This Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece is far and away my favorite animated film of all time. I first saw it as an elementary schooler home sick, probably with my annual adolescent case of strep throat. My dad would usually rent a couple movies for me on sick days and somehow Princess Mononoke ended up among them.
From the opening scene, I was gripped by its mystical quality, the gorgeous Joe Hisaishi score, and the always painterly, beautiful animation of Miyazaki. The story mattered more than any Disney film I’d seen, and truth be told I thought the protagonist was pretty hunky. But most importantly the film left an impression on me that I couldn’t shake. I was transported to a world I hadn’t known before (a trait unique to Miyazaki’s films, and one I was exposed to again with Spirited Away a couple years later) and it was dangerous, scary, and enticing.
Here, let A.O. Scott of The New York Times explain a little more (there are some sort-of spoilers in this clip, but mostly I just like it because it shows off the masterful animation and music on display in the film):
In the years since, I’ve probably seen Princess Mononoke at least 10-15 times. Each time I’ve grown to appreciate it more and more. Let me know if you want to watch sometime—I’m always up for some giant wolves, forest spirits, and critiques on environmental desecration.
Here’s a second clip. It’s not great out of context, and truthfully it’s the only one I could easily find on YouTube, but it does give a sense of just how other-worldly the story of Princess Mononoke is, and how thrilling of a departure it was from the typical “kid’s movie” fare: