Brief thoughts on Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke has been talked about a lot elsewhere – why wouldn’t it be? It’s a great movie that everyone should watch. What I want to talk about briefly is the motivation for characters, and how they put many “prestige TV” dramas to shame in terms of complexity. Spoilers below the fold!

What Princess Mononoke gets right is flawed but sympathetic characters. Lady Eboshi might be strip-mining the mountain and defiling gods, but she does so to create a society that includes outcasts like lepers and prostitutes. Princess Mononoke may attack people violently, but she does so to protect nature and the gods (Important when they tend to become demons when attacked!).

From there, it’s not like many examples of prestige TV drama, where “shades of grey” and complex morality means “both sides are sacks of shit” and “conflict is forever”. That kind of grimdark suits Warhammer 40,000, but having it everywhere is not only bleak, but laughable. Princess Mononoke believes and sets it up in the end that we can get past conflict to build something better, together.

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