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on January 23, 2002
I'm sure some people will accuse me of being a purist. OK, I can live with that. BUT I don't think you have to be a purist to feel the way I do about this film. This film may have been the biggest seller of all time in Japan, but the English language version wasn't, isn't and will never be. Why? Because even if the translation was perfect, which it wasn't, there are WAY to many concepts inherent in the story that cannot be understood without extensive knowledge of Japanese history.
Take the ending for example. I'm sure I'm not the only person who felt like the ending fell a bit flat. That's because, while I have studied Japanese history, I don't have the true FEELING of what it means to be a samurai, to follow the samurai way (bushido). I don't truly comprehend the honor system, as most Japanese people do. And while I do have some real experience with Japanese romantic relationships, I (and most westerners) don't share their belief in unrecoited, and even unspoken, love.
On top of that, I strongly disagree with the casting choices made for many of the voices. Many of them were, in my opinion, simply monotonous, possibly because, I think, the voice actors were chosen because of the popularity of their names, rather than their actual abilities to do voice work, which is definitely different from acting in front of a camera. (Don't get me wrong, I love Gillian Anderson on camera.) And further on that subject, it just didn't fit to have have WESTERN American accents (and I am American) coming from traditional Japanese mouths, and it was even more inappropriate to have vastly different accents coming from characters living in one of the most homogeneous societies in the world. Once again, casting for the sake of popular names.
NOBODY can fault Hayao Miyazaki for his work. The animation was fantastic, the story epic, and the music perfect. But after seeing (unfortunately proceeded by buying) this film, I MUCH prefer watching it in the original Japanese version, even though I can't follow the dialogue. I'll keep it, but only because it helps complete my Miyazaki collection.
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on October 30, 2001
Surely most people are fans of Miyazaki's works because of Nausicaa, Laputa, Kiki, Totoro. That's because even though those films appear "less ambitious" than Mononoke Hime they moved you emotionally, spiritually. Unfortunately that's missing from Mononoke. I can't buy into the argument that since there is no side you cheer for that this is more realistic=great. That doesn't make it great. And it's certainly not what made Miyazaki's previous works so enjoyable. Maybe I expected too much but even that put aside I didn't experience the same emotional charge and sense of wonder as I did when watching Laputa or Nausicaa.
Even the ending was disappointing. There was no real resolution to the conflict. We didn't really learn much about anybody except how much Rage can cloud their judgements. The story line wasn't very memorable. I can't even remember the soundtrack. (astonishing considering Jo's past accomplishments in previous works).
It's unfortunate since this was Miyazaki's first real big exposure to the US audience. The fact that it only grossed a bit over $2 Million in the US has endangered future realeases of his films by Disney. Write them and tell them that would be a very big mistake ...
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on February 6, 2001
Princess Mononoke, despite its cast of famous voices, was somewhat of an anime-disappointment in my book. I got together with four friends (2 guys/2 girls), and none of the men liked it. It revolves around the story of a young warrior cursed by a demon god, which "attaches" itself to his left arm and gives him "super-human" strength. The demon itself was cursed by anger and hatred that the animals felt towards humankind for years of animal/human wars. The animal gods and the humans fought many wars against each other, but their hatred only brought destruction and really stupid fight scenes. There also were happy, kind forest spirits that resembled pokemon and made me think of how kid-like our world has become. They made me laugh for all of two seconds; the most enjoyment I had during the movie. The story moves along sluggishly and some things just happen - not to be profound or intelligent, but rather to fill up space. The curse and demon on the young warrior's arm is a real joke; the thing just looks like a giant, purple jello mold and isn't really scary at all (maybe for a 3 -yr. old). The conflict between the humans and animals comes to a "thrilling" conclusion when...well, actually nothing was exciting. The wolf girl, also known as Princess Mononoke, who was neither wolf or human; she was the main girl in the movie and she falls in love with the main warrior guy w/ the jello on his arm - yeah, yeah, yeah. The only redeeming quality is the artwork, but of course, you can find better work in a better anime movie instead of wasting your time on this Disney film. I really think this movie is for touchy-feely girls and younger children, because the action is just a little bit too crazy and over-the-top for people in their late teenage years. Maybe, if I were four years old, then I would have appreciated this children's fairy tale more....
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on April 18, 2001
I have not seen (heard) the Japanese version, not that I would understand it, but I'm sure it must be better than the english version. I agree with those who consider some of the voice acting to be out of place. The accents do sound strange and often the characters shout their lines which seems very contrived, awkward and unnecessary. The producers should have eschewed big name movie and television stars in favor of genuine professional voice actors. But often, the english version of the script is at fault. Many of the character's lines are downright corny. Indeed, the entire movie is excessively melodramatic, causing me to almost cringe. For instance, the scene where wolf girl has to chew the food for the hero is really too much. Like I said, the Japanese version is probably much better but I suspect the plot is still too convoluted. I think they tried to do too much with the story to its overall detriment. Overall I found the film disappointing and would not recommend it.
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on March 3, 2001
After reading the numerous reviews raving about this being one of the greatest movies ever, I decided to give this movie a shot even though what little I've seen of anime in the past never really appealed to me. After all, I love big, epic films, and I am also a fan of other types of animation.
Even so, I couldn't help but be very disappointed with this movie. Tree-hugger politics aside, the plot was not only absurd but also inconsistent with itself. The characters had no depth at all to them. The animation was flat and dull looking. Overall, I felt like it was a waste of my time. If this is the best of anime, then I can only conclude that anime is not for me.
Given how much other people seem to love this film, I'd have to say that if you're an anime fan you'll probably like it. But if you are NOT an anime fan, this movie probably won't change your mind.
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on April 4, 2000
I was origionaly going to get the DVD version of this amazing movie, easly the best animated movie I have ever seen, but I looked at the tech aspects and I couldn't belive it! Why would they only have the English? Every other foreign film I have ever heard of or seen on DVD had the choice between both the origonal and the English version! There is no excuse for this! Unlike some of the other people here I still enjoyed the English version imencly and would give it 5 stars but I wanted to hear it the way it was origionally ment I wanted to find the detales changed, I wanted to hear the origional voice actors picked out to do the characters! I am going to get the video now, it is cheeper and you can show it to friends on their own TVs, the sound isn't the best on the DVD so it shouldn'y matter the only problem would be those amazing landscapes...
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on January 17, 2001
The visuals and animation technique were up to par for anime -- lots of beautiful and intricate things to look at. However, I was very disappointed with the story and the character development. Most of the time, the action just didn't make sense (unless I'm missing a lot of fairytale background that Japanese kids grow up with), and the characters were so, uh, two-dimensional that I felt uninvolved nearly the whole time I was watching. Perhaps Princess Mononoke got better reviews than it deserved because of the big-name cast and the relative lack of knowledge about anime in the American market. I'd rather have watched Bubblegum Crisis again than this movie.
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I was intrigued by the effusive praise that so many ... heaped upon this movie, and I thought to myself "Wow, this sounds incredible - I'd better check this out."
However, this film ...
It's way, way too overlong. It comes in at about 2 hrs 20 mins, yet so much of the movie is painfully repetitious that this could easily have been trimmed to 80 mins. The American voice-overs are AWFUL. Minnie Driver is passable, but every other actor makes it sound like a school play. They're hammier than a side of pig. I can't believe anime has evolved so little since "Akira".
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on December 8, 2000
Mononoke Hime is a childs movie (Ages 5-12) plain and simple. It is not a great movie. The story is about plant-like and animal demons terrorising the humans becuase the humans are abusing the earth (Not a really a bad plot). The story also revolves around some preteen kid and girl. To sum it all up, this movie is boring and dull which is why Disney picked it up. I've been watching anime for years and i'm certainly not some fan who just got off from watching DBZ.
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on October 14, 2000
This is the best anime movie I've ever seen, but DO NOT get the VHS! The tape has Macro Vision. It can mess up the screen. The whole show, the top (and sometimes bottom) inch or so of the screen will be freaking out and it CAN'T be fixed with tracking. You might also hear a lot of static. It isn't as bad on the better quality VCRs, but this happens on all of them. Get the DVD! It has language choices and subtitles, and(right now) is like $80 cheaper!
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