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Jennifer Nordlicht

Lack of belief and fighting the existence of what people used to believe in is a strong theme in Princess Mononoke. In the beautiful natural world Hayoa Miyazaki has created an evil lurks. This evil is mans want to destroy the strength and purity and power of nature. Man wants to erase what is stronger than them and in the process harness its power for money, which in turn brings more power.

Many believe in the gods and demons of nature, many have forgotten, and the rest fight them. The main character, Ashitaka, respects nature and works with it. In opposition we have the emperor and the rest of society, mainly a place called Irontown, who want to harness natures power and claim it as their own. These people believe in the forces of nature and in turn Shinto, but mainly because they fear these spirits and forces. They want to eliminate nature so they will be the strongest. Then there are those who just try to live day by day. They don't want to fight nature or get in its way, yet they don't respect its power.

We see these differences in people by the way each person or group of people speaks. Ashitaka and the Wise woman from the Land to the East speak with respect to the spirits, gods, and even demons of the forest. They ask for forgiveness, and permission. In comparison we see others like the Monk and leader of Irontown speak of the power they could gain from the death and destruction of the gods and spirits of nature as well as nature itself. In Oskar Källner's Princess Mononoke section of the Shinto in Anime essay it is stated that "The conflict between man and nature. Humanity and nature are linked to each other, in modern thought, by being part of the same ecosystem, and in Shinto thought, by being of the same universal spirit. Still modern man separates himself from nature and uses it as a tool for his own endeavors." (Oskar Källner ). This statement supports the idea that man may believe in Shinto but only to harness its power. Then we see the people who just fear its power and avoid it as much as possible. They even fear the simple harmless forest spirits that are said to bring good luck.

Throughout the movie those who used to fear nature begin to respect it and befriend its spirits and work with it. Then Ashitaka allies himself with the wolf gods of the forest along with the human wolf daughter, San (also known as Princess Mononoke) to try and protect the Forest God, also known as the Night Walker. The Monk and his men along with many from Iron Town and its leader, Lady Eboshi, become even more harmful to nature and in turn themselves when they try to take the Forest Gods head as well as start what Susan Napier refers to as "the war of the humans (or perhaps more appropriately, the war of the humans against the kami)" in her book (Susan Napier 2001).

After those who feared and tried to destroy nature and its many gods, as well as kill the God of the Forest, their actions cause more destruction. The gods were angered and the Forest God turned into a monster ruled by rage. This monster brought an end to their industrial world and brought the people back to the basics of working with nature to live rather than destroy. This monster also saved Ashitaka from his curse. Nature in turn caused its own destruction just like man but goodness and healing came from this destruction instead of even more pain and loss. This was one of Miyazaki's points of the movie. We have destroyed nature with our industrial progress and stopped believing in "_The place where pure water is running in the depth of the forest in the deep mountains, where no human has ever set foot - Japanese had long held such a place in their heart... ... We have lost it." (_Oskar Källner)

Napier, Susan J. "Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation." 2001

Källner, Oskar. "Shinto in Anime." Shinto in Anime. Web. <>.

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  1. Good thesis and you have some good content. You must read Susan Napier's chapters on this! Need references and you need to more fully develop the essay.