fan of Miyuzaki, and for the work that the "two horse power" studios produce. Nausicaa is still my favorite anime movie of all time, and the manga is one of the greatest literary works I've ever read.

    That being said, I didn't care for this movie all that much. No one was more surprised than me :) I didn't like any of the characters, and so I didn't care what happened to them. Also, the moral of the movie took center stage, and thus weakened it. Overall, the movie just didn't have much depth to it. The movie also lacked an element of fun. Miyuzaki has produced fluff before, but when he produces fluff, it is usually fun fluff.

    As for Neil Gaiman, everything he touches is gold. I havn't seen the dubbed version yet, but I have total faith in Neil Gaiman's ability. His Sandman series is a work of true genius, and I have no doubt that he did a good job with this.

    The real story here is the mainstreaming of anime that is going on. I've been involved in anime for many years, and I've seen the anime tide growing. It will be interesting to see what impact this movie has. If it does well in the test theatres and is widely released, it could be considerable. But even if it doesn't do well, it won't matter that much. Anime has been eroding at the cultural and commercial barriers for a long time, and it will continue to do so until the dam breaks. As it stands, anime is already being mainstreamed at a very fast pace. It's not a matter of 'if', it's a matter of when and how.

  • If at all possible, try to get your hands on an unaltered and fan subtitled copy of any of Miyazaki's films before you see what the profiteering corporate distributors have done to them.

    I have copies of almost all of Miyazaki's works. I do prefer the originals.

    However, I'm also very glad to be able to suggest titles such as Kiki and Totoro to my friends and their families, and know that they will enjoy them without thinking they are 'foreign.'

    I'm reminded of a new slogan that was suggested to a long-time anime importer for use with their first dubbed title: Anime for Illiterates

    They didn't use it, unfortunately. ^_^

  • I thought it would be appropriate for me to reply to this post, seing as I chose that name.

    Rurouni Kenshin is one of my all-time favourite anime series. It's coming to the US and Canada soon, and I REALLY hope they don't screw it up.

    (of course, the manga is better :-)

    I saw Mononome Hime at two of my anime clubs last year, and I must say that it is an excellent movie. I will not pass up the cahnce to see it if it comes to a theatre around here. I'm not sure if it's showing in Toronto or not.

  • Generally, what gets put on the air in the US gets heavily censored and dumbed down, dubbed with poor voice acting, shown out of order, and with several episodes missing (like with Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, and some earlier stuff). The only Anime on TV that I've ever seen with competent voice acting is Pokemon, which is just kind of a goofy little show anyway and doesn't have a particularly engaging plot to preserve (Not that it's a bad show).

    The best stuff I've ever seen is either (nudge-nudge-wink-wink-grin-grin) illegal or hard-to-find -- and is never aired on television. While excluding those who don't appreciate Anime from the human race is drastic, it should be noted that what we get on this side of the ocean on TV is poor quality judgment material, and the good subtitled Anime is far too expensive (Makes sense, doesn't it? You spend less money on voice talent, generally less on localization and down-dumbing, and charge twice as much...).

    There's better stuff out there, somewhere -- it's just too expensive and takes just a bit too much effort to find.

  • The manga. AMAZING. Heartwarming and breaking at the same time. Now, they DO hold pretty close to the story, but they only cover the first book of about seven in the series.

    There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that the manga was not yet complete when the animated version was filmed (and wouldn't be completed for many years afterward). Another reason is that the story was altered deliberately so that it would be a complete, self-contained story in the movie version, with the most important elements from the manga.

    Now, they do treat it well.

    I'd hope so! Remember, the movie was written, directed, and animated by the same man who wrote and drew the manga version.
  • "Style is something best left to Americans."

    You have got to be joking.

    Or perhaps you have your own, novel definition of the word 'style'. Please share with the group.

  • As for Neil Gaiman, everything he touches is gold. I havn't seen the dubbed version yet, but I have total faith in Neil Gaiman's ability. His Sandman series is a work of true genius, and I have no doubt that he did a good job with this.

    I have to disagree. Sandman is an example of a splendid idea that was only mediocre in execution. With a more competent writer it could have been a work of genius. It had been tolerable up to "The Kindly Ones" arc, when it tanked completely. The ending had been telegraphed at the climax of the previous arc. When it eventually arrived, having taken far too long, it was an anticlimax. Perhaps this is the preferred arrangement in whatever poststructuralist aesthetic Gaiman subscribes to, but it left me flat. Good Omens was excellent, but I ascribe that to Terry Pratchett's influence - the man is incapable of telling a bad story. I therefore find Gaiman's involvement in Mononoke Hime worrysome.

  • Just a quick note on firearms in Japan: they did eventually start building their own, copying the pattern from the Portugese, although they tended to use their own mettalurgy; I dimly remember that the Shogunate had used a fairly large firearms- armed army to unify the country, and then when they no longer needed it, having wrecked the opposition, got rid of the firearms, discharged most of the army, and pretty much removed most of the priveliges of the Samurai class (judging them to be as obsolete as the army and the guns). Of course, I think these are only the general details; someone please correct me about the wrong bits.
  • I saw it on TV when it was first released out here in Japan.
    You really do need to understand what they are saying in order to fully appreciate the movie.
    I just hope for you guys that they do a decent job of dubbing for a change. Believe it or not, bad dubbing was one of the reasons I started to learn Japanese =)

    They need a real director who can find voices that match the characters, and actors who can act. If Disney can do it, why can't they?

    Either way, I'm adding this film to my Miazaki favorite list, along with Kiki's delivery service, Laputa, and Tonari no Totoro.
  • i saw this movie a few weeks ago, and it's pretty cool. the animation has some pretty cool kicks and the story line is different from most of the anime out there. the only thing i didn't like was the ending, it happened way too fast and was kinda cheesy. btw, princess mononoke is a hottie
  • The initial premiere of Princess Mononoke is supposed to be limited to select theaters, but Disney announced that it's eventually going to play at 1000 theaters. Of course, they said that a year ago at a panel, so I don't know if they forgot they said that by now or something...

    Also, Grave of the Fireflies was already snapped up by Central Park Media before Disney inked the 9-film deal with Studio Ghibli, and was already released with subtitles by CPM, so there you have it.
  • For your information. You probably won't be able to see it. Princess Mononoke will only received limited release Friday in merely 4 theaters (NY LA Boston Chicago one for each) And Miramax will make decision on how to open it "wilder" in next few weeks.

    It's not in Miramax, a Disney subsidiary's best interest to open poeple's eyes on what an ture talent can do to the animation format. As you all know, there is only one movie genre is under monopoly control of one Studio--the animation market. Despite limited success of Fox's freshman effort, Anastasia, the best animation from non-Disney studios in the last few year, Iron Giant has received a pretty bad B.O.

    Lucky for all of you, Miyazaki's contract has stretch that nobody can re-edit the films. You are not going to lost too much despite the dub. I can't imagine what kind of butching will they do to the greatest animation, that is Kiki's delivery Service. (It's in my opinion that Kiki's Mr.Miyazaki's best film and Laputa, Castle in the Sky follow close second. I'm not about to let you change my mind.)

    Now Miramax is a great Oscar specialist, but it's never very good at these low profile films. If you don't believe bad marketing can ruin a good movie, look no further than Babe II. At least it had some promotion to back it up. Have you ever seen a trailor of Mononoke? If you want to see Pincess Mononoke has a chance, to reach the brainwashed American public pick up you phone and call Miramix.

  • Some anonymous coward dun wrote:

    And yes there are good dubs. Reference Tench Muyo OVA series. considered by many to be the flawless dub.

    It'd have been flawless--IF THEY DIDN'T MAKE TENCHI SOUND LIKE A DAMNED MUPPET! "This is Kermit dee Juraian Prince speaking..." I swear the voice actor sounds like Kermit...I literally can't watch the dub without laughing my arse off because of this, and nobody else I know can, either. :3

    On the other hand, if any of you want to know what a Louisville accent sounds like...Ryoko in the dubs sounds dead like she should be from Louisville, or at least SOME part of the South...but she sounds more like Louisvillians than, say, Tennesseans or people from central or Eastern Kentucky...just a twinge of twang there...

    And now for something semi-unrelated to dubs, but related peripherally to Tenchi. Anyone who hates Micros~1 or even dislikes them really needs to get a copy of "Pretty Sammy" volume 2 (subbed or dubbed, don't matter none) and watch it. It is, very possibly, one of the most savage parodies of Micros~1 I have ever seen--about the only things changed are involvement of Sasami as a magical princess (taking the piss of Sailor Moon) and names changed to protect the guilty. :)

    And I STILL think Apple ripped off the design of the I-Book from Washu's laptop in the Pretty Sammy series ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Quite a few of the comments posted so far seem to qualify their praise for MONONOKE HIME by adding that it's a good *animated* film, that for a movie made up of cartoon characters, MN is an impressive piece of work. Personally, I think that does not do the show justice at all, or for that matter anime. Just as there are B-grade material around in the traditional genre of the film, there are porn and inane violent flicks in anime (and manga). Why should one choose to highlight the poorer quality of some anime as representative of that art-form in general, hence at the same time, implicitly assert the superiority of the traditional medium (with real live actors etc)? While this may be a comforting way of asserting some control in one's life (by claiming that there are some [foreign] things that one can safely designate as "bad" and avoid at all costs-- a notion that Disney would love considering the potential competition anime could present to it), it hardly makes any sense. Certainly there are differences between anime and the traditional film, and the question of superiority (if one assumes such a question is worth asking at all) is necessarily a subjective one. I can think of at least one way by which anime allows for greater creativity-- scenes of the other-worldly or quasi-supernatural work much better with anime than with traditional movies even with the use of computers nowadays. In MN, The depictions of the forest that housed the Great Spirits were nothing short of magical. I doubt if any real-world construction of such beauty could provide the same effect as Miyazaki's animation. MN is a very good film, period. It deserves to be treated as a film, the same way one might look at other movies on the listing. I do agree with some others though, that MN isn't Miyazaki's greatest work but I'll just leave this for now.
  • A good review, but some minor nitpicks...

    *) Ashitaka comes from a race known as the 'ainu' (I think it was) who (in real history) died out somewhere between the 5th and 10th centuary or something. Originally, "shogun" used to be short for something that meant something like "army leader and suppresor of the Ainu". (I don't have some of my history books around, so I'm just doing it from memory)

    Actually, the Ainu aren't dead. Marginalised to hell and back, yes...but they aren't extinct. There are several hundred to thousands of Ainu alive and well on Hokkaido and Sakhalin islands, trying very hard to keep their culture alive.

    Oddly, the Ainu may have come from an earlier culture called the Jomon culture, which is known from pottery and (possibly) from some rather spectacular underwater monoliths off the coast of Okinawa. (The modern Japanese culture is thought to be largely a mix of Jomon and ancient Korean influences, and racially the Japanese, Koreans, and Mongolians fit in the same subdivision of Oriental peoples.) The movie does hint strongly of Ashitaka being a remnant of the Jomon people; Jomon artwork is actually shown in the beginning. (This probably counts as One Of Those Bits Of Japanese Culture Most Merkuns Wouldn't Get. ;)

    *) "mononoke" means something like a "vengeful ghost/spirit" - doesn't translate very well. "hime" is a name suffix which normally translates as 'princess', though in some periods it can be a bit more like 'lady'.

    I'll agree it doesn't translate at all well. Gaiman hinted (in earlier discussions on the translation) that a good translation of the title could be "Shamanic Princess" (alas, there's already an anime by that name or I'm sure it would have been used).

    As I understand it (and please note that my grasp of Japanese mythology isn't as good as it should be) the concept of "mononoke" is similar to both stories of the "fae-folk" in Ireland and the concept of Animal Masters in Native American mythos--at the same time. They could be helpful or angry, depending on their nature and how they were Ireland, too, faerie stuff tends to be feared because it's generally NOT nice to mess with the fae-folk (they were seen as capricious).

    (minor spoiler) If one needs to put this in perspective with other mythologies one might be more familiar with, the little forest-spirits could be seen almost like pixies and it could be argued in all seriousness that San was raised by Wolf (as in big-W Wolf, as in the Animal Master sense of Wolf). It's not 100% exact, but it's as close as one is going to get and a hell of a lot closer than one'd get in most Western mythology at the least :)

    *) The "wolves" are "mountain dogs" in the original

    To give credit, this could be a bad translation on either side. (First off, I honestly don't know if there ever were wolves in Japan the same way there were in, say, Russia. Secondly, sometimes things get described VERY differently in other languages and a literal translation is going to be off--for example, in Lakota the word for "horse" translates literally to "mystery [magick? mononoke? ;)] dog", and in several Native American languages the terms for dog and/or coyote translate to "little wolf" or the term for wolf translates to "little coyote" or "wild dog". Considering Japanese and English are as different as, say, English and most Native American languages in both the way one "thinks" in the language and in the way things are typically named, I can well see how "wolf" could come out as "mountain dog". Then again, I have minor side interests in both Japanese and Native American languages--I honestly think in some ways it'd be easier to translate from Japanese to Tsalagiyi (Cherokee) or Dine' (Navaho) or Anishinaabeg (Ojibwa) and back than it would be to translate from any of those four languages to English because the modes of "thinking" and expressing are more similar between those four languages than they are between English (which is pretty darned amazing, since all five languages are in totally separate language families that probably either evolved totally separately from each other or diverged shortly after humans developed language). :)

  • You're a bit out of touch; Ah! Megami-sama has been available for years(under AnimEigo's title of Oh My Goddess!, I suspect people probably wouldn't go for the Chibi A!MG even tho' it's fairly funny) and Pioneer has been releasing Fushigi Yuugi volumes for several months now.
    Hell, it was only last year that AnimeVillage started _officially_ releasing Gundam tapes in the U.S. and it was only at AX that they announced they would be releasing 08th MS Team and Gundam-W.
  • To all slashdot reviewers: Please make a
    note in the introduction if a review contains
    a spoiler. Or take a note from traditional
    journalism nd make a distinction between a
    "review" (answers the question "will this
    movie/book interest you?") and a "critique"
    ("here's what I thought of that piece of work,
    which I assume you are familiar with.").

    Slashdot readers will thank you!
  • Frankly I don't have to time to argue with anyone so narrow minded.

    I'll happily support David Jao's argument. Bonzai! Bonzai!

  • Also check out "Pinky and the Brain" for at least one Bill Gates sendup that I know of.

    OK, so it's not anime... it's still good.

  • ...and thought is viscous.

    I think I pretty much agre with ajs' sentiments here. Books like Sandman do challenge assumptions and not everyone likes assumptions challenged. Heck (see(here []) when a Sandman issue won a World Fantasy Award, they changed the rules.

    However I'm not sure I would call my shelf of graphic novels 'literature'. Poetry is generally respected but isn't called 'literature'.
    My enjoyment of either doesn't suffer the missing

    And connotations of words do change. Not so long ago "nerd" was always an insult. In fact, with the ever-increasing impact of multimedia (- not a cliche, really it's retro-chic!), I'm almost worried about the fate of old-style "literature".

  • ...and thought is viscous.

    I think I pretty much agre with ajs' sentiments here. Books like Sandman do challenge assumptions and not everyone likes assumptions challenged. Heck (see at bottom of here []) when a Sandman issue won a World Fantasy Award, they changed the rules.

    However I'm not sure I would call my shelf of graphic novels 'literature'. Poetry is generally respected but isn't called 'literature'.
    My enjoyment of either doesn't suffer the missing

    And connotations of words do change. Not so long ago "nerd" was always an insult. In fact, with the ever-increasing impact of multimedia (- not a cliche, really it's retro-chic!), I'm almost worried about the fate of old-style "literature".

  • You claim that the process of recording any audio track counts as a dub. Well, you are free to use any definition you want in your own life, but your definition does not agree with Webster's 10th Edition:

    4. dub vt or dubbed; or [by shortening & alter. fr. double] 1: to provide a motion-picture film with a new sound track and esp. dialogue in a different language

    Whenever I use the word "dub" I am going by the dictionary definition and not your definition. I find this course entirely reasonable.

    Anyway, definitions are a minor point. If you want to use "dub" to refer to any audio recording process, then fine. I'll just pick a word such as "overdubbing" to stand for the replacement of an original audio track with a new one. Obviously my previous post used the word "dub" in this sense of "overdubbing". Using this custom terminology of yours, no anime fan is against dubbing, but many are against overdubbing.

    I should never have said that the images fit the voices exactly. Obviously accuracy is limited by the resolution of video frames, which is about 1/30 of a second (and usually even less, because animators usually draw one image every 2-3 frames). However, my point still stands. Fitting images to voices yields much more natural results than fitting voices to video. There are far fewer inconsistencies that way, and the viewing experience is much more transparent. I don't even know why I'm wasting breath defending the audio-first approach. The fact that every single animated film is made with audio-first is evidence enough of its merits.

    I never at any point said that I like words running over the artwork. I prefer no dubbing and no subtitles. But if I am forced to choose between dubbing and subtitles, I'll take the subtitles any day.

    P.S. I find your implication that kids are the primary market for animated films a bit incongruous, since kids are not at all the primary market for the animation that we are discussing.

  • my personal favorite no name dubber : Doug Smith!

    One of his best dubbing jobs and biggest roles was Goldenboy. (One of the best comedy-anime titles ever!) but you can usually find Doug Smith in just about every video released from ADV. Just watched Compiler last night (hey everyone, the 2 main females are named Compiler and Assembler!) and Doug had quite a few amusing lines on a TV in the background....

  • But I did appreciate the reactions of the children who watched and enjoyed the movie. They didn't know of the alterations. They just knew they had been entertained.

    Exactly. I held off watching the dub until about a month ago...I rented it from a video store down the street. My son (4.5yrs) watched it at LEAST twice a day every day for the entire week that we had it. he still quotes parts of the movie. the talkative cat was his favorite character.

    was it different than the original? sure, a bit. did they RUIN it? I guess that depends on your perspective...
  • I'll be seeing them at Cedar Lee, I've already e-mailed them to reserve tickets. Tentative dates are Nov 5th for Perfect Blue and Nov 15th for Princess Mononoke.
  • We'll just have to disagree on Gaiman then. I do agree with you about Terry Pratchett though.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder