Learn About An Anime Classic: Princess Mononoke

Many people watch shows and series mainly for entertainment purposes, but almost every show gives a life lesson or two. These shows make viewers feel something– spanning from joy and excitement to hatred and sadness. One of the most sought-after shows, both in television and theaters, is anime.

Anime, a word derived from “animation,” is a Japanese show that targets adults as much as children unlike its Western counterparts, which are deemed to be for children. It has received much interest and popularity because it contains multitudes of themes produced for a wide range of viewers. From drama to comedy, there’s an anime to match any taste.


One of the most well-known anime classics is Princess Mononoke, a 1997 Japanese epic anime film. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. Get to know more about this anime classic by knowing what it was about, when it started, how popular it was, and where you can watch it today.

Learn About An Anime Classic: Princess Mononoke
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About Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is a jidaigeki (period drama) set in Japan’s late Muromachi period, which is seen as the transition between the medieval and early modern periods. “Mononoke” is not a name; it is a general term for a spirit or monster (supernatural, shape-shifting beings) in Japanese.

Mononoke is a representation of the connection between the environment and humans. However, it also demonstrates that there is a power imbalance between the two. Deidre M. Pike stated that Princess Mononoke is both part of nature and the problem.


Its plot focuses on the clash between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who consume its resources, from the perspective of outsider Ashitaka. Young Emishi prince Ashitaka’s journey and his attempts to make peace between the human settlement, Irontown, and the creatures living in the forest surrounding it are central in the film’s plot.


Miyazaki started drawing sketches of a film about a princess living in the woods with a beast in the late 1970s. In August 1994, Miyazaki began writing the film’s plot. In May 1995, he drew the initial storyboards, despite having difficulties adapting his initial ideas and visualizations.

Produced with an estimated budget of ¥2.35 billion (approximately 23.5 million USD), this animated fantasy war film was released in Japan  USD July 12, 1997, for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network, and Dentsu. It was distributed by Toho.


It stars the voices of Yōji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yūko Tanaka, Kaoru Kobayashi, Masahiko Nishimura, Tsunehiko Kamijo, Akihiro Miwa, Mitsuko Mori, and Hisaya Morishige.

On October 29, 1999, it was released in the United States. Neil Gaiman provided a localized script, and it was dubbed into English and distributed in North America by Miramax. It was one of the first Ghibli films dubbed into English.

Learn About An Anime Classic: Princess Mononoke
Image Source: medium.com


Despite a poor box office performance in North America, Princess Mononoke sold well on DVD and video, which significantly increased Ghibli’s popularity and influence outside Japan. It is the third most popular anime movie in Japan, next to 2001’s Spirited Away and 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle, both by Miyazaki.

Roger Ebert placed the movie sixth on his top ten films of 1999. It also became the highest-grossing movie in Japan in 1997, earning ¥11.3 billion in distribution receipts, until Titanic took over the spot several months later. However, it has still beaten the record set by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982.

It showed more strength in the international anime arena, earning a total of $11 million outside Japan, bringing its global total to $159,375,308. It was the highest-grossing anime film in the United States in January 2001, despite not performing well financially in December 1997.


Most Ghibli films are, to some degree, concerned with animals and the environment, and Princess Mononoke is a kind of an environmental war cry. You may watch it on so many streaming services platforms.

It is now streaming on HBO Max, along with 20 other Studio Ghibli films. It is also available in Netflix, Disney Movies, and Prime Video,