Being a huge fan of animation means I was exposed to the greatness that is Hayao Miyazaki at a young age, as I grew up with some of the projects he worked on from Sherlock Hound, to his breakout film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. After turning out hit after classic hit, he would eventually create the masterpiece that is Princess Mononoke in 1997 that became the first animated film in Japan to win their best picture award. While this has been released on VHS, DVD, and even Blu-ray, it finally gets the royal treatment release with the Princess Mononoke: Collector’s Edition. Any movie lover worth their salt should own this beloved film, as it’s one of the best out there.
For those unfamiliar with the movie, the story follows the young Prince Ashitaka who becomes infected with a curse after taking down one of the many animal gods of nature that was inflicted with rage, all thanks to humans developing technology such as cannons, rifles, and forges that’s polluting the land and forests. Ashitaka takes it upon himself to find the people responsible for this destruction while also hoping to find a cure for his curse before it consumes and kills him.
He learns he’s not alone in his quest, as he comes across the feral Princess Mononoke, a young lady that was raised by the wolf gods and is fighting back against the main person behind the pollution, Lady Eboshi and her village who are just trying to survive and change with the times by using technology to make life easier for her people. It’s up to Ashitaka to help Mononoke and Eboshi to put aside their differences and find a way to live in harmony with nature, or all life will be lost.
There’s also some other crucial plot points to the film, but that’s best not to be spoiled as it ties everything in the film together. It really is worth seeing it for yourself and experiencing the magic this movie has. I know it’s been said many times before in so many different ways, but it truly is one of the best films I’ve seen, animated or otherwise. Everything from the artwork, to the beautiful and extremely fluid animation (ever the perfectionist, Miyazaki went through and touched up quite a bit of it on his own), to the amazing music by the always great Joe Hisaishi, just comes together perfectly to create this masterpiece.
I was surprised to learn this edition contains both the 1998 Miramax English dub featuring Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, etc, as well as the original Japanese audio track. Both sound great as the voices fit the characters perfectly, and the sweeping musical score and other sounds ring through nicely in Dolby HD. Of course watching this in high-definition was the biggest treat of them all, as this was my first time seeing the movie in a long time and watching it on Blu-ray. It truly was like seeing it again for the first time as the artwork and animation come to life like never before, making me fall in love with it all over again.
As if the movie itself wasn’t great enough, this release really does have the collector in mind. First everything comes in a hardcover book-like case that’s slightly wider than the average Blu-ray one. Why is this you ask? Well it’s thanks to the awesome 40-page book that’s included with cool art artwork, some essays by film critic Glenn Kenny, as well as other awesome things from Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki including poems, images, and more.
If that’s not enough for you, this collection also includes the film’s soundtrack on CD for the first time in North America, which is just amazing anytime you’re looking to chill to some beautiful tunes. The Blu-ray also includes the special features from the Miramax DVD release such as storyboards, original theatrical trailers, TV spots, an extra going into Princess Mononoke being released in USA, and another showing the US actors going behind the microphone as they discuss their characters and how it was voicing them.
I could go on all day and night and day again about how great and amazing this film is, but you owe to yourself to experience it with the Princess Mononoke: Collector’s Edition. The only downside I can think of is that it’s not a 4K release, but that’s just reaching as this Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic. When all is said and done, this set is the best way to watch this classic and deserves to be on any movie lovers shelf.