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(1999) (voices of Billy Crudup, Claire Danes) (PG-13)

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Animated Drama: Hoping to find a remedy for a curse that's overtaking his body, a young warrior from long ago sets out across his country and finds himself in the middle of a battle between a race of forest gods and the humans who are destroying their habitat.
Many centuries ago in a remote mountain village of Northern Japan, Ashitaka (voice of BILLY CRUDUP) is the last warrior of the dying Emishi clan. A brave young man, he defends his village from a huge boar monster -- a former forest god turned demon. In doing so and by killing it, however, he gets infected by the curse that drove the boar to madness. As a dark scar begins growing on his arm, he leaves his village forever, hoping to find a cure for his malady before it makes him evil and/or kills him.

During his journey toward the West, he encounters various people including peasants, samurai warriors and a traveling monk, Jigo (voice of BILLY BOB THORNTON). After saving the lives of two men, including Kohroku (voice of JOHN DE MITA), after a wolf attack, Ashitaka and his faithful elk eventually arrive in their frontier village, Iron Town.

Run by an ambitious and ruthless leader, Lady Eboshi (voice of MINNIE DRIVER), and her captain of the guards, Gonza (voice of JOHN DI MAGGIO), the town consists of groups of social outcasts -- such as lepers and former prostitutes, including Toki (voice of JADA PINKETT-SMITH) -- who not only forge iron, but also manufacture and continually refine a new weapon, the rifle.

They use those not only to defend their village from other humans, but also from the forest gods who are upset and occasionally attack the villagers for destroying their habitat. Among them is a small pack of gargantuan wolves led by Moro (voice of GILLIAN ANDERSON) and her adopted feral daughter, the human San (voice of CLAIRE DANES), a.k.a. the Princess Mononoke.

Still seeking a cure for his malady that's slowly spreading up his arm, Ashitaka suddenly finds himself in the middle of an epic war, between various humans and the forest gods, including the wise boar, Okkoto (voice of KEITH DAVID), and tries to find a way to bring peace to the troubled land.

Those who are fans of the hard edged Japanese animation, "anime," will definitely want to see it. Younger kids may be enticed by it looking similar to Disney's G-rated animated offerings, but parents should note the PG-13 rating and material probably unsuitable for those younger kids.
For images of violence and gore.
  • Whether kids see cartoon characters as role models is debatable, but here's how the major characters are portrayed.
  • ASHITAKA is a brave young warrior who finds himself afflicted with a life threatening curse. As he tries to find a cure for it, he defends himself against various peoples, occasionally killing them as he goes, and tries to bring peace between two warring factions.
  • LADY EBOSHI is the strong-willed leader of Iron Town, a woman bent on destroying the forest gods but who also looks out for the less fortunate human beings around here.
  • MORO plays one of the wolf gods who's determined to stop Eboshi.
  • SAN plays her adopted human daughter who hates the humans and repeatedly tries to kill Eboshi.
  • JIGO is a con man of sorts, a traveling monk who deceives others and wants to kill the great forest god.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 animated drama. Although the film is animated and features well-known performers providing the vocal services, this isn't your typical G-rated Disney flick. As such, a great deal of violence occurs with characters and creatures fighting and many being wounded, killed, decapitated or having limbs severed, often with rather bloody (but obviously cartoon drawn) results.

    While the film obviously isn't aimed at them, should younger kids be allowed to see it they may just find many of those scenes and others (that are accompanied by suspenseful music) featuring the likes of a huge and menacing boar demon, as suspenseful or downright scary (all dependent of course on their age and tolerance for such material).

    Profanity is mild with some uses of "damn" and a few religious and colorful phrases also occurring. Women in a town are noted as being former prostitutes (although no sexual activity is present) and a few of the men wear loincloth-like apparel that shows part of their cartoon bare butts.

    Beyond that, some bad attitudes and thematic elements of man vs. nature and expansionism vs. conservation, the rest of the film's categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. Since some kids will probably want to see this film, however, we suggest that you more closely examine our listed content should you still be concerned about its appropriateness for anyone in your home.

  • A dancing man in Iron Town says that he doesn't feel any pain (suggesting he may be drunk).
  • Eboshi mentions that she'll have wine sent out to some workers.
  • Some blood flows from a large boar demon after Ashitaka kills it. The creature then melts away to a skeleton with more blood/gore resulting from that.
  • We see weird marks of the curse on Ashitaka's arm.
  • From a distance we see a man's arm get cut off, and then the same to another man's two arms and then to a man's head.
  • Moro has a bloody wound from where she was shot and San then comes up and sucks and spits out blood from that wound. As a result, San's hands and face are somewhat bloody.
  • We see a character with some blood on their cheek.
  • Ashitaka is bloody after being shot and we see blood on the ground where he walks (dripping down from him).
  • We see blood flowing from a wound in some water.
  • We see a dead body in some water.
  • Some blood comes out from Ashitaka's elk after it's hit by an arrow.
  • Ashitaki attacks some assailants and cuts off one of their arms (with bloody coming out) and then manages to kill several with arrows (decapitating one of them).
  • After a savage battle, blood pours from Okkoto's nose and later its mouth onto the ground and Moro is rather bloody as well.
  • A creature is decapitated (with all sort of goo later coming out) and a person's arm is bitten off.
  • All of the warring factions obviously have both toward each other, and are often filled with hatred toward the opposing side.
  • Eboshi is guilty of deforestation and the desire to kill off the remaining forest gods (although some may see her being a pragmatic survivalist out in the middle of nowhere doing what it takes to survive and prosper).
  • Jigo and his men also wish to kill the great forest god.
  • Since this film is animated, many younger kids and their parents alike may think it's similar to a G-rated Disney film. Instead, it's obviously aimed at much older kids (teens) and adults, and scenes listed here, as well as under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or frightening to some kids, all dependent on their age and tolerance for such material.
  • A large, writhing creature (that turns out to be a giant boar god covered with wormlike physical manifestations of hatred) and which is called a demon comes crashing through the woods and heads toward Ashitaka's village and a group of young girls. Ashitaka fires several arrows into it, causing it to send out a long tentacle that threatens him and eventually wraps around his arm (after others warned him not to let it touch him).
  • Jigo tells Ashitaka that some people following them are apt to slit their throats if possible.
  • Wolves approach Eboshi's people as they make their way along a mountainside. In turn, they fire their primitive rifles at the wolves causing mini-explosions to explode near the animals. Moro the wolf then leaps on several people and then races through their group before being hit by rifle fire and falling over a cliff (and we hear that several people were killed from this as well).
  • Several scenes feature Ashitaka's infected arm having an attack (where he has to grab and try to control it).
  • The wormlike manifestation of hate comes out of another boar as it progressively becomes more demon- like. Ashitaka then tries to rescue San who's on the huge boar's back and is being engulfed by the wormlike things.
  • Various characters hunt the great forest spirit, eventually wounding and then decapitating it. It then grows into a huge, headless beast (with something that oozes from its wound flowing toward everyone and destroying villages) that searches for its head and causes massive destruction.
  • Bow & Arrows/ Primitive rifles/Knives/Spears/Swords/Explosives: Used to defend, threaten, wound or kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Piss," "Shut up," "Idiot," "Bastard" and "Big dope."
  • None.
  • A heavy amount of ominous/suspenseful music (some of it an adventurous vein) plays during the film.
  • None.
  • At least 6 damns and 1 use each of "My God" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • We see a male character in a rather small loincloth-like piece of clothing (again it's a cartoon character). We later see other men dressed in similar outfits that reveal partial glimpses of their bare butts.
  • The women in Eboshi's town are former prostitutes and several of them show cleavage. One of them mentions that working at the iron works beats working at the brothel in the city and that the men don't bother them unless they want them to.
  • None.
  • San worries about and must deal with Moro being wounded.
  • The nature vs. sprawl argument that continues even to this day (and those who wish to protect the environment against developers).
  • Why an old village leader tells Ashitaka (in his home village) that no matter what happens, he'll forever be dead to them (that's apparently an old Japanese bit of folklore -- that once a warrior leaves, that how others consider him).
  • That many of the female characters are portrayed as strong, intelligent and independent women (even some of the former prostitutes turned workers).
  • A huge boar demon knocks down an observation tower. Ashitaka then fires several arrows into the creature (one into its eye), eventually killing it (with bloody results), but not before the creature inflicts the curse on the young warrior by grabbing his arm with a long tentacle.
  • Ashitaka comes across what he calls a massacre and sees warriors attacking peasants. Viewed from a distance, we see a man's arm get cut off and others being beaten. The attackers then see Ashitaka and fire arrows at him. He returns arrow fire and knocks off a man's two arms. Another shot takes off a man's head.
  • Wolves approach Eboshi's people as they make their way along a mountainside. In turn, they fire their primitive rifles at the wolves causing mini-explosions to explode near the animals. Moro the wolf then leaps on several people and then races through their group before being hit by rifle fire and falling over a cliff (and we hear that several people were killed from this as well).
  • We see a flashback where people fire many flaming arrows into the demon boar that shakes them off and then runs over those people. We then see Eboshi and her soldiers firing their rifles at the boars.
  • Eboshi's guards open fire on San and her wolf pack. One then tries to hit San with a spear but ends up falling over the side of the fort. As San then makes her way toward Eboshi, others fire at her and she tries to get several of them with her knife (one of whom defends himself with a sword).
  • The guards then fire at San, hitting the roof around her. They fire again and seemingly hit her, but San is then okay and fights with Eboshi with knives.
  • San lands on Gonza.
  • A person accidentally fires a shot that hits Ashitaka and goes through him, severely injuring him.
  • After the wounded Ashitaka falls from his ride, one of the wolves rushes up and bites his head, but San makes the wolf stop. Even so, she then holds a knife to his throat.
  • Some apes throw rocks at San, Ashitaka and the wolves and state that they want to kill and eat Ashitaka.
  • People attack Iron Town throwing spears while Eboshi's guards fire shots that sever arms and hit others.
  • During a boar attack we see explosions that send some boars flying through the air.
  • Some samurai try to attack Ashitaka but his ride simply leaps over them. They then fire arrows at him but he simply knocks them aside.
  • A guard fires and we see a person fall off a boat.
  • A person fires an arrow that hits Ashitaka's elk in the hindquarters, injuring it. He fires arrows back but they bounce off the assailants' armor. Thus, he attacks them and cuts off one of their arms (with blood coming out) and then manages to kill several with arrows (decapitating one of them).
  • We see many dead boars and some dead people covered up after a battle. We then see a flashback to it where boars are killed by land mine explosions, and other boars run over and kill people.
  • Gonza fires poison darts at Ashitaka.
  • San is hit by a rock in the head and knocked unconscious.
  • People shoot at Ashitaka.
  • The wolves attack some humans in pig disguises and men then throw primitive grenades at the wolves.
  • Eboshi shoots and wounds the great forest spirit, but after it seems to have recovered, she gets off another shot that decapitates the creature. As a result, many little tree spirits appear to simultaneously die.
  • A person's arm is bitten off.
  • Black goo from a headless creature overtakes and destroys a town.
  • Men come after Ashitaka with a knife.

  • Reviewed October 20, 1999 / Posted November 5, 1999

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