Top 10 The Secrets Behind The Success Of Princess Mononoke


Anime “Princess Mononoke” is a masterpiece of the production studio Ghibli, which was presented to the audience in 1997. Reputation of this work has not stopped growing for more than 20 years. During this time there were many interesting facts associated with this anime about spirits living among us, which are carried by people, animals and other beings.

Today we at Bright Side would like to tell you about 10 secrets that will give you even greater love for this movie!


1. The protagonist Ashitaka is modelled after Akira Kurosawa

The director Miyazaki Hayao wanted to make Ashitaka as close as possible to the hero of his favorite film director – Akira Kurosawa. He liked how he played roles, moved and talked. To be able to convey his feelings about the beloved director, Miyazaki put a deer antler on Ashitaka’s head and drew a scar on his face in the same place where Kurosawa had a scar on one of his photos.

2. Anime characters have recognizably Japanese names

The names of the anime characters are written in traditional Japanese order: given name – family name. For example, if we take the main character’s name – this is “Ashitaka” from family “Jiko.” In Western countries it is customary to specify personal names according to their own system: first name – last name (Ashitaka Jiko). Here you can see an interesting difference between Japan and other countries.

3. The film was almost lost forever

In 1992, Miyazaki’s son committed suicide by hanging himself. This tragedy made the director think about life and death more often. Miyazaki described these thoughts in “Princess Mononoke”. After the release of the anime, Hayao Miyazaki went on a trip to the north-western part of Japan – Honshu Island, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in Japan. During his visit there he came down with flu, but decided not to cancel his journey because it was important for him to complete this work. He caught pneumonia and almost died from hypothermia during his stay in the woods at night when he was returning home sick … Fortunately, none of this prevented him from finishing his amazing work.

4. In the anime there is a reference to Akira Kurosawa’s film “Ran”

In the scene where Ashitaka meets Eboshi and Jiko, you can see how tens of people are carrying an idol on which Kurosawa’s head is depicted instead of Buddha’s.

5. The first time Miyazaki used computer graphics in his works

For the creation of animated film “Princess Mononoke”, 20 minutes (out of total 125 minutes) were made using computer graphics technology. This was done at night after all regular production was stopped for the day, because computers could not be turned off during that period – otherwise they would freeze up! Computer graphics were used to create nature scenes and for some minor effects.

6. The anime contains lots of hidden references to works by Tchaikovsky

For example, the scene where Ashitaka is leaving his village resembles the ballet “Swan Lake” by Piotr Tchaikovsky, where a young man leaves home with a swan that turns into a girl.

7. The enormous forest demon, which appears at the end of the film, was created using human bones

The creators found 4-5 m long deer antlers in one of Tokyo’s shops where taxidermy was done before World War II, but they needed much more material for their huge demon body. For this purpose Miyazaki went to Ibaraki Prefecture, which used to have a number of cemeteries. The director found a place with ancient earthen mounds and dug up old bones there, paid for them and brought them to Ghibli studio. Miyazaki was not afraid that the police would come after him – he thought the townspeople would consider him as some sort of grave robber!

8. In Japan, “Princess Mononoke” is considered to be an environmentalist anime

Miyazaki himself was opposed to this opinion: “I don’t think my films are suitable for children.” However, he admitted that his film about spirits could become one of those examples where adults see something different from what young people notice in it.

9. Stormtroopers from “Star Wars” served as a model for the guards of Eboshi

10. Miyazaki wanted to write a book about Mononoke Hime, called “Princess Mononoke: Iron Town.”

For this purpose he used pictures and … pictures of cats. This idea was never realized because Miyazaki decided that it would be too dark and depressing.

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