Conflict- Good vs. Evil
The movie Princess Mononoke ( producer Hayao Miyazaki) is about Ashitaka, a young man who saved his village from a demon that was attacking his village. After successfully defending the village, he is then exiled from the very same village that he saved due to a curse that the demon gave him. With death growing ever closer to Ashitaka, he sets out to find a way to save himself. Not long after departing the village, Ashitaka finds himself in an industrialized city called Iron Town: A city that is determined to grow by destroying the nearby forest to produce charcoal. Ashitaka soon learns that the two forces, Iron Town and the creatures living in the forest, will stop at nothing in order to claim what is there’s. I believe, that even though that the viewers are for the most part against Lady Eboshi (the leader of Iron Town), she really had some good intentions deep down. In other words, there really is no good or evil.
Some may say that Lady Eboshi may be best described as a motherly figure. For some time now, she has been leading Iron Town to the prosperous city that the viewers have come to see. All the villagers are very pleased with the work she has done. Although she may come off stern and have somewhat of a quick temper, she is also very nurturing. This is seen when she is taking care of the lepers, while showing Ashitaka around Iron Town. None the less, Lady Eboshi is still considered one of the major antagonists throughout the movie. Can someone like this truly be an evil person? Through the eyes of the villagers, probably not. But, for all we know, the villagers just see Lady Eboshi as an inspiration and a heroic figure. So, if she is the protagonist through the villager’s eyes, doesn’t that mean there is an antagonist?
Eventually, Ashitaka soon learns that Lady Eboshi has been having some trouble with the “wolf girl”, a mysterious woman that has been attacking workers while they were clearing trees in the forest not too far away from Iron Town. Viewers soon find out that the “wolf girl” is hated in Iron Town by practically everyone. Many wives and children have lost their husbands and fathers due to the “wolf girl”.
Ashitaka then meets this mysterious “wolf girl” or San. San then explains to Ashitaka that the humans have been destroying the trees, and killing all of the creatures that get in there way. In other words, she basically claims that the humans are murderers.
With all this hatred towards one another, Okkoto, the boar God, takes it upon himself to wipe out the humans in Iron Town. Ashitaka is now caught up in the middle of a three way conflict and tires to stop all three forces from killing off each other.
Another type of conflict that is not so obvious is nature and industry. The forest represents nature. It is peaceful and simple; it does not require change. Then there is Iron town, a bustling town always wanting change no matter what the cost is. It seems almost destined for a conflict to arise. Morally it would seem like the nature side would be the “good side” and the industrialization would be the “bad guy”, but sis that really true. Yes, morally it is. For the most part it can be assumed that humans would love to be green, however they would also like everything to be convenient. So realistically, the industrialization would be the “good guy”
Also delving even further is the conflict of the different sex. Is the male superior or is it females? The book Anime, by Susan J. Napier also brings this up. The city Iron Town is a governed city. However, it is not run by a man but a woman. Throughout the movie you can see some tension between the two genders. However it is not too serious.
Clearly it is unfair to pin one side as good or one side evil. It all depends on how a person looks at it. For example, Lady Eboshi thinks that San is evil because she is killing her workers who are just trying to make an honest living. However, San believes that Lady Eboshi is evil due to the fact that she is destroying the forest just for capital and materials. It all depends on the perspective. There is also the conflict between man and women as well as nature and industry. The more you watch this movie the easier it is to make these connections.
Princess Mononoke- Hayao Miyuzaki
Anime, Susan J Napier